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Michael Flaherty presents thesis on modern peace enforcement

Flaherty 444x718On November 19, Michael Flaherty, Class of 2012, presented his honors thesis, Actively seized: a new paradigm in peace enforcement, at The Institute of World Politics.

In the course his lecture, Mr. Flaherty first highlighted traditional shortfalls of UN peacekeeping operations, focusing on the ones in Sierra Leone and Rwanda, and then envisioned possible alternatives to UN missions.

On the first topic, Mr. Flaherty noted that the UN Security Council seems to have abandoned the idea that peace enforcement was its job. He stressed the fact that after the successful 1961-64 UN intervention in Congo, the Security Council members began backtracking.  Most times, one of the permanent five members (and not necessarily only Russia and China) would actively hinder a peacekeeping mission.

In the case of Rwanda, Mr. Flaherty precisely discussed the factors that led to the failure of the UN mission, including: no preparation of the environment, French complicity, limited mandate and competency, and colonial power intervention (Belgium).  On the other hand, Mr. Flaherty emphasized the positive role that the mercenaries played in Sierra Leone and the negative role UN and regional organizations played.

It is from this last intervention that Mr. Flaherty draws the conclusion that lies at the heart of the second topic. Due to the UN’s inability to enforce peace, he argued, we ought to investigate other remedies for achieving it. He examined three alternatives: the intervention of regional organizations (NATO, IGAD, ECOWAS), the outsourcing to privatized peace operations (such as Executive Outcomes or others), or volunteer peace operations. In doing so, Mr. Flaherty analyzed each alternative’s advantages and drawbacks.

Michael J. Flaherty received a Master’s in Statecraft and National Security Studies from IWP in 2012, after spending two years writing Actively Seized. Mr. Flaherty has spent more than a year working in Africa on behalf of the U.S. government, and previously served in the U.S. Air Force.

Copies of Actively Seized can be found in the IWP library.

Lorenzo Vermigli
Intern, Fall 2013