2004-5 National Policy Debate Topic



For each annual debate season, debate coaches around the country vote on what topic, or resolution, high school (and participating middle school) students should debate.  In 2003-4 the topic was about protecting the oceans; and the resolution, or question up for debate was: Resolved that the United States Federal Government should establish an ocean policy substantially increasing the protection of marine natural resources.



This year, students will be debating the following:







There are two teams of two debaters for every debate round.  This year the Affirmative team will start out the debate by proposing their case, or plan to support UN peacekeeping.  The Negative team will argue that the Affirmative’s plan is a bad idea.  At the end of the round, the judge will vote for the team that they felt did the better debating.






Each year, Washington State debate coaches vote to determine which Affirmative cases the novice, or beginning debaters, should debate. This year, the coaches decided on the following cases:


1. Rapid Reaction Force/Rapid Deployment Force

The U.S. would provide substantial support for the creation of a Rapid Reaction Force under the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

2. Nonviolent Peacekeeping

The U.S. would provide substantial support for the creation of a UN Nonviolent Peacekeeping Force.

3. Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo)

The U.S. would provide substantial support to strengthen the UN mission in the DRC.

4. Demining (landmine removal)

The U.S. would provide substantial support to UN demining efforts.

5. Gender Balance in Peacekeeping (equal number of men and women peacekeepers)

The U.S. would pressure the UN to attain a gender balance in all peacekeeping operations.

6. UN Debt (the U.S. owes the UN money in unpaid member dues)

The U.S. would pay its delinquent UN dues earmarked for UN peacekeeping missions.

Rapid Reaction (Deployment) Force Affirmative



Rapid Reaction Force…also known as Rapid Deployment Force (RDF)


This case has the U.S. Federal Government help the UN establish a Rapid Reaction Force.  This large force of peacekeepers would be a highly trained and well-equipped force, ready to be deployed rapidly in response to a serious conflict in the world. 


Advantage One: Stopping Ethnic Conflict Around the Globe


Many people argue that United Nations peacekeeping operations are not that effective in resolving major ethnic conflicts and civil and interstate wars because the UN peacekeepers are too few and ill-equip to respond to conflicts in time to prevent them from escalating to the point where countless lives are lost.  Many experts point to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda when they talk about the need for an RDF.  Supporters of the new UN force argue that if the UN had an RDF in 1994 that they could have intervened in Rwanda at the first signs of ethnic conflict, preventing the massive genocide where over 800,000 Tutsi’s were massacred by ethnic Hutu’s. Many people also argue for the need for a UN RDF when they look at the current genocide in Sudan and the Congo. 


Advantage Two: Global Cooperation (Multilateralism)


The additional advantage to creating a UN RDF would be strengthening international cooperation or multilateralism. Many argue that in a world plagued by terrorism, global warming and pollution, and resource scarcity (for example: the decrease in the world’s oil reserves), international cooperation and action is essential if we want our future generations to enjoy a life of prosperity, peace and environmental stability. 


The Negative Arguments:


The Negative team can argue that the UN generally, and its peacekeeping specifically, really are ineffective and the US should have nothing to do with them. Even if peacekeeping was at one time effective, most of the world’s conflicts now are intra-state civil wars and ethnic feuds that the UN is ill-equipped to handle. Getting involved in these will only siphon resources away from the war on terror and possibly involve the US in a Vietnam-style quagmire where their presence would only escalate the conflict.


Nonviolent Peacekeeping Affirmative



Leaders around the world have consistently used violence as a means to an end.  From the first Iraq war to Afghanistan, the bombing of Kosovo and the history of supporting oppressive regimes, like in Chile and El Salvador, policies addressing intra- and inter-state conflict have uniquely increased violence and death.  Haiti and Iraq prove that not all military and peacekeeping operations can easily lead to stable democracy. (Zinn 2001)  In addition, peacekeepers have had a horrifying record of committing violence against civilians, including executions and systemic human rights abuses. (Bolton 2001)


However, many countries around the world have begun to recognize these shortcomings in current peacekeeping efforts.  In 1998, a UN General Assembly meeting was dedicated to nonviolence, where representatives from over twenty nations agreed that if the world was to survive, nonviolence must be adopted by the nations of the world. Honoring the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Marin Luther King Jr., the Assembly declared the years 2001-2010 to be A Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World.   (UN Chronicle 2001)


Many argue that the UN member states, like the United States, because of their power and pull, should help establish a nonviolent peace force to replace classical peacekeeping.  Proponents of the peace force point to nonviolence resistance movements like in Guatemala to prove that even in the most dangerous of armed conflicts, nonviolence safeguards all lives.  However, despite expert testimony that nonviolence should be embraced as a means for peacekeeping, and if used previously, could have prevented war and genocide; the international response still clings to violent means. 


Cost.  Nonviolent peacekeeping is much cheaper than classical peacekeeping.  It requires less equipment and less people.  For the duration of their work, the nonviolent peace force of ten people working in Nicaragua in 1983, were able to pacify Jalapa, a war zone on the Honduran border. (Nagler 1997)


Political Viability.  Most objections to peacekeeping operations centers around the perception that an armed peacekeeping force looks more like a police force.  Most people and states would have no problem with a standing peace army.  The success and international palatability of a peacekeeping mission relies largely on the willingness to cooperate of the parties involved in the conflict (in the actual fighting or economically invested in the area). (Nagler 1997)


Effectiveness.  “The United Nations can cajole, argue, bluster…but it cannot compel,” said Marrack Goulding, frequently referred to as the world’s peacekeeper-in-chief (Economist 1992, p. 57).  According to Michael Nagler, Chair and Founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley, “Nonviolence is that form of power specifically designed to operate in situations where you cannot—or rather, do not wish to compel.  Persuasion, not coercion is the modality of the Second Force. Classical Peacekeeping has prevented or limited some conflicts, but it has not, and cannot change the direction of international relations.  It cannot do this because it relies, ultimately, on the same force peaceless interactions exploit, albeit attempting to apply them to another purpose. But nonviolent peacemaking suffers from no such handicap. There would be some false starts, some errors and some casualties, but once it became clear that there is a way to make peace without the sanction of force (i.e., Force One) the world would have found a new direction towards enduring peace.” (Nagler 1997)


The Plan would be similar to a Rapid Reaction plan, except that the force would be a nonviolent peaceforce.

The Advantages would claim to be the only way to solve war, ethnic conflict, genocide, and human rights abuses. .


Negative Arguments:


The obvious strategy would be for teams to argue that military force is critical to modern peacekeeping.  Opponents of a nonviolent peacekeeping force argue that a successful peacekeeping force must be large, credible, well-armed and well-trained.  This would mean that teams could even use their Rapid Deployment Force affirmative case. 




Bolton, Senior V.P., American Enterprise Institute, 2001 (John, World Affairs, Winter, v. 163 #3)

Nagler, Professor Emeritus, Peace and Conflict Studies, UC Berkeley, 1997 (Michael, Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution, December, v. 4 #2)

UN Chronicle Magazine, 2000 (Number 3)

Zinn, Professor of History, Spelman College, 2001 (Peacework 2001)


Peacework Journal (many issues)

This case was also featured at several institutes; so many teams will be running NVPK from Stanford, Seattle, Howard.

                                      Gender in Peacekeeping Affirmative


*The following case description is from the 2004/5 National High School Forensics Academy at Howard University, Article Anthology, prepared by Andrew Brooks, Edited by Les Lynn.



This case draws on a variety of contemporary feminist thought to argue that many of the problems with peacekeeping stem from its masculinist tendencies. For one thing, an overwhelming majority of the world’s peacekeepers are male, even among the forces contributed by countries like the US that have (somewhat) integrated national militaries. Furthermore, military training is almost universally designed to amplify masculine characteristics like aggression and denigrate all that is feminine as weak.


While this may work well for fighting wars (though even that is arguable), it does not produce good peacekeepers. Instead, it produces soldiers who are likely to escalate tense situations. Worse, these peacekeepers sometimes engage in the worst kinds of atrocities, such as forced prostitution, human trafficking, rape, and child abuse. While such actions are horrendous at any time, they are especially despicable when committed by peacekeepers against people who have just survived many similar atrocities during a civil war or other conflict. By integrating women into all levels of the peacekeeping process, this case claims that it will check these masculinist tendencies.


Integrating women into all levels of the peacekeeping process also means bringing local women into post-war reconstruction, and this is also important. Especially after a bloody conflict, many women take on great importance in their countries, because so many husbands and fathers have died. These women must not only continue to fulfill their usual functions, but take over those traditionally performed by men as well. Failure to include them in the reconstruction process virtually dooms it from the beginning.


The Affirmative team’s plan has the United States pressure the UN to integrate women into all levels of peacekeeping, and it has the US increase the gender balance amongst its own contributions to peacekeeping operations.


The Negative can argue that many other factors beyond masculinity contribute to the failure of peacekeeping, and that the case doesn’t address any of them. More importantly, they can dispute the link between masculinity and men. Many feminists argue that making assumptions about characteristics that are essentially masculine or feminine is problematic. Among other things, this means that just increasing the representation of women in peacekeeping won’t address the problems caused by masculinity. If the problem is that the military as an institution is intrinsically masculine, then just adding women and stirring would not solve the problem.


In this vein, there are also feminists who argue that the push for gender equality in the military is misguided. According to them, women should be protesting the behavior of the military, not clamoring to join in on the killing. Many of these same arguments apply to women in peacekeeping.

Democratic Republic of Congo Affirmative


There are several civil wars being waged inside the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a potential border war that could erupt any moment between Rwanda and the DROC.  There are many deaths, human rights abuses and displaced persons attributable to the fighting.  Villages are being pillaged and burnt to the ground.  Children as young as 5 years old are recruited to fight in rebel forces.  Ethnic minorities are being enslaved to mine for “blood diamonds” which have been known to finance terrorist operations around the world for organizations like al Qaeda. Despite the crisis, the United Nations mission there is about to expire…and many peacekeepers have already left. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo is located in central Africa, northeast of Angola – not to be confused with its neighboring nation, The Republic of Congo, which is a little further west on the Atlantic Ocean.

The DRC gained independence from Belgium in June, 1960.  But just one month later, the army rebelled against the government; the country has been plagued by civil war and unrest ever since. The country became Zaire, after a 1965 coup that installed Mobutu Sese Seko as the country’s dictator.  Rival ethnic groups fight for control over the country, most notably the Hutu and Tutsi; and the country has been additionally impacted by the refugees fleeing from the civil wars in neighboring Rwanda and Burundi in the mid-1990s.  After Mobutu fell ill in 1997 and had to leave the country for medical attention, Laurent Kabila led a rebellion and captured the capital in May of 1997.

Kabila renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo (DROC).  Within a year, Rwanda and Uganda backed troops led a rebellion against Kabila; troops from Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad and Sudan came to the aid of Kabila’s forces.  In 1999 a peace deal was brokered between the government and some rebel groups, but still other rebel groups refused to give up. Kabila was assassinated in mid-January of 2001, and his son, Joseph Kabila became the head of state.  Government and the main rebel groups signed a peace agreement at the end of 2002, under which opponents of Kabila were to be given representation within the national government.

A new constitution schedules elections for 2005.  Kabila still leads an interim government and its appointed parliament.  However, despite the peace agreement, turmoil still plagues the country.  A battle between Hema and Lendu tribes in the northeast, rages on.  There were reports of coup attempts in March and June of 2004.  In addition, the DROC government accuses Rwanda of supporting rebel forces; many even suggest that the build-up of Rwanda armed forces the border to the DROC, indicates a potential border war about to erupt.

The Affirmative would argue that the United States should substantially support extending the mission in Congo in order to demobilize and disarm the fighting parties.





U.N. Debt Affirmative


The UN is funded by assessed and voluntary contributions from member states.  Assessed contributions are the required annual dues that each member nation must contribute to the United Nations.  The dues are different for each nation and are assessed based on a nation’s size and economy. 


For peacekeeping operations, the UN uses the funds generated from member dues to pay nations for use of their troops on peacekeeping operations.  When the UN is out of money, all they can do is say that they will eventually pay the contributing nation back. Given the fact that most of the troops supplied come from poorer nations, this puts extraordinary pressure on those nations that are already struggling economically. What is happening is that instead of suffering that economic blow, more and more countries are refusing to commit troops to peacekeeping operations.


Unfortunately the UN has always had problems with members refusing to pay their dues - crippling the organization’s effectiveness.  The biggest offender has been the United States.  The United States owes the United Nations over $1.5 billion dollars in dues that could provide the critical funding needed to have a well-funded and effective UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. This Affirmative case would argue that the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations is severely under-funded and therefore cannot launch successful peacekeeping missions unless the United States pays its member dues. 


Some Affirmative plans will simply have the United States pay all of the money it owes to the UN for peacekeeping operations.  Other plans will have the U.S. Treasury pay the dues automatically each year, rather than waiting for Congress to authorize the funds.   



Demining Affirmative


The parties involved in civil wars and border disputes around the world often use landmines to enforce land-claims.  Even after the war, the mines still indiscriminately maim and kill civilians. Demining -- removing or neutralizing minefields -- is a major aspect of peacekeeping operations.


This Affirmative would increase funding and technical support for UN de-mining missions.

The following is from the website to The International Campaign to Ban Landmines: http://www.icbl.org/

Antipersonnel landmines are still being laid today. These - and mines from previous conflicts - continue to claim victims in every corner of the globe each day. The situation has improved in recent years, but a global mine crisis remains and there is still a lot to be done before we live in a mine-free world.


·        Antipersonnel mines cannot be aimed: they do not distinguish between the footfall of a soldier or a child.

·        They lie dormant until a person or animal triggers their detonating mechanism.

·        Then, landmines kill or injure civilians, soldiers, peacekeepers and aid workers alike.

Young campaigner adds shoe to pyramid showing lost lives and limbs. Handicap International demo, Paris, 1997. Credit: John Rodsted.


·        When triggered, a landmine unleashes unspeakable destruction.

·        A landmine blast causes injuries like blindness, burns, destroyed limbs and shrapnel wounds.

·        Sometimes the victim dies from the blast, due to loss of blood or because they don’t get to medical care in time.

·        Those who survive and receive medical treatment often require amputations, long hospital stays and extensive rehabilitation.

·        The injuries are no accident, since landmines are designed to maim rather than kill their victims.

Stolen lives, limbs and livelihoods

·        Mine deaths and injuries over the past decades now total in the hundreds of thousands.

·        It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 new casualties caused by landmines and unexploded ordnance each year. That means there are some 1,500 new casualties each month, more than 40 new casualties a day, at least two new casualties per hour.

·        Most of the casualties are civilians and most live in countries that are now at peace.

·        In Cambodia, for example there are almost 40,000 landmine survivors recorded between 1979 and 2002. These are the survivors. Some 18,000 people were killed in this period. More than 60 % of the total casualties, numbering some 57,000, were civilians (source: Landmine Monitor Report 2003).

"Working Legs" - close-up of an Angolan farmers prosthetic leg. Leuna. Angola, 1997. Credit: Tim Grant

Development disaster

·        Landmines deprive people in some of the poorest countries of land and infrastructure.

·        Once there is peace most soldiers will be demobilized and give in their guns, mines however don't recognize a cease-fire.

·        They hold up the repatriation of refugees and displaced people.

·        They also hamper reconstruction and the delivery of aid.

·        Assistance to landmine survivors can be an enormous strain on resources.

·        Landmine casualties deprive communities and families of breadwinners.

·        Mines also kill livestock and wild animals and wreak environmental havoc.

Landmines are everywhere

·        Every region in the world is mine-affected.

·        More than 80 countries are affected to some degree by landmines and/or unexploded ordnance.

·        Nobody knows how many mines are in the ground. But the actual number is less important than their impact: it can take only two or three mines or the mere suspicion of their presence to render a patch of land.

·        Some of the most contaminated places are Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chechnya, Colombia, Iraq, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

·        Some countries with a mine problem don’t provide much public information about the extent of the problem such as Myanmar (Burma), India or Pakistan.

Still work to be done

·        Sadly, antipersonnel landmines are still being planted today and minefields dating back decades continue to lie in wait of innocent victims.

·        Vast stockpiles of landmines remain in warehouses around the world and a handful of countries still produce the weapon.




The Negative team can win the round by making direct and specific attacks on the Affirmative case, also known as on-case attacks; or by indirect and more generic, off-case attacks.


On-Case/Direct Case Attacks


On-case attacks try to reveal holes or flaws in the Aff case that would argue that:


·      No Significant Harms: The problem the Aff identifies is either nonexistent or too insignificant to warrant action;

·      No Inherency: The problem is already being addressed – so additional action isn’t necessary

·      No Solvency: The Affirmative’s plan doesn’t solve the problem


Off-Case/Indirect Attacks


The Negative Team can make several types of off-case/indirect attacks:


·      Disadvantage: This argument says that passing the affirmative’s proposed policy would cause horrible disadvantages (i.e. would crush the economy; would cause a war etc.)


·      Counterplan: This argument is when the negative says the affirmative’s policy proposal, or “plan,” is a bad idea and won’t fix the problem; and instead the negative proposes a different way of fixing the problem, with their “counterplan.” The counterplan this year is Unilateralism - to have the United States just do their plan without the United Nations.  The Negative would argue that the UN is a terrible organization and that the United States should just do the plan by themselves.


·      Topicality: This argument is when the Negative team accuses the Affirmative team of being outside the bounds of the national topic for the year.  If the Affirmative team proposed to bomb North Korea, that wouldn’t be the United States supporting United Nations Peacekeeping.  The Negative team can argue that the Aff team should loose because they are “not topical.”


The following summaries were written by the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues:




China Disadvantage


China has long been famous for using its security council veto to interfere with UN peacekeeping operations. In particular, it doesn’t like US involvement in military interventions. Primarily, this is because it fears for its own sovereignty. When it sees the willingness of the UN, led by the US, to intervene in the internal conflicts of other states, it worries about the same thing happening in some place like Taiwan or the Spratly Islands. Essentially, they view US-led peacekeeping interventions as acts of containment that are at least indirectly aggressive towards them. Triggering Chinese fears of containment will spark a lash-out that will hurt relations with the US and maybe even start a war.


The Affirmative will argue that in fact China has been warming to the peacekeeping process recently, and unless their case deals specifically with East Asia, probably will not irk China very much. They can also that containment is in fact the best way to handle China.



Japan Disadvantage


Another possible Negative argument will be to contend that Japan, rather than the US, should implement the Affirmative team’s plan. The major advantage to this is that increasing its contribution to peacekeeping operations will help Japan win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, which would be momentous as it would be the first non-nuclear power to hold such a position. This, in turn, would help to advance the cause of nuclear non-proliferation.


Another benefit is that this would arguably avoid the Chinese containment argument. However, the Affirmative might suggest that China is also threatened by Japanese interventionism.


The Affirmative will also argue that a seat on the Security Council will not encourage Japan to take a more aggressive foreign policy stance. Rather, they will just rubber-stamp US policy, effectively increasing their dominance of the UN. Worse, peacekeeping will be a backdoor for Japan to remilitarize, since their Constitution technically forbids them to have an army. This rearmament would potentially be destabilizing for the entire region.


The Affirmative will also argue that the best policy would be for Japan and US to implement the plan cooperatively. Among other things, it would improve relations between those countries. However, the Neg can argue that this might freak China out even more than either acting alone, since it is uniquely threatened by the US-Japan security alliance.



Aid Trade-Off


Many developing countries object to the expenditure of so much money and energy on peacekeeping because they feel it often comes at the expense of the development assistance that might prevent conflicts in the first place. There are other benefits to development assistance as well, such as preventing poverty, starvation, and AIDS.


The Affirmative, however, may argue that this is like a chicken and egg question; development assistance can’t have much effect while wars are raging. Following this logic, it makes more sense to focus on creating the conditions for successful development assistance. There are also larger criticisms of development assistance, such as the argument that it often becomes a tool of imperialism and colonialism. Then again, the same could be said of peacekeeping.




Yes! This is a negative argument, too! There is something a little bit ironic about the fact that peacekeepers carry guns. A growing movement of non-violence activists is gathering around the possibility of finding non-violent solutions to conflicts. They are concerned that so-called peacekeeping is becoming more and more of a violent enterprise, especially with the recent talk of ‘peace enforcement’, where UN troops are not just overseeing a ceasefire but are actively becoming involved in the conflict. In fact, the Brahimi Report suggests that peacekeepers have a moral obligation to use force in defense of civilians.


According to this criticism, peace will never come as a result of force. Violence always breeds more violence, and even if a temporary cease-fire is achieved by force, renewed conflict will eventually break out. The only solution is to stop thinking of violence as a possible solution and learn to imagine peaceful alternatives.