The specific roles of African Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) are often ignored in the discourse on United Nations (UN) and regional peace operations. In this highly readable book, Colonel (Dr) Emmanuel Kotia attempts to fill this gap by providing a comparative analysis of the tasks, experiences and challenges of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) in global peace operations in two different contexts: Lebanon and Liberia.
The most fascinating aspect of the book is that the author was an active participant at crucial stages in both missions. Hence, apart from engaging the literature, the author also narrates his own experiences in Liberia and Lebanon, which enriches the analysis.
The comparative approach adopted by the author, no doubt, is a welcome addition to the literature on peace operations and more significantly, captivates military personnel of other TCCs, especially in Africa, to record for posterity the rich experiences of their countries in UN and regional peac
The book is well written and presented in eight different but inter-related chapters. Chapter one, which is the introduction to the book, is presented in three parts. The first part gives a background of the contribution of African states to peace operations since the deployment of formed troops to the UN Operations in the Congo in the 1960. The second part highlights the rich experiences of Ghana in UN peace operations since the 1960s, while the third part provides the theoretical, conceptual framework and methodological considerations of the book.
The focus on King’s structural obstacles and intervention strategies in the first chapter; Alagppa’s framework analysis of regional institutions in conflict management; and conflict resolution theory in this chapter is particularly illuminating in understanding the dilemmas of third parties’ intervention in internal conflict.
The second chapter examines the philosophical background of both UN and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peace operations. Admittedly, even though the focus of the book does not necessarily require the author to include the background of the African Union peace operations, its inclusion here adds value to the book.
But more significantly, the overview of GAF’s participation in peace operations across the globe since 1960 to date in this chapter is not only enlightening, but provides a firm background to the subsequent chapters which examine the UN operations in Lebanon and Liberia respectively.
In the third section, the author traces Ghana's participation in various peace missions globally from 1960 to date. This includes the deployment of GAF troops to the latest UN mission in South Sudan under UNSC Resolution 2132. The author however concentrated on the deployment of formed troops but did not cover the deployment of Ghanaian contingents on observer missions.
The next chapter which is titled “Background and Geo-Politics of the Lebanese War” provides an in-depth analysis of the geo-politics of Lebanon, highlighting the root causes and the politics of the Lebanese conflict. The author also discusses the conditions that led to the invasion of Lebanon in 1978, the Camp David Accords, the establishment of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the ‘Palestinisation’ of the conflict by Hezbollah.
Kotia argues that Lebanon’s relative military insignificance is what has continued to make it such a volatile, but crucial actor in that regional war where actors such as Syria, Iran, Israel, Hezbollah and Palestinians believe they can wage surrogate battles.
To better appreciate the context within which GAF operated, the author assesses the political setting leading to the establishment of UNIFIL. He maintains that the GAF, as part of UNIFIL, effectively supervised the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanese territory and monitored violations along the Lebanese/Israeli border.
In chapter five, the author traces the history of Liberia from its independence on July 16, 1847 to the outbreak of the civil war in 1989, and blames it on the country’s unresolved ethnic and political differences. The socio-political dynamics of the conflict before the interventions of the ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), the UN Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) in the 1990s, and the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in 2003 is also discussed.
Just like chapter four, the sixth chapter analyses the roles, challenges and experiences of the GAF in Liberia under both ECOMOG and the UN from August 1990. As an active member of ECOMOG, the author indicates that Ghana and the troops of GAF were instrumental in the formation of the interim government in Liberia. Significantly, the author highlighted that it was during the ECOWAS peace operations in Liberia that the UN, for first time, partnered a regional organisation for a peace operations as stipulated in the chapter 8 of the UN charter.
GAF in peacekeeping
The seventh chapter provides a comparative framework of the GAF operations in both Lebanon and Liberia. This is the main chapter where the author compares and contrasts the operations of GAF in Lebanon and Liberia under certain thematic areas including the background to the conflicts, peace initiatives, and enforcement of mandates, the disarmament process, security sector reforms and the difficulties encountered.
These themes are useful for the understanding of the nature of GAF’s involvement in the two peace operations. The depth of analysis coupled with the rich information contained in this chapter is highly informative, raising very interesting experiences of the GAF in both Lebanon and Liberia.
In comparing the two operations, the author illustrated the shortcomings of traditional peace operations in dealing with inter-state conflicts in complex situations in both Liberia and Lebanon, and indicated the need to develop new peace operation doctrines that can effectively deal with such types of conflicts.
The eighth chapter summarises all the chapters, the main conclusions of the book and how GAF’s experience can be applied to global and regional peace operations. Based on the analysis and discussions in the preceding chapters, the author derived two main conclusions for the book.
His first conclusion is that the UN was at the centre in the operations of both Lebanon and Liberia in which GAF participated. The writer justifies this assertion because of the role the UN played in the Liberian conflict from 1993, which guaranteed a stable ceasefire as well as the eventual deployment of the UN Mission in Liberia in 2003 after the comprehensive peace agreement.
The author, however, concedes that without ECOWAS, the UN might not have played that important role and that the Liberian situation could have been likened to the Somalian situation where they were abandoned by the international community. The second conclusion is that designing a clear mandate provides an important legal framework for any peace operations. Though this is difficult to achieve in practice due to the national and bureaucratic politics involved in mandate formulations, the author raises an important issue that requires policy attention as it affects most contemporary missions.
Recounting the experiences of GAF in both Lebanon and Liberia, the author also draws several valuable lessons for the UN, ECOWAS, policy makers and Troop Contributing Countries. Among them is the need for properly trained, resourced and prepared peacekeepers for peace enforcement operations and how to engender a more coherent and practical cooperation between the UN and regional organisations in peace operations.
Model for peace analysis
Dr Emmanuel Wekem Kotia has excellently presented a simple book for scholars and researchers in conflict, peace and security studies to use with ease. The book expands our understanding of the changing context within which national interests define TCCs’ contributions and firm commitment to peace operations.
It also serves as a model for analysing peace operations and for drawing lessons that may shape the planning, conduct and management of future missions. The book is a must read for all scholars of International Relations, International Security and International Politics.
The printing of the book and the quality of writing are commendable. Generally, it is a very insightful book and therefore I will recommend it for all peacekeepers (military, police and civilians) and other stakeholders involved in the management and resolution of conflicts.