Protection of Civilians and Raised Expectations

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC.   In recent years, the United Nations has made significant advances with respect to the protection of civilians (PoC). Yet in South Sudan, Central African Republic, and elsewhere, these words from the “Brahimi Report” still ring true: “Promising to extend such protection establishes a very high threshold of expectation. The potentially large mismatch between desired objective and resources available to meet it raises the prospect of continuing disappointment.” It is therefore imperative that the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations place PoC at the heart of its analysis. The Panel should identify ways to improve PoC across the entire UN peace operations process – from budgeting to accountability. But crucially, the Panel should also acknowledge that UN missions cannot effectively protect civilians in all situations, and it should identify those settings in which different protection actors should be deployed. Since the “Brahimi Report,” the Security Council has included PoC more consistently in its operational mandates, and the UN system has enhanced its PoC doctrine and training. These changes, bolstered by leadership from certain member-states and individuals, have saved lives. However, key parts of the peace operations system have not made sufficient progress toward supporting PoC. The UN’s budget should incentivize troop-contributing countries to not only provide working equipment, but also to protect at-risk populations. Member-states should address the persistent shortfalls in logistics and information-gathering that hinder the UN’s response. And the near-total lack of accountability for troops – and troop contributors – for protection failures must be remedied....

Operational Recommendations for the Future of Peace Operations

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC.   Several recommendations can be made with regards to the future of UN peace operations, in particular with regards to troop-contributing countries from the Global South, arms embargos and the protection of civilians. 1. Making use of the full potential of TCC experience from the global South (ed. There is an important feedback process here of UN experience into national contexts, in terms of strengthening public-sector capacity including law enforcement.): a) tapping into Southern domestic development experience, especially inequality/poverty reduction and anti-corruption measures, as a means to address conflicts’ root causes, making substantive contributions possible without requiring direct participation in robust Ch. VII action; b) active, sustained support for recruitment and training of police and civilian personnel in Southern states (specifically including women). Extensive sharing of knowledge is required, and recruitment and training costs are presently often borne by (poorly remunerated) candidates themselves. This includes a bidirectional learning process on gender policies; c) more active pursuit of partnerships with regional arrangements beyond AU and NATO, including for extra-regional deployments.   2. Renewed attention to the role of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the conflict cycle: a) renewed attention to effective enforcement of arms embargos to conflict regions, in accordance with the extensive formal measures already in place, such as marking/tracing and provisions of the ATT. This includes supply-side sanctions such as naming and shaming of producers whose weapons are in widespread illicit use in a conflict zone; b) increased and concerted discursive and material UN support for...

Peacemaking and Inclusive Politics

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC.   At the current juncture, the main challenge for UN peace operations is to reconnect mission activities to the crucial role of peacemaking. The complexity of contemporary violent conflicts necessitates a heightened focus on mediation and political facilitation aimed at helping the parties solve their fundamental differences in a non-violent manner. Providing such assistance in a timely and appropriate manner should be the primary objective of UN peace operations and serve as a guiding principle for the fulfillment of other more specific tasks in the mandate. The importance of inclusive political processes has long been recognized as a fundamental prerequisite for lasting peace. In the context of asymmetrical conflicts in fragile states, this presents hard dilemmas of engaging constituencies that are represented by non-state armed actors. Especially when being tasked to assist in the extension of state authority, missions tend to work primarily with the host government. This reflects mandates as much as mindsets. Recent experience, however, show that this is not a viable approach in situations where fundamental political problems remain unsolved and/or the government lacks popular legitimacy. The necessity—and difficulty—of getting the local politics right is directly associated with the complexity and danger of the environments. A key factor for future success will thus be to strengthen missions’ ability to adapt to the evolving political dynamics of the host society. At the every-day level this hinges on two fairly mundane requirements: Competent leadership in the field. In addition to his/her personal capacity to maneuver on the...

Views from the Field: Experiences, Results and Recommendations from Sierra Leone

In October 1999, the Security Council authorized by Security Council Resolution 1270 (1999) the establishment of UNAMSIL, the United Nations Mission to Sierra Leone. This was a new and much larger mission with a maximum of 6,000 military personnel, including 260 military observers, was mandated to assist the Government and the parties in carrying out provisions of the Lomé Peace Agreement brokered in summer 1999. At the same time, the Council decided to terminate UNOMSIL. On 7 February 2000, the Security Council, by its Resolution 1289 (2000), decided to revise the mandate of UNAMSIL to include a number of additional tasks. On 30 March 2001, a further increase was authorized to 17,500 military personnel, including the 260 military observers. The Council took this decision by its resolution 1346, and, by the same resolution, approved a revised concept of operations. By early 2002, the Government declared the war officially over. In 2005 as UNAMSIL completed most of the tasks assigned it by the Security Council, the UN Changed the Mandate from Peacekeeping to Peace building with the establishment of a peace building office (UNIOSIL – UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone) to assist the Government in consolidating peace and national stability building upon the foundation laid by UNAMSIL. In August 2008, the UN Security Council, by Resolution 1829 (2008), subsequently established then the United Nations Integrated Peace building Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). Its mandate was to cement the peace dividends that were begun by UNAMSIL. This new office helped the Government strengthen its human rights, realize the Millennium Development Goals, improve transparency and hold free and fair elections in...

Regional View: Recommendations Based on South African Experiences

Note that this briefing does not represent by any means an official position of the South African government, and is a sole reflection of observations made by the author in relation to how the engagements of the country can contribute to wider peacekeeping discussions. South Africa has increasingly engaged in supporting peace and security processes in Africa over the last 20 years, through both participation and leadership in peace operations from the United Nations and the African Union. The country has become an active player in global peace operations efforts, placed as the 14th largest contributor of uniformed personnel to the United Nations peacekeeping, by September 2014. While at the forefront of several engagements in Africa, South African experiences can assist in better understanding how to strengthen peace operations responses, particularly through regional approaches. South African positions help in understanding some of the changes at a global level in peace operations, as they have generated the need for the country to better align its policies, practice and objectives. The evolving peace operations environment brought the need for South Africa to better understand its own roles, including, for instance the increasing focus on multidimensional peace operations and the role of regional arrangements. Some of these changes and challenges faced by peace operations are presented below, focusing particularly on the idea of stabilistation, regionalisation and its support mechanisms, development of partnerships and capacity building. South Africa’s Experiences in Peacekeeping Since its process of internal transition in the early 1990s, South Africa has strengthened its roles in peacekeeping operations and engaged in several different peacekeeping operations on the continent. In particular, during...
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