Keeping but not Making Peace: The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
by David Morris
Summary written by: Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium
Citation: "Keeping but not Making Peace: The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus," chap. in Building International Community, Kevin Clements and Robin Ward, eds. (St. Leonards, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1994) pp. 273-279.
Morris argues that UN peacekeeping activities in Cyprus have not been helpful in promoting a settlement of that conflict. Cyprus was granted independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. Diplomatic efforts were taken to create a constitution which would allow the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities to co-exist peacefully. Greece, Turkey and the UK served as guarantor powers for the Cypriot constitution.
From the beginning there was tension between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. Within three years, violent conflict broke out between the Turkish and Greek communities. With the consent of the government of Cyprus, the guarantor powers established a peacekeeping force. The peacekeepers secured a cease-fire, and established a neutral zone between the Greek and Turkish held territories. But, settlement negotiations failed. Peacekeeping duties were turned over to the UN, at the insistence of the government of Cyprus.
The early 1970s Greece backed a coup in Greek Cypriot territory and Turkey invaded and occupied part of northern Cyprus. In the face of escalating conflict, Turkey, Greece and the UK agreed to expand the UN peacekeeping role. Since that time peacekeepers have played key roles in enforcing a buffer zone between the territories, overseeing the cease-fire, providing humanitarian and police services, and assisting the movement of people across the buffer zone.
UN peacekeeping forces have had no success in demobilizing the opponents or in persuading them to normalize conditions. Of course, the peacekeeping force was not charged with producing a political settlement. Morris notes however that by enforcing the de facto territorial divisions in Cyprus for over thirty years, peacekeeping efforts have made a return to one state in Cyprus much less likely.