For most of United Nations history, peacekeeping operations were deployed in situations of interstate conflict, with the mandate to monitor cease-fires and buffer zones between regular armies. Most of today's conflicts, however, are within states, fought not only by standing armies but also by militia and armed civilians, which makes peacekeeping even more challenging. One option in peacekeeping operations that has been therefore utilized recently is known as "subcontracting". Where a forceful presence is required, the Security Council authorizes military operations by coalitions of willing member states.
On 28 March 1997, the United Nations Security Council in resolution 1101 (1997) authorized a multinational military and humanitarian mission in Albania. The Italian-led coalition of willing member states - codenamed "Alba," Italian for "dawn" - deployed in Albania in mid-April. The Government of Slovenia decided to participate in the operation with a platoon-sized medical unit on 28 April 1997.
The Slovenian medical unit was deployed at the Rinas airport near the Albanian capital of Tirana. The medical unit was the first formation of the Slovenian Army to participate in a multinational peacekeeping opearation and its members were chosen on a voluntary basis. They served in Albania with distinction: two members of the medical team were issued with high-ranking Italian state medals. Only 10 other participants of the 6,000-men multinational force received the same honor.
The Slovenian contingent left Albania in late July, a couple of weeks before Operation Alba came to a close on 12 August 1997. In a special ceremony before the departure, the representatives of the Slovenian Government presented the high-tech equipment of the medical unit to the Albanian authorities.
Permanent Mission of Slovenia to the UN © 1998