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On Eve of Pledging Conference, UNRWA Head Says Neutrality Essential for Doing Humanitarian Work

Fri, 21/06/2019 - 21:31
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The subject of the June 21st Speaker Series event at IPI was “The Risks of Politicizing Humanitarian Action: The UNRWA Perspective,” and the speaker, Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), focused his comments on what he said was the most misunderstood of all principles governing humanitarian work—neutrality.

“Neutrality is often misunderstood as ‘indifference’ when in fact it is a crucial action enabling principle,” he said. “It is crucial because what it means and entails is a fundamental consideration—you as an organization are not taking sides. The misunderstood part is that it sounds sometimes like neutrality is a reflex of taking a step back, physically moving away from the conflict or battlefield.” To the contrary, he said, “our humanitarian work is only possible if we engage… and this can be achieved only if we engage in dialogue with everyone.”

UNRWA provides education, health care, microfinance, and relief and social services to some 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, an area that Mr. Krähenbühl identified as “one of the most polarized and politicized places on the planet.”

A former Director of Operations at The International Committee of the Red Cross with more than 25 years of experience in humanitarian, human rights, and development work, he pointed to a key misunderstanding about neutrality in conflict contexts. “Neutral does not mean, ‘I am not in favor of the other one, but I agree with you.’ It means, ‘I do not take sides. I am here in a conflict environment, and there is no need to take sides.’”

Maintaining a neutral position is always under challenge in the conflicted region where UNRWA operates, and he gave an example, stemming from the discovery that the fundamentalist organization Hamas had built a tunnel under one of the agency’s schools in Gaza. “We found out, we informed the different parties, and we condemned Hamas and contributed to the sealing the tunnels,” he said. “This is how far UNRWA is prepared to go to protect its neutrality, to not allow any actor in the region to play with its installations or undermine credibility of its work.”

UNRWA is holding its annual pledging conference starting June 25th, and a particular concern is how to make up for the cut last year in longstanding financial contributions to the agency from its traditionally most generous donor, the United States. He said that the agency had reduced its spending by $92 million and received increased funding from 42 countries and institutions in response to the American action, and its purpose now was to sustain that and keep the annual budget level at its current $1.2 billion. “If every single donor would preserve and maintain their level of contribution reached in 2018, we would be able to cover the financial needs of UNRWA,” he said.

He said the budget was balanced for the first half of 2019 but already was showing a deficit for June. A lack of funding would cripple the agency’s provision of services, especially in the fields of health and education, threatening to delay the opening of schools in August. He declared himself “passionate” about UNRWA’s education program and cited a comment about it from former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown—“There is not a single other actor in the humanitarian system that runs an entire education service of over one half million boys and girls.”

Mr. Krähenbühl said that providing education affected the stability of the entire region and alluded to a statement from King Abdullah II of Jordan. “The Jordanian King said that if the 122,000 boys and girls in the kingdom no longer had access to education, it would become a matter of national stability,” he said.

In a general assessment of the U.S. cuts, he said he didn’t challenge the right of a country to take such action, but he lamented what he called “the accompanying narrative that somehow that UNRWA is a key actor in perpetuating the refugeehood among Palestinians.” He added: “This analysis doesn’t stand serious review.”

Asked about the particular effect of the cutbacks on girls and women, he noted that there was gender parity in the parliament representing 280,000 students in Gaza. The president of the parliament, he said, was a 15-year old girl. “Every time we have funding challenges, we worry that it will impact young girls and women,” he said, “and this, in particular is something we are trying to limit.”

IPI Vice President Adam Lupel moderated the discussion.

Rød-Larsen: Palestinian Identity is Glued to the Notion of Establishing a Palestinian State

Tue, 18/06/2019 - 18:51

In an interview with FRANCE 24 in The Hague, IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen discussed the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and also shared his thoughts on the merits of the Trump administration’s plans for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Prioritizing and Sequencing Peacekeeping Mandates in 2019: The Case of MINUSMA

Mon, 10/06/2019 - 18:30

The UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in June 2019. Amidst the potential stagnation of Mali’s peace process, concerns over rising violence against civilians, and continued weaknesses of the Malian government in providing basic services, the upcoming negotiations on MINUSMA’s mandate represent a critical moment to reflect upon the Security Council’s strategic engagement in the country.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report organized a workshop on May 13, 2019, to discuss MINUSMA’s mandate and political strategy. This workshop provided a forum for member states, UN stakeholders, and outside experts to share their assessments of the situation in Mali. The discussion was intended to help the Security Council make more informed decisions with respect to the strategic orientation, prioritization, and sequencing of the mission’s mandate and actions on the ground.

The workshop highlighted several tensions in the Security Council’s approach to pursuing peace and security in Mali, specifically the tensions inherent in a conflict that is simultaneously transnational and hyper-localized. It also highlighted the debate around whether the mission should focus more on the north or the center of Mali. Participants largely agreed that MINUSMA’s current mandate remains relevant but also put forward several proposals to further strengthen and adapt the mandate in the interest of advancing the mission’s political strategy and achieving the Security Council’s objectives in the coming year. Recommendations included expanding MINUSMA’s political work to the center of the country and supporting a national dialogue, making protection of civilians a strategic priority, increasing support to justice and reconciliation, and strengthening regional coordination.

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Sustaining Peace in Liberia: New Reforms, New Opportunities?

Tue, 28/05/2019 - 17:13

Gross ODA disbursement to Liberia, 2007–2017 (Click for full graphic)

Top 10 donors of gross overseas development assistance in Liberia, 2015–2017 (Click for full graphic)

The reforms to the UN development system, effective on January 1, 2019, marked the start of a new period for the UN presence in Liberia, making it one of the earliest test cases of a “next generation” UN country team. This comes less than a year after two other transitions: the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Liberia and the inauguration of a new Liberian president. On top of longstanding socioeconomic challenges, these transitions are testing the country’s ability to sustain peace.

This paper, a publication of IPI and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), examines the implementation of the UN’s peacebuilding and sustaining peace framework in Liberia, 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. It looks specifically at how the UN country team is adapting its strategy and operations in the wake of the recent transitions in Liberia.

The changes taking place in Liberia illustrate that efforts to implement the secretary-general’s recommendations are already underway. The UN has implemented a new, innovative model centered on an empowered resident coordinator’s office, which has been able to effectively coordinate its approach with the Liberian government. Nonetheless, this office needs support to ensure that programming is oriented toward conflict prevention and connected to discussions at UN headquarters.


Strengthening the Human Rights Compliance Framework for the G5 Sahel Joint Force

Fri, 24/05/2019 - 21:38
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The G5 Sahel Joint Force was launched in 2017 by Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad, and Mali to unite their efforts to address common security threats in the region. In a resolution authorizing the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to provide operational and logistical support to the force, the United Nations Security Council called on these five states to establish a “robust compliance framework” to deal with and “publicly report” violations and abuses of human rights law and international humanitarian law related to the joint force.

On May 24th, IPI and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) held a policy forum taking stock of the initial implementation of what Jake Sherman, director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, described as an “innovative mechanism.”

Namie Di Razza, IPI Senior Fellow and head of IPI’s Protection of Civilians (POC) program, cited the resolution’s insistence that adherence to the human rights compliance framework was critical to building the required trust in the force among the populations affected by military operations. It was particularly important, she said, in establishing human rights and POC as a central consideration in the conduct of counter-terrorism operations.

Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, underlined the point, saying, “The eventual success of the joint force will only be there if it works to protect all civilians during its operations. Therefore, the human rights compliance framework should not be seen as a burden, but rather as a tool to make the force more effective, stronger, and in the end more successful.”

He said it was essential to focus on the “root causes” of the region’s instability, one of which he identified as the local population’s feeling of being marginalized. “You cannot win against terrorism if at the same time you cannot win the hearts and minds of the local population,” he said.

Yemdaogo Eric Tiare, the Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the UN, saying he was speaking on behalf of all five force states, also linked effective counter-terrorism with respect for rights. “We cannot win the fight against terrorism and violent extremism without the collaboration of our own citizens,” he said.

Richard Gowan, UN Director of the International Crisis Group, said that the future of peace operations will inevitably be “messy”, but he added, “It is crucial that while we may have a more fragmented world of conflict management, we should still maintain some common standards in how we respond to conflict, and those standards have to rest on a clear common vision of human rights and POC.” The G5 force compliance framework was important in its own right, he asserted, but also as “an important model for this sort of conflict management that the UN will be doing a lot of in the future.”

Mr. Gowan said that given the growing complexity of UN peace operations, he imagined that OHCHR would be doing this kind of normative assessing frequently, an action he compared to the practice in the United Kingdom of providing products with a so-called Kitemark seal of safety assurance. “The Kitemark tells you that a product has gone through a standard safety testing…and I think to some extent that is what OHCHR is providing here, providing a Kitemark reassurance that a coalition operation will live up to the highest principles that it can.”

Baptiste Martin, Senior Human Rights Officer and Coordinator of the OHCHR/G5 Sahel project, said the G5 force compliance framework was a new model for OHCHR. His team includes staff in all five countries, he said, with the goal of tailoring implementation to “the specificities of the force, of the context, of the G5 Sahel organs, and to its context. Then trying to adapt the tools, the mechanisms, all the activities to the specificities of that force in a support role for us.” He said the mission was “more robust than the traditional UN peacekeeping one.” He described a broadly consultative process, involving, among others, the African Union, the UN, NATO, and the International Committee of the Red Cross in partnership with the Austrian, French, and Italian governments.

Georgette Gagnon, OHCHR’s Director of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, drew on her time working for OHCHR in Afghanistan where an early version of a compliance framework was eventually put into effect with positive results. “Over many years, civilians would tell us, ‘We’re caught in the middle between the insurgents and the Afghan and international forces.’ Civilian harm undermined the mission’s credibility and interests, its political and military objectives.” She highlighted that this early framework had a direct impact on national actors: In 2017 the Afghan government adopted a national policy on civilian casualty mitigation and prevention, and a civilian casualty mitigation structure has been implemented in the Afghan forces as well.

The compliance reforms that were adopted, she said, greatly reduced casualties and led to needed changes in training and tracking. “A benefit of the compliance framework approach is that in addition to protection dividends, it can provide operational dividends to the force,” she said. “Retaining and sustaining the support of civilian operations is essential to successful military operations in many if not all contemporary contexts.”

Col. Dia Saidou, Military Attaché of the Permanent Mission of Mauritania to the UN, highlighted parts of the compliance framework that he saw as essential for reinforcing local support. He singled out the need for a trained police component, and for a proper judicial follow-up as a complement of military action. He also insisted on clear and dependable communications so that “the population perceives the force in a positive way.”

Sheraz Gazri, Legal Counsellor and Head of Human Rights at the Permanent Mission of France to the UN, said France was dedicated to the success of the G5 Sahel joint force. She highlighted the different challenges it faced, including the need for adequate and sustained resources, for continued international support.

Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of OHCHR in New York, acknowledged that donors feel more comfortable if human rights violations are not committed, but he warned the compliance framework “must not be seen as a donor-driven exercise, and we are very keen to make sure that it isn’t.” He highlighted the shift in OHCHR’s approach to incentivize forces to comply with human rights standards: “We do this not by finger-pointing, but by actually working with the forces. It is a way to speak their language in a way they find constructive.”

The discussion was moderated by Ms. Di Razza.

Twenty Years of Protecting Civilians through UN Peacekeeping Operations: Successes, Challenges, and New Frontiers

Wed, 22/05/2019 - 21:08
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Twenty years ago, the United Nations Security Council established the first explicit Protection of Civilians (POC) mandate, resolving that the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

On May 22nd, during the week in which the Security Council held its annual POC open debate, IPI, in partnership with the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) and the Permanent Missions of the Netherlands and of Uruguay to the UN, held a policy forum taking stock of these two decades of direct attention to POC in peacekeeping operations. The event provided an opportunity to explore the progress made and the reforms that are still needed to ensure the protection of local populations relying on peacekeepers.

“We know that peace operations have striven to do more to protect, but they are also facing many challenges,” said IPI Senior Fellow Dr. Namie Di Razza. “Peacekeepers are being asked to do more with less…and a number of reviews have highlighted persistent shortcomings and a general lack of accountability for POC.”

Since 1999, 14 missions have been mandated to protect civilians from physical violence, and today eight of the fourteen active UN peacekeeping operations have a POC mandate, constituting the vast majority of civilian and uniformed personnel deployed to these operations around the world.

Speaking to the centrality of POC to peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre LaCroix, UN Under-Secretary for Peacekeeping Operations, said, “I would argue that all peacekeeping operations, whatever the mandate, ultimately are about the protection of civilians…POC, in addition to being one of the greatest achievements of peacekeeping, is probably our greatest challenge as well.”

In meeting that challenge, he said, one had to be conscious of the outside expectations and the inside limitations. “We are never able to put peacekeepers in every village, in every location, in every place where civilians are under threat,” he said. “But by being deployed, we create and raise expectations to a level that is very difficult to meet in practice.”

He said that peacekeeping missions had developed a number of tools to acquire the “situational awareness” necessary for advancing the protection agenda in peacekeeping environments. “We engage better with local communities to have better information to be able to better deter, prevent, and preempt threats, and making sure that we can, if needed, react before these threats come to the civilian population,” he said.

Karel Van Oosterom, the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN, listed ten points that he said reflected that “we have to do more.” Among them were the need to internalize POC as standard operating procedure, to improve and expand the training of peacekeepers in protecting civilians, and to make sure that the host country takes primary responsibility. He also stressed that resources had to be sufficient to make POC an “achievable result.”

David Gressly, Deputy Special Representative for Operations and the Rule of Law, UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), spoke of the successive generations of POC practice. He stressed the importance of telecommunications in “reinforcing the intelligence architecture” so peacekeepers can track threats before they develop into armed conflict. He particularly stressed the innovations pursued by the peacekeeping mission in the DRC, where 65 community alert networks were established, and cover more than 900 communities. He explained the value of protection through presence and projection, as “showing up and being there…[causes] an immediate freezing of the situation.” He added, “We need to end the conflict, that’s the ultimate protection.”

Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, UN Departments of Peace Operations and Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that including women was a crucial element of protection of civilians activities. To illustrate the point, she told a story about her work for the peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) that was suddenly overwhelmed by thousands of internally displaced persons, most of whom were women and children. “On the day when we arrived, we came to a place where it was important for women to be there,” she said. “Most of the peacekeepers were men, they could not go and engage and see within the site what was happening with women because they had to protect their privacy.”

It was also a situation that required the attention of humanitarian workers, and Ms. Keita said, “Another aspect of protection is having all humanitarians and all components of the mission in one meeting.”

The importance of having women involved in POC also figured in the remarks of Lieutenant Commander Marcia Braga, former Military Protection of Civilians and Gender Adviser, UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). “When I have female peacekeepers, it’s a little bit easier to talk about the special needs of different groups. Our presence is less offensive, and we can approach the local population, which is very important.” Having this kind of engagement with the local population built up the level of acceptance by them and made it easier for the peacekeepers to protect them, she said.

Alison Giffen, Director, Peacekeeping Center for Civilians in Conflict, lamented that international enthusiasm for peacekeeping was declining and warned against shortchanging peacekeepers. “If we’re going to issue mandates to protect civilians, we have to give them the means,” she said. “That’s not just the trained troops and civilian personnel. It’s not just the capabilities and the enablers. It is the financial cost of peacekeeping. Protecting civilians has a cost. It is an investment worth making.”

In concluding remarks, Elbio Rosselli, Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the UN, commented, “We also have to remember that armed protection is not necessarily the only way of protecting civilians. Unarmed methods are incredibly effective.”

Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, made welcoming remarks, and Ms. Di Razza moderated the discussion

UN Libya Envoy: “This Conflict, Left to Itself, Can Only Deteriorate and Expand”

Wed, 22/05/2019 - 15:30
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The most recent round of fighting that erupted in Libya in April, even as a national conference to find elements of consensus in the country was imminent, threatens to widen into an enduring civil war unless the international community acts now to halt it, said Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

“I believe this conflict, left to itself, can only deteriorate and expand, and can lead to a true civil war,” he said.

He urged the international community to “not only contain this conflict,” arguing that letting it continue would have consequences throughout the region.  “Leaving this conflict festering before us is a danger for the Libyans first, but also for their neighbors and for peace and security throughout the region,” he said.

He was speaking at a May 22nd IPI “Leading for Peace: Voices from the Field” event a day after warning the UN Security Council that the ongoing battle mounted by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and the factional Libyan National Army was “just the start of a long and bloody war.” More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the fighting, and 510 have been killed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

General Haftar launched the offensive against the internationally and UN-recognized Government of National Accord on April 4th, and though he has covered lots of ground across the vast country, the effort to capture the capital, Tripoli, has stalled, and there is a military stalemate. “The frontline hasn’t changed an inch in the past month,” Mr. Salamé said.

Though Gen. Haftar has not succeeded in advancing further, he still stands in the way of any settlement, Mr. Salamé said. “If you are looking for a peace formula, you cannot ignore somebody who is not in control but who is to a large extent the largest influence over 75 percent of territory…and 70-75 percent of the oil fields. You cannot say, ‘He does not exist, I do not want to deal with him.’”

Mr. Salamé, a seasoned UN official who has been a professor of international relations at Sciences Po and is the founding dean of its Paris School of International Affairs, lamented what he said was an excessively cynical outside view of the Libyan conflict. “The way people see Libya is more concentrated on Libya as a prize for the shrewdest, the strongest, the most patient and very much less Libya as a country of 6, 7 million people who deserve a decent life after four decades of dictatorship and a decade of chaos. There is not enough of a moral motivation to put an end to this war, and therefore there is less of a political predisposition to take the extra mile to find a solution.”

He suggested this attitude had affected Security Council thinking. “I am not sure that some leading countries in the Security Council are aware enough of the risks they are taking by allowing the conflict to fester,” he said. “This particular conflict can transform, it could mutate in way that we could in a few months truly regret that we did not stop it in time.”

He said that UN credibility had also been put at stake by highly publicized recent breaches of the UN arms embargo, violations that used to be done “quietly, discreetly” but are now boasted about as evidence of armed strength. “The Security Council members should know that the Security Council is not taken seriously when the violations are so blatant and exhibitionist,” he said.

The blunt-spoken Lebanese diplomat noted that Libya, with its oil riches, did not have to rely on outsiders to finance war within its borders. “The truth is that Libya can pay for its own suicide,” he said. “They are committing suicide with their own money. You do not need external fuel for this war…This country is producing 1.2 million barrels of oil a day. This is big money. The country is very wealthy…The conflict does not depend on financial transfers from outside.”

For that reason, he said “if you want a textbook case for a war on resources and how it can turn extremely vicious, Libya is your example.”

The national conference that Mr. Salamé had been organizing since assuming his current post in 2017 was to have taken place on April 14th and 15th. It has been indefinitely postponed because of the conflict.

But on a positive note, he said the UN has had success introducing “political fluidity” in local areas, holding elections in 28 large cities and promising to conduct more regardless of the pressures of the conflict. “We will continue to do as much as we can in these municipal elections between now and the end of the year, whatever happens to the war itself,” he said.

The discussion was moderated by IPI Vice President Adam Lupel.

Related coverage:
Al Jazeera: UN envoy: ‘Libya a textbook example of foreign intervention’
The Guardian: UN envoy attacks lack of ‘moral motivation’ to end Libyan war

Finding the Road to Implementing Security Council Resolution 2286

Mon, 20/05/2019 - 19:26

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On May 24th, IPI together with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (SHCC), and the Permanent Missions of Poland, France, Iraq, Germany, and Afghanistan to the UN, co-hosted a policy forum entitled “Finding the Road to Implementing Security Council Resolution 2286.” This was a side event to the 2019 UN Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians.

In 2016, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2286, a landmark resolution reaffirming the relevance of international humanitarian law and, in particular, its rules relating to the protection of the wounded and sick. The resolution’s adoption represented a strong political commitment to protect the sanctity of healthcare delivery in armed conflict.

Since then, the protection of medical care in armed conflict has received sustained attention at the Security Council. Unfortunately, this has yet to translate into significant and concrete change on the ground. Around the world, attacks on healthcare continue unabated. Beyond attacks, access to impartial medical care has also continued to suffer other, less visible impediments. These include the removal of medical items from aid convoys by armed actors, threats to medical personnel, or the ripple effects of restrictive measures such as counterterrorism regulations, some of which may criminalize the provision of medical care to members of groups considered as “terrorist.” These challenges have an immediate impact on the ability to provide medical care to those who need it, but also create longer-term consequences for the health of entire populations.

This event provided an opportunity to recall the necessity, in armed conflict, for parties to armed conflict to comply fully with relevant international humanitarian law obligations and the need to take concrete action, at all levels, to stem the flow of attacks and other impediments to the impartial provision of medical care in armed conflict. It also highlighted good practice in Resolution 2286’s implementation and identified ways in which member states and relevant institutions can concretely follow up on initiatives to better protect the wounded and sick in armed conflict.

Read the concept note>>

Introductory remarks:
H.E. Ms. Joanna Wronecka, Permanent Representative of Poland to the UN
Ms. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the UN

Mr. Leonard Rubenstein, Chair, Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition
Mr. Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief of the Policy Development and Studies Branch, UN OCHA
H.E. Mrs. Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN
H.E. Mr. Mohammad Hussein Ali Bahr Al Uloom, Permanent Representative of Iraq to the UN

Closing remarks:
H.E. Mr. Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN

Mr. Jake Sherman, Director, Center for Peace Operations, IPI

Guatemala’s Achilles’ Heel: The 2030 Agenda and the Fight against Corruption

Wed, 01/05/2019 - 16:56

In late 2015, momentum toward implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was steadily building in Guatemala. This momentum was driven by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and protesters in the streets demanding action against corruption. Since 2017, however, a political standoff in Guatemala has started reversing these gains. A sustained reversal would undermine efforts to address the country’s longstanding socioeconomic needs.

This study analyzes recent gains and setbacks in Guatemala’s efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and provides recommendations for ways the country can fight corruption and securitization to sustain peace and promote sustainable development. It suggests better communicating the 2030 Agenda through multi-stakeholder outreach, improving monitoring or progress, aligning international aid with local objectives, and continuing to engage with the private sector.

This issue brief is part of the International Peace Institute’s (IPI) SDGs4Peace project, which seeks to understand how the 2030 Agenda is being rooted at the national and local levels and to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The project focuses on five case studies: Guatemala, the Gambia, Greece, Lebanon, and Myanmar. Implementation of the 2030 Agenda provides each of these countries an opportunity not only to buttress existing aspirations but also to build new partnerships that transcend traditional approaches.


IPI MENA Hosts Youth in Art for Peace

Mon, 29/04/2019 - 23:28


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Graduating high school art students from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, India, Ireland, Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, donated artwork to an IPI MENA “Youth in Art for Peace” exhibition organized in collaboration with Saudi Artist Wedad Al Bakr, Founder of Artwed and peace advocate.

In his opening remarks, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji stressed IPI’s vision for youth in peacemaking and multilateral policymaking. He called for greater involvement of youth in leadership positions for innovation in the field of peacemaking, and as a deterrence against growing dissatisfaction, violence, and extremism among youth.

Ms. Al Bakr outlined art as a means of intercultural communication, as well a tool for promoting inclusivity, tolerance, and peace. Noting the diversity of youth who convened at IPI MENA as a testament to the unifying power of art, she called on the young artists to build bridges and cultural connections in advocating for peace.

H.E. Selim Ghariani, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to the Kingdom of Bahrain, remarked that “it is important to devote time to the initiatives of youth and peace.” He expressed a desire to see concerned players at the regional and international level adopt this initiative and showcase youth artwork.

Noting the “high density of artists, art movements and galleries in Manama” H.E. Kai Boeckmann, the Ambassador of Republic of Germany to the Kingdom of Bahrain discussed the potential for youth in art in the Kingdom, saying,  “I welcome the voices of youth, especially speaking on issues such as environmental sustainability and peace, as these are issues that we must tackle together as an international community.”

H.E. Kemal Demirciler, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the Kingdom of Bahrain, praised the youth for actively taking up their roles as peace advocates.

The young artists then gave statements on their works, how they were inspired to create them, and what peace means in their artwork.

During the student presentations, Majd Sattam Algosaibi of Ibn Khuldoon School (IKNS) showcased her acrylic painting “Ummah.” Discussing the community’s role in fostering inclusivity, tolerance, and understanding, she hopes to portray in her work “that no one is superior to another and no one deserves more because of authority or race.”

Describing his acrylic painting “Pure Youth,” Hamza Rahma of IKNS School explained that his subject symbolizes the trauma and suffering experienced by children in war and conflict zones. He hoped his audience would assess the sensations and effects of war and thus be inspired to work towards peace.

Stirred by “the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, inequality, stereotypes and war” Juman Al Ghalayini of IKNS School entitled her artwork “Salam” (which means “peace” in Arabic) with the aim to increase awareness. She purposefully detached the letters of the word “salam” in her Arabic calligraphy to symbolize the unachieved peace today. However, she contrasted this negativity through the use of brightly colored, dried flowers as a sign of hope for sustainable peace.

Ahmed Dadabai of Riffa Views International School stated art as a means of storytelling, and a way for him to express peaceful perspectives on the world. His piece depicted Islamic symbols showing “religion as a force of calmness and light, in contrast to its common representation in some media.”

Hana Aysha Noor of Ibn Al Haytham Islamic School focused on discrimination as an obstacle to sustainable peace. She highlighted the role that Nelson Mandela, played in challenging hatred, building understanding and tolerance; core values of durable peace.

Created through a collaboration of six student artists from St. Christopher’s School, the layered and multi-technique artwork “Peace in Sight” depicted the word peace in many languages, including braille. The piece symbolizes the use of art as a communicative tool, often expressing more than words, stated the artists.

Read the Press Release in Arabic>>

Stuck in Crisis: The Humanitarian Response to Sudan’s Health Emergency

Fri, 26/04/2019 - 18:39

Following decades of war, economic decline, and underinvestment, Sudan’s healthcare system entered a new phase of crisis in 2019 as peaceful protests led to the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir. Among those leading these protests were doctors and other medical personnel fed up with poor working conditions and medicine shortages. This speaks to the degraded state of healthcare in the country, particularly in the conflict-affected regions of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile.

This paper looks at the humanitarian response to health-related needs in these conflict-affected parts of Sudan. After providing an overview of the state of Sudan’s healthcare system, it explores the main trends and challenges in the humanitarian health response, including the difficult partnerships between international and Sudanese health actors, restricted humanitarian access, and the effort to shift toward more sustainable approaches.

It concludes that the humanitarian health response in Sudan is stuck: most agree on the need to move beyond short-term approaches, but the national capacity and development funding needed to make this transition are missing. At the same time, with newly accessible areas exposing unmet needs and conflict and displacement ongoing, a robust humanitarian response is still desperately needed. This situation calls for the UN, donors, and health NGOs to continue their efforts to respond to needs while strengthening the healthcare system, to coordinate humanitarian and development funding, and to advocate for maintaining and extending humanitarian access.


A Conversation with Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Madagascar

Wed, 24/04/2019 - 20:40

On April 24th, IPI hosted the next event in its “Leading for Peace: Voices from the Field” series, featuring Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Madagascar, who shared his reflections on the country’s efforts to achieve peace, stability, and a successful democratic transition. He provided insights into Madagascar’s ongoing electoral process and identified lessons from recent efforts to support and sustain political dialogue, including through partnerships with regional organizations like the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.

Mr. Bathily was appointed by the Secretary-General as his Special Adviser on Madagascar on April 27, 2018, where he has since worked with both Malagasy and international actors to create a peaceful and credible environment for the December 2018 presidential elections. Until 2016, Mr. Bathily served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Office for Central Africa (UNOCA). Before that, he served as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) in Mali from 2013 to 2014. Prior to his international engagements, Mr. Bathily was a senior minister for the presidency from 2012 to 2013 and a member of Senegal’s Parliament from 1998 to 2000, during which time he served as deputy speaker. For more than thirty years, Mr. Bathily has taught history at the University Sheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. He holds a Doctorat d’Etat from the University of Dakar and a PhD from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

The event was moderated by Dr. Youssef Mahmoud, IPI Senior Adviser.

Building Trust and the Importance of Multilateralism: Making the UN Relevant to All People

Tue, 23/04/2019 - 21:06

On April 23rd, IPI together with the Office of the President of the General Assembly, cohosted an interactive discussion in advance of the UN General Assembly high-level event to commemorate the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace on April 24th, during which member states will discuss prevailing challenges and renew commitments to a rule-based world order and the multilateral system.

The international rule-based order is challenged on multiple fronts. The weakening of commitments to a rule-based international order is evident in a variety of contexts, as a profound mistrust permeates the system. Part of the answer to the deficit of trust lies in connecting multilateral processes to the interests, concerns, and perspectives of the people. The 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly has been grounded in the theme of making the multilateral system and the UN “relevant to all people.” This aspiration is central to the drive to increase collaborative efforts, build trust, and inspire a recommitment to multilateralism.

IPI and the Office of the PGA fostered a conversation that took stock of factors that may have contributed to the waning credibility of the multilateral system, as well as recent innovative practices to enhance its legitimacy. Participants sought to agree upon ways to lay the foundation for a more trusted, people-centered multilateralism.

The event took place at the United Nations.

Opening remarks:
H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly

Amb. Donald Steinberg, Executive Director, Mobilizing Men as Partners for Women, Peace and Security
Dr. Cecilia Nahón, Executive Director, Model G20 Initiative, American University; and former Ambassador of Argentina to the U.S.
Prof. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor of International Affairs and Program Director, The New School
Mr. Richard Gowan, UN Director, International Crisis Group
Ms. Giovanna Kuele, Member of Steering Committee, Together First and Researcher at the Igarape Institute

The Honorable Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia; President, Asia Society Policy Institute; and Chairman, IPI Board of Directors

Transitioning to National Forces in Somalia: More Than an Exit for AMISOM

Mon, 22/04/2019 - 18:22

When the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) deployed in 2007, the AU and the UN Security Council expected that the United Nations would eventually take over from the AU force. But while a UN peacekeeping operation remains a theoretical option for the council, its prospects have diminished. Instead, the focus of Somali and international efforts has shifted to planning for AMISOM to transition directly Somali security forces without an interim UN mission.

This issue brief outlines the factors behind this shift in intentions, including the new Somali administration’s commitment to assuming responsibility for security, a general agreement that the time had come for an exit strategy, and the Security Council’s reduced appetite for peace operations. It also lays out the objectives, approaches, and status of implementation of the Somali Transition Plan.

Despite steady progress, there is still a long way to go in implementing this plan. Reforms are encountering resistance from vested interests, and al-Shabab poses an ongoing threat. Any sustainable transition from AMISOM must be a long-term project that includes not just a military handover but also political decisions on security and the structure of the state. It also depends on aligning national priorities and international efforts and the willingness of all security actors in Somalia to work together in a pragmatic, transparent, and coordinated way.


Policy, Promise, and Pitfalls: Women, Peace and Security in 2020

Thu, 18/04/2019 - 21:52

On April 18th, IPI together with Monash University and Griffith University cohosted an event entitled “Policy, Promise, and Pitfalls: Women, Peace and Security in 2020.”

In October 2020, the global community will mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UNSCR 1325, the UN Security Council’s first resolution dedicated to Women, Peace and Security (WPS). This penultimate year before the anniversary is an important time to take stock and engage with what the international community has achieved toward the WPS agenda and where further action should be taken. It is a time to be creative in assessment and analysis of the issues, institutions, and locations where WPS implementation could improve international peace and security.

The evening’s discussion brought together the WPS community to discuss the intersection of policy and promise toward achieving the transformational potential of the WPS agenda. This includes the collective obligations of civil society, governments, and the UN.

Opening remarks:
H.E. Mr. Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN
Dr. Jacqui True, Professor of Politics & International Relations and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Monash University

Ms. Nahla Valji, Senior Gender Adviser, Executive Office of the Secretary-General
Ms. Ray Acheson, Director, Reaching Critical Will

Dr. Sarah Taylor, IPI Senior Fellow

A Conversation with Pedro Serrano, Deputy Secretary General for CSDP/EEAS

Thu, 18/04/2019 - 21:49

On Thursday, April 25th, IPI is hosting a speaker series event featuring H.E. Mr. Pedro Serrano on the topic of the relationship between the European Union and state actors in the Sahel.

Remarks will begin at 10:15am PST / 1:15pm EST

Pedro Serrano is Deputy Secretary General for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and Crisis Response at the European External Action Service (EEAS) since November 2015.

Previously, Mr. Serrano was principal advisor on external relations to the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. Mr. Serrano was the first head of delegation/ambassador of the EU to the United Nations in New York after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Since 2003, Mr. Serrano has held numerous positions in the CSDP, including as director for civilian crisis management at the General Secretariat of the council. Prior to 2003, Mr. Serrano served as a Spanish diplomat in numerous positions including at the UN headquarters, and in Cuba and Tanzania.

This event will be moderated by Mr. Jake Sherman, Director of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations at IPI.

Financing UN Peacekeeping: Avoiding another Crisis

Wed, 17/04/2019 - 19:33

UN peacekeeping missions are facing cash-flow problems and financial strains due to the late payment and withholding of assessed contributions. Since the inception of UN peacekeeping, the financing of missions has been a challenge, with periods of calm followed by periods of crisis. The UN has been particularly vulnerable to withheld and late payments from its biggest financial contributors. This has an impact on missions’ effectiveness and the ability of troop-contributing countries to deploy.

This paper examines how member-state contributions to peacekeeping are calculated, historical and current financing challenges faced by peacekeeping missions, and ideas for placing UN peacekeeping on a firmer financial footing. It recommends reevaluating some of the rules and regulations that govern the management of UN peacekeeping. It specifically recommends:

  • Creating a cash reserve for peacekeeping: A new reserve fund or the relaxation of restrictions to use of the existing reserve fund could help manage liquidity problems.
  • Consolidating peacekeeping accounts: Consolidating the accounts for missions would significantly improve cash management and operational flexibility by allowing the Secretariat to borrow between the accounts of different missions.
  • Streamlining budgeting: Aligning the billing process with the budget period would reduce bureaucracy, reducing the burden on both the Secretariat and member states.
  • Incentivizing budgetary discipline: Allowing some flexibility on the crediting of savings to member states could improve liquidity and incentivize missions to be more disciplined in their spending.
  • Encouraging prompt payments: To encourage member states to meet the deadline for payments, they could be penalized for making late payments or given positive incentives to pay on time.


A Necessary Voice: Small States, International Law, and the UN Security Council

Mon, 15/04/2019 - 17:38

The international rule-based order has come under threat on multiple fronts. If it continues to deteriorate into an older model based on power politics, small states—by definition vulnerable in a world where only might makes right—are most at risk. This makes them natural defenders of the international order that protects them.

How can small countries serve as effective champions of the rule-based order and international law? This paper explores this question by looking at the role of small states on the UN Security Council. The council, with its five veto-wielding permanent members, is perhaps not an obvious place to look at the role of small states. Nonetheless, it presents critical opportunities, as well as difficult challenges, for small states.

This paper concludes that small states on the Security Council are well-placed to provide an important, credible voice with moral authority to remind all member states of their obligations under international law, reaffirm normative commitments to compliance, and advocate for a recommitment to a multilateral, rule-based international order. Perhaps not since the founding of the United Nations has that voice been more necessary for all to hear.


Bahrain Supreme Council for Women Calls on Equal Participation for Women

Thu, 11/04/2019 - 21:48


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The Secretary-General of Bahrain’s Supreme Council for Women, H.E Hala Al-Ansari, called on women and men alike to work together in achieving equal participation of women in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “We need to carry out our responsibilities as humans, rather than separate genders,” she said, adding that women do not need to solely rely on men to empower themselves.

Addressing a large audience of women in leadership, ambassadors, government officials, dignitaries, religious leaders, and media gathered at IPI MENA on April 11, 2019, Al-Ansari emphasized the progress made by Bahraini women in policy, public and private sectors, noting that “Bahrain is ranked first in the Arab world and 47th globally according to the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, and fourth in the Gulf and 43rd globally according to the UN Human Development Report 2018.”

The event was opened by IPI MENA Policy Analyst Dalya Al-Alawi, and moderated by IPI MENA Director Mr. Nejib Friji, who noted that the work of the SCW is in line with the SDGs and IPI goals related to women’s leadership and the promotion of women at all levels of decision-making, political involvement and peacemaking.

In response to a question by Mary Justine Todd, Founder of Women’s Crisis Care International, about SCW initiatives regarding domestic and sexual violence, Al-Ansari cited progress regarding legislation and law enforcement steps and called for additional preventative measures as well as the streamlining of gender equity in all layers of society. “We must go to the root of domestic and sexual violence and change the mindset of how the genders express themselves, beginning with education, institutions and teaching the skills of peaceful relations from kindergarten to high levels of education,” she said.

Answering a question from Yemen’s Ambassador to Bahrain, Dr. Ali Hassan Al Ahmadi, on whether women’s quotas would be envisaged as a means of inclusion and advancement, Hala Al-Ansari stressed that these allocations are not always true measures of progress. She called for greater accountability in the field of women’s advancement through the implementation of evaluation mechanisms in the public and private sectors.

Responding to Fatema Al Kooheji, Chairperson of the Shura Council’s Senate for the Women and Children Committee, on the role of the media in women’s advancement and participation, Al-Ansari noted the relative progress of the media concerning women’s issues. Still, she called for further development in media’s approaches to assessment, coverage, analysis of gender equity, women’s participation in line with the SDGs. She highlighted the important role of media, adding that it is crucial to convey an accurate and constructive message. However, she noted that media should “neither draw a bleak picture nor over-exaggerate women’s achievements.”

Speaking to the media, Hala Al-Ansari vowed a partnership with IPI MENA on gender-based equal opportunities’ future projects.

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A Necessary Voice: Small States, International Law, and the UN Security Council

Thu, 11/04/2019 - 17:10

On Tuesday, April 16th, IPI together with the Permanent Mission of Estonia to the UN are cohosting a policy forum event on “A Necessary Voice: Small States, International Law, and the UN Security Council.”

Remarks will begin at 10:15am PST / 1:15pm EST

The international rule-based order is facing high-risk challenges on multiple fronts. What is at stake in the weakening of this order, and what are the paths forward? Among UN member states, small countries are most at risk if the international system further deteriorates into an older model of a world order based on power politics and zero-sum games. As such, they should also be predisposed to defend the order that protects them.

In a system dominated by large powerful states, can small states serve as effective champions of the rule-based order and international law? One place to begin to answer this question is the UN Security Council, a body that presents both critical opportunities and difficult challenges for small states. Given these opportunities and challenges, what role can small states play in defending international law on the Security Council?

Panelists will discuss these questions and more. This event will launch the IPI policy report, “A Necessary Voice: Small States, International Law, and the Security Council,” produced in partnership with the Government of Estonia.

H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Estonia to the UN
H.E. Mr. Luis Homero Bermúdez Álvarez, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the UN
Dr. Adam Lupel, Vice President, International Peace Institute
Dr. Lauri Mälksoo, Professor of International Law, University of Tartu (Estonia)
Dr. Kristen Boon, Associate Dean, Professor of Law, Seton Hall Law School

Ms. Jimena Leiva Roesch, Senior Fellow, International Peace Institute