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Lewis, Ioan and Mayall, James (1996) Somalia. In: Mayall, James, (ed.) The New Interventionism, 1991–1994: United Nations Experience in Cambodia, Former Yugoslavia and Somalia. LSE Monographs in International Studies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 94 - 126. ISBN 9780521558563

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Identification Number: 10.1017/CBO9780511559105.004


The involvement of the United Nations in Somalia was a product of the new international climate created by the end of the Cold War and by the dramatic success of Operation Desert Storm, and its aftermath in 1991. For the UN, the Somali operation, which at its height employed a force of 28,000 at an estimated cost of US $1.5 billion, broke new ground in two ways. Under Resolution 794 of 3 December 1992, the Security Council invoked Chapter VII of the Charter to authorise the establishment of an Unified Task Force (UNITAF), under United States command and control, ‘in order to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations in Somalia'. This was the first time that an unambiguously internal and humanitarian crisis had been designated as a threat to international peace and security, thus justifying peace-enforcement measures. Secondly, with this and subsequent resolutions, the UN dropped the pretence that its involvement in Somalia arose out of an invitation from the government – although the Council continued to refer to ‘urgent calls from Somalia … to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance’ – since no government existed with the authority to issue such an invitation. For the first time, statelessness was acknowledged to be a threat to an international society composed of sovereign states. The United Nations did not extend its prerogatives in these ways either willingly or as the result of a deliberate and carefully worked out international strategy.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1996 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International History
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2011 11:14
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 23:02

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