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Promoting the prevention and settlement of conflicts
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Sustaining Peace in Burkina Faso: Responding to an Emerging Crisis

Tue, 19/05/2020 - 19:13

In 2017, the UN launched a system-wide effort to support the implementation of the sustaining peace agenda in Burkina Faso. Since then, a rapidly deteriorating security situation and an imminent humanitarian crisis have forced the UN, the Burkinabe government, and their partners to recalibrate their efforts. This ongoing recalibration, together with the changes resulting from the UN development system reforms, makes this an opportune moment to assess the state of efforts to sustain peace in Burkina Faso.

This paper examines the implementation of the UN’s peacebuilding and sustaining peace framework in Burkina Faso, looking at what has been done and what is still needed. It focuses on the four issue areas highlighted in the secretary-general’s 2018 report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace: operational and policy coherence; leadership at the UN country level; partnerships with local and regional actors; and international support.

Burkina Faso provides lessons for how the UN’s sustaining peace efforts can respond to growing needs without a change in mandate. Continued support for the UN resident coordinator in Burkina Faso is necessary to ensure that these efforts are part of a holistic approach to the crisis, together with local, national, and regional partners. Such support could underpin Burkina Faso’s status as a buffer against spreading insecurity in the Sahel and make the country a model for the implementation of the sustaining peace agenda in conflict-prone settings without UN missions.


Turkish, Finnish, Swiss, UN Leaders Discuss Pandemic’s Effect on Conflict Dynamics and Mediation

Tue, 19/05/2020 - 16:30

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“The coronavirus pandemic has taught everyone a valuable lesson in globalization: what happens anywhere affects everywhere, and no country is safe until all countries are safe,” said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey and Co-Chair of the Friends of Mediation Groups in the United Nations, Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “We must keep multilateralism alive,” he declared.

Mr. Çavuşoğlu was addressing a May 19th virtual event, cosponsored by IPI and the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, titled “How the Coronavirus Pandemic Affects Conflict Dynamics and Mediation: New Challenges to Peace and Security.” Underlining the impact of the pandemic on efforts towards peaceful resolution of conflicts and the importance of collective global action, he said that countries must make international organizations “relevant and credible” in the fight against the virus and its effects. “We must address the plight of vulnerable groups, and we must ensure the uninterrupted flow of humanitarian aid.”

He warned that terrorist and extremist groups would seek to exploit the current disorder for their own malign purposes. “The enemies of a rules-based order will look for an opportunity to take unilateral steps,” he said. “This is not the time to further weaken the existing mechanisms. Multilateralism should not be another casualty of COVID-19. And it is not strong rhetoric but rather effective cooperative action that will save the day.”

IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen, the event’s moderator, observed that the coronavirus crisis presented obstacles to traditional tools for the maintenance of peace and security including UN peacekeeping, mediation, and peacebuilding.

He signaled “the potential for increased instability as the pandemic disrupts humanitarian aid or exacerbates inequality and political division.”

Pekka Haavisto, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland and Co-Chair of the Friends of Mediation Groups in the UN and OSCE, said that the current crisis underlined the need for supporting multilateralism and in particular the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO). He argued that while the pandemic posed serious threats to peace processes and transitions to peace now underway, it alternatively could provide “a positive opening for peace processes” and pointed to the example of the conflicted Indonesian province of Aceh, which achieved peace in the aftermath of being devastated by a tsunami in 2004.

The international community ought to be alert to “swiftly supporting” such positive openings, he said, but he also cautioned that some countries were exploiting the situation by locking down their societies with “too harsh conditions on the restrictions” that ended up jeopardizing human rights and challenging democratic values.

Marginalized groups were particularly vulnerable and subject to added stress, and he singled out girls and women as potential targets of such abusive actions. “We know from many peace processes how crucial women and girls are to such processes,” he added. He said that though digital technology was being manipulated by purveyors of disinformation, it also represented a key “peacebuilding tool” and served the purpose of contacting and organizing young people in the service of peacemaking.

Ignazio Cassis, Federal Councillor, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, and Co-Chair of the Friends of Mediation Group in the OSCE, said Switzerland had adopted border control and security measures to combat the virus that, while innovative, were “exceptional to a democracy like ours” and were already being regularized by the parliament which was restoring the necessary checks and balances. “But for Switzerland, one essential element that has not changed with the crisis is that more than ever, we stand ready to support dialogue efforts and peace negotiations and to mediate where we are invited to do so.”

Describing the depth of Switzerland’s involvement, he said that while digital technology was valuable in enabling remote contact with parties in conflict, “peace will always require the physical presence and trust of very real women and men.” He characterized the country’s commitment as “all hands on deck, and that is the call for us all.” To Switzerland, he said, “mediation is about trust, patience, and preparing the grounds for future negotiations.”

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that the pandemic had “hit conflict settings particularly hard.” Alluding to some of the negative consequences that Secretary-General António Guterres had alerted the Security Council to, she listed an erosion of trust in public institutions over their failure to deal promptly with the crisis, economic fallout that could lead to civil unrest, the postponement of elections, and violent actors exploiting the situation. “And all this at a time when mediation efforts are needed now more than ever.”

She reported that while there had been widespread positive initial responses to the Secretary-General’s March 23rd call for a global ceasefire, “unfortunately they have not translated to concrete change on the ground. Regrettably, the guns are yet to be silenced.” She noted that fighting had continued in places like Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. In addition, “extremists have urged followers to take advantage of COVID-19 including by spreading disinformation.” She said that the UN “must continue to apply pressure on conflict parties and those outside supporting them politically or with weapons to stop.”

She acknowledged that the crisis had stilled the conventional practice of diplomacy but asserted that UN envoys and missions around the world were exerting themselves to “reignite the political processes to engage in contact with conflict parties and other stakeholders,” often through the use of digital technology. “Now, the path ahead is not easy, but nobody said it would be. To succeed, the international community will have to come together decisively to make sure the early gains, now fading, lead to lasting peace.”

In a question and answer session, the speakers fielded questions on establishing a set of best practices for handling future pandemics, ensuring that the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons were met in pandemic responses, shifting mediation to an online platform, encouraging greater women’s participation in mediation efforts, and trying to prevent the COVID-19 crisis from derailing intra-Afghan talks among warring parties in the current peace negotiations in Afghanistan. The questioners were Priyal Singh, Researcher, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), South Africa; Waleed Al-Hariri, Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies, Yemen; Prisca Manyala, President, National Student Association, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Pravina Makan-Lakha, Femwise-Africa, and Aisha Khurram, student, Kabul University and former Afghan Youth Representative to the UN.

Burak Akçapar, Director-General for Foreign Policy, Analysis, and Coordination, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, made welcoming remarks on behalf of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, and IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen moderated the discussion.

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Integrating Human Rights into the Operational Readiness of UN Peacekeepers

Thu, 30/04/2020 - 00:49
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The effectiveness of UN peace operations depends on the “operational readiness” of their personnel, which refers to the knowledge, expertise, training, equipment, and mindset needed to carry out mandated tasks. While the need to improve the operational readiness of peacekeepers has been increasingly recognized over the past few years, the concept of “human rights readiness”—the extent to which consideration of human rights is integrated into the generation, operational configuration, and evaluation of uniformed personnel—has received less attention.

This policy paper analyzes opportunities and gaps in human rights readiness and explores ways to improve the human rights readiness of peacekeepers. A comprehensive human rights readiness framework would include mechanisms to integrate human rights considerations into the operational configuration and modus operandi of uniformed personnel before, during, and after their deployment. This paper starts the process of developing this framework by focusing on the steps required to prepare and deploy uniformed personnel.

The paper concludes with concrete recommendations for how troop- and police-contributing countries can prioritize human rights in the force generation process and strengthen human rights training for uniformed peacekeepers. These actions would prepare units to uphold human rights standards and better integrate human rights considerations into their work while ensuring that they deliver on this commitment. Ultimately, improved human rights readiness is a key determinant of the performance of UN peacekeepers, as well as of the UN’s credibility and reputation.


UN General Assembly President: “Multilateralism Is Strengthening, Not Fraying During the Pandemic”

Fri, 24/04/2020 - 16:00

The Honorable Kevin Rudd AC, 26th Prime Minister of Australia, President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, and Chair of IPI’s Board of Directors and H.E. Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly

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In an IPI virtual event on April 24th, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, said that while the COVID-19 pandemic was the most “urgent” challenge the 193-nation body had ever faced, it could be best addressed through the global “interconnectedness” represented by the UN.

“What is playing out, as I see it, is really the pooling of resources and ideas, the recognition that multilateralism is the way out,” he said. “We do not have a national solution for COVID-19. What is playing out now is really proof that we get the point of interconnectedness.” Despite the enormity of the challenge, he asserted, “I think that multilateralism is strengthening, not fraying during the pandemic.”

Mr. Muhammad-Bande made his remarks in an address during a virtual event co-sponsored by IPI, the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly, and the Asia Society Policy Institute, and in conversation with Kevin Rudd, Chair of IPI’s Board of Directors and President of the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Mr. Rudd introduced the discussion noting that “pandemics are the very essence of the reason why we have a multilateral system of global governments, and we know the reason for that is because epidemics and pandemics have no respect for international borders.” A former Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Rudd added, “This has tested not just our institutions of national government around the world, but it has truly tested our system of global governance.” He observed that the creation of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948 and the International Health Regulations in 2005 had been “anchored” in the UN Charter.

Mr. Muhammad-Bande said that “combating COVID-19 is a collective responsibility,” and he urged everyone to follow the guidelines laid down by the WHO. “We must adhere to social distancing, wash our hands and look out for one another. That is how we show solidarity and uphold multilateralism.” He also implored all parties to observe the global ceasefire called for by Secretary-General António Guterres.

Africa has had valuable experience combatting epidemics and pandemics but presents a particular problem because of its fragile health systems and many countries’ dependence upon commodities at a time when world prices are collapsing, said Mr. Muhammad-Bande, who also serves as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN. Nevertheless, he argued, the continent had demonstrated great resilience through multilateral institutions like the African Union and various subregional bodies. “The real hope is that Africa understands, like the rest of the world, that this is not an African problem, this is truly a global problem which means we’re able to learn from others as we’re able to teach others.”

He hailed the urgent global effort underway to find a vaccine for the novel coronavirus but warned that the international community would have to be vigilant in assuring universal access to it. “We must remind others that vaccines when developed are not for some countries alone, but they are for all of us. They must be affordable and available to all. This is important.” Mr. Rudd agreed, stating, “Vaccines should be seen as a global public good rather than a piece of singular national property. What we do not want to see is this becoming an issue of national rivalry.”

On taking office as President of the General Assembly last September, Mr. Muhammad-Bande dedicated his term to UN reform, and he said that the onset of the COVID-19 crisis had changed but not diminished the emphasis he would place on that ambition now. “Our immediate focus should be to get over the situation as it is, and we have to reserve our energy to focus on the immediate danger. Now, reform in relation to the UN relates to our ability to continue to be legitimate. Without legitimacy, nothing else will work, and all organs of the UN system enhance that legitimacy but not just to be legitimate, they must also deliver because there must be delivery for the legitimacy to continue.”

He cited as an example the World Health Organization. “We have to have a body that is nimble enough, legitimate enough, and resourced enough to do not just the work of now but to continue to scan the horizon to have protocols that work in all regions of the world and are connected,” he said. “It is important that we resource whatever body that looks after our health, and this is central to multilateralism.”

The UN should build on its recent accomplishments, he said, and suggested the two major ones were the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) five years ago. “The achievements of 2015 in terms of the Paris accords and the SDGs are really monumental achievements in multilateralism. I think we should focus on these two, give it 20 years, and I bet we’ll have a much different world. There would be less conflict, less hate, and there would be more respect for the rule of law. There would be more certainty of healthier lives for coming generations.”

Among the listeners who submitted questions were Kenyan and South African students from the King’s College African Leadership Centre in London, an Indian student from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, and a director of the Technology Center for Youth at Risk in Guatemala.

Addressing the audience in general, Mr. Muhammad-Bande acknowledged that the UN needed to communicate its mission better so that people better understand how it is relevant to their lives. “I want you as a listener to have more faith in the system, just to give it the oxygen it needs to move on. And this oxygen also includes, of course, constructive criticism, without which we simply cannot make progress.”

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Finding the UN Way on Peacekeeping-Intelligence

Thu, 09/04/2020 - 23:57
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The growing number of UN personnel deployed to missions in violent, volatile, and complex settings has pushed the UN to take all means necessary to improve the safety and security of its staff and of civilians under its protection. The UN’s Peacekeeping-Intelligence Policy, which was first developed in 2017 and later revised in 2019, has been a central part of these efforts.

This paper outlines the difficulties of creating and implementing this policy. It addresses the origin and evolution of UN peacekeeping-intelligence as a concept and explains the need for this policy. It then discusses how peacekeeping-intelligence was and is being developed, including the challenge of creating guidelines and trainings that are both general enough to apply across the UN and flexible enough to adapt to different missions. Finally, it analyzes challenges the UN has faced in implementing this policy, from difficulties with coordination and data management to the lack of a sufficient gender lens. The paper recommends a number of actions for UN headquarters, peace operations, and member states in order to address these challenges:

  1. Optimize tasking and information sharing within missions by focusing on senior leaders’ information needs;
  2. Harmonize the content of peacekeeping-intelligence handbooks with standard operating procedures while ensuring they are flexible enough to account for differences among and between missions;
  3. Refine criteria for recruiting civilian and uniformed personnel with intelligence expertise and better assign personnel once they are deployed;
  4. Improve retention of peacekeeping-intelligence personnel and encourage member states to agree to longer-term deployments;
  5. Tailor peacekeeping-intelligence training to the needs of missions while clarifying a standard set of UN norms;
  6. Apply a gender lens to UN peacekeeping-intelligence;
  7. Improve coordination between headquarters and field sites within missions by adapting the tempo and timing of tasking and creating integrated information-sharing cells; and
  8. Establish common sharing platforms within missions.


Afghan Women in Live-stream Discussion Say They Are Determined to Play Key Role in Upcoming Peace Talks

Thu, 12/03/2020 - 17:00

Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the UN and IPI Vice President Adam Lupel

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Afghan women have been at the forefront of bringing peace and development to Afghanistan over the past two decades, but despite this, peace talks and political processes have with few exceptions excluded them.

The Taliban and the United States reached a deal in February arranging for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and setting the stage for talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Though women’s rights were not mentioned in the text of the Taliban-US agreement and no female civil society representatives from Afghanistan participated in the talks leading up to it, Afghan women are determined that the upcoming intra-Afghan negotiations protect and enhance the equal rights assured them under the Afghan constitution, including their role in the peace process itself.

On Thursday, March 12th, IPI, together with the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations, hosted an online, live-streamed discussion with four prominent Afghan women leaders in Kabul on the subject of Women’s Inclusion in the Afghan Peace Talks.

Participating in the discussion from Kabul were Hasina Safi, Minister for Information and Culture; Nadima Sahar, Head of the Technical Vocational Education and Training Authority; Onaba Payab, Adviser to Rula Ghani, the First Lady of Afghanistan; and Aisha Khurram, Afghanistan’s Youth Representative to the UN.

Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the UN, opened the discussion from IPI’s office in New York by stressing the progress that women have made in Afghanistan.

“Women empowerment in Afghanistan is real, it’s genuine, it truly has happened, and I always say that it’s an investment by the international community that really paid off in terms of where we started 19 years ago and where we are now,” she said. “Nineteen years may seem too long ago to worry about, but for a lot of us, it is not too long because we still remember the dark days of the Taliban.”

She asserted that a key principle that women are fighting for now is “inclusivity, and that inclusivity for us means the inclusion of women and also the voice of youth and different ethnic groups.” She said that women are also demanding that the teams of negotiators and facilitators of the talks reflect this inclusivity.

Though those memories of the restrictive Taliban practices are still fresh, she said women will not be revisiting them in the negotiations but rather exercising their hard won present authority and making sure none of it is relinquished. “We’re always able to compromise the past to enable us to coexist with a group of people that we have known for their having committed a lot of crime, but it’s too hard for us to compromise the future.”

Onaba Payab said that women had emerged as leaders in all walks of life in Afghanistan, with 25 percent of the seats in the parliament occupied by women and 5,000 businesses owned by women. Some 15,000 women from 34 provinces had been consulted on what would be acceptable to them in a peace agreement, she said. “We have protective legal frameworks for women’s public and private institutions and a long term plan designed to empower women in rural as well as urban areas.” She described the attitude of women in advance of the intra-Afghan talks as “we know that peace is achievable, and we are moving towards it guided by the principles of inclusivity, dignity and sustainability.”

Hasina Safi said that Afghan women had achieved much on their own at home and would insist on their ideas being treated seriously in the talks, but an element that was crucial now was the active support of Afghanistan’s friends abroad. “We have all the strategies and policies and know what is needed to implement them, and what we need from the international community is for them to back us up. Afghanistan is not the Afghanistan of 1995 where a woman could not introduce herself in front of a foreigner. Today, that woman speaks up, and she analyses, and she reasons, and she fights for her role for her existence for her very meaningful participation in the process, and protecting that is one of the requirements we would like the international community to recognize.”

Nadima Sahar illustrated the new confidence of Afghan women by noting that while she had had to struggle to ensure her right to an education, “now we have kids like my 8-year-old girl who aspires to be the first female president of Afghanistan.”

She argued that the stakes are much higher for women than for men. “For a man, this entire process boils down to growing a beard or shaving a beard. For us women, there is a lot more at stake, our right to an education, our right to live basically, our right to everything is at stake.” For that reason, she said, women had to be present at the negotiating table. “If there is a compromise that needs to be made for their future, they must have a say in what is that decision and what price they have to pay.”

Another asset that women bring to the talks, she said, is their impartiality and bent for seeking non-violent solutions. “Whenever men encounter a peace process, their discussions revolve around military action and power-sharing arrangements and territorial gains, but women’s involvement in the peace process would make sure that issues such as political and legal reforms, social and economic recovery and transitional justice are priorities.”

Elaborating on that point, Aisha Khurram argued that any agreement reached that did not include the active participation of women would be neither durable nor sustainable. “And women should not be included just in the formal negotiation, but they also must be part of the design and implementation of whatever agreement emerges.”

Two thirds of the Afghan population is under the age of 25, and Ms. Khurram said that young women consider themselves “active partners” in forging a peace for Afghanistan’s future rather than “passive beneficiaries” of the process. Similarly, she said, “the new generation of Afghan men really believe in women’s rights, and they really stand for their sisters’ rights.”

Stressing that this is a “pivotal moment” for young women in Afghanistan, she concluded, “Right now the future of Afghanistan is going to be decided so it’s more important for us than just the elites who are sitting there at the negotiating table and talking about our future. We expect more, and we deserve to be heard, and we deserve to be included.”

IPI Program Administrator Masooma Rahmaty reported on a tweet chat about women’s inclusion that she had conducted, some of it in Farsi, with 40 respondents from Kabul and the diaspora.

IPI Vice President Adam Lupel moderated the discussion.

How to Ensure Women Play a Central Role in the Intra-Afghan Peace Process

Tue, 10/03/2020 - 19:00

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On March 10th, IPI Vice President Adam Lupel took part in a panel discussion held by the UN Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan, led by Afghanistan and the United Kingdom, titled: “A Critical Moment for Afghan Women: The Intra-Afghan Peace Process.” The event was co-sponsored by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

The event included extraordinary remarks from Afghan women, including Ambassador Adela Raz of Afghanistan; Nargis Nehan, Former Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Industries of Afghanistan; and Dr. Orzala Nemat, Director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. The First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, delivered a video message from Kabul.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a longtime champion of women’s rights in Afghanistan, was the keynote speaker. An equal champion on the panel was United Kingdom Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce, who was the UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan June 2010-June 2011.

The discussion focused on protecting and enhancing the equal rights of women granted under the Afghan constitution, including their central role in peace negotiations and ensuring that any prospective outcomes in the peace process recognize, protect, and promote the role of women in all spheres of life.

The event was moderated by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. Over 40 UN ambassadors were in attendance.

In his remarks, Dr. Lupel said, “Women’s substantive involvement in peace processes increases their potential for success and durability, because if women meaningfully participate, peace processes are less likely to be simply a negotiation about power among men with guns, and more likely to include broader issues about how to build a sustainable peaceful society.

“So going forward the question becomes how to ensure women play a central role in the Intra-Afghan peace process and how can the international community help?” he said.

Drawing on the expertise of IPI’s Women, Peace and Security program, Dr. Lupel recommended an “ecosystem” approach. This means supporting not just women’s access to the negotiating table, but also including them in the design of the whole peace process and the environment surrounding it. He offered these two points:

1) Focus on what works: There has been a tremendous amount of progress on women’s inclusion in Afghanistan over the last twenty years. As is evident on this panel and the Afghan diplomatic corps this has produced a wealth of human capital and already active networks that will provide important resources in the coming period. I think we all know this, but suffice it to say we don’t have to start from scratch.

2) Be creative and persistent. This will be a long, complicated process with many ups and downs. And a creative, persistent approach to ensuring that women’s voices are heard will be necessary.

Dr. Lupel closed his remarks by quoting a tweet from a representative of Afghan youth in Kabul, Aisha Khurram, the Afghan Youth Rep to the UN.

She writes, “Afghan youth and women’s priorities are the priorities of all Afghans. These priorities must be included in the peace process not because they will benefit women, but because they will benefit everyone.”

Related Content

Full remarks from IPI Vice President Adam Lupel

Full event video from the UN

Press Release: A Critical Moment for Afghan Women: The Intra-Afghan Peace Process, the UN Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan



SRSG Swan: 2020 Can Be the “Year of Delivery” for Somalia

Tue, 25/02/2020 - 20:39
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“It has become a common refrain in recent months that 2020 is a critical year for Somalia, that 2020 is to be the year of delivery, the year of achievement, and we absolutely subscribe to that analysis,” said James Swan, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). “I should stress that it is not one driven by international partners, it is fundamentally the position of the Somali government that 2020 requires that we address a critical set of priorities together.”

Illustrative of just how epochal this year could be for Somalia, he said, is the planning underway for direct elections by the end of the year which would be the first universal suffrage elections there in 50 years. What has filled the political void in Somalia in the decades since the last such election in 1969 were dictatorships, civil war, and relentless terror attacks.

Speaking at a February 25th IPI discussion of Somalia’s recent progress and immediate future, Mr. Swan said that the priorities of how to restore representative government to the country significantly had been established by the Somalis themselves through a set of roadmaps developed in 2018 and 2019 to produce a “mutual accountability framework” in which the country’s international partners committed themselves to support progress in four key areas. He listed those areas as inclusive politics, security and justice, economic reforms, and social development.

On inclusive politics, Mr. Swan explained that the elections that will take place by the end of the year are being organized on a hybrid model that blends the traditional clan-based affiliations of candidates with a new direct vote procedure replacing the traditional process of selection by elders. There also is a stated commitment to 30 percent representation by women in the parliament though that language didn’t make it into the formal electoral code. Even so, Mr. Swan said,  Somalis on their own had already reached 24 percent representation in some comparable political bodies. To gain the necessary popular backing for the new electoral approach, the pace of change was deliberately gradual, he explained. “The end goal is a system that moves beyond the sub clan system, but for now it was too great a leap.”

On security and justice, he acknowledged that the militant Islamist group al-Shabab retains the ability to conduct “shocking terrorist attacks” in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country but said that the Somali government had faced the security sector gaps identified in a key 2017 report “honestly and squarely and made substantive reforms.” One result of that he cited was that Somali forces joined by troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) had succeeded in retaking captured towns.

As progress on the economy, Mr. Swan pointed to the government’s having opened the door for clearance of $5 billion of long standing national debt. “Two years ago, this would have been ridiculed as unlikely, but this is an outstanding achievement for the government and federal member states in collaborating to move a dossier forward,” he said. On social development, he said the government had adopted and disseminated a development plan that is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and which “is the basis around which donor partners have agreed to align their support going forward.”

Somalia continues to be in “dire” need of humanitarian assistance and support, he observed, noting that over the past year there had been 30 humanitarian crises, including both droughts and floods. “Last year, $1 billion was needed, and 2020 will likely be the same.”

Mr. Swan described the achievements in the four areas as “substantial progress” but said that turning this into “durable” progress still required broader political consensus in the country. “Consensus is needed not just between the government and the member states, but also with other parties of opposition and civil society,” he said. “These are the priorities of the Somali government. We as international partners being supported by the UN are seeking to advance these priorities in any way we can, but there is only so much that can be done at the technical level in the absence of urgently needed political consensus.”

Karen Pierce, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, the “penholder” country on the Security Council that leads the work of the Council on Somalia and AMISOM, hailed the progress the country had made but expressed a similar concern about the critical importance of building up consensus. “We would say that the central factor in whether these things will be a success is the critical ability of the federal government and states’ governments to work together in power sharing, resource sharing, and working together towards a stronger and more secure Somalia,” she asserted.

Jake Sherman, director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, noted that UNSOM was one of the first missions to have an explicit mandate to account for climate change and asked how that affected its actions.

“Because of the humanitarian impact including displacement and conflict, it is an element that we need to take into consideration in our activities,” Mr. Swan said. “It’s still being considered through a humanitarian lens, but it will increasingly have an impact on security concerns. Frankly the cycles appear to be accelerating and deepening, and it’s going to be difficult to sustain the same level of humanitarian focus year after year. It can’t just be about an annual response to a humanitarian crisis, but a long term focus on the development, humanitarian, security nexus.”

Mr. Sherman moderated the discussion.

Prioritizing and Sequencing Peacekeeping Mandates in 2020: The Case of UNMISS

Thu, 20/02/2020 - 21:32

Since the signing of the Revitalized Agreement to Resolve the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) in September 2018, South Sudan has seen a sustained reduction in political violence. However, progress on Chapter I of the agreement, which calls for the establishment of a Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity, has largely stalled, and the agreement does not address the structural drivers of localized insecurity.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report organized a workshop on January 30, 2020, to discuss the mandate and political strategy of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). This workshop offered a platform for member states, UN actors, and outside experts to share their assessment of the situation in the country. The discussion was intended to help the Security Council make informed decisions with respect to the strategic orientation, prioritization, and sequencing of the mission’s mandate and actions on the ground. The workshop focused on the current political and security dynamics in South Sudan, including developments in the formation of a transitional government, the status of the peace process, and the root drivers of conflict. Participants also examined how to adapt UNMISS’s current mandate to strengthen the mission and help the UN achieve its objectives over the coming year.

Workshop participants agreed that UNMISS’s mandate remains relevant to the current political and security environment. At the same time, they highlighted opportunities to ensure that the mandate’s language provides the mission with the flexibility to support the R-ARCSS, or respond to its reversal, and to adjust its approach to the protection of civilians.


How UN Policing Protects Civilians and Enables Sustainable Peace

Thu, 13/02/2020 - 20:50
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“Policing is about interaction, and if you are looking for lasting sustainable peace, then interaction, engagement, conversation, dialogue are very important. It is policing that enables this political process,” said Boniface Rutikanga, a former United Nations peacekeeper and now police adviser to the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN.

Mr. Rutikanga was speaking to a February 13th IPI policy forum, cosponsored by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN, launching the IPI policy paper Protection through Policing: The Protective Role of UN Police in Peace Operations by Charles T. Hunt. The paper examines the role of UN Police (UNPOL) in the protection of civilians (POC) and identifies UNPOL’s contributions and comparative advantages, as well as the challenges it faces.

Dr. Hunt explained that while police have contributed to protection of civilians since the emergence of the POC mandate, they had more recently been thrust into the frontlines of some of protection efforts in places like Darfur, Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic, often in densely populated environments. Despite the fact that police provide “unique capabilities and expertise,” and that it is “arguably ingrained in this idea that police’s inherent function is to serve and protect,” missions have “generally undervalued or overlooked some of these protective roles of police, often relying more on militarized approaches to protection,” he said. UNPOL often appear as an afterthought, and tend to remain in the shadow of military components.

Listing some of the comparative advantages that UNPOL officers have over their military or civilian counterparts, Dr. Hunt said they were more skilled at tackling threats when violence does not involve the sustained use of military weaponry, better placed to play a deterrent role, and well positioned to partner with a range of others to protect civilians and establish trust with national law enforcement agencies and the local populations, giving them some ownership over a sustainable protective environment.

Among the challenges he cited were a “lack of clarity in the scope of the mandate,” especially in contexts where UNPOL can use all necessary means to protect civilians but does not have an executive mandate, and poor coordination where the line between criminal and military threats becomes “blurry.” He also mentioned the risks of technical approaches to capacity-building which can perpetuate, rather than transform, politicized security sectors, and instances where the UN mission gets “trapped” in partnerships with the host governments that end up “exposing and imperiling” civilians.

Dr. Hunt said that despite the “significant” contributions that police made to protecting civilians, there are still perennial issues of capabilities, capacity and tools, including the “insufficient quantity, quality, and flexibility of UNPOL assets and resources.” He added, “POC is still not really in the bloodstream of police on the ground at all levels. Police can do a lot more to leverage their comparative advantages, strengthen their contribution, and help UNPOL meet the growing recommendations for their role.” Dr. Hunt recommended that UNPOL have a clearer voice in decision-making processes, and adequate monitoring and evaluation systems to inform planning and gauge their impact, among other recommendations proposed in his paper.

Namie Di Razza, Senior Fellow at IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations and head of IPI’s POC Program, noted that one of the program’s objectives was to “clarify the roles and responsibilities of the different actors involved in the implementation of POC and for a better use of tailored approaches, including armed and unarmed strategies.” Adding that police should be “fully integrated” in protection strategies, she observed that “in times of peace, the police are the main actor handling public security and public order, and their core function is often defined by the mantra ‘to serve and protect.’” She commended Dr. Hunt’s paper for highlighting ways to “strengthen people-centered and community-oriented approaches in peacekeeping and alternative options to heavy military presences for future peace operations models.”

Shaowen Yang, Deputy Police Adviser, Police Division, UN Department of Peace Operations, noted that there are nearly 8,700 UNPOL personnel in nine peacekeeping operations and seven special political missions (SPMs) contributing support to member states in realizing “effective, efficient, representative, responsive, and accountable police service” that serve the population.

He pointed out that in most countries, police are regarded as a “service” rather than a “force,” and that “policing must be entrusted to civil servants” obligated to respect and protect civilian lives, and operating within a legal framework based on the rule of law.” In his remarks, he highlighted the vision of UNPOL, seeking to build a police that is “modern, agile, flexible, transparent, accountable… people-centered, right-based.” UNPOL therefore acts as a promoter of international human rights norms in the host country, and pursues its mandate in compliance with the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP).

Rania Dagash, Head of the Policy and Best Practices Service, Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training, UN Department of Peace Operations, emphasized that since the first POC UN Security Council Resolution twenty years ago, there has been considerable growth for police in POC. “We highlight not just the criticality of the police component in POC but emphasize the community orientation of policing, the patrolling of our vulnerable communities… It is undervalued, it is under tapped, and often overlooked.” Echoing the words of Mr. Rutikanga, she said, “Police contribute to dialogue and engagement, which is fundamentally a political role” as they help promote and advocate protection priorities with national and local stakeholders.

As examples of their effectiveness, Ms. Dagash said that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali, UN police had prevented turmoil between host state police and civilians in election contexts, in South Sudan UN police had prevented outbreaks of violence among the 200,000 internally displaced people there, and in Gao in Northern Mali, UNPOL had played a major role in enabling cooperation between the local population and local leaders. “UNPOL created networks for information sharing that allowed the local population and national authority to make decisions together,” she said. She also warned against substituting uniformed soldiers with police. “Police and military are suited for different functions. Police should not be seen as a cheaper or easier tool for military function.”

In remarks preceding the discussion, Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, stressed the central importance of UNPOL to peace operations. “UN policing is an instrumental factor that establishes the link between peacekeeping and peacebuilding,” he said. “UN policing is at the core of the spirit and philosophy of the A4P (Action for Peacekeeping) reform proposed by the Secretary-General. UNPOL serves to restore mutual trust among communities to favor reconciliation.”

Ms. Di Razza moderated the discussion.

Protection through Policing: The Protective Role of UN Police in Peace Operations

Thu, 13/02/2020 - 18:18

Since first deployed in 1960, United Nations police (UNPOL) have consistently been present in UN missions and have become increasingly important to achieving mission objectives. Since 1999, these objectives have often included the protection of civilians (POC), especially in places like the Central African Republic, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, and South Sudan. But despite its rise in prominence, the protective role of UNPOL is generally undervalued and regularly overlooked, and missions have tended to overly rely on militarized approaches to POC.

This report examines the roles and responsibilities of UNPOL regarding POC. It outlines UNPOL’s contributions to POC and perceived comparative advantages, using examples of their role as compeller, deterrent, partner, and enabler. It also identifies and draws lessons from challenges to police protection efforts, including ambiguous mandates, policies, and guidance; poor coordination; problematic partnerships; and deficits in capabilities, capacities, and tools.

Drawing on these lessons from past and current deployments, the report proposes recommendations for how member states, the Security Council, the UN Secretariat, and field missions can improve UNPOL’s efforts to protect civilians going forward. These recommendations include:

  • Clarifying the role of UN police in POC through mandates, policies, guidance, and training to align the expectations of UN peace operations, the Secretariat, and member states for what UNPOL are expected to do;
  • Involving all UN police in POC and giving them a voice in decision making and planning to infuse whole-of-mission POC efforts with policing perspectives and empower UNPOL to act more readily;
  • Enhancing partnerships between UN police, host states, and other mission components to enable more responsive, better coordinated, and more comprehensive approaches to POC; and
  • Providing more appropriate and more flexible capabilities, capacities, and tools to address critical capabilities gaps and adapt existing resources to better meet UNPOL’s latent potential for POC.


Alan Doss on Diplomacy and Politics in United Nations Peacekeeping

Mon, 10/02/2020 - 20:40
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“Diplomacy is about the alignment of interests, and politics is the pursuit of interests, often in contradiction to other parties’ interests,” said Alan Doss, the veteran leader of multiple United Nations peacekeeping missions. “I found that missions were taking the diplomacy route, but those in power were on political pursuits.”

Mr. Doss, now the President of the Kofi Annan Foundation, was speaking at a February 10th Speaker Series discussion of his new book A Peacekeeper in Africa: Learning from UN Interventions in Other People’s Wars. The book is a project of IPI published by Lynne Rienner Press.

Mr. Doss’s narrative focuses on the four African countries where he was in the leadership of UN peacekeeping operations—Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It provides a firsthand account of those missions and how they illustrated both the frustrating limitations of peacekeeping operations but also their important contributions to supplanting conflict with peace.

Mr. Doss said he was impelled to write the book by four considerations. The first was his desire to share his experience in UN peacekeeping to show “how these things happen, how we bring together people from all over the world who have no direct interest in the country, not even necessarily neighbors, but they intervene in other people’s wars.”

Secondly, he said, he wanted to “humanize peacekeeping. We tend to forget what peacekeepers face every day in the field, and much of the commentary is very negative because of the failures of peacekeeping. Every day, I saw people going out and doing a decent good job often at great risk to themselves and often in terrible conditions to try and make a difference.”

The third was to correct misperceptions of the continent where he worked for decades. “Much of what is written about Africa is wrong, ahistorical, and does not contextualize conflicts in centuries of history and cultural circumstances.” The fourth was the deteriorating world situation and the danger it posed to peacekeeping. “The international environment has not improved, in fact, it is becoming more difficult, and these unique instruments of intervention that the UN has developed, not only in recent years, but over decades, are becoming marginalized. We should be very careful not to allow peace operations, including peacekeeping, to fall into disrepair.”

Mr. Doss’s comment on balancing diplomacy and politics came in answer to a question from Jake Sherman, head of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations. Mr. Sherman asked Mr. Doss how he managed to work with people he himself called “violent psychopaths” and governments he identified as “abusive, repressive, and unresponsive.” Mr. Doss responded, “You do have to deal with people who are not exactly examples of human compassion, but they’re there, and you have to deal with them. But I found that those people are often great communicators. They have mastered the simple message.”

He said there is an inevitable tension between host governments and the UN, and the clashing perspectives get exacerbated with time, often to the UN’s detriment. “Governments that allow peacekeeping missions into their countries don’t exactly expect them to come in and criticize their violations of human rights. It’s one thing to criticize a militia, but another to challenge the national government.” As a result, he said, “over time missions lose influence. Sovereignty reasserts itself as governments become more confident, they exercise more control, and they are less likely to cooperate.”

Reflecting on recurrent institutional problems he had experienced over his four decades of working for the UN, Mr. Doss observed, “Peace agreements do not create peace. It’s what comes after.” At that point, he said, there becomes an accretion of overlapping mandates that can end up nullifying the original purpose. “If you get missions where one task after another is tacked on, it can undermine the effectiveness of the delivery of mandates. We keep adding things and adding things, without necessarily considering what the capabilities are on the ground.”  He recommended that “every now and then, it’s important to take a look at mandates and ask what aspects of it are realistic.”

He confessed to having become “overwhelmed” by creating and reworking strategies over the years. “We became a strategy factory,” he said. “We should move away from strategy and instead look at the key elements of a mandate and say, ‘What can we do?’ and I think we will often find contradictions between what we are asked to do and what we can do. We were strategizing; we were not actually doing.”

Asked his views about how the UN had handled reports of sexual exploitation, he said, “Quite frankly, we’ve had a mixed record, and sadly that tends to outweigh anything else we do, often in the headlines. But it’s a sad fact, and we have to be responsible, and I really do believe that the number one job of the SRSGs (Special Representatives of the Secretary-General) is to deal with that because otherwise you’re crippled in all kinds of ways.” He added that the UN can discipline its civilians more effectively than its uniformed staff because the Secretary-General has direct authority over them. “I’m afraid that troop-contributing countries have not always helped us on this issue.” Zero tolerance was the only remedy, he said, because “if you don’t try for zero tolerance, you’ll get much worse. We have to keep after it because if we don’t, inexorably we will slide back.”

In closing remarks, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayeh, Sr., the Permanent Representative of Liberia to the UN, cited the success of the UN in his country where the UNMIL peacekeeping mission left in 2018 after 15 years of helping restore peace to a country that had been racked by two devastating civil wars between 1989 and 2003. “Liberia is a country where the UN had a very successful stint,” he said. “Nonetheless, we must not stagnate in the way we keep the peace.”

The discussion was moderated by Mr. Sherman.

Ensuring that Sanctions Do Not Impede Humanitarian Action

Tue, 28/01/2020 - 21:00
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Sanctions can end up hindering humanitarian assistance and the provision of life-saving medical care in armed conflict, and forestalling that outcome was the subject of a January 28th policy forum at IPI, co-hosted with the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations.

The discussion centered on a new IPI report, Making Sanctions Smarter: Safeguarding Humanitarian Action, by former IPI Senior Policy Analyst Alice Debarre, which explored how sanctions regimes can negatively impact humanitarian aid, using case studies from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. The report also offered concrete recommendations for how to safeguard humanitarian action.

According to the report, among the unintended consequences of sanctions regimes are that:

  • Humanitarian organizations are put on sanctions lists;
  • Resources needed to apply for exemptions from sanctions regimes create a drain on the effective delivery of aid;
  • Banks sometimes restrict or refuse to provide service to humanitarian actors to reduce risk;
  • Importing basic goods like concrete are restricted;
  • New inhibiting restrictions are put into clauses in donor agreements; and
  • Humanitarian actors can be fined or prosecuted.

These obstacles can have a chilling effect, where humanitarian actors err on the side of caution and do less than legally required to avoid the possibility of violating sanctions.

“We need to ensure that sanctions are not an impediment to humanitarian action,” said Jürgen Schulz, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN. “It is important to prevent and in any event minimize the potential negative effect on humanitarian action to make sure that impartial medical and humanitarian action is preserved, and that humanitarian and medical personnel are not prosecuted for activities conducted in accordance with International Humanitarian Law.”

To do so, Mr. Schulz said, exemptions for humanitarian action in sanctions regimes play “an important role” in guaranteeing that humanitarian action is safeguarded. “We need to use [exemptions] more often and more effectively than we do today,” he argued. “We believe only when sanctions and counterterrorism experts engage in meaningful dialogue with humanitarian actors [can] we achieve real, lasting solutions.”

Sue Eckert, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Energy, Economics, & Security Program, Center for a New American Security, noted that this was not a new issue, but that there was an increasing body of evidence on the scope of these challenges. Ms. Eckert commented on how de-risking by financial institutions undermines humanitarian aid, and cited a 2017 report that said two thirds of United States nonprofit organizations faced financial access problems.

Financial access “literally can mean life and death,” explained Ms. Eckert. “If the fuel runs out, they’re not able to get more fuel, the generator shuts down, a hospital doesn’t operate, people don’t get food.” Furthermore, she said, when financial institutions cut off support to nonprofits, these organizations often resort to using cash, which is “extremely risky” for individuals and organizations that must trace their funds. But, she added, with the threat of billions of dollars of fees for violations, it’s natural that financial institutions are going to look at these responsibilities warily.

Chris Harland, Deputy Permanent Observer of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the UN in New York, recommended ways for sanctions measures to be revised as they come up for renewal at the Security Council. He suggested monitoring impact and considering exemptions for UN actors and partners. He also recommended reviewing the obligations of International Humanitarian Law in the sanctions process to make sure that “impartial humanitarian action must be possible even in situations where sanctions regimes are in place,” adding that, “Undertaking our protection activities, ensuring food delivery, clean water, and medicine to those in the greatest need must still be possible.” He noted the contradiction that while “certain sanctions measures outside counterterrorism frameworks are often designed to bring about a better humanitarian situation for individuals in each context, unfortunately, however, we have paradoxically seen sanctions systems which also negatively impact principled humanitarian action.”

Complying with sanctions regimes has meant going through “lengthy, costly, at times unclear administration processes,” according to Julien Piacibello, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “We have an obligation to ensure that the grants and the aid go to the people who need it and do not serve any other purpose than responding to need,” he said.

Of the 60 nonprofits interviewed by ODI for a 2018 study on the impact of de-risking in Syria, Mr. Piacibello noted, “Only six of them said that they had not modified programming in order to prioritize less contentious areas and projects. So in practice this means that all the others have admitted to changing the priorities of their programming to limit the risk of diversion, but in a way that does not necessarily prioritize the most urgent, the most acute needs.”

Mr. Piacibello suggested that the UN Security Council provide clarity on how the sanctions regimes should apply to the humanitarian sector and humanitarian activities, including by having implementation guidelines so that states have clear guidelines. “State implementation is what will ultimately make a difference. You need to have Security Council action, but you need to have states following suit. States can adopt exceptions; they can also make sure that principled humanitarian action is not criminalized and that unintentional cases of aid diversion do not give way to crippling penalties. They may provide for the possibility of licenses, but also make the obtention of licenses accessible and swift, and work with other states to ensure the mutual recognition of specific licenses—that will go a long way, I think, in facilitating humanitarian action.”

Justifying humanitarian action requires a reasonable share of risk, Mr. Piacibello noted, but as Ms. Eckert stated, “These are people’s lives that we’re talking about—this has a real impact.”

In his closing remarks as moderator and presentor of the findings of the report on behalf of its author, Ms. Debarre, IPI Vice President Adam Lupel said there is ample evidence that there are incredible challenges that no single actor can grapple with on their own, making this a multi-stakeholder issue requiring dialogue and commitment. “There really is a shared interest in the effective implementation of sanctions regimes while at the same time enabling and facilitating and supporting humanitarian action, and I think that’s something that there is a real collective interest in and a view to improve in the future.”

Furthering the European Reengagement With Peacekeeping in Africa

Tue, 21/01/2020 - 20:45
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A number of European countries have deployed to United Nations missions in Africa after years of absence from the continent, and on January 21st IPI hosted a policy forum to discuss this renewed engagement and launch a policy paper on the subject. Co-sponsored by IPI, the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN, and the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the event featured experts including the authors of the paper, Non-resident IPI Senior Adviser Arthur Boutellis, and Major General (ret.) Michael Beary, former Head of Mission and Force Commander, UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Gen. Beary introduced the subject by outlining several of the key reasons why countries like Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden— as well as Canada—had reengaged. Northern Africa and the Sahel are strategically important for Europe, he said, peacekeeping contributions are weighed heavily in bids for seats on the Security Council, and after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drawdown in Afghanistan, NATO and the European Union (EU) members need to participate in international operations to keep their capabilities operational and funded. Of note, he added, is that individual countries pursued reengagement in different ways. “We would emphasize in our report that the return is not a monolithic bloc, and reasons for return are based on different national interests, military traditions, and historical backgrounds.”

Among the challenges for these troop-contributing countries (TCCs), he singled out the “trust deficit” among mission staff—he described it as “who controls what?­”—and compliance with the UN’s rigorous “10-1-2” medical support rule which calls for enhanced first aid within ten minutes, enhanced field care within one hour, and damage-control surgery and acute medicine within two hours.  Meeting those standards was “vital” to maintaining public support, he explained.

Going forward, Gen. Beary said that the UN planning process should allow for more input from the European TCCs and that European forces should be prepared for longer deployments that extend beyond one year. Alluding to another goal that needed to be addressed urgently, he said, “We also must meaningfully engage uniformed females in all segments of UN peacekeeping.”

Mr. Boutellis, in comments made via video, said that the European TCCs added great value to UN peacekeeping through their top-tier technology, adaptive vehicles, and the financial support they attract. “The presence of European TCCs helps keep the attention of Brussels and of the Security Council,” (on these peacekeeping missions) he added. On the down side, he noted that there were problems associated with the Europeans not accepting UN command and control, which created “trust and confidence concerns… Also, sometimes the European TCCs want to be treated differently,” he remarked. “In some missions, they refuse to paint their vehicles or aircraft white.” They may also have their own camps, dividing them away from the rest of the mission, which creates further security concerns.

He pointed out that the part of the paper that dealt with how the other TCCs viewed the European TCCs was reassuringly entitled “not so bad after all.” For example, he said, they valued the air coverage and the training capabilities that the Europeans brought and “understand the imperative to satisfy the political concerns of their capitals.” He stressed, however, that the UN had to “engage European capitals more strategically, be up front about mission expectations, and keep working to gain the trust of the European TCCs.”

Col. Richard Gray, Counsellor, Military Adviser of the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN, said his country had absented itself from UN peacekeeping for eight years and that “this interlude from peacekeeping had some consequences, including a loss of capabilities for how to deploy within UN peacekeeping. We had to relearn, and thankfully, the UN system helped with that.” He asserted that its experience with NATO in Afghanistan did furnish Sweden with some fresh capabilities that helped when it participated in the UN peacekeeping operation in Mali. He credited requests from Canada and EU countries with leading to the development of better Medevac (medical evacuation) policies. “Capacity building of TCCs goes both ways,” he said, “and all TCCs can learn from each other.”

Adam Smith, Team Leader, Strategic Force Generation and Capabilities Planning Cell, UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO), said he took heart from the title of the report Sharing the Burden: Lessons from the European Return to Multidimensional Peacekeeping. “‘Sharing the burden’ encapsulates what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re engaging the Europeans because we realize that peacekeeping has changed, and Europeans have high capabilities which need to keep up with changing peacekeeping contexts… Much work remains to be done to educate European TCCs and Canada about what UN peacekeeping is and how it has changed.”

Madalene O’Donnell, Team Leader for Partnerships, Divisions of Policy, Evaluation, and Training, UNDPO/DPET listed five objectives that guide her office’s efforts to facilitate member states’ contributions to UN peace operations:

  • Encouraging member states to establish informal coordination among themselves and to create a mechanism to enable collective action;
  • Positioning these dialogues within the broader conversation about the state of the multilateral system;
  • Increasing the participation of women;
  • Conducting greater joint diplomacy so as to “tell a better story” about UN peacekeeping; and
  • Using the “new EU mechanisms and priorities to garner better EU participation in peacekeeping.”

Closing remarks were offered by Col. Richard Decombe, Military Adviser, Permanent Mission of France to the UN, and Brian Flynn, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN.

Col. Decombe said the characteristics essential to good multilateral peacekeeping were “credibility” to attract support and funding, “solidarity” to enable European countries to work in concert with other countries, and “complementarity.” Elaborating on the last point, he said, “This is not a question of competition or making useless comparisons but making the most of how the TCCs complement each other.”  

Ambassador Flynn noted that Ireland had an “unbroken record” of 60 years of participating in UN peacekeeping. “How we can support our European partners to contribute to UN peacekeeping is something that we prioritize,” he said. “We recognize that the burden of peacekeeping has for some time not been shared evenly, and we must all be ready to step up and play our role, and we have to look at how we can help and encourage other countries to do so.”

The discussion was moderated by Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations.

Sharing the Burden: Lessons from the European Return to Multidimensional Peacekeeping

Tue, 21/01/2020 - 18:44

Since 2013, after years of near absence from the continent, a number of European countries, along with Canada, have again deployed to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. The European presence in UN peacekeeping in Africa is now nearly at its largest since the mid-1990s. These countries provide much-needed high-end capabilities, as well as political and financial capital, to UN peacekeeping operations. Nonetheless, securing and sustaining European contributions to these types of peacekeeping operations remains an uphill battle for the UN.

This paper draws lessons from this renewed engagement by European countries and Canada, both from their point of view, as well as from that of the UN Secretariat, UN field missions, and other troop contributors. It aims to explore how these bodies and other countries can best work together in a collective endeavor to improve UN peacekeeping’s efficiency and effectiveness. Toward this end, the paper recommends a number of actions to the UN Secretariat:

  • Build peacekeeping operations around first-class medical systems;
  • Focus on improving processes for casualty evacuation;
  • Strengthen the UN’s capacity to foster partnerships among troop-contributing countries;
  • Engage Europe strategically and politically;
  • Be flexible and make European contributors (and others) feel included in planning;
  • Continue educating European contributors about UN peacekeeping;
  • Do not limit engagement with European contributors to high-end capabilities;
  • Ensure European contributors adhere to UN standards; and
  • Encourage European contributors to commit to longer deployments.


A Peacekeeper in Africa: Learning from UN Interventions in Other People’s Wars

Tue, 07/01/2020 - 17:00

For more than seven decades, UN peacekeeping operations have fulfilled an essential role in managing international crises. Alan Doss has spent a decade at the highest levels of UN peacekeeping in Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At a moment when peacekeeping faces enormous challenges, both politically in the Security Council and operationally on the ground, it is worth reflecting on the successes and failures of the past, and on the insights they may offer for UN peace operations today.

Looking back on his years with the UN, Doss provides a firsthand account of the operations he led. The frustrations he recounts are valuable both as history and for what they tell us about the limits of peacekeeping. The successes and satisfactions he relays are valuable for their reminder of the UN’s ability to rise above its limitations and the important contribution it makes to peace.

A Peacekeeper in Africa is a joint project of the International Peace Institute and Lynne Rienner Press.

See more about the book from Lynne Rienner Press.


  • Foreword—Terje Rød-Larsen
  • A Journey in Peacekeeping


  • Sierra Leone: The Search for Peace
  • Côte d’Ivoire: The War of Succession
  • Liberia: From War to Peace


  • Into the Cauldron: Congo Past and Present
  • Crisis Without End: The Kivu Wars
  • The Contagion of Conflict: Other Places, Other Wars
  • Pursuing Peace: Stabilization, Peacebuilding, and Transition


  • Great Expectations: Intervention and Its Conceits
  • Pipe Dreams and Possibilities: Navigating Pathways to Peace


  • A Job Like No Other: Leading Peacekeeping Missions
  • Facing the Future: Actions for Peace

Making Sanctions Smarter: Safeguarding Humanitarian Action

Thu, 19/12/2019 - 20:42

In recent decades, sanctions have increasingly been used as a foreign policy tool. The UN Security Council has imposed a total of fourteen sanctions regimes alongside those imposed autonomously by the EU, the US, and other countries. Despite efforts to institute more targeted sanctions regimes, these regimes continue to impede or prevent the provision of humanitarian assistance and protection.

This policy paper focuses on the impact of sanctions regimes in four countries: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. It aims to assist the Security Council, relevant UN organs, UN member states, humanitarian actors, and other stakeholders in ensuring that humanitarian activities are safeguarded in contexts in which sanctions regimes apply. While there are no straightforward solutions, the paper offers several ways forward:

  • Including language that safeguards humanitarian activities in sanctions regimes;
  • Raising awareness and promoting multi-stakeholder dialogue;
  • Conducting better, more systematic monitoring of and reporting on the impact of sanctions on humanitarian activities;
  • Developing more and improved guidance on the scope of sanctions regimes; and
  • Improving risk management and risk sharing.

This paper is accompanied by an issue brief that provides further detail on the types of impact sanctions can have on humanitarian action.


Cote d’Ivoire Foreign Minister: Time to Renew Push for Africa’s Rightful Place on UN Security Council  

Tue, 17/12/2019 - 20:50
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“Africa will not continue to accept, given its weight in the world today, that it has no permanent seat in the Security Council with everything it entails as an advantage to have that seat,” Marcel Amon-Tanoh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire, told an IPI Global Leader Series event on December 17th.

Mr. Amon-Tanoh predicted a resumption of the debate in the General Assembly that had lapsed over the past decade over how to expand the Security Council and make its membership more representative of the United Nations membership as a whole. The 15-member Council is widely perceived as reflecting the world of 1945 when it was created rather than the realities of today where countries like Nigeria and South Africa, along with Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Germany, and Turkey have gained stature relative to the existing five permanent seat holders, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“I think everybody will agree along with our countries that the UN Security Council as it exists today does not reflect the world we live in,” Mr. Amon-Tanoh said. “It is being discussed in the Security Council but not in the General Assembly, and we must try to make sure that the debate in the General Assembly that has lost energy can once again regain a dynamic quality so that the debate that existed at the time of [former Secretary-General] Kofi Annan can exist today.”

Noting that there was now talk of Africa seeking from three to five such permanent seats, he said, “Africa should have the ambition of having permanent seats on the Council regardless of number, and it is unjust or even hypocritical not to consider the African continent, which is both envied for its natural wealth and resources, which is the target of much interest by all the great powers because Africa is a great continent which has its means through sheer force of resources to determine the future of humanity, and must be present in negotiations. Countries should take an initiative in order to relaunch debate on the Security Council in the interest of the whole world.”

The subject arose in the course of comments by Mr. Amon-Tanoh on the occasion of his country’s concluding its two-year term as an elected member of the Council—a particularly auspicious development since only two years ago the UN was ending its peacekeeping mission (UNOCI) in the country, and now the country  has become a contributor of UN peacekeeping troops.

This swift passage from being a country that had experienced two civil wars between 2002 and 2011 and was on the agenda of the Security Council for 13 years to being an engaged member of the body was discussed by the second speaker at the event, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary General of the UN Department of Peace Operations.

“It’s very meaningful and quite impressive to see the Côte d’Ivoire having gone from being a country whose status was an item on the agenda of the peacekeeping operations to being an active contributor to the UN Security Council’s work,” he said. “It enriched the Security Council and our operations to have the contributions of Côte d’Ivoire and generally of countries that have directly experienced all the complexities and outcomes of peacekeeping. UNOCI, having been one of the early multidimensional peacekeeping missions and having gone through so many situations in the country, was unprecedented, and I think this informed the way Côte d’Ivoire took part in the Security Council.”

Mr. Lacroix said he viewed the ten elected members of the Council as essential “bridge builders” between the disputatious permanent members and other member states on the Council. “The Security Council is divided now, characterized by the division of permanent members,” he said. “As the Secretariat, we expect a lot of the role of bridge builders from the elected members. On top of that, we have the experience of legitimacy like Côte d’Ivoire that adds to the capacity of those members and that can benefit—we’ve seen it in many situations—the Security Council, the UN, and can help overcome difficulties and divisions that characterize our organization today.”

IPI Vice President Adam Lupel noted that during its just completed two years on the Council, Cte d’Ivoire hosted formal debates on post-conflict reconstruction and peace, security, and stability, and on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations, reflecting critical thematic issues on the Council’s agenda. The country also had been a penholder for the situation in Guinea-Bissau and a co-penholder for the UN Office of West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS). He recalled that Côte d’Ivoire’s single Council presidency took place a year ago, in December 2018.

Mr. Amon-Tanoh said the country had been guided in its Council work by three main priorities:

  • Sharing its experience acquired in emerging from crisis and consolidating peace.
  • Contributing to the strengthening of international peace and security, including through support for UN peacekeeping activities.
  • Amplifying the voice of the African Union on current security and humanitarian issues that inhibit development of the continent.

“In this regard,” he said, “be it the conflict in Libya, the security and humanitarian situations in the Lake Chad basin and the Sahel, as well as issues relating to the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Darfur, Somalia, Burundi, or the Horn of Africa, my country has always stressed the need for reinforced cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in matters of peace and security.“

Beyond that, he said, Côte d’Ivoire had paid “particular attention” to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar “for whose solutions it has always advocated dialogue.”

In the cases of Syria and Yemen, he said, Côte d’Ivoire “focused on the political processes for ending the crisis and the urgent management of humanitarian situations” and “insisted on the need for lasting ceasefires in these hotbeds of tension, in order to open up the political spaces essential for the establishment of a constructive dialogue.” In North Korea, it championed “fruitful dialogue,” and in Iran, it counseled a return to the Security Council-endorsed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement. He highlighted the fact that during its presidency, Côte d’Ivoire hosted two high level meetings, one which he chaired, on the need for collaboration between regional and sub-regional organizations and the UN system, and the other, chaired by the country’s president, Alassane Ouattara, on economic reconstruction in the consolidation of peace.

In conclusion, Mr. Amon-Tanoh said he hoped his country would be remembered for “making its voice heard, a voice at the service of dialogue, peace, and fraternity between peoples, the voice of a country that has recently hosted a United Nations peacekeeping mission, and which, through its exemplary crisis resolution and peacebuilding strategies, has returned to peace, stability, and prosperity.”

The discussion was moderated by IPI Vice President Adam Lupel.

Live coverage of the event in French can be found on the IPI Francophone page.

The Peacekeeping Transition in Darfur: Gaining Advantage from Crisis

Mon, 16/12/2019 - 21:00
Event Video: 

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A popular revolution in Sudan eight months ago ended the 30-year rule of dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir, abruptly transforming the country’s governance institutions and beginning the reshaping of its social contract. It occurred at a time when the African Union (AU) and the United Nations were deep in preparations for the reconfiguration and eventual withdrawal of the hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) from Sudan’s Darfur region.

IPI Policy Analyst Daniel Forti told an IPI audience that UNAMID’s transition is “the most complex mission transition the UN has ever undertaken.” Mr. Forti was speaking at a December 16th policy forum, held in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN, to discuss the upcoming stages of the mission’s reconfiguration and to launch an IPI policy paper that he authored called Navigating Crisis and Opportunity: The Peacekeeping Transition in Darfur.

Charlotte Larbuisson, Political Affairs Officer, UN Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, said that “with the events of the past year, the peacekeeping transition is itself taking place in a transition – in Sudan’s democratic transition. We started this transition from peacekeeping in Darfur in a very different environment. We have had to adapt to changing circumstances and shift the trajectory of the peacekeeping. The outcome will probably look quite different than we were envisioning at the beginning of the transition.”

Suggesting that the crisis might actually amount to an opportunity, she said, “The events of 2019 have impacted the substance and direction of the transition and have resulted in a new enabling political environment in Darfur, testing the flexibility of the transition and its ability to adapt. The transition in Darfur is taking place in a different political environment so we have altered our political engagement.”

Framing the peacekeeping transition within recent developments throughout Sudan, Mr. Forti concluded that “UNAMID’s experience has thoroughly tested many of the UN’s emerging principles regarding mission transitions.” Three of these are that: “Transitions are inherently political and are premised on how the UN reconfigures its engagements with a host country; transitions depend, in part, on how well the UN can achieve system-wide integration on the ground and strengthen coherence with a range of national counterparts and international actors; transitions need to be flexible and adaptable, especially in dynamic political environments where the host country re-assumes ownership over a range of security, governance, and development initiatives.”

Gunnar Berkemeier, Peacekeeping Coordinator, Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN, said he was “optimistic” about the possibilities. “First and foremost, there is buy-in from the government of Sudan. We have a chance to make this a mission that the Sudanese government and people really want.”

At the same time, he said, while the change had been dramatic, one had to be aware of what had not changed. “It is completely fair to say that there is a ‘new Sudan’, but there are also old issues in Darfur that have been drivers of division in the country that remain to be addressed. We have to take into account the duality of supporting the political process but also addressing the remaining peacekeeping and peacebuilding needs. We have to be ambitious with the mandate because in this moment, we have the opportunity to make real headway on these issues. There must be a great deal of flexibility built into the mandate to deal with its outcome and progress.”

Jürgen Schulz, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, introduced the conversation by saying, “We have seen many important developments and decisions in Sudan in the last year, and many Sudanese representatives have called it ‘a new Sudan’, so now we must ask ourselves, ‘What do we do with the peacekeeping mission?’” He noted that the Security Council would soon be taking up the matter of how to reconfigure UNAMID “when we will ask ourselves, ‘What should be the structure? The mandate? The geographical extent?’ There are no easy answers or fixes.”

Looking forward, Mr. Forti enumerated five priorities that should inform the next stages of the peacekeeping transition:

  • Strengthening the engagement with the UN Security Council and AU Political and Security Council.
  • Ensuring the primacy of any follow-on presence’s political mandate.
  • Reinforcing joint planning efforts to strengthen national ownership over the transition process, scale up peacebuilding work and identify fresh complementary opportunities for new actors.
  • Integrating human rights and protection into all areas of work.
  • Sustaining international attention and financial support to make funding more “predictable and streamlined.”

Natalie Palmer, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the UN, spoke of earlier divisions over the peacekeeping transition within the Security Council.  “We did not have a sustainable peace agreement in place, many concerns had not been addressed, and for the UK, the priority was to have a flexible and responsible withdrawal,” she said. “There were two camps in the Security Council – those who were very happy to see the mission leave, and do it quickly, and those who were wary of leaving without a peace agreement. Financial pressures also contributed to a rapid drawdown.”

She said that while the current configuration of UNAMID is “probably still not the most appropriate tool to address the challenges in Darfur, we have a new opportunity to support a new government and peace process.” The drawdown had been paused until March of 2020, she said, and “there are still major protection concerns, especially for women and children, and a continued need for humanitarian support and aid.”

Husni Mustafa, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Sudan to the UN, praised the AU and UN collaboration that produced the hybrid peacekeeping force in 2007. “This unique partnership is a success story for us,” he said. “The cooperation between the AU and the UN is ongoing, especially between the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council. We must focus on national ownership.”

Ms. Larbuisson said she was hopeful for the success of the twin transitions underway.  “The current transitions in Darfur and Sudan are an opportunity to ensure that the support we provide is in line with the new phase that the country finds itself in,” she said. “We need to seize it to get the peacekeeping transition right and help the new authorities build peace.”

Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, moderated the discussion.

Navigating Crisis and Opportunity: The Peacekeeping Transition in Darfur

Fri, 13/12/2019 - 21:23

In the face of evolving security dynamics and geopolitical pressures, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council initiated the withdrawal of the AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in 2017. This transition is a uniquely complex undertaking—all the more so following Sudan’s political revolution in April 2019, which required the UN and AU to rapidly adapt their support to the country. This complex environment is putting all the principles of peacekeeping transitions to the test.

This paper examines the dynamics of this peacekeeping transition in Darfur, focusing on UNAMID’s drawdown and reconfiguration, as well as the UN’s efforts to build the capacity of other actors to sustain peace following the mission’s exit. It highlights five broad priorities for this transition going forward:

  • Strengthening political engagement between the UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council;
  • Translating the AU-UN joint political strategy into an effective follow-on presence;
  • Reinforcing the transition concept;
  • Integrating human rights and protection in all areas of work; and
  • Sustaining international attention and financial support.

This paper is part of a larger IPI project on UN transitions and is complemented by similar case studies on UN peacekeeping transitions in Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, and Liberia, as well as a paper exploring experiences and lessons from these three transitions.