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It is a major aim of the Danish Government and the Danish people to do everything within their power to strengthen the United Nations. Small countries have a vital stake in supporting the development of the United Nations so that it becomes an effective instrument of the international rule of law. Obviously, this is not an aim that can be achieved at once. But by helping to preserve and strengthen the United Nations as an effective instrument for peace in the current international situation, we can help in the longer run to bring about conditions which foster gradual progress toward the distant but all-important goal.
Such is the general background of the initiative taken by Denmark, together with Norway and Sweden, to set up separate national military forces which are to be kept in permanent readiness and which can be made available to the United Nations at short notice. Let me begin with a short account of the way in which this idea developed.
The deliberations go back to the Suez crisis in 1956. Previous international conflicts had shown that by bringing the United Nations into the picture-by creating a "U.N. presence"-it was possible to alleviate the tensions of a dangerous situation. During the Suez crisis we saw the United Nations intervene with military forces. By taking direct military action the organization succeeded in bringing the military conflict to an end and in keeping the peace. Since then, similar United Nations peace-keeping forces have been used in other areas, for instance in the Congo and Cyprus. In these cases the U.N. forces were provided by certain member countries which, in an acute situation and in response to U.N. requests, made military units available for peace-keeping activities.
The successful Suez experience suggested to us in the Nordic countries that it might be desirable to establish more permanent arrangements within the United Nations. It had now been accepted that the organization could ask member countries to make military forces available for peace-keeping operations in certain phases of certain crises. Might it not be preferable to avoid reliance on case-to-case improvisations but to go further and form a permanent international U.N. peace force, to be held at the disposal of the Secretary-General on the authority of the Security Council or the General Assembly? The question was discussed at a meeting of the Nordic foreign ministers in September 1958. But the decisive contribution to thinking on the subject was the report which Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld submitted to the 13th General Assembly in the autumn of 1958, in which he set out the basic principles of U.N. peace-keeping operations. In his view, it was hardly possible politically at that time to take further action within the United Nations. But in the summer of 1959 he approached a number of states, including the Scandinavian, asking us to take account in our military planning of the possibility of future contributions to the United Nations.
In these circumstances we decided to continue our deliberations on a purely national basis with a view to establishing national stand-by forces without involving the United Nations. Plainly, if the United Nations asked for our participation in a peace-keeping operation it would be essential, in order to react efficiently and speedily, that we should have prepared our contribution in advance. From 1960 to 1962 the Scandinavian defense ministers discussed technical details. The result was a plan to set up a Scandinavian force of about 4,000 men. When the plan was ready, we informed Secretary-General U Thant unofficially to that effect. In the summer of 1963 he made a speech in which he welcomed the Scandinavian initiative.
When we notify the United Nations officially of the establishment of the Scandinavian U.N. Force, we shall set out in detail the conditions for the use of it. The fundamental principles and considerations, which are in accordance with those originally outlined by Mr. Hammarskjöld, may be summed up as follows:
1. The force shall assist only in peace-keeping operations. This implies that there is no connection between the Scandinavian plan and the provision for enforcement measures contained in Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter which deals with measures against threats to peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. Chapter VII provides for the establishment of an international security force composed of national military contingents. This force, under the command of a Military Staff Committee, is to carry out-if necessary by military means-the decisions of the Security Council for the maintenance or restoration of international peace and security. The idea underlying this provision was that it should be possible to back up right by might. In a realistic recognition of the facts of power, the competence to take such decisions was vested in the Security Council. Because of the cold war, the provisions of Chapter VII have not acquired practical significance. (There was, of course, the Korean operation which, however, was made possible only through special political circumstances.) Not inconceivably, improved political relations between the great powers could, at some future stage, make possible the creation of the enforcement machinery foreseen in Chapter VII. But in the present international situation it must be recognized that the provisions are of no practical interest.
The assumption that the Scandinavian stand-by forces can assist only in the implementation of peace-keeping measures also implies that these forces can never take part in offensive fighting. It is evident, however, that they must have the right to act in self-defense.
2. A lawfully adopted U.N. decision is required for the Scandinavian countries to make the earmarked forces available. This must take the form of a request either by the Security Council, by the General Assembly or by the Secretary-General acting on behalf of either of these bodies.
3. The country in which the forces are to be used shall have accepted the U.N. operation and our participation in it. This is necessary because we are dealing here with action to be taken under Chapter VI (pacific settlement of disputes). Apart from the scope of Chapter VII, the Charter contains no authority for any U.N. organ to impose the presence of an international executive organ on the territory of a member state. In keeping with this, when we responded to the U.N. request for a Danish contribution to the U.N. force in Cyprus, we made it a condition that our participation be accepted by the Government of Cyprus.
4. U.N. requests can be complied with only after an independent appraisal of the general situation. This implies that the action proposed in the given circumstances must be acceptable to the governments of the Scandinavian countries. This may sound very restrictive and it does, in fact, imply a limitation. It means that the United Nations will not have the right automatically to draw on the Scandinavian stand-by force. But it should be borne in mind that in the final analysis it is a question of asking 4,000 young men to risk their lives for a cause which, being an international issue, affects their own countries only indirectly. A democratic government must make sure that the people understand and support its actions. That is why we have found it necessary to make this reservation.
In deciding whether a U.N. request should be complied with, all relevant circumstances-including national military security considerations-will be taken into account. As far as Denmark and Norway are concerned, we shall also bear in mind our obligations toward our allies. But there can be no doubt that our basic attitude to any such requests will be a very positive one, in keeping with the general lines of our foreign policy in which support of the United Nations forms a decisive element.
5. The force will be placed under the exclusive control of the United Nations. The only modification here is that it will remain under national jurisdiction in matters of penal law.
National components will be so organized as to enable the force as a whole to act as a self-contained unit. Each national contingent (in the case of Denmark it will consist of about 1,000 men) will likewise be able to operate as an independent unit when, for example, only one or two of the Scandinavian countries are asked to contribute to a U.N. force. Such was the case in the Cyprus operation, to which only Denmark and Sweden have so far been asked to contribute.
The characteristic feature of the plan is the advance earmarking of specific military forces. They will consist of units from the army, navy and air force, including staff officers, transport units, observers, etc. Most of the personnel will be conscript soldiers who have completed normal military service and who will be recruited on a voluntary basis. After a few weeks' special training they must be ready for call-up, equipment and transportation to any part of the world at very short notice. In return for this obligation they will receive a monthly compensation.
The cost of establishing and maintaining these forces will be borne by the individual Scandinavian countries up to the time when the Force is placed at the disposal of the United Nations. From that moment, the financial responsibility passes to the United Nations. In the case of Denmark, the costs are estimated at $3,000,000 for equipment, while the current expenses for pay, training, etc., will be $1,500,000 annually. These amounts will be kept outside the normal defense budget.
An essential aspect of the plan is that the forces can be dispatched to a critical area with the utmost speed. Prompt action will often be a prerequisite for the efficacy of a U.N. operation. The Scandinavian Force may be expected to reach the scene of action two or three days after receipt of the U.N. request. It was due to special circumstances at the time of the U.N. intervention in the Middle East in 1956 that the first Danish forces were able to land in Egypt 36 hours after receipt of the Secretary-General's request. But normally this will not be possible, which is why a special stand-by force is necessary.
The plan for establishing the permanent military stand-by force was recently approved by the Danish Folketing (parliament). At about the same time Denmark received an official request for a military contingent of about 1,000 men for the U.N. Force in Cyprus. In deciding to comply with this request, the Government did not, therefore, have to obtain separate parliamentary approval.
When the requisite authority has been obtained from all the Scandinavian parliaments, we shall approach the U.N. Secretariat to arrange the practical details.
In conclusion I would like-in the light of experience-to point out a few of the problems attending U.N. peace-keeping operations. In the past, such action has been taken in a wide variety of situations. However, certain general aspects of the political and technical problems involved should be considered with a view to future U.N. operations.
It is generally accepted that the purpose of peace-keeping operations is to prevent or to stop military conflict in order to pave the way for a negotiated settlement of a dispute. While the former aspect of this purpose has been achieved with impressive efficiency, it must be admitted that in most cases no solutions have been found to the underlying political conflicts. The causes of tension have not been removed and unsolved conflicts are accumulating. Concurrently with the military operations there should be a greater concentration on finding solutions to the political problems through the U.N. machinery.
Another matter requiring consideration may be termed "relations with local authorities." What impact may an international operation have on a national political situation? The problems arising out of the presence of a U.N. force in a country are essentially different from those caused by a force which, like the UNEF, merely has to stand guard over a frontier or armistice line between two or more countries. Whenever U.N. forces are present in a country with a certain mandate (e.g. to maintain law and order or to prevent civil war) they will be exercising powers which actually belong to that country's lawful government and derive from the concept of national sovereignty. The Congo operation showed how difficult it is, in practice, to avoid influencing internal developments. This is one of the political facts of life to which careful consideration should be given before an operation is initiated.
At a more technical level, an examination should be made of the need to have military expertise available in the U.N. Secretariat in connection with peace-keeping operations. From the point of view of military efficiency, it would certainly be useful to strengthen the personnel of the military advisory machinery in the Secretariat. It should be left to the discretion of the Secretary-General to decide when such a step will be politically feasible.
Another technical point is how to organize the top-level local command of U.N. operations. In looking ahead to future operations, it may be worth considering whether the local commander of operations should be given somewhat wider freedom of action within the framework of the instructions issued by the Secretary-General.
Finally, one important detail: Experience has shown, especially in the Congo, that an operation which involves elements of international conflict may easily make the United Nations a target for attacks by circles which feel that their interests are not receiving sufficient attention. This brings up the need for an efficient U.N. information service. Its facilities should be present from the beginning of the operation.
The steps now taken by the Scandinavian countries (including Finland recently) to improve the technical ability of the United Nations to preserve world peace in acute crises are only a modest beginning. Our initiative should be viewed in light of the fact that the existing political and financial situation of the United Nations does not permit any further action at the present time. In a wider perspective, this initiative reflects the realization that under the given limiting conditions the realistic method is to work toward the ideal goal through minor concrete steps.
In the longer view, the goal must be to set up a real international U.N. peace force on a permanent basis. The more countries indicate a willingness to set up, as a first step, national military stand-by forces to be held at the disposal of the United Nations, the greater will be the possibilities of reaching that goal. It will also (as suggested by Mr. Lester Pearson) be natural to coordinate the efforts of such willing countries and those of the United Nations. This might ultimately take the form of a systematic study of the experience gathered through previous operations and of how to institutionalize within the United Nations the political and military elements required for the implementation of such operations.
The fundamental common interest in preserving peace and strengthening the forces conducive to peace transcends all national and ideological frontiers. I am deeply convinced that action along the lines I have suggested here will serve this common goal.