This webpage uses Javascript to display some content.

Please enable Javascript in your browser and reload this page.

Home | Fiction | Nonfiction | Novels | | Innisfree Poetry | Enskyment Journal | International| FACEBOOK | Poetry Scams | Stars & Squadrons | Newsletter


Intervention as a Crisis Prevention Mechanism


By Rutagengwa Claude Shema

Regional Coordinator

Great Lakes Peace Initiative (GLPI)



Click here to send comments

Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques

In all kinds of conflict there is a tendency to try interventions of all kind.  But the problem is the time frame, mandate  and efficiency  for the given intervention matter.

In line with this, any kind of intervention must respond fully to the needs of the needful people. In this context, the most important thing is how the international community reacts, because often the interventions seem to be late. Instead of preventing crisis in a given conflict, those interventions just come in the aftermath - humanitarian/relief interventions - with the lack of quick response to early warnings.  Actually the multi-lateral interventions no longer aim to prevent crises to happen, but to rebuild a given destroyed society, nation or community. So the interventions care only about the aftermath of the crisis, i.e., after a bloody war, in post terror attacks, etc....

In the same situation, there are critics and challenges to the interventions responding to famine.

Facts on interventions

Challenges and causes of delayed interventions can be articulated for different causes:

- Culture
Culture is the cross-cutting issue in all nations. Here the intervention mechanisms should fit the local culture as well - otherwise it would cause even more crisis.

An actual example is the so called "war against terror" by the US administration. From this emerged anger, hatred and animosity vis-a-vis to US and allies, and the UN itself.

The key issue in this regard is that many Arabs and Muslim countries consider the US as the potential enemy. And this difference is linked to the culture – beliefs - faith. For this reason, the US shouldn't intervene physically in any kind of interventions in similar culture-oriented countries. Otherwise, it would be worse than the crisis itself, because any US and allied presence among intervenees  is  considered as an invasion instead and often causes failure. We can see examples in Iraq, Sudan, Somali, etc...

Another example is the UN action to counter terrorism (see
The strategy seems to be counter-attack instead of thinking in long term how to eliminate terrorism by exploring its root causes, as the only good and peaceful way to find adequate solutions for terrorism. One of the solutions among others would be:

-Transcending issues of terrorism
-Restructuring  the UN (i.e. equal voice to all UN state members instead of big powers against others)
-Responding to the basic needs of prosperous terrors , and transform terrorism acts before they go to the crisis level.
-Decrease or alleviate all obstacles undermining the quick/fast UN intervention responses.
-Oriented political interests and tendencies of decision-makers and actors
The early warning mechanisms  are the best way to cope with crisis prevention, but it has never been effective, because all interventions come after the crisis. The question now is, "At what level of crisis shall we intervene?"
Examples are plentiful, but we can try to remember some of them by starting with recent ones:

  1. In Sudan, Darfur region, the UN system was aware of what was happening,but it took more than necessary time to help miserable raped women and to halt systematic killing in the Darfur region. Then, my question is complex and strange to this matter: how many victims do we need, or which means do we want as an international united community, to help out in order to react effectively and successfully on the Darfur issue?
  2. In 1990, the Rwanda conflict exploded between RPF and Habyarimana – the Hutu majority-regime. The so called "Liberation War" raged the country and was launched by the former rebellion of the  Tutsi majority, as a result of an ignored early warnings of failed talks earlier in the  80's.The key issue was the return home of Tutsis Rwandese refugees who wanted to go back to their homeland - Rwanda.

The first reaction by the international community was different resolutions (846,872,891 etc..) related to the creation of military observer, but these didn't work, actually harming NMOG, UNOMIR, UNAMIR until more than 1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus perished in unspeakable cruelty.
(see also:

The reason for failure was simply that Rwanda was a small unknown country, and did not attract much interest from those power countries.

  1. Somalia spent more than a decade through violent internal conflicts and civil wars. Surprisingly, this was after the failure of the UN mission to Somali.


The entire international community turned its back on the Somali people, and no further sustainable peace efforts have been  carried out so far. Asa  result, the Ethiopian military intervention overthrew the radical Iismlamist leaders and brought the partly elected government from exile in Kenya and put it in power. On one hand, the transition of a multi-governed country to a normal central (ruling) government by Ethiopian efforts is a great step and important change, and it shows how it was possible to end the violent hostilities in Somalia. If the international community had thought about it in depth before.  But, on the other hand, the conflict can't be solved by another conflict. The Ethiopian military  intervention caused anger against Ethiopians among many Somalians, and later or sooner also will cause huge hostilities. The intervention for peace and stability now should focus on conflict prevention between Somali and Ethiopia in order to avoid any further escalation.

The failure in any deal or a given carried out project operation is normal, but the problem is how we learn from the experience and how to take into consideration the early warning signals/reports for further efficient steps.

-Geo-political issues and structure
In many cases of failure, experience shows that so-called geo-political influence plays an important role in this matter, where western countries normally get more quick and adequate response for intervention on  early warning indicators than the rest of the world.

  1. The 1994 Rwanda Tutsi genocide was a shame to the whole international community, and an example of the UN failure.
  2. The invasion of Zaire (DRC) in 1997 or 1998, also by Rwanda and Uganda, and the Banyamulenge vs. Zaire-DRC war, were indicators of UN intervention failure to halt a crisis before escalation.
  3. The pressure to halt uranium enrichment in Iran is also a biased action, while some other countries do have already nuclear weapons like USA – Russia – UK – India - Israel, etc.., and they do not have any pressure from anyone.

If we want, as an international community, to halt nuclear or other global threats, we should do it – yes - but equally.

->Destroy all existing nuclear weapons first
->Put Pressure on Iran and other Asian countries to halt it.

Why do all those other countries have it? Why not Iran? But the best solution should be to destroy all nuclear weapons, and just all countries stay nuclear weapons-free. Otherwise, there is still a cold conflict between those countries possessing nuclear weapons and others which are not even allowed to possess them. Injustice, and the injustice often leads to revolution, strike or other similar violent/non-violent actions against others.

What should be done?
It is clear that intervention in a conflict situation would be really a vital mechanism to stabilise the issue, but there is still a big issue in it.

First, we need an efficient-neutral/impartial institution to elaborate all needed strategies for intervention. It depends on the scale or gravity of the crisis. Many ideas would help in this regard as follows:

  1. Strenghening sub-regional, regional and continental intervention ub early warning systems
  2. Enabling existing UN intervention missions and create UN quick response units for any immediate intervention.
  3. Restructuring the UN towards an independent global agency working for and together all states/nations, without distinctions, instead of being manipulated by major powers.
  4. Indepth surveys on how to end terrorism and other related global threats.
  5. Closer collaboration, efficiently, with all stakeholders involved, or working in field of peace, conflict resolution, human rights development or other similar fields.