Saving Lives While Sharing Power: The United States and China in United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Africa
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CitationWolle, Meskerem. 2021. Saving Lives While Sharing Power: The United States and China in United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Africa. Master's thesis, Harvard University Division of Continuing Education.
AbstractIn past years, many American politicians, intelligence officials, academics, and foreign policy analysts have predicted a dire fate for the future of the international system, especially global issues that may become harder to manage and conflicts that continue to appear. Most of them attribute the decline to the political, economic, military, and technological rise of several nations, and the end of the unipolar post-Cold War period. But whether a rise of these nations will be harmful to the international system is not clear.
In the 21st century, China and the United States have been two of the most powerful actors to participate in United Nations peacekeeping missions. Research for this thesis found that U.S.-China cooperation and competition from 2000 to 2020 helped keep U.N. peacekeeping missions in Africa at the same level politically, militarily, and financially compared to the U.S.-led era from the end of the Cold War, and during the unipolar period defined here as 1989 to 2000. China and the U.S. have cooperated and competed politically, militarily, and financially to maintain their own interests and influence. Relative to U.N. missions, in large part both countries provided about equal political support, China provided greater military support, and the U.S. made more financial contributions.
The case studies focus on five U.N. peacekeeping missions conducted in Africa during two time periods: 1989 to 2000 and 2000 to 2020 in Namibia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Mali. The case studies were chosen to detect changes in U.N. peacekeeping missions over time as the U.S.-China relationship evolved. The first time period includes U.S. leadership at the end of the Cold War era and during the subsequent unipolar era from 1989 to 2000 in Namibia and Somalia. There China played a smaller role in the missions. In the second time period focuses on China’s surging participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions during the emerging bipolar period of the 21st century in Mali, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the U.S. was also leading. The case studies were chosen to represent four regional sectors of Africa. This thesis also presents data on military and financial contributions to U.N. peacekeeping in Africa during the two studied time periods to further illustrate military and financial support during U.S. leadership and during U.S.-China leadership.
African, American, Chinese, and international sources have been used. The primary sources include United Nations resolutions, United Nations peacekeeping documents, United Nations Security Council documents, United Nations Secretary-Generals’ publications, Chinese politicians’ and diplomats’ speeches, Chinese military officials’ statements, United States Congress publications, White House documents, U.S. government reports, African Union publications, African political parties’ publications, African activists’ statements, and African, American, Chinese, and international newspaper articles. The second set of sources included academic books, journal articles, NGO publications, and “think-tank” articles.
Peace does more than just save lives; it also sets the foundation for countries to develop politically, socially, and economically. Maintaining peace is a key objective of African countries, and U.N. peacekeeping efforts can help. Dire predictions about the fate of the world order, especially as they focus on the rise of China, are unfounded as they related to U.N. peacekeeping efforts in Africa. Based on the past two decades, African policymakers and Africans living in conflict areas and countries affected by conflict can feel relatively confident that the U.N. will maintain its presence in conflict areas on the African continent, regardless of a change in the international order, as long as the U.S. and China continue to cooperate and compete.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367674
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