The Future of UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon

Why Their Job Is Largely Meaningless

U.N peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) wear face masks while they monitor the Lebanese-Israeli border during a sandstorm in Kfar Kila village, in south Lebanon, September 2015. Aziz Taher / REUTERS

At the end of last month, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution to extend its peacekeeping force in Lebanon by another year. Danny Danon, Israel’s UN ambassador, described it as “a significant diplomatic achievement that could change the situation.” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the decision signaled a rejection of the status quo and would thus provide the peacekeepers the “power and will” to do the job. Unfortunately, the resolution will do none of those things. Such claims simply demonstrate a failure to understand the limits of peacekeeping and the complexities of Lebanese politics.

First, some historical background is warranted: in 1978, Israel invaded southern Lebanon, where Palestinians had been launching attacks on Israel. In response to the fighting, the UN initiated a peacekeeping operation—the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The operation’s 6,000 peacekeepers were tasked with helping to restore peace, confirming the withdrawal

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