Struggling Nations Need Guidance

MANDATES and trusteeship served their purpose. Is it time for tutelage? Are the 1990s ripe for an experiment in benevolent renovation?

The rejuvenated United Nations is backing into something that is more than mere peacekeeping and far less than some kind of full-scale occupation. There is greater pressure than ever before for UN operations that go beyond administering relief and patrolling blue lines, green lines, and other borders in the sand.

Order is breaking down repeatedly within supposed nation states. In too many there is little that approximates a working government, and much that is predation. A case is continually being made, not least by the inhabitants of countries lacking the essentials of government, for the installation of an internationally-sanctioned functional substitute.

In Somalia, the United States military-humanitarian intervention has now become a UN-administered operation. Since there has been no real government in most of Somalia since early 1991, and since rapacious warlordism filled the vacuum until the Americans arrived last December, the UN will now have to do more than keep order.

Unless the UN proposes merely to prevent Somalis from killing each other, while providing the hungry with relief supplies, it will almost certainly want to restore the ability of Somalis to govern and feed themselves. Otherwise the UN may be compelled to restrain warlords interminably.

The UN's alternative strategy, and the world's other obvious option, is to rebuild the internal capacity of Somalia to govern itself.

That cannot be done overnight. Somalis would first have to be disarmed, a task from which the US forces shrank. The UN should arrest warlords, too. Then it will want to establish an effective police force and judicial system, and a network of local governments.

If the UN does begin to restore Somalia's ability to function in these and similar ways, it will once again have Somalia as a ward, as it did from 1946-1960. The old trusteeship model will have been replaced by a form that could be called tutelage.

Tutelage may mean the temporary employment of foreign advisers as police commandants, judges, and local government officials. Tutelage could include control of the national treasury and central bank.

It would also mean the establishment of a timetable for the gradual takeover of all of these functions by retrained local citizens. Local and national elections would be assumed.

The UN is inherently unimperialistic. Recolonization might be a fear among some new nations, but countries like Somalia reached such an anarchic nadir that the Americans had no choice but to intervene on behalf of the new, unipolar world order. Likewise, the UN now has little choice but to govern Somalia until it can govern itself.

If the UN successfully can fashion the instruments of tutelage in Somalia, it will have responded to a critical need of the turbulent 1990s. Even those countries not yet in Somalia's desperate straits could benefit.

Zaire is an African country where government barely works, and then almost exclusively in the capital city. President Mobutu Sese Seko and his opposition rivals would have to cede control for a time to the UN, or the UN might be compelled to demand that Zaire simply turn itself over to the UN to be reorganized and reoriented.

The UN is already massively in Cambodia, attempting to keep the peace between competing factions and also to organize and oversee elections. A period of tutelage would make sense.

IN the Western hemisphere, Haiti cries out for tutelage. Whether or not President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resumes his office and the military junta that ousted him is exiled, there has long been an absence of government outside the capital. What democracy means, and expectations of fair play, judicial honesty, and fiscal probity are largely unknown.

For Haiti to move from two centuries of instability and poverty to full membership in the community of tolerably-run nations will demand the kind of oversight that only a period of internationally-supervised tutelage can provide.

Despite the fiercely nationalistic pride of most Haitians, a method of tutelage that firmly developed the capacity of Haitians to govern themselves might actually be welcomed. And it could be a condition of President Aristide's full resumption of power.

Bosnia is a particularly complex, compelling case. After peace is created by outside intervention or negotiation, a government for the whole as well as the parts will have to be created. If the notion of tutelage catches on, and if the members of the UN embrace it, redoing Bosnia would be a serious and important test.

Tutelage will not fit every case of world disruption or national collapse. But because any implosion, no matter how remote, affects the entire world, and because so many of the world's rulers govern for themselves rather than for their people, the need for peacekeeping will not vanish.

Repetitive peacekeeping can dampen down conflicts, but only periods of tutelage will restore national abilities to maintain the peace and build new structures and systems on the ruins of chaos. Tutelage is a process whose time has clearly come.

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