Volume III: The good international citizen: Australian peacekeeping in Asia, Africa and Europe, 1991–1993 (provisional title)

This volume of the official history will cover the peacekeeping missions that began following the First Gulf War (1990–91), apart from those missions in Australia’s region that will appear in Volume V.
In this period, Australia played an important role in several peacekeeping missions which sought to consolidate the changing role of the international community after the end of the Cold War. The 1990s are significant in the history of peacekeeping because the decade saw the development of “humanitarian intervention”, in which forces are deployed to protect civilians caught up in internal conflict.

The volume is divided into five sections. The first examines strategy and policy between 1991 and 1996. It explains Australia’s response to the changing international situation after the end of the Cold War, and outlines Australia’s defence policy after 1991.

The second section examines Australia’s role in bringing peace to Cambodia after decades of civil war. Australia’s Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade played an important role in the negotiations leading up to the 1991 Paris peace agreement. AFP officers had already been helping Cambodian refugees in Thailand to establish a legal system and police force in the lawless refugee camps. Soon after the Paris agreement was signed, Australian signallers arrived in Cambodia as part of the UN Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC). This was followed by a larger contribution to the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), with Lieutenant General John Sanderson as Force Commander, the first time an Australian had commanded a UN mission since Nimmo in Kashmir (see Volume I). ADF personnel, police officers, and electoral workers ensured that the 1993 Cambodian election was free, fair, and overwhelmingly supported by the people. Following UNTAC, Australian Army engineers assisted with demining in Cambodia. In 1997, following a coup, the ADF organised an evacuation of Australian citizens from Cambodia.

The third and fourth sections consider smaller contributions of peacekeepers to Western Sahara and the former Yugoslavia. Australia contributed five contingents of signallers between 1991 and 1994  to provide communications support to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). After the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Australia provided small numbers of military observers to the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and military officers to serve with British units of the Stabilisation Force (SFOR).

The final section discusses the operations that grew out of the First Gulf War. These include the commitment of a humanitarian relief force to northern Iraq in mid-1991, and the commitment of individual military and civilian personnel to support the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM)’s search for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction between 1991 and 1999.

The Royal Australian Navy operating as part of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), 1993 (ADF)The Royal Australian Navy operating as part of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), 1993 (ADF)

Authors: Professor David Horner and Dr John Connor

Dr John Connor Dr John Connor

Update: At present, John is writing chapters on the UNITAF in Cambodia.

Dr John Connor is a Senior Lecturer in history at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy. A graduate of the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, and the University of New South Wales, his doctoral thesis was a study of Senator George Pearce, Australia’s longest-serving defence minister.

John’s book, The Australian frontier wars, 1788–1838 (2002) received a Special Mention in the 2002 Centre for Australian Cultural Studies Awards, was short-listed for the UK Royal United Service’s Institute’s Westminster Medal for Military Literature in 2003, and was highly commended in the Australian Historical Association’s W.K. Hancock Prize Award for the best book published in Australia in any field of history by a first-time author in 2004. It has been reprinted twice.

In 2003–04 John taught Australian history at the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King’s College London. In 2004 he returned to Australia to take up the position of senior historian at the Australian War Memorial and began work on writing the third volume of the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations. In 2007 he commenced his current appointment at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

John has published widely in the fields of Australian peacekeeping operations, Australian military history, British Empire and Commonwealth military history, and frontier warfare. He has made many media appearances on Australian, British, and international radio and television networks, ranging from Indigenous service in the Australian military to the Bougainville peace process.

Further information:

P01749.015Mine clearance. Cambodia, 1992. P01749.015

CAMUN/92/038/20Military Police with UNTAC search for stolen goods. Cambodia, 1992. CAMUN/92/038/20

BRIA/91/0378/10Members of an Australian Army contingent with MINURSO at minefields. Western Sahara. 1991BRIA/91/0378/10

CANA/91/0095/05Australian medical team member talks to Kurds driven from their homes Iraqis. 1991CANA/91/0095/05

CANA/91/0104/09Australian humanitarian relief mission to help Kurds of northern Iraq. 1991CANA/91/0104/09

P02000.076Australian UNSCOM member at the 122mm nerve agent warhead destruction site. Iraq, 1992P02000.076