Playing Poker with the Rule of Law: The United Nations and International Peacebuilding Strategies during the Eritrean-Ethiopian War

  •  Scott Nicholas Romaniuk    
  •  Christopher Douglas Mott    


While the abrupt dissolution of the Soviet Union into its component republics was seen by many as an era de novo, and the essential ingredient for outlawing warfare and widespread conflict, others within the analytic community regarded this turning-point as both an ‘end’ and a ‘beginning’. Though the world had seemingly moved beyond bipolarity, events in many global corridors served as sharp demystification of cataclysmic expectations and suppositions of a new age of international peace and stability. The Cold War was, however, a development of enormity that was congruous with renewed conflict and confrontation, yet it enabled the United Nations (UN) to assume a greater role within the orbit of international affairs, including peace operations and mediation. In spite of its new reach and functions, the UN’s early experience in peace-building as well as security and stabilization operations proved wholly insufficient for resolving conventional conflict between precarious nation-states. It some cases, the role assumed by the UN and its subsidiaries proved injurious to regional peace and security. Through an examination of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War, this article exemplifies the UN’s deficiency in international mediation and that manifestations of nation-building detracted from its responsive capacity to external communication intended to induce a speedy and solid peace-agreement. Ergo, while the UN was not prepared to handle a situation with large set-piece battles involving conventional armed forces, the conduct of the international organization precipitated a war that has lasted well beyond its own natural expiration, and once again proving the unsuitability of the UN to manage international peace-building operations amid such circumstance.

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