Image source -

This article is written by Gitika Jain, pursuing BBA.LLB (Hons) from Amity University, Kolkata. This article deals with the human rights of UN Peacekeeping members.


The three possible stages of United Nations military involvement in a conflict are observation, supervision and enforcement. The first two stages are peacekeeping functions. However, it cannot be forgotten that there is a thin line between observation and full peacekeeping as mentioned by functions of the UN Secretary force. A similar situation can be seen between enforcement action and peacekeeping as highlighted by the actions of an ONUC. The United Nation was founded immediately after the period of the Second World War and the swiftness with which new international organisations were established involved a lot of planning particularly prior to the end of the war. 

For this purpose, peacekeeping includes observation of ceasefire along with supervision on most occasions of interstate conflicts. Peacekeeping evolved from observation so as to gave the United Nations a more active role. The first innovative venture into proper peacekeeping was United Nations Emergency Force was created in the year 1956 by the General Assembly after the plan of Anglo-French Israel, to pose Egyptian nationalisation of the Suez canal. The forces of peacekeeping included contingents of lightly armed troops that were made available by member states and these forces avoided the recurrence of fighting, maintained peace and promoted a return to normal conditions. These forces were allowed to undertake observation, persuasion, negotiation and fact-finding. The United Nation force (ONUC) from July 1961 till June 1964 was deployed in the Republic of Congo. There were many peacekeeping operations conducted by the United Nations like:-

Download Now

Concept of peacekeeping

A dynamic and unique instrument which was developed by organisations to help the country in situations of conflict and bring about peace and harmony is called United Nations Peacekeeping. It is a technique which was developed under the guidance of the United Nations to control armed conflicts. This technique traditionally relied on monitoring ceasefire creating buffer zones and aiding for political settlements. But soon after the cold war, the whole concept of peacekeeping evolved into collective security that included economic, political and environmental issues. The definition of peacebuilding provided by the United Nation includes elements designed to foster democratic institutions economic recovery and the fair electoral process. International peacekeeping, therefore, has come a long way from the time of the first armed United Nations emergency force in 1956. It has also been successful in meeting the demands of different issues and changing political scenarios all over the world. 

Uniting for peace resolution

A landmark in the history of UN during the Korean crisis was the adoption of uniting for peace resolution by the United nation which provided that because of lack of unanimity in 5 parliament members if the security council failed to act on the threat to peace the assembly itself may take of the matter and resolve it within 24 hours. It may also give recommendations of collective measures that can include breach of peace or act of aggression. This act was taken into consideration because the security council for long was in deadlock and if this resolution was not passed the working of the charter could have been affected. There was no special agreement provided under Article 43 that was made available to enable the UN to call for the armed forces for the maintenance of international peace and security and there was just a need for a provision to overcome the impediment of a veto. 

An alternative was provided by uniting for peace resolution. The lack of unanimity amongst the permanent members of the security council also led to the adoption of a general assembly on 3rd November 1950 and it enabled the UN to take the required action in Korea. The major responsibility of the Security Council was to look after the issues of world peace but that responsibility cannot be considered as exclusive responsibility and this understanding had to be cleared out in order to take greater responsibility by the general assembly. 

Peacekeeping and UN charter

Peacekeeping has not been specifically described in the United Nations charter; it can go beyond diplomatic means for a peaceful settlement of disputes. It aims to authorise the use of weapons only in the case of self-defence. Peacekeeping over the past few years have evolved as a flexible method to control and calm down the conflicts and promote the peaceful settlement of disputes all over the globe. It has also enabled the security council to undertake the difficulties and face it bravely during the cold war period. The UN mainly aimed to ensure international peace and security by regulating a framework of collective security. 

There were concrete measures taken to achieve this purpose by the United Nations Security Council. If some measures of the Security council fails to achieve the required goal the security council made under Article 42 to take action by air-sea or land as required to maintain international peace and security and for this purpose, all the members of the United Nation are required to provide necessary arms and ammunition to assist security council on its call. This can be done on the advice and assistance of the military staff committee. Article 41 and 42 constitute the major system of collective security and the measures are also included in the same. The security council has also the power to use and enforce measures at its disposal under chapter VII of the UN charter which would enable it to make the parties comply with the provisional measures. Under article 41 The council can also decide as to what measures which do not involve the use of armed forces can be taken by the members of the UN. 

Important terms

In the peacekeeping activities, there are important terms like:

  • Preventive diplomacy 

It is an action to avoid any disputes that arise between the two countries. Whenever this is being relied upon to solve the dispute it is with the purpose to limit the spread of conflicts any further. Preventive diplomacy is also called peace operations by the United Nation in which the United Nation remains in activity during the peacetime to settle the international peace and check upon if further disputes arise or not. Certain measures are set up in preventive diplomacy to create confidence. The parties are made to reconcile through negotiation or arbitration and if necessary the matter is taken to the International Court of Justice. Preventive deployment is another synonym for preventive diplomacy. In this case, it fails to provide any means to conflict. The UN may resort to peacemaking and peacekeeping operations

  • Peacekeeping 

This concept does not restrict itself to one thing in particular. The secretary-general has defined this concept as an action to bring hostel parties to a mutual agreement. There are certain measures taken to resolve the dispute and restore international peace and security by the security council. 

  • Peacemaking 

This refers to an action to bring the parties to a mutual agreement through peaceful means and specific tools that are set out in Article 33 of the UN Charter which states that the conflicting parties should approach the resolution of the dispute by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, enquiry arbitration or judicial settlement. Peacemaking has two characteristics. Firstly this is the most frequently used tool to maintain peace and harmony. Secondly, this contains a constitutional base with the provisions sanctioned from the UN charter and declarations from the UN General assembly. The main goal of peacekeeping is to facilitate settlement of the conflicting parties and ending any kind of future disputes. 

  • Peacebuilding

This method means to rebuild the institution and infrastructure that are damaged by continuous conflicts and disputes to bring a peaceful environment amongst all. This concept includes economic development, restoring the ratio of harmony among the disputing parties and human rights education. 

  • Peace enforcement

This concept refers to implementing the UN decision to maintain and restore peace. This is the last concept to resort to when peaceful means fail. 

Human Rights

An integral part of the normative framework is the international human rights law for United Nations peacekeeping operations. The very core stone of international Human Rights standards is set by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and it emphasizes that fundamental freedoms and human rights are universal and guaranteed to everyone. Therefore, it is important that United Nation peacekeeping operations should be conducted with regard to the human rights of the members of the United Nation and should implement these Human Rights as mandatory. Whether military, police or civilian, United Nation peacekeeping should always work hand in hand with international human rights law and understand their working if at all it affects human rights. Peacekeeping personnel should always ensure that there is the provision of any kind of human right abuses. for this purpose, they need to be good at recognising the human rights violations and abuse and be prepared to take actions appropriately within the limits of their jurisdiction and competence. They should also respect Human Rights in their dealings with colleagues and local people both in the private and public sphere of life. where any abuses have been committed, they should be held accountable.

International humanitarian law

International humanitarian law is also known as the law of armed conflict or the law of war which restricts the methods of armed conflict. It is contained in 4 Genova conventions of 1949. It includes the treaties and conventions related to the protection of cultural property and protection of the environment during disputes. It also provides protection to the victim of the conflict. People who do not participate or are no longer a participant in the hostilities this law is designed to protect them and it maintains the fundamental rights of all the victim’s civilians and non-combatants in the disputes.

The United Nations peacekeeping operations are often deployed into environments after conflict and this law is relevant to them. The principles and rules of international humanitarian law must be clear and understandable amongst the United Nation peacekeepers who should observe them in situations where they can be applied. United Nation forces of international humanitarian law observed the secretary general’s bulletin and set out fundamental principles and rules of international law that can have their applications on United Nation peacekeepers. 

Protection and promotion of human rights 

The most modern conflicts are revealing the abuse and violation of human rights. During armed conflict, most of the human rights abuse occurs and it is the right time to protect the human rights violations and take action against it. It is the responsibility to ensure that human rights are being protected and promoted by all United Nation entities. The multidimensional peacekeeping operations of the United Nations are compulsorily required to protect and promote Human Rights by checking up on them and investigating the roots of their violations and instilling in the minds of all the institutions to do so. The maintenance and sustainability of Human Rights programs should always be the most important factor in planning multidimensional United Nation peacekeeping operations.

India as a supporter of Human Rights in the UN

A very strong supporter of UN efforts for protecting Human Rights in India and from the time when the United Nations General assembly had adopted The Universal declaration of Human Rights, India has cooperated in every aspect. The two human rights conveners also received India’s support full-heartedly. Even the constitution of India which was enacted in the year 1949 has most of the Human Rights as either fundamental right or a Directive Principle of State Policy so wherever there arises any violation of human rights, India always raises its voice against such violations.


The most visible form of UN activity in maintaining international peace and security is the UN peacekeeping operations where India seems to play an active role in conceptualising this system. It has also been observed that peacekeeping operations are an alternative to deal with conflicting situations. The United Nations have undergone many experiences and changes from time to time. Due to its notable contributions for securing and promoting international peace and security all over the world, it is slowly and gradually gaining importance.


LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join:

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more amazing legal content.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here