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SDG Zero? A People-Centered Approach to Universal Connectivity

Mon, 26/04/2021 - 16:39

As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on digital technologies, it has highlighted the growing digital divide between and within societies. Universal access to the digital world has become more urgent than ever, and failure to achieve it could undermine progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. While closing the digital divide and increasing connectivity are among the UN secretary-general’s priorities for 2021, this goal remains elusive and faces many obstacles.

This paper, based on a series of three roundtables convened by IPI, together with Microsoft, in March and April 2021, identifies some of these obstacles to universal connectivity and considers how they can be overcome. It looks in particular at the human rights risks of rushing to close the digital divide. Ultimately, it concludes that achieving meaningful and sustainable progress toward digital inclusion requires all actors to commit to working through a multi-stakeholder platform.

In a spirit of collaboration and to stimulate further dialogue, the paper puts forward the following recommendations:

  • Expand the definition of universal connectivity;
  • Tie digital inclusion to the 2030 Agenda;
  • Ensure that the roll-out of universal connectivity is benevolent;
  • Support context-specific national and local strategies;
  • Develop new financing models such as sovereign guarantees or digital bonds;
  • Build a common understanding of connectivity and digital inclusion;
  • Build confidence among different actors; and
  • Give the UN a leadership role.


Whose Peace are We Building? Leadership for Peace in Africa

Fri, 23/04/2021 - 16:26

Watch Live Register to Attend

On Monday, May 17th, IPI together with the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London, is pleased to invite you to the launch of the book Whose Peace are We Building? Leadership for Peace in Africa, authored by Dr. Youssef Mahmoud with Dr. Albert Mbiatem. Following the book presentation, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A.

Remarks will begin at 6:00am PST / 9:00am EST

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What is the relationship between leadership and peace? What kind of leadership styles, processes, and strategies are required to gain a deeper understanding of local context while at the same time maintaining the trust and cooperation of host authorities and other stakeholders on the ground? As concerns mount about the continued relevance and efficiency of UN peace operations, Dr. Youssef Mahmoud–who led several challenging peace missions in Africa–draws on many years of experience to offer insights into how leadership might be exercised to help restore and nurture peace.

Dr. Mahmoud makes the case for a paradigm shift in the type of leadership required to bring about strong, global diplomacy for peace. Making extensive use of the authors’ unique personal experiences in Burundi, Central African Republic, and Chad, the book offers an informed insight into the leadership challenges of complex conflict and post-conflict situations.

Dr. Youssef Mahmoud, IPI Senior Adviser
Dr. Albert Mbiatem, African Leadership Centre (ALC) alumnus and member of ALC’s Central Africa Hub

Amb. Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN
Amb. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Former UN Special Envoy to Burundi and President of the Centre for Strategies and Security for the Sahel Sahara (Centre 4s)
Prof. ‘Funmi Olonisakin, Member of the Advisory Group of Experts for the 2015 Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture, Vice-President & Vice-Principal (International) and Professor of Security, Leadership, and Development at King’s College London
Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, DPPA-DPO

Dr. Adam Lupel, IPI Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Moving Away from Rhetoric: How to Systemically Include Youth in Peace and Climate Action

Tue, 20/04/2021 - 16:15
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IPI and the Global Challenges Foundation cohosted a virtual policy forum on April 20th that focused on the synergies and connections between the youth, peace, and security (YPS), and climate action agendas, including how to ensure more meaningful engagement with youth leaders across the world on peace and climate governance. It also launched an issue brief on this topic.

Youth have emerged as a powerful voice in the fight against climate change, demanding transformative change to safeguard the planet. Many youth-led organizations from around the world are also engaged in initiatives to build peace and prevent violence in their communities. Youth movements are increasingly calling for their voices to be heard and for policymakers to include them in decision-making processes at the local, national, and global levels.

The following questions guided the discussion:

  • Using the YPS and climate action agendas as leading examples of youth engagement, how can youth be more systematically engaged in decision-making processes at the local, national, and global levels?
  • 2021 is a pivotal year for renewing multilateralism. How can we use the alignment in the Security Council on climate change and the upcoming COP26 and Stockholm+50 Conference to transform governance structures that have excluded youth?
  • What do donors need to do differently for funding to be accessible to youth-led organizations?
  • How do we better engage youth as experts in building evidence, gathering data, and developing case studies on the synergies between peace and climate action?

This event brought together stakeholders from governments, the United Nations, and civil society, ensuring intergenerational and inclusive participation.

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Dr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, IPI President

H.E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King, Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the UN
H.E. Ms. Johanna Lissinger Peitz, Ambassador for Stockholm+50
Mr. Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Assistant Secretary-General for the Climate Action Team
Ms. Nisreen Elsaim, Chair of UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group and Chair of the Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change
Ms. Disha Sarkar, Ambassador for the International Youth Conference from India

Ms. Jimena Leiva Roesch, IPI Senior Fellow and Head of the Peace and Sustainable Development Program

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Youth Participation in Global Governance for Sustaining Peace and Climate Action

Mon, 19/04/2021 - 18:15

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Youth movements have played an increasingly prominent role in calling for action to address climate change. Many youth-led organizations are also engaged in initiatives to build peace in their communities. In global policymaking fora, however, youth remain sidelined.

This issue brief outlines the synergies between the youth, peace, and security (YPS) and youth climate action agendas. It also examines the factors that contribute to young people’s exclusion from global governance, including negative misperceptions of youth, outdated policy frameworks, lack of funding, and weak links between youth and global governance fora.

The paper concludes with recommendations for governments and multilateral institutions to better assess the links between youth, peace, and climate change and include young people in decision-making processes. Recommendations include:

  • Bridging the gap between national governments and youth organizations;
  • Bridging the gap between global governance institutions and youth organizations;
  • Systematically putting youth on the agenda of intergovernmental fora and conferences;
  • Prioritizing YPS and youth climate action within the UN Secretariat;
  • Making funding mechanisms more accessible to youth organizations; and
  • Expanding the evidence base on the intersections between youth, climate change, and peace.
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MENA Water Challenges: An Opportunity for Regional Cooperation

Mon, 22/03/2021 - 20:31

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In a webinar organized on March 22, 2021 under the theme “MENA Water Challenges: An Opportunity for Regional Cooperation,” IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji underscored the need for a multi-layered, coherent and comprehensive approach to unleash the potential of water as a tool for regional integration and cooperation. The event coincided with World Water Day.

“Cooperation on water issues can lead to political processes enabling-cross border coordination which in turn diminishes tensions,” Mr. Friji said.

During his keynote address, Mr. Mahdi Al-Hamdani, the Iraqi Minister of Water Resources, acknowledged the growing challenges the region faces, citing population growth, urban expansion, and climate change in addition to security and political challenges, pointing to Iraq’s Tigris and Euphrates regions as examples. He called for unified awareness, cooperation and effective management of water resources at all levels of the multilateral system in order to achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals related to water.

Ms. Akissa Bahri, former Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, stressed that the MENA region’s strategy for water security should focus on “strengthening collaboration and integration” among countries in the region. She pointed to the North African aquifer system as an example of a sustainable, regional cooperative management system via Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia’s collective action in successfully garnering support and funding from international bodies.

Ms. Lena Salame, Conflict Management Specialist at Geneva Water Hub (GWH), poignantly reminded the audience that “unlike other resources, there is no alternative for water.” She said only through committing to the water agenda, might we “mobilize political will – it is the key ingredient to making the [UN’s humanitarian, peace, and sustainable development] agendas move forward.”

Mr. Waleed Zubari, Professor of Water Resources Management at Arabian Gulf University (AGU), raised the dilemma on the perception of water’s “value” in the Gulf region—one of the most water stressed subregions—where its value is often equated to price. The region’s reliance on desalination bears high costs on the financial, economic, and environmental fronts.

Mr. Maruan El-Krekshi, Head of MENA Department at Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) in Finland, shared his organization’s efforts in water diplomacy, particularly with regard to their conflict resolution activities. He highlighted the efficacy of using water as an entry point to convene relevant actors in the region to cooperate within and beyond the context of conflict in the region, drawing from CMI’s work in Libya since 2015.

German Ambassador to Bahrain, Kai Boeckmann announced Germany’s plans to join the Middle Eastern Desalination Research Center (MEDRC), and reiterated Germany’s intention to contribute to cooperation over water disputes in the region.

Among those who took part in the discussion were Raji Unnikrishnan from Bahrain daily newspaper, Gulf Daily News (GDN); Mr. Ebrahim Nonoo, President of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities; Ms. Arwa Kooli, journalist from Dar Assabah; and Joanna Meyer, a water advocate.

The event was hosted by the IPI MENA office. As a key instrument of peace, water remains at the top of IPI MENA’s Regional Integration project.

Bangladeshi Envoy Appeals for Lasting Solution to Rohingya Crisis

Mon, 15/03/2021 - 20:18

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Bangladesh Ambassador to Bahrain Dr. Md. Nazrul Islam, joined by speakers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), launched an urgent appeal to the international community for a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis, and urged the multilateral system to facilitate the voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the refugees back to Myanmar.

During an IPI MENA’s virtual Ambassadorial Conference Series on “The Culture of Peace and the Forcibly Displaced Rohingya People” on March 15, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji opened the event by stressing the importance of a culture of peace in areas such as the promotion of human rights, women and youth, economic integration and regional integration. “In a global environment that has seen heightened rhetoric of hate, intolerance and acts of violence, the practice of the culture of peace is especially pertinent,” he stated.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s policies to integrate and put to practice a culture of peace, Dr. Nazrul Islam emphasized that inclusive growth-led policies, namely empowering women, change lives through development. He pointed to Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, a woman at the helm of a Muslim-majority country, as a role model through her policies towards aiding the 1.2 million Rohingya refugees hosted in Bangladesh.

Dr. Nazrul Islam elaborated on Bangladesh’s efforts within the multilateral system to facilitate the voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the Rohingyas back to their homeland in Myanmar, stressing, “By ensuring justice and accountability, reaching the culture of peace becomes linked to eliminating the culture of impunity.”

A Senior Research Fellow at BIDS, discussant Dr. Nazneen Ahmed noted BIDS independence as a think-tank that conducts policy research on socio-economic development issues within Bangladesh. She acknowledged that while 20% of the country’s 160 million people still live under the poverty line, Bangladesh’s decision to invest in women and children’s education will decrease disparity, and put the country’s projected “developed” status by 2041 within reach.

She regretted Bangladesh’s limited resources and called for support from the international community, stating, “non-financial means of support such as regional integration agreements, are equally crucial to maintaining and achieving peace.”

Mr. Marghoob Saleem Butt, Executive Director of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), noted that Bangladesh, a member of the OIC since 1974 with a vast Muslim population, holds strong values in line with the culture of peace and underlined OIC’s similar commitments to advocating human rights and peace.

Mr. Butt stated that “adopting a Culture of Peace, starting with the overhaul of the education system and aligning policies within a human rights framework, are keys to successful development.” He stressed that an all-inclusive approach involving broader civil society and political leadership in Myanmar must pave the way for peaceful coexistence.

German Ambassador to Bahrain, Kai Boeckmann, questioned the role of the UN in enabling a voluntary, dignified, and safe return of the Rohingyas, to which Dr. Islam reiterated Bangladesh’s engagement with the relevant UN agencies, such as the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. Mr. Butt suggested the UN Security Council (UNSC) impose concrete measures to bring the refugees back through a phased program.

United States Charge D’Affaires to Bahrain, Margaret Nardi, expressed the US’ continued support to Bangladesh regarding the Rohingya crisis as a partner within the UNSC. She referred to US sanctions on Myanmar’s military officials and the freezing of over $1 billion in funds in the country as a means to put pressure towards a democratic process.

UN Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Advisor and Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), Mounir Bouchenaki expressed concern over the loss of cultural heritage, intangible and tangible, during times of crises to which Dr. Islam replied urging the international community’s support in initiating projects that will assess and take necessary steps to preserve cultural heritage at risk of being removed.

Indian Ambassador to Bahrain, Piyush Srivastava, commented on India’s shared interests of working with Bangladesh to resolve the crisis and expressed hope in the international community’s cooperation towards aiding the Rohingya people.

Moderating the panel, Mr. Friji pointed to the recent concerns regarding Bangladesh’s relocation of the Rohingyas to Bhasan Char island. Dr. Islam emphasized that the temporary facilities and measures were put in place after appropriate assessments of the island, assuring that no efforts are being spared to help protect the Rohingya, and pointed to Bangladesh’s recent vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 to the Rohingya refugees in his country.

Participants of the webinar included representatives of the diplomatic corps, government, civil society, private sector, as well as the media.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein Appointed IPI’s Next President & CEO

Fri, 12/03/2021 - 16:49

The International Peace Institute’s Board of Directors today announced the appointment of Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein as the next President & CEO. Zeid will become IPI’s 5th President & CEO since the institution was established in partnership with UN Secretary-General U Thant in 1970 with a mission to manage risk and build resilience to promote peace, security, and sustainable development.

Zeid served as the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 after a long career as a Jordanian diplomat, including as his country’s Permanent Representative to the UN (2000-2007 & 2010-2014) and Ambassador to the United States (2007-2010). He served on the UN Security Council, was a configuration chair for the UN Peace-Building Commission, and began his career as a UN Peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia. He has also represented his country twice before the International Court of Justice, served as the President of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court from 2002-2005, and in 2005, authored the first comprehensive strategy for the elimination of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping Operations while serving as an advisor to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Zeid holds a PhD from Cambridge University and is currently a Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights, founded by Nelson Mandela.

“Zeid will bring to the role a unique mix of high-level diplomatic experience and first-class academic credentials in grappling with complex peace and security matters,” said the Chair of the IPI Board and former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd. “Zeid’s reputation precedes himself. Around the world he is deeply respected for his integrity, ethical leadership, and commitment to human rights. Working with the rest of the IPI staff and wider community, he is perfectly placed to help build the next chapter of IPI’s history.”

Zeid’s appointment follows an extensive executive search as well as a screening and interview process involving representatives from the IPI Board, International Advisory Council, and external stakeholders. He will commence in the role in late March.

Commenting on his appointment, Zeid said, “When I arrived in New York in 1996 as a young diplomat, Kofi Annan advised me to seek out Olara Otunnu and his able staff at the International Peace Academy (as it was then known) for their expertise. I am delighted, so many years – and UN experiences later – to be joining the IPI team at this point in time. Hopefully, we’ll also inspire young diplomats and UN staff the way I was inspired all those years ago.”

Adam Lupel, who has been IPI’s Acting President & CEO since October 2020, will resume his role as IPI’s Vice President & COO.

“The IPI community owes Adam a tremendous debt of gratitude for his extraordinary efforts in recent months. I know for a fact that his own commitment to transparency and integrity is held in the highest regard by the IPI staff, donors and partners,” said Rudd.

IPI MENA, UN Women, UNHCHR, ESCWA and Bahrain Call for Women Leadership and Empowerment

Mon, 08/03/2021 - 20:46

Addressing representatives of government, private sector, the diplomatic and civil society on the occasion of International Women’s Day, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji joined a global call to further women’s leadership and empowerment.

During a virtual conference on March 8th that brought together around five hundred participants, H.E. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, opened the event by underscoring the significant progress and continued efforts that Bahrain has made toward women’s affairs, which has contributed to the kingdom’s successful development over the years.

H.E Hala Al Ansari, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Women (SCW), reiterated Bahrain’s active commitment to further women’s participation in the international arena, with regard to women in diplomacy, citing membership to several United Nation bodies for women, and Bahrain’s chairing the 36th session of the Arab Women Committee of the League of Arab States in 2017.

In light of the workshop’s theme of women’s rights and achieving family and community stability, Al-Ansari stressed the ‘importance of enabling women to practically and realistically exercise their rights as human beings under the auspices and protection of the state of law and institutions.’ She expressed the SCW’s priority in continuing to work closely with stakeholders to ensure the full implementation of the rights stipulated in the country’s constitution, which were explicit in the aspect of equal rights and duties among its citizens, women and men.

Mr. Abdullah bin Faisal bin Jabr Al-Dosari, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented a comparison on women’s rights in international standards and national applications, by giving an overview to some of the kingdom’s international achievements in the field of women’s rights, that have led to feats in the family unit.

During his intervention in the plenary session, Mr. Friji encouraged Bahrain’s commitment toward achieving sustainable social and economic development, through the inclusion of women throughout legislation and long-term initiatives. He pointed in particular to the National Action Charter, noting it had the active support from and for women throughout its implementation that “sheds light on developing visions that protect childhood and the family to achieve equality among all citizens without any discrimination.”

Ms. Susanne Michael, Regional Director for the Arab States of UN Women, reiterated how women’s leadership throughout the pandemic has demonstrated how the empowerment of women would not only garner significant contributions to the economy post-Covid-19, but also results directly in a stronger family unit. Therefore, “boys and men are not only vital allies but main beneficiaries when it comes to women empowerment.”

Dr. Akram Khalifa, the Regional Adviser on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Issues (UN ESCWA), stated that gender should be integrated into all aspects of national policies, strategies, and action plans, through mainstreaming a gender perspective in national policies and considering gender issues in all aspects of their implementation, monitoring and reporting.

Roueida El Hage, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) MENA Representative, cited the obstacles that women continue to face in gaining equal rights as men, as these are based on social structures and power relations that frame everyday life. However, she acknowledged the great strides that have been made in the kingdom to minimize these problems in the last decade alone, which has resulted in the improvement of the rights for women and girls.

All speakers paid homage to the women who are on the frontlines fighting the pandemic, and agreed on the need for a holistic community effort during the post-Covid-19 recovery and beyond, in the economic and social realms.

Participants of the webinar included H.E. Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Dr. Hala Al-Ansari, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Women, Mr. Abdullah bin Faisal bin Jabr Al-Dosari, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Susan Michael, Regional Director for the Arab States (UN Women), Ms. Roueida El Hage, OHCHR Regional Representative for the MENA, Dr. Akram Khalifa, Regional Adviser on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment issues (ESCWA), and National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) Chairwoman Maria Khoury.

Strengthening Gender Equality: Inclusion and Meaningful Participation of Women in Building Peace

Mon, 08/03/2021 - 17:26
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On March 8th, International Women’s Day, IPI together with the Government of Sweden, cohosted a virtual interactive dialogue between civil society representatives and H.E. Ms. Ann Linde, Foreign Minister of Sweden and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, to discuss ways to ensure the inclusion and meaningful participation of women at all points before, during, and after conflict, as well as the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

This year, Sweden holds the Chair of the OSCE, with Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Ms. Ann Linde serving as Chairperson-in-Office. On Wednesday, March 10th, she will brief the UN Security Council on this year’s priorities. Upon taking office, the Foreign Minister noted that enhancing gender equality and promoting the WPS Agenda are key priorities of the Swedish Chair.

Ahead of the Security Council briefing, this dialogue provided the opportunity for women peacebuilders and activists from the OSCE region to brief the OSCE Chair on the most pressing issues affecting WPS implementation in their respective contexts.

Welcome Remarks:
Dr. Adam Lupel, IPI Acting President & CEO
H.E. Ms. Ann Linde, Foreign Minister of Sweden
Ms. Liliana Palihovici, Special Representative of the OSCE to the Chairperson-in-Office on Gender
Ms. Heidi Meinzolt, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Civil Society Participants:
Ms. Tolekan Ismailova, NGO Birduino, Kyrgyzstan
Ms. Gulnara Shahinian, Democracy Today, Armenia
Ms. Julia Kharashvili, NGO IDP Women, Georgia
Ms. Maryna Korzh, Fem Group, Belarus
Ms. Nina Potarska, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Ukraine

Dr. Adam Lupel, IPI Acting President & CEO

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Prioritization and Sequencing of Security Council Mandates in 2021: The Case of UNMISS

Thu, 25/02/2021 - 22:04

Nearly one year after the creation of a transitional government in February 2020, the main pillars of the June 2018 permanent cease-fire and September 2018 peace agreement in South Sudan continue to hold, but their implementation has progressed at a worryingly slow pace.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report organized a virtual workshop on February 10, 2021, to discuss UNMISS’s mandate and political strategy. This workshop offered a forum for member states, UN staff, and outside experts to develop a shared understanding and common strategic assessment of the situation in South Sudan. The session was intended to help the Security Council make informed decisions with respect to the strategic orientation, prioritization, and sequencing of UNMISS’s mandate and actions on the ground. The workshop’s deliberations focused on the political and security dynamics in South Sudan, as well as on UNMISS’s current mandate and priorities for the coming year. Participants also discussed the findings of the independent strategic review of UNMISS, which were shared with the Security Council in December 2020.

Participants concluded that moving forward, the UN will need to engage more deeply and systematically to help South Sudan address underlying challenges. Encouraging South Sudanese ownership of the peace process and the country’s long-term sustainability is imperative. Doing so will require the Security Council, the UN Secretariat, and UNMISS to map out a coherent political strategy rooted in critical benchmarks and a clear understanding of how to leverage international partners and to map out options for UN support to the political transition.

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A New Era for UN Peace Operations Transitions

Tue, 23/02/2021 - 16:05
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On Tuesday, February 23rd, IPI together with the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN cohosted a virtual policy forum entitled “A New Era for UN Peace Operations Transitions.”

The panel discussion reflected on the evolving policy and practices related to the transition of UN peace operations. It also highlighted IPI’s body of research on transitions at the conclusion of a multi-year IPI project on the topic. In particular, the discussions focused on the political and policy trends surrounding transition processes, while offering speakers an opportunity to focus on recent and upcoming transition processes (e.g., with the UN presences in Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

UN mission transitions highlight the temporary nature of peace operations, and they aim to support countries in shifting away from periods of armed violence toward sustained peace and development. Recent transition processes underscore how these efforts are both highly political and operational, requiring flexible and close cooperation with host governments, national actors, and international partners alike. In light of the political pressures placed on UN peace operations, reconfigurations and drawdowns have at times occurred amid incomplete political settlements, persistent threats to civilians, and significant social and economic disparities.

This virtual policy forum addressed the contemporary dynamics shaping current and future UN transitions and reconfigurations. It reflected on lessons observed from previous transitions and highlight how the UN’s approach to transition processes has evolved. The policy forum also considered the research produced by IPI’s project on peace operations transitions since 2018, including a new publication on the UN transition in Sudan.

Opening Remarks:
Mr. Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs
Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN

Mr. Daniel Forti, IPI Senior Policy Analyst
Ms. Rania Dagash-Kamara, Chief, Policy and Best Practices Service, UN Department of Peace Operations
Ms. Rachel Scott, Senior Policy and Partnerships Advisor, UN Development Programme
Ms. Siria Maniam, Senior Transition Adviser, UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)

Mr. Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs

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Walking a Tightrope: The Transition from UNAMID to UNITAMS in Sudan

Thu, 18/02/2021 - 19:13

The UN’s transition in Sudan started out in 2014 as a process to close the African Union–United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in the face of waning international support and overwhelming pressure from an autocratic regime. But in 2019, Sudan’s revolution and ongoing political transition radically transformed how the UN engages with Sudan. UNAMID’s closure in December 2020 and the start-up of a new special political mission, the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), now constitute one of the most complex reconfigurations the organization has ever attempted.

This paper examines the ongoing UN transition in Sudan, focusing on the establishment of UNITAMS and UNAMID’s exit from Darfur.The paper evaluates the transition across four themes pertinent to the transition of UN peace operations: the creation of a shared political vision for the transition, national engagement in the process, efforts to comprehensively plan the transition, and the dynamics of international financial support and partnerships.

In order to sustain the UN’s reconfiguration in Sudan while supporting Sudan’s own political transition, the UN should consider the following:

  • Articulating a forward-looking political compact with Sudan to guide UN support to the political transition;
  • Rapidly expanding support for urgent peacebuilding and protection priorities in Darfur;
  • Continuously evaluating the UN’s operational presence and substantive impact outside of Khartoum;
  • Encouraging the Sudanese government to provide regular updates on the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement and its national protection of civilians plan;
  • Providing frequent, detailed assessments of UNAMID’s drawdown and liquidation;
  • Undertaking a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of UNITAMS; and
  • Considering additional reforms to the UN’s peace and security pillar on mission planning processes.

In addition, to support the efforts of the UN and the Sudanese transitional government, UN member states could consider the following:

  • Increasing financial support to coherently address Sudan’s peacebuilding and development needs;
  • Maintaining a close relationship between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council on Sudan; and
  • Sustaining international attention on Sudan’s transition and maintaining UN support.


UN Peacekeeping Operations and Gendered Threats to the Protection of Civilians

Tue, 16/02/2021 - 17:50

The intersection between the protection of civilians (POC) and gender has been addressed in Security Council resolutions on POC and on women, peace, and security (WPS) since the late 1990s. Nonetheless, understanding how POC and gender converge, and translating this convergence into implementable action plans, are challenging tasks for peacekeeping missions.

This paper examines how peacekeeping missions conceptualize and define gendered threats to civilians at the field level. It analyzes key policy documents that provide substantive guidance to peacekeeping missions on POC and gender and looks at the way the language in the mandates of peacekeeping missions provides a conceptual framework for understanding gendered POC threats. It also explores the way mission-level POC strategies frame the juncture of gender and POC, how missions identify and analyze gendered POC threats, and the coher­ence and sustainability of their approaches.

The paper concludes that UN peacekeeping missions could consider devel­oping “safeguarding frameworks” on the intersection of POC and gender. These frameworks could provide more detailed guidance that challenges the conflation of “gender” and “women” and the association of gender-related protection primarily with sexual violence. They could also dictate that missions need to assess the gender aspects of every threat and could help move missions from coordinating to integrating their work on POC and gender.


A UN for All? UN Policy and Programming on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics

Thu, 11/02/2021 - 16:49

Sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) have been on the UN’s agenda for more than twenty-five years. Many of the earliest developments took place in the UN human rights mechanisms and Human Rights Council. Increasingly, however, UN agencies, funds, and programs are also integrating SOGIESC into their policy and programming.

This paper explores what these UN entities have been doing to respect, protect, promote, and fulfill the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. It looks at how the UN’s work on SOGIESC has intersected with its work on human rights, global public health, development, humanitarian affairs, peace and security, and gender. It also assesses what has been driving forward policy and programming on SOGIESC and the barriers that have held back further progress.

The paper concludes with recommendations for the UN Secretariat, UN agencies, funds, and programs, supportive UN member states, and LGBTI activists across five areas:

  • Building the human resources needed to institutionalize the UN’s work on SOGIESC;
  • Making the UN a safe and accepting workplace for LGBTI people;
  • Mainstreaming and coordinating work on SOGIESC;
  • Strengthening partnerships between the UN and other actors; and
  • Continuing to expand policy and programming on SOGIESC into new areas.


Breaking the Mold: Lessons from Sixteen Years of Innovative UN Political Engagement in Nepal

Wed, 10/02/2021 - 16:32

UN political engagement in Nepal between 2002 and 2018 has long been considered a successful example of sustained and innovative support to a critical peace process. Many governments in the broader region, however, have largely eschewed international assistance in resolving conflicts, perceiving it as an unnecessary infringement on state sovereignty or a threat to regional balances of power.

This paper looks at lessons the UN could learn from its political presence in Nepal. It summarizes the four periods of the UN’s involvement, highlights best practices, and reviews the challenges faced and how they shaped the range of actions available to the UN. It concludes with eight lessons for the UN:

  • Foster relationships with key conflict parties before there is a need for an active UN political role;
  • Use indirect means to keep the regional players positively engaged, when direct means fail;
  • Draw on or generate high-quality, fast, actionable, and representative conflict information;
  • Design UN missions according to context;
  • Manage a mission’s (perceived or real) footprint in order to maximize leverage;
  • Build a dedicated communications strategy to help set and manage expectations regarding what a mission can and cannot do;
  • Consider using human rights monitoring as the groundwork for conflict resolution; and
  • Be willing to make unpopular decisions, if they are the right decisions for sustaining the peace.


Women, Peace, and Security Mandates for UN Peacekeeping Operations: Assessing Influence and Impact

Sun, 31/01/2021 - 16:24

Peacekeeping mission mandates now routinely include language on women, peace, and security (WPS). Despite this progress, negotiations in the Security Council on the inclusion of WPS language in mandates have at times been contested, and it is not always clear that more detailed or “stronger” language on WPS in mandates translates to changes in peacekeeping missions. The language included in mandates can even perpetuate stereotypes, including the assumption that every uniformed woman is responsible for implementing a mission’s WPS mandate.

This paper explores the different elements of the WPS agenda that are included in peacekeeping mandates, assesses the factors that influence the inclusion of language on WPS, examines the drivers behind the implementation of the WPS agenda in the field, and assesses the impact that mandate language has on uniformed women peacekeepers. It concludes by considering how the Security Council and other stakeholders could advance the WPS agenda through mission mandates, including by:

  • Proposing WPS language early in the Security Council’s mandating process;
  • Facilitating engagement between country experts and WPS experts in member states’ permanent missions to the UN;
  • Using informal consultations to understand the needs of women affected by conflict;
  • Including language in mandates that reflects the contributions of both women and men to operational effectiveness; and
  • Ensuring that approaches to WPS in the Security Council consider the full spectrum of gender.


Considering the Protection of Civilians during UN Peacekeeping Transitions

Mon, 25/01/2021 - 17:27

In contrast to recent transitions, the next wave of UN peacekeeping transitions is set to occur in contexts where civilians continue to face threats of physical violence. These transitions are likely to have major implications for the protection of civilians (POC), which should be a key consideration for the UN when planning these missions’ exit strategies. As part of the transition process, the UN needs to shift its strategic and operational approach to POC.

This issue brief outlines how the strategic goals of POC will change during a transition and how the operational approach to POC across the UN system will need to be adapted. It examines the shift from mission-driven POC strategies to nationally led POC plans to ensure the sustainability of POC gains and mitigate the risk of violence following a mission’s departure. It also explores the need for a UN system-wide approach to POC—one that involves all relevant UN entities—to reconfigure and manage this aspect of the UN’s engagement in crisis settings and the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding.


Reflections and Lessons on UN Support to Local Mediation Efforts

Wed, 20/01/2021 - 16:00
Event Video 

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On January 20th, IPI together with the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN, cohosted a virtual panel discussion on “Reflections and Lessons on UN Support to Local Mediation Efforts.”

Track 1 mediation processes involving national political and military leaders have increasingly struggled to deliver comprehensive peace agreements that address today’s fragmented conflicts and include local communities’ needs. As a result, the UN has become more engaged in supporting local mediation actors and efforts, including in contexts with and without UN peace operations.

To reflect on the UN’s experience with such engagement to date, the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs’ (DPPA) Mediation Support Unit (MSU) recently published “UN Support to Local Mediation: Opportunities and Challenges.” This report aims to deepen understanding of the UN’s engagement in mediation at the local level and the strategic and political relevance of this engagement to the UN’s overall peacemaking efforts.

In parallel, IPI released a report titled “Parallel Tracks or Connected Pieces?: UN Peace Operations, Local Mediation, and Peace Processes.” This report considers how local mediation fits into the broader political strategies of UN peace operations, including what capacities the UN would need to increase its engagement in local mediation, what role it can play, and how it could better configure itself and engage in partnerships.

This discussion provided an overview of the DPPA and IPI reports, including perspectives from the field, highlighting lessons, insights, opportunities, and challenges as the UN engages in and with local mediation efforts.

Opening Remarks:
Teemu Turunen, Director, Centre for Mediation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Arthur Boutellis, IPI Non-resident Senior Adviser, and co-author of IPI report “Parallel Tracks or Connected Pieces”
Asif Khan, Chief of Mediation Support and Gender, Peace and Security, UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs
Gabriela Iribarne, Central Regional Office – Kabul, Head of Office and Area Security Coordinator, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Guang Cong, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Political), UN Mission in South Sudan
Marie-Joëlle Zahar, Professor, Université de Montréal, IPI Non-resident Senior Fellow, and contributing author to DPPA’s “UN Support to Local Mediation” report; and co-author of IPI report “Parallel Tracks or Connected Pieces”

Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs

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Mental Health in UN Peace Operations: Addressing Stress, Trauma, and PTSD among Field Personnel

Wed, 23/12/2020 - 18:32

The challenging environments where many contemporary UN peace operations are deployed can take a toll on the mental health of both uniformed and civilian personnel. This has led to increased attention to questions around mental health in peace operations, and in 2018, the UN made mental health and well-being a system-wide priority. Yet two years later, much remains to be done to improve mental health in UN missions.

This paper looks at the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues among the military, police, and civilian personnel of UN peace operations. It analyzes the types of stressors and psychological factors affecting personnel in the field, explores the political and institutional challenges to instilling change, and reviews the UN’s response to the mental healthcare needs of field personnel. It concludes with recommendations for the UN to ensure its duty of care for field personnel:

  • Raising the profile of mental health in UN peace operations: The Secretariat and member states should shed light on the difficult conditions facing peacekeeping personnel and better assess the prevalence of mental health issues among staff; strive to reduce the stigma associated with mental health; and come to a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in supporting mental health needs.
  • Providing more pre-deployment support: There is a need to train and sensitize personnel on how to recognize mental health issues, symptoms, and coping mechanisms. Preparedness and pre-deployment training on PTSD, trauma, and mental health should be based on minimum standards so that all contingents are equally prepared and equipped.
  • Strengthening support during deployment: Both the Secretariat and member states should uphold their duty of care for personnel in missions, including by fostering a culture of care, offering adequate psychosocial support, and improving human resources arrangements.
  • Continuing to provide support post-deployment: The UN and member states should recognize that their duty of care does not end after field personnel return from deployment. They should continue following up with former personnel to ensure they are receiving the psychosocial support they need through dedicated structures and resources.


Release of KPMG Forensic Review and IPI Probity Review

Tue, 22/12/2020 - 16:32

Statement by the International Peace Institute
22 December 2020

The International Peace Institute is an independent, not-for-profit think tank that has been instrumental in promoting peace, security and sustainable development by contributing to informed and effective international policy since it was established in partnership with United Nations Secretary General U Thant in 1970.

On October 29, 2020, the IPI Board accepted the resignation of its former president and CEO Terje Rød-Larsen.

At the same meeting, the Board decided to commission global accounting firm KPMG to undertake an independent forensic review to address its concerns about Mr. Rød-Larsen’s interactions with Jeffrey Epstein. These concerns included donations Mr. Rød-Larsen accepted from Epstein-affiliated foundations on IPI’s behalf, a short-term loan from Epstein to Mr. Rød-Larsen personally, and whether IPI was involved in other transactions related to Epstein.

The KPMG Forensic Review team was instructed to ensure IPI had fully accounted for all donations received from either Epstein or his entities, so that the total amount could be donated to support victims of human trafficking and sexual assault in accordance with the Board’s direction of December 4, 2019. In issuing this instruction, the Board was conscious that different Epstein-related foundations had made donations to dozens of non-profit institutions totaling tens of millions of dollars over many years.

KPMG was also asked to confirm IPI’s finding that the organization at no stage made any payments to Epstein.

The KPMG Forensic Review analyzed more than 152,000 transactions between January 2010 and October 2020 to identify any payments involving Epstein or 56 entities reportedly affiliated with him.

In summary, the KPMG Forensic Review found:

• No donations or reimbursements related to Epstein or his entities were received by IPI beyond those that have already been publicly disclosed by IPI;
• No payments were made by IPI to Epstein, either directly or to his entities;
• No transactions related to Mr. Rød-Larsen’s personal loan agreement;
• No IPI expenses related to Epstein, except for a $122 meal charge by Mr. Rød-Larsen in 2011; and
• All donations were properly disclosed to the US Internal Revenue Service.

We are releasing the KPMG Forensic Review in full so that IPI’s supporters, partners and staff can continue to have the same confidence in IPI that they have had for the past 50 years.

>>Download KPMG Forensic Review<<

All donations and reimbursements identified by the KPMG Forensic Review have been previously identified and publicly disclosed by IPI. They include five donations from Epstein-affiliated foundations totaling $650,000 between 2011 and 2019, reflecting approximately 0.9% of IPI’s total revenue over that period. IPI also paid the upfront cost of an airfare for economist Lawrence Summers during his engagement on an IPI project on the proviso that IPI was swiftly reimbursed. That reimbursement of $14,158 was made by an Epstein-affiliated entity.

In addition to the KPMG Forensic Review of IPI’s accounts, the Board requested a Probity Review to examine whether any IPI policies, regulations or laws had been breached, and to recommend how existing policies and procedures could be strengthened. This Probity Review was conducted by Mr. Cliff Perlman, Attorney-at-Law, who has more than 25 years’ expertise in the governance of non-profit institutions and serves as Treasurer on the IPI Board of Directors.

The Probity Review found:

• No evidence that any laws or regulations were breached in the course of IPI and Mr. Rød-Larsen’s contact with Epstein and his entities;
• No evidence of Epstein deriving any personal benefit from IPI in exchange for his donations; and that
• Mr. Rød-Larsen, while not technically breaching any IPI policies that existed at the time, should still have informed the Board of his decision to secure donations from Epstein-related entities and should not have taken a personal loan from him.

>>Download Probity Review<<

The Board has also directed IPI, based on this experience, to revise its policies and procedures over the past year. These include:

• A new Gift Acceptance Policy, adopted in December 2019, which requires IPI to consider whether potential donors are of sufficient good character;
• An updated Conflict of Interest Policy, which is being further updated to directly address reputational risk and any business dealings with donors and their affiliates;
• Updates to IPI’s Ethics Policy, Whistle-blower Policy and its new Anti-Fraud Policy; and
• Educating IPI’s staff and Board on how to recognize and respond to any future potential conflicts of interest.

As noted above, Mr. Rød-Larsen tendered his resignation as president and CEO on October 29, apologizing to the Board for his grave error of judgment.

We – the Board, management and staff of IPI – remain dismayed that a character as detestable as Epstein was permitted to associate himself with this proud and respected organization. Epstein’s crimes, which have destroyed so many lives, are inexcusable and reprehensible. They are in opposition to IPI’s core values.

It is our sincere hope that the institution will learn as much as possible from this disturbing episode and move forward with the essential work of supporting the international community to address the great challenges facing the peoples of the world and our planet in the decades ahead.

In this time of rising competition and growing division, IPI’s work to advance thinking on concrete ways to build and sustain peace, provide opportunities for dialogue, and generate objective, evidence-based research on issues of concern to the multilateral system has never been more necessary and important.

We look forward to continuing to work in partnership to realize our goal of creating a more peaceful and prosperous world now and in the years ahead.

For further information:
Dr. Adam Lupel
Acting President and CEO