What Were The Main Critiques Of Liberal Peace Theory In The Sierra Leone And Somalia Interventions?

“Peacekeeping has become another aspect of a system which seeks stability within the confines of that system, a system which already made war possible” (Berdal, 2003). Throughout history, peacekeeping strategies have been acknowledged as an important factor for de-escalating conflicts and stabilising war-torn states. We can define this concept as “a process in which external governments assist in the long-term restoration of peace in a failing state” (Berdal, 2003). Peacekeeping strategies have used a variety of state and non-governmental organisations, notably in third-world countries, to give support when nations lack the capacity to maintain peace and security alone. As a result, peacekeeping has emerged as one of the most successful interventions within the international system for restoring and re-establishing stability in previously failed governments (Berdal, 2003).

To gain an understanding of the successes and failures of global peacekeeping interventions, it is vital to analyze scholarly work and critical opinions. Importantly, the knowledge and reflections from scholar Michael Pugh give compelling evidence for the value of peacekeeping in achieving international stability (Pugh, 2004). He focuses his notions on the idea that peacekeeping comes in the arrangement of interventions through the structure of liberal peace, which in turn, has a positive impact on the order of the international system (Pugh, 2004). These interventions are extremely important in creating stable and peaceful government structures. In contemporary politics, peacebuilding interventions continue to be a key component of the international world order and its actors remain dedicated to providing aid to war-torn countries (Pugh, 2004).

The liberal peace theory appears to be a major motivation in the international system’s mission for peacekeeping stability (Dayton & Kriesberg, 2009). Despite widespread criticism, liberal peacebuilding has been noted as a popular tactic for interventions post- Cold War. It is the most important peacekeeping philosophy today, and it is the greatest approach for corrupt countries to build lasting peace (Dayton & Kriesberg, 2009). This theory has most definitely attempted to bring peace to the West, but continues to share the important notions of democracy to developing states in war-torn areas, including Sierra Leone and Somalia. Because democracies do not attack other democracies, they are less prone to war (Dayton & Kriesberg, 2009). This has been proven through the examples of equal elections, democratic institutions, and continuous establishments of civil societies under the liberal peace theory (Dayton & Kriesberg, 2009). To produce stability today, this idea appears to embody the reality that peace must be promoted through fostering the formation of democracy inside the international system.

Many liberal peacebuilding activities have been institutionalized in the work of the UN, international organizations, NGOs, and the numerous parties involved in conflict and post-conflict situations, as they have done in other post-conflict contexts. The United Nations Global Organization has intervened in numerous third-world nations in the Global South in the pursuit for peace throughout the last two centuries (De Coning, 2007). Sierra Leone and Somalia, two African countries still plagued by corruption and poverty, have hosted two of the most important peacekeeping missions. Intervention in Somalia caused a significant change in international politics (De Coning, 2007). Because of its activities and because it marks a dramatic shift in world affairs, Somalian intervention is crucial. This is the effect of UN peacekeeping operations that, with the interventions in Somalia, have gone into the realm of direct military coercion in the Global South. As seen through the end of the Cold War, UN-led interventions with the aim of peacebuilding have resulted in a range of both successes and failures within developing states (Secretary-General, 1992).

This research essay will critically examine how the liberal peace theory has been applied in the historic interventions of Sierra Leone and Somalia. To do so, I will begin by expressing the key ideas surrounding liberal peacebuilding and explaining scholarly critiques of the notion. Next, I will empirically examine this school of thought through a comparative study of two case studies; the interventions in Sierra Leone and Somalia. Reflecting on the failures of these two interventions, we can infer that applying liberal peace theory to any peacebuilding operation across the world is an incorrect strategy, and that alternatives are required for long-term success.

The liberal peace theory strives to strengthen and enhance peacebuilding techniques in post-war nations through liberal market democracy to produce more sustainable and enduring peace (Doyle, 2005). According to this, peacebuilders should focus on “constructing a framework of functioning state institutions” rather than urging for democracy and a free-market economy in these unstable states (Doyle, 2005). The priority of peacekeeping interventions is placed on establishing secure governments that can function with stability and overcome post-conflict issues. When it comes to peacebuilding organisations, scholar Paris sees them as being built on entirely Western principles that prioritise democracy above domestic authority. This looks to be problematic, as institutionalisation poses a challenge to already unstable nations, with the added potential of destabilising and dividing domestic ideologies (Paris, 2000).

The promotion of democratic and market economies is the quickest method to provide stability to an unstable country. The focus is on the assertion that the existence of liberalism and democracy were the major elements in bringing peace (Lee, 2019). Because the West had attained peace and prosperity, liberal peace supports democracy and the formation of such market economies. It is considerably more likely that we will be able to sustain long-term international peace if all governments are liberal democracies. Building relationships with the purpose of a peaceful transition, free commerce, mutually beneficial collaboration, and the formation of transnational contacts between governments (Lee, 2019). Academics contend that when liberal societies do not exist, conflict inside and between nations is considerably more likely (Lee, 2019). These operations’ main purpose is to promote and foster liberal democratic government.

It is, arguably, the most prominent philosophy in today’s peacekeeping operations. The West has had immense peace because of liberalism and democracy. The route to economic and social progress in the West can serve as an example for these countries . Conflict is less likely in democracies as democracies do not go to war with one another (Nield, 2001). As previously stated, democracy exploited through the liberal peace theory has established equal elections, democratic institutions, and the liberation of many people. All these responsibilities are essential elements of a democratic market in the Western form (Nield, 2001). To accomplish so, we must concentrate on establishing a liberal peace. The philosophy underpins and directs the substance of many of today’s peacekeeping missions (Nield, 2001). Peace must be promoted through fostering the development of democracies and free markets.

The United Nations is the key organisation which utilises the liberal peace theory in interventions within third-world states. It was created after the end of WWII, and its founders and founding member nations devoted themselves to fitting liberalism and democracy, as well as the goal to promote peace throughout the world (Secretary-General, 1992). This vow was made with the international community’s main purpose being to defend sovereign states’ internal integrity as well as their political independence. These limits made a world full of liberal democratic nations unattainable in the short term. Policymakers and founding members of the United Nations believed that at the very least, they might try to conduct international diplomacy generously, that war should be abandoned as a policy tool, and that secret alliances should be abolished (Secretary-General, 1992). The key objective in both interventions of Sierra Leone and Somalia under UN aid was to achieve a more peaceful state because of liberal peacebuilding based on democracy and the market economy.

Interventions in Sierra Leone were desperately needed because to the country’s devastating civil conflict, which lasted from 1991 to 2002, and erupted widespread economic and political instability. A range of factors created this civil war including the existence of rebels (RUF) who switched between being troops and rebels, resulting in the displacement of almost half of the state’s population (Bindi & Tufekci, 2018). Conflict continued to disperse throughout the state as the RUF had acquired control of both eastern and southern areas rich in diamonds. As a result of the failure of the government to respond to RUF motives, a military coup was conducted in 1992 by the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) (Bindi & Tufekci, 2018). Sierra Leone elected a civilian government following a series of ongoing conflicts between the Sierra Leone Army and RUF rebels, and the RUF, who had been retreating, signed the Abidjan Peace Accord in 1996 (Bindi & Tufekci, 2018).

As a result, the UN concluded that action was required with the utilisation of the liberal peace theory through intervention. And so, UNAMSIL, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, was established to kerb bloodshed and pervasive cruelty throughout the country (Castañeda, 2009). The major goal of this operation was to help with a range of objectives, including disarming the sobels, ending illegal diamond trafficking, and ensuring the safety of the state’s population through peace accords (Castañeda, 2009). However, due to UNAMSIL’s disorganization, these UN-led peacekeeping efforts looked to be more of a failure than a success. In the year 2000, the Revolutionary United Front kidnapped 500 UN troops from Liberia who had invaded the nation (Castañeda, 2009). Possible notions for these kidnappings could be explored due to the fact that the UN forces were very much unprepared in this intervention. With many soldiers being under-trained and under-armed, the UN failed to give its forces a true understanding of the overall aim of this peacekeeping intervention. The UN-led 6-year operation resulted in 192 civilian fatalities, and there was no improvement in economic stability (Castañeda, 2009).

When assessing the UN involvement in Sierra Leone, it appears that the overall operation in the country was a failure. However, a small number of successes can be acknowledged when interpreting such a significant mission in the history of UN interventions. The UN Security Council decided to re-evaluate the operation after the kidnapping of UN forces happened, and the mission was reformed and enlarged, with troop numbers increased to roughly 17,500 (Millar, 2016). Successes were on the way for the state once the United Kingdom assumed command of the peacekeeping operations. The United Kingdom forces, as major players, had maintained a long-term presence in the country and were dedicated to ensuring security throughout the country. The RUF rebels were disarmed and reintegrated into the Sierra Leone army because of the short-term peace in the United Kingdom, which helped to stabilise the state’s economy by allowing residents to return to their homes (Millar, 2016).

The liberal peace theory in this intervention positively impacted peacebuilding efforts which hindered negative peace from exploiting violence, but it impeded long-term peacebuilding success. One of the many issues with the utilisation of this theory is that it fails to establish long-term effectiveness (Spiro, 1994). As previously stated, peacebuilding is based on the push for democracy and marketisation, which unavoidably leads to short-term commitments owing to failed governments’ brutally corrupt character (Spiro, 1994) . However, a school of criticism that regards failed and unstable nations as a “challenge for the entire international system,” preferred taking action to address the difficulty organisations provided to the international system rather than the people who lived in Sierra Leone (Spiro, 1994). As a result, a liberal peace strategy is ideal for the international system in the West, but not in war-torn states. Sierra Leone was stabilized and exposed to the international market system by liberal peace operations, but mechanisms to include the state in the international arena were not fostered.

Although many liberal peace scholars believe that peace and stability can be reached through economic progress, newer studies have revealed that the focus on democracy and marketization can worsen rather than establish war-torn states (Millar, 2016). According to scholars such as David Chandler, the utilisation of the liberal peace theory through Western interventions has failed to reinstitute these governments’ ability to rule themselves (Millar, 2016). States instead are relying heavily on external aid and lacking political and social legitimacy.

In Somalia, UN peacekeeping operations looked to be more severe than in Sierra Leone. Drought and starvation seemed to be the major causes of Somalia’s widespread unrest, which was sparked by the fight between hierarchical leader Mohamed Siad Barre and others who wanted to impose authoritarian authority on the country. Aside from the fall of the Siad administration, Somalis had to struggle with civil conflict, drought, and hunger (Harper, 2012). The struggle in the fertile portions of Southern Somalia between the United Somali Council and the remnants of the Siad administration produced this. Because the battle has put a halt to agricultural and food production, this conflict has played a significant role in the emergence of famine (Harper, 2012). Because of the fighting, a section of Mogadishu and Kismayu was also shut down. By the end of 1992, the crisis had resulted in a million refugees and 4.5 million dead in Somalia (Harper, 2012). This dilemma, along with the civil war that would erupt between Aided’s Southern Council and Mahdi’s SSA, would finally lead to a military intervention in December 1992 utilising the liberal peace theory.

UNOSOM I was the first of these deployments (United Nations Operation in Somalia I). It has been given the authority to monitor the capital’s truce, provide protection for assistance convoys bringing food, and defend food stores (Bruton, 2009). There were just 500 peacekeepers on this deployment, the most of them were Pakistani soldiers, which would be insufficient for a country the size of Somalia. The deployment of peacekeeping soldiers was delayed for several months by the Security Council (Bruton, 2009). Furthermore, there were soldiers who lacked the necessary equipment to complete the objective. In addition to the fact that UNOSOM I was created and authorised by Resolution 775 to defend humanitarian convoys and food distribution centres, its mandate was unclear and ineffective (Bruton, 2009). UNOSOM I was disorganised, and they are presently unable to control violence in the region.

By 1992, authorities across the globe could see that the humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia had worsened. The UN peacekeeping forces also recognised that they lacked the capacity on the ground to adequately carry out their mandate. The US then urged the deployment of a multinational army to Somalia (Harris & Lewis, 1999). This is where Resolution 794 was passed, which called on all UN Member States to employ all means at their disposal to provide a secure environment in Somalia for humanitarian aid (Harris & Lewis, 1999). The UN Security Council established a United Task Force in response to Resolution 794, which aided the US-led Restore Hope Operation. This US-led operation was given permission to employ military force if it was required to carry out its responsibilities (Harris & Lewis, 1999). Sadly, the mission was unable to guarantee security throughout the country. This meant that all UNITAF’s plans were only short-term in nature.

The liberal peace theory was utilised in the first example of Somalia, following the eruption of civil war in 1992. This resulted in the formation of UN established operations, with the first labelled UNOSOM I, United Nations Operation in Somalia I. This operation came as a complete failure, worsening state stability due to the lack of resources and knowledge of the actual aims of the intervention were to be (Moe, 2016). With no collaborative goal on how to overcome Somalia’s instability, this initial effort had failed. UNOSOM II, on the other hand, was established in 1993 and was a more effective mission throughout the state (Moe, 2016). This operation saw the deployment of tens of thousands of UN commanded forces with the collective goal of destroying widespread violence that had led to the deaths of thousands of civilians, and improve state peace. Following this, the organisation instituted many vital laws which created a framework for the state’s proposed new structure. We can see an imbalance on the emphasis on state-building through the utilisation of the liberal peace theory because of the UN’s decision to discuss the creation of a state.

When considering the successes and failures of the numerous interventions that have occurred across Somalia this past century, scholars can see that the majority have created a total loss in humanitarian success (Maxwell & Fitzpatrick, 2012). One probable reason for the general failure of interventions due to the utilization of the liberal peace theory is that these missions did not communicate what the people of Somalia truly wanted and were not educated on the cultural impacts of the important Somalian clan structure, which might have aggravated the situation there (Maxwell & Fitzpatrick, 2012). Furthermore, starvation and droughts may be the outcome of a war between the United Somali Council and vestiges of the Siad regime, which demanded a state-wide hierarchy and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Somalis. The issue of what to negotiate was a source of worry (Kareem Al-Qaq, 2009). There was no shared vision of society, and no consensus on what goals should be pursued in order to effectively moderate the tensions and demands of lawmakers tasked with forming a functional and productive society (Kareem Al-Qaq, 2009).

To compare the effectiveness of the peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone thanks to British forces, it is acceptable to say that economic stability had improved drastically and successfully disbanded the RUF. This is most definitely a positive as these two factors were the main sources of conflict and instability across the state. Although UN-led operations were similar, the Somalian intervention, on the other hand, had some form of success, with its initial mandate comprising the execution of peace accords to safeguard the country’s inhabitants (Kingma, 2002). This looked to be a success at first, with a huge deployment of UN forces reducing the spread of violence and establishing a legal framework for the country.

The failure of UN peacekeeping missions is a setback for global initiatives, as poverty, cruelty, and economic volatility continue to expand throughout these countries. Sierra Leone’s main weakness appears to have been its failure to develop a stable economy, thanks to the UN’s long-term commitment to the country (Millar, 2016). The reported major failures of UN operations in Somalia were attributed to a lack of resources committed to tackling the life-threatening issues of starvation and drought, which exacerbated societal instability (Henze, 1982). The UN’s failure to assist these two nations in developing a well-structured state has had a huge impact on them. They are still in economic and political turmoil as a result of the UN’s failure to assist them in developing a well-structured state.
In both of these states, tremendous foreign aid has been utilised aimed at developing liberal principles through the liberal peace theory. Liberal ideals are seen as essential to maintaining peace and promoting economic growth and development (Western & Goldstein, 2011). Many issues, however, emerge on how the policy of advancing such principles intends to achieve its objectives. Liberal peace theory is in crisis, according to critics since it has failed to provide a comprehensive explanation for why democracies do not go to war with one other (Western & Goldstein, 2011). Despite the fact that the liberal peace theory emphasises the creation of liberal states and the re-establishment of governments as viable institutions, it has been critiqued for being unproductive in some instances. These include examples from Angola and Rwanda, where the model’s implementation resulted in a resurgence of complete violence or tensions (Western & Goldstein, 2011).

Critics of the liberal peace theory have mostly centred their objections on the methodology that underpins the concept. They have done so by categorising critiques into two different categories; power-base and idea-based assessments (Westad, 2006). To begin is the power-based assessment, which asserts that liberal peace is simply a continuation of Western ideology with no actual aim in preserving peace and stability in post-War states that need assistance. This criticism can be applied to the way in which Western powers have been defining global economic policy, as well as the consequences for the rest of the world (Westad, 2006). As a result, the significance on adopting free-market economic strategies in unstable post-war states has illuminated many of the factors that first sparked these conflicts. This can be due to the fact that these strategies appear to solely meet the needs of Western ideologies and organisations (Westad, 2006).

This additionally seems that the main goal of the liberal peace theory is to increase Western dominance by transforming corrupt and unstable third-world countries into stable and developed nations. As we can see here, this ideology overlooks the importance of indigenous practises and values in reconstructing these countries split by war.

The idea-base critique, on the other hand, ignores the factors which drive Western intervention ideologies, and looks at how different organisations intervene in war-torn states (Westad, 2006). This critique instead argues that the framework is insufficient for nations emerging from war or failed governments, and that focusing solely on reconstructing war-torn states into stable political entities would not tackle variety of issues that war-torn countries confront. The assessment continues to claim that Western organisations utilising their own ideologies in third-world governments are invalid due to the lack of preparation when cooperating in these interventions. The idea that democratisation and the free market will equal political stability and improved livelihoods is also an invalid source of the liberal peace theory as it does not meet the ideologies of war-torn states (Westad, 2006). This indicates that if democracy and marketisation are not managed successfully by stable governments, widespread conflict and the prospect of war will occur.

A well-recognized scholar, Roland Paris, critiqued that the process of transitioning war-torn countries into market democracies presents a severe threat to the liberalization goal itself (Paris, 2000). Rather than dismissing the liberal peacebuilding method in its entirety, he highlights the liberal peace approach’s flaws and failings in these two states. Although advocates of the liberal peace theory believe that democracy and marketisation improve political and economic conditions, they tend to disregard the reality that improving conditions in existing unstable governments is difficult (Paris, 2000). States transforming into a market democracy, according to Paris, is vulnerable to pathologies that exist in post-war countries for three reasons. First, liberalization begins with intense internal conflict (Paris, 2000). This also implies that conflict-ridden countries are likely to lack peacebuilding resolutions. Because of a history of corrupt leadership And finally, effective government institutions capable of containing the risk of liberalization are lacking in the cases of Somalia and Sierra Leone.

Even though it appears to be more ideal than just peacebuilding, substantial criticisms of liberal peacebuilding have been highlighted. First, liberal peacebuilding that prioritises economic and political institutionalism above security ignores the fact that security is a product of liberalism, which drives today’s post-conflict development and peacebuilding rhetoric (Ramsbotham & Woodhouse, 2016). The violence in Sierra Leone, for example, did not stop because liberal peacebuilding overlooked security. Second, the reforms that liberal peacebuilding aims to achieve must first be understood and absorbed by the people living in the conflict-affected state (Ramsbotham & Woodhouse, 2016). Liberal peacebuilding aims to establish political and economic institutions, but it ignores whether the local population of the conflict-affected state support them.

One of the outstanding difficulties has always been the establishment of democracy. States that offer liberal peacebuilding first claim to establish a consolidated democracy, but in the end, they ultimately strive to impose their democracy model (Reychler, 2001). With the resurrection of the notion of the civilizing mission, some see liberal peacebuilding as a new stage of colonialism (Reychler, 2001). They claim that once liberal peacebuilding begins, the conflict-affected state becomes reliant on liberal peacebuilder states, which tend to reinterpret notions like civilisation, modernity, and progress for them (Reychler, 2001). It also results in political control, physical occupation, and dominance of recipient countries.

Based on the failures of these two interventions, we can conclude that adopting liberal peace theory to global peacebuilding operations is an unsustainable strategy, and that new approaches are necessary for long-term success. Liberal ideas are viewed as necessary for sustaining peace and encouraging economic prosperity (Kaldor, 2006). According to critics, liberal peace theory is in crisis because it fails to give a thorough explanation for why democracies do not go to war with one another (Kaldor, 2006).
Reflecting on the impact of the liberal peace theory, peacebuilding appears to be a vital component within the international system, which strives to overcome instability and assist in the re-establishment of corrupt war-torn countries, both during and post-war. Researchers must analyze scholarly ideas, assess the fundamental elements of past and contemporary peacekeeping operations, and ultimately look at the liberal peace theory that has provided stability to our globe to understand peacekeeping as an influential weapon in achieving such stability (Kaldor, 2006). Peacekeeping and peacebuilding are both extremely crucial in ensuring a secure international system that succeeds in the long-term for the future of our world (Kaldor, 2006).

Overall, the United Nations’ efforts to bring peace to the Global South, particularly in Sierra Leone and Somalia, have failed miserably. The inability for the UN peacekeeping operations to succeed comes as a downfall for global interventions whereby poverty, brutality, and economic volatility still spread across these states. Because of the UN’s long-term commitment to Sierra Leone, the country’s biggest flaw appears to have been its inability to create a stable economy (Millar, 2016). The observed serious shortcomings of UN operations in Somalia were perceived as a lack of resources dedicated to combating the life-threatening issue of malnutrition and drought, which exploited instability in society (Henze, 1982). The lack of long-term commitment from this powerful organisation has had a significant influence on these two countries, which are still in economic and political upheaval because of the UN’s inability to assist them develop a well-structured state. When comparing the triumphs and failures of Sierra Leone and Somalia, similar strategies were employed to re-establish both countries. The United Nations, on the other hand, has failed to establish solid missions between the two countries that would ensure each society’s development. For the Global South to grow, the UN must collaborate with each nation to determine their goals and requirements for a functioning economy that will have a long-term positive influence on the globe in which these cultures inhabit.

Mia Heaphy