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NATO's Role in Peace Operations: Why the North Atlantic Treaty Should be Amended

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Master's thesis

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In this thesis Major Godwin examines the sources of international law which support prosecution of peace operations by regional organizations. The practical reasons for the investigation lie in escalating ethnic and religious conflict while the ability of the United Nations to mediate cease-fires or enforce the peace is decreasing. The original legal basis for regional operations is Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. However, customary international law has evolved significantly since the Charter was drafted in 1945, and regional organizations are not strictly bound by the dry words of Chapter VIII. This thesis describes the history of regional action in peace operations, including the emergence of the so-called humanitarian and democratic intervention doctrines. It also describes how the need for regional subcontractors by the UN was met in Bosnia by the concurrent decision of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO to participate in such operations on a case by case basis. This thesis argues that NATO has unnecessarily limited its traditional freedom of action by agreeing to perform peace operations only at the behest of the United Nations, or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE. It further argues that the current state of customary international law allows a regional organization, such as NATO, to perform peace operations even without the authorization of the UN Security Council. This thesis proposes amendments to the fifty year-old North Atlantic Treaty. The proposed amendments will permit NATO to perform peace operations under its own Charter, without borrowing its legitimacy from other international organizations. They will also commit the Alliance to a new vision of humanitarian and democratic intervention which will ensure its continued vitality into the foreseeable future.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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