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Modus Operandi

En librairie

Transformation de conflit, de Karine Gatelier, Claske Dijkema et Herrick Mouafo

Aux Éditions Charles Léopold Mayer (ECLM)


Brussels, novembre 2007

Outcomes and impact of the case studies.

Two of the NGO monitoring missions (EMPSA and NIM) have been evaluated by a Swedish team looking at the missions from the Swedish sending organisation’s viewpoint but containing a lot of general information on outcomes and impacts of those two missions, as well as comparing them to some extent with the UN mission. There is no information of that quality on the later program in KwaZulu/Natal, but from the report it appears that, regarding outcomes, there were no substantial differences from the earlier reports. The following immediate (positive) outcomes were listed (1):

  • 1. All monitoring missions managed to reduce the level of violence by their presence, monitoring and interpositioning at different events. This was associated with the fact that the various actors knew the peace monitors’ presence meant a risk of sanctions (2).

  • 2. Providing encouragement and a link to the so-called wider world, both for citizens in general and for the churches with which the monitors worked.

  • 3. The peace monitors contributed to improving the exchange of information between different organisations and, in the case of NIM, the monitors felt they had been able to contribute to strengthening NIM’s capacity and its legitimacy (civil society building).

  • 4. They also contributed to the formation of public opinion through their use of mass media both in their countries of origin (Sweden, but this could probably be generalised to include other countries as well), and the South African press.

The short-term success of the monitoring was dependent on the degree to which the monitors managed to make contacts with all sides, and a good knowledge of the local actors. Where this was missing, either because of the monitors’ short stay or because they had to cover too wide an area, their capacity to intervene was effectively reduced.

Because of this lack of anchorage, doubts have been raised about the longer-term impact of the monitoring missions on work for peace in general. Some church leaders interviewed by Ewald/Thörn believe they failed to build long-term competence in local societies (3).

Nevertheless, the Swedish evaluators compare EMPSA monitors positively to the UN election monitors, and relate this to two aspects:

  • 1. Time: the EMPSA monitors were present for at least five weeks, the UN for only two weeks. This gave the NGO monitors more time to make themselves known in a local context, and create continuity in the monitoring work.

  • 2. Space: The UN election monitors lacked the local anchorage gained by the peace monitors through the recipient organisations and their co-ordinators. This criticism was echoed by interviewed Inkatha members who were very critical of the UN mission, saying that they came to “have nice vacation and to live a life of luxury at nice hotels.”

Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville

The monitoring mission in Bougainville seems generally to have been considered successful. Böge says that the TMG quickly managed to win the trust of all sides, specifically of populations in the villages, thereby contributing in a high degree to the development of a peace-friendly climate. The Commander of the Mission Osborn says the same: “In my view the TMG and the PMG have been outstanding successes whatever criteria you apply to measure their performances.” (4)

Kosovo Verification Mission

The KVM is an example of very mixed outcomes. On the one hand, it undoubtedly managed to reduce violence by talking to both sides and convincing them to contain localised outbreaks of violence. In addition, their mere presence obviously played a role (5). Specifically at the beginning of the mission the cease-fire was respected. Both the Serbs and the more moderate commanders of the UCK were willing to stop fighting, which gave a chance for stabilisation of the situation. Refugees and displaced persons returned in greater numbers as the fighting calmed down (6). Loquai: “When looking from the present perspective back to the beginning of the KVM, one could imagine what could have been reached if the KVM had arrive quickly, spread densely and covered the whole of Kosovo.” (7) Even in January/February 1999 when the situation became tense again, their arrival on the scene usually had a de-escalating effect (8).

But the verifiers did not manage to contain all violence. There were attacks on police and civilians all the time in varying degrees. The cease-fire was also used by the UCK to move back into its strongholds as soon as the Yugoslavs withdrew (9). At the beginning of February they controlled more or less the areas they had controlled before the Serbian offensive in the summer of 1998, but this time they were better organised and armed. There were warnings of a spring offensive by the UCK (10).

In January and February the security situation also deteriorated for the verifiers themselves. In mid-January two verifiers were wounded when their vehicles came under small arms fire (11). Their movements and activities became restricted (12). At the end of February eight cars were refused permission to enter FRY from Macedonia, and a Russian verifier was shoved back into his vehicle (13); two verifiers were stopped at gunpoint by Serbian police and hit by them (14). There had already been attacks in January, e.g. on KDOM personnel eating in a restaurant (15).

But did the KVM have any chance to succeed? The mission was agreed to by the Yugoslav side only under the threat of war, and that threat was kept up during the time of the Mission by the presence of NATO planes monitoring air movements, the NATO extraction force waiting in Macedonia, and the fact that the Activation Order was not cancelled. On the other hand, the Kosovo-Albanian side wanted a military intervention because they had always (in fact since 1991) (16) anticipated the internationalisation of the conflict, and especially an international military presence. They saw this as the way to reach their political goal of independence, so NATO’s continuing threat to intervene was just what they wanted (17). Under these circumstances the KVM basically stood no chance, so it is rather surprising how successful they actually were in the field given this very negative framework in which they had to operate.

UN missions in El Salvador and East Timor

ONUSAL has been considered a success, despite many problems related to ongoing human rights violations (18) and hesitant disarmament–especially from the FMLN side, culminating in the discovery of an illegal arms cache in Nicaragua. The Peace Accords were ultimately implemented; FMLN was eventually disarmed and transformed into a political party; former combatants were re-integrated; and elections took place as planned. Participation in the elections was much lower then expected (only 55%) due to logistical and structural problems, and a number of irregularities were reported. Nevertheless the election results were accepted by all sides, and there was no relapse into war.

Although the Mission’s mandate did not include direct preventive action against human rights abuses (19), its very visible presence alone seems to have represented an important symbol for all sides. It is also worth noting that the pursuit of a human rights agenda did not damage the neutrality of ONUSAL to the point where it would have become ineffective (20). ONUSAL’s success in El Salvador is also attributed to the fact that the intense mutual suspicion and lack of trust between the two sides in conflict allowed the UN to play the role of arbiter and guarantor to both sides.

The disastrous failure of the mission in East Timor may be attributed at least partly to bad conflict analysis and misjudgement of the situation. It was not apparently recognised that the Indonesian side, especially the militias in East Timor, were not ready to accept the more likely outcome of the referendum, the decision for independence (21).

Secondly, despite all the violent incidents, neither the UN nor NGO monitors were apparently really prepared to deal with the violence. Unlike the other examples in this survey, there was no real systematic attempt at dealing with it. Instead, everyone concentrated on the preparation and conduct of the referendum. The international monitors did not manage to invoke the threat of serious consequences in the case of a renewed outbreak of civil war–though the eventual deployment of a military mission (see Chapter VII) shows, in hindsight, that they would have had impressive sticks–if no carrots–at their disposal.


  • (1) : Ewald/Thörn 1994:76 p., 102 p., 109 p.

  • (2) : Ewald/Thörn 1994:16 p.

  • (3) : Böge 1999:16

  • (4) : Quote from the commander of the PMG in 1998, Brigadier Bruce Osborn. Contribution to the Seminar Monitoring Peace in Bougainville,

  • (5) : Ambassador William Walker, “On-the-record-briefing on the Kosovo Verification Mission”, released by the Office of the Spokesman, January 8, 1999; Loquai 2000:62.

  • (6) : Wenig 1999/2000:89.

  • (7) : The German original: “Blickt man aus heutiger Pespektive auf diesen Beginn der KVM zurück, so kann man sich vorstellen, was mit einer raschen, dichten und flächendeckenden Präsenz der OSZE hätte erreicht werden können.” Loquai 2000:61 p.

  • (8) : Wenig 1999/2000:84.

  • (9) : Loquai 2000:62 p.

  • (10) : Loquai 2000:39 p.

  • (11) : OSCE press release No 10/99 (

  • (12) : Kosovo Update 22.2.99 by the Bureau of European Affairs of the U.S. Department of State,

  • (13) : Kosovo Update 26.2.99 by the Bureau of European Affairs of the U.S. Department of State,

  • (14) : Kosovo Update 23.2.99 by the Bureau of European Affairs of the U.S. Department of State,

  • (15) : Kosovo Update 27.1.99 by the Bureau of European Affairs of the U.S. Department of State,

  • (16) : Clark 2000

  • (17) : See Riedel/Kalman 2000:157f, Loquai 2000:24, 54, Schweitzer 1999 c, Calic 1998 b.

  • (18) : See White 1994:72.

  • (19) : Mahony/Eguren (1997:208) speak of “hundreds of easily identified vehicles in populated areas and travelling around the countryside ‘ostentatiously’ in white helicopters”.

  • (20) : Ramsbotham/Woodhouse 1999:86.

  • (21) : There was also miscalculation from their side: They obviously did not expect an international military intervention.