1.1 Background to the Study
The international political climate is currently fraught with unresolved inter-state and intra-state disputes that emanate often from mere suspicion, mistrust, political and economic rivalry as well as competition over territory. Disputes, if not carefully monitored and resolved peacefully, they may, (as they have) lead to armed conflicts –conflicts that would bring (as they have done so) devastating effects not only to the disputants but also to the international community. To this end, the desire for the maintenance of international peace and security has always been at the heart of the international community. States have concluded a number of multilateral treaties ranging from 1899 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes which was revised by the second Hague Peace Conference in 1907 aimed at peaceful settlement of their disputes and difference . This was also the basic objective behind the creation of the League of Nations in 1919 and the United Nations (UN) in 1945. Since its inception, the UN has taken responsibility for maintaining world peace and security. Drafters of UN Charter envisioned an organisation in the entire spectrum of conflict management and resolution, from preventive measures to ad-hoc responds to crisis, to longtime stabilisation of conflict areas with view of saving the succeeding generations from the scourge of war which has on two separate occasions brought untold sorrow to mankind . To this end, the Charter obliges the parties to any dispute capable of endangering international peace and security to settle such dispute either through negotiations, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, good office or adjudication or any peaceful means of their choice. Or resort should be had to regional arrangements or agencies. When this is not successful, the UN is permitted to intervene to consider the dispute and make recommendations .
However, the end of cold war presented both opportunities and challenges for the international community. Opportunities in the sense that UN found itself freer to act than at any time in its history; challenges in the sense that the end of cold war has ushered in a regime of armed conflicts at intra- state level largely because people‟s expectations for an improved and egalitarian society have not materialised. Consequently, ethnic and nationalist forces whose expectations were not met began to challenge state authority and old imperial boundaries. In fact, sub-national group demands for empowerment, autonomy and even independence took a violent dimension in the struggle for self-determination . This has for instance resulted in the collapse of state institutions in Somalia, a coup in Haiti, and civil wars in Bosnia, Cambodia, Salvador, Guatemala, DR Congo, and Angola among other countries. Sequel to this development therefore, it became necessary for the UN to draw support from regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security. This was predicated partly on the assumption that the parties understand the security challenges of their respective regions better and partly as a form of burden sharing . Therefore, while the UN primary responsibility still remains that of maintenance of internationalpeace and security, the regional agencies are only expected to lighten the burden of the UN by rendering services toward the attainment of regional and subsequently to international peace and security in a manner consistent with the purpose and principles of the UN Charter
In Africa, given that the state of peace and security on the continent has remained a pre-occupying phenomenon, certain regional organisations have since become directly involved in conflict resolution in their regions. For instance, the African (AU), the Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have played increasing role of late in resolving regional conflicts in various regions in the continent. However, while these organisations have made remarkable impact in certain places, their efforts in other places have not yielded a resounding success. For instance, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) may be said to have achieved a relative success in the settlement of disputes that resulted in millions of casualties in the 1990s in Angola, the same may not be said of SADC in places like Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo. In fact, in DR Congo since 1996 up till now, a regional war has ravaged almost the entire country. What has started as an internal crisis for a troubled Central African state could not be effectively resolved by the SADC consequently, turning some parts of the country into a theatre of war, resulting in negative security and socio-economic condition. Beyond the deaths and displacements caused directly by this war, it has also cause deterioration of health level for the entire state . This development has raised a big question as to the effectiveness of the UN regional organisation in bringing about a peaceful settlement of disputes in this African Sub-region.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The quest for the maintenance of the international peace and security has always been at the heart of the United Nations. Although, Article 24 in Chapter V of the UN Charter clearly vests the responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security in the Security Council, the Charter in Article 33 provides a role for regional organisations in the maintenance of peace and security in their respective regions. However, the achievement of this objective may not be as simple as it appears on the face of it. In the first place, there may be problem when a settlement is effected bya political organ like the UN Security Council because there may be a likelihood of personal interest or there may not be a common interest among the members of this political organ to bring about the resolution of international dispute or to respond promptly to such dispute in the interest of the states parties concerned. For instance, while conflicts like Iraq inversion of Kuwait may evoke prompt responses, can others which are less consequential or less clear-cut attract the same responses? Again, there may be a problem of absence of due process as regards the way decisions in matters affecting the legal interests of states should be taken as this can give rise to unnecessary tension in international relations and consequently endanger international peace and security.
Secondly, the United Nations Charter has obliged the parties to any dispute endangering international peace and security to settle such dispute peacefully but, there no obligation under the Charter to settle disputes. One may therefore ask whether the absence of this obligation will not constitute a gap in the international law system which may remain a source of tension from time to time thereby threatening international peace and security as state parties may not be willing to take their dispute to a court for diplomatic political reasons (as in the case of Argentine and United Kingdom‟s claim to the Falklands). Further still, how do we determine which conflict may likely endanger international peace and security. It is imperative to set out the parameters for the sake of sovereignty and the division at the UN Security Council as this has often led to late or non intervention international dispute.
Thirdly, the Charter permits UN to intervene and consider the dispute and make recommendations where the parties failed to reach an agreement. While the strengthening role of the UN Security Council may be viewed as a positive development, will it not also produce resentment if is perceived by the state parties particularly in developing countries as an imposition from the major powers? Furthermore, the Charter obliges states parties to settle any dispute endangering international peace and security through any of the means provided within the Charter. What then becomes the position where a dispute only threatens to endanger international peace and security? Will it not be easier and better in terms of consequences to regulate a dispute at the level of threat than when it has become a full blown armed conflict?
Again, peaceful methods of international dispute settlements have been increasingly accepted as the preferred way of resolving dispute. However, despite the increased utilization of these methods in resolving conflicts and other forms of hostilities, studies show that only 50 percent of all peaceful settlements last beyond five years . While in certain situation, settlement of disputes through these means has not recorded a resounding success. This has raised a big question as to the effectiveness of these methods. This research will strive to address all these issues.
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