This report will argue that although the United Nations Emergency Force II is generally viewed as a success and created an optimistic view as to the future of United Nations peacekeeping, it also exposes concerns over the legitimacy of what the organization truly stands for.
Figure 1: Map of the Sinai Peninsula
The origins of what we call the Yom Kippur war lay in the control of the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights (Territory on the Syrian-Israeli border). Egyptian control over the Peninsula and Syrian control over the Golan Heights was lost during the six-day war that saw Israel launch large scale pre-emptive attacks on all of it’s Arab neighbors save Lebanon. After the war, Israel saw its new territories as buffer zones and refused to concede them. Thus Egypt, under the leadership of president Anwar el-Sadat, plotted with Syria and invaded the Sinai while Syria invaded the Golan Heights on the 6th of October 19731, the day of the Jewish religious holiday Yom Kippur. The international implication of the conflict began with the super Powers arming their respective allies, but the influence of the detent soon played its role and saw the ideological blocs come together in desiring a ceasefire that took the form of a UN Security Council resolution that was unanimously adopted. However tension rose when the ceasefire was not respected by the Israelis and the two major Powers fell back into disagreement, both sides threatening military and nuclear action. This was followed by an Egyptian requested Security Council meeting that once again called for a ceasefire, this time accepted by Israel, as well as an increase in the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization observers on either side and the creation of a UN peacekeeping force, United Nations Emergency Force II.
The mandate of UNEF II embodies the principle conditions that where put forward by UNEF I. Thus its mandate dictated its compliance with the principles of ‘holy-trinity’ peacekeeping, consent, impartiality and the use of force in self-defense.
The original mandate was only approve for six months but was renewed eight times by the Security Council, each occasion on the request of the Secretary-General. The directive of UNEF II was to supervise the execution of resolution 340 that demanded a ceasefire between Israel and Egypt and a return of forces to there position of the 22th of October. Furthermore UNEF II was to have the cooperation of the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as the UNTSO.2 The essence of the mandate was to prevent the recurrence of fighting once the ceasefire was accepted by establishing a buffer zone in the Sinai between Egyptian and Israeli forces.
At maximum strength UNEF II was composed of 6,973 military personnel that were contributed by 13 countries, most of which can be defined as middle powers such as Canada and Australia. Of these near 7,000 troops, 49 died along with 2 international civilian staff.
It is however interesting that Poland, an ally of the Soviet Union, contributed troops to the mission. This illustrates the level of the detent in the Cold War at the time, an important element to bear in mind whilst analysing UNEF II.
Analysis of UNEF II:
UNEF II was the first significant UN peacekeeping operation in almost a decade. It is most often viewed has an important success for the potential of international peacekeeping in inter-state conflicts. The speed and the efficiency of the mission were direct factors of the lack of rivalry between the Soviet Union and the USA due to the detent.3 There is much to be said, both in a positive and a negative way, about the implications of the Blocs cooperation on the issue. Firstly, the UN as an international organization must be given recognition in that its existence and functioning were able to avoid the super Powers from any direct military intervention. This is an…