Tackling the Peace Operations Dilemma: Q&A with José Ramos-Horta

Tackling the Peace Operations Dilemma: Q&A with José Ramos-Horta

Warren Hoge, Senior Adviser for External Relations at the International Peace Institute, interviewed Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, José Ramos-Horta, on his views on the way forward for UN Peace Operations.

The United Nations must strengthen relationships with regional organizations such as the African Union in peace operations and seek to remain neutral in responding to increasingly complex crises, according to José Ramos-Horta, head of the recent UN High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO).

HIPPO released a report containing more than 100 recommendations for reforming UN peace operations in June this year, with a Secretary-General’s response following in September.

Both the HIPPO and Secretary-General’s reports advocated a cautious approach to the use of force in peace operations, but Mr. Ramos Horta admitted there were difficulties in implementing this when UN missions were increasingly deployed to unstable environments.

“It’s extremely dangerous for the UN and there are no easy answers, obviously, to this dilemma,” he said in an interview with International Peace Institute Senior Adviser Warren Hoge.

Nonetheless, Mr. Ramos Horta said the UN cannot be seen to be a party to conflicts, because it would lose credibility and authority and become unable to exercise a mediation role.

“So there has to be a strong resistance on the part of the Secretariat and the Secretary-General to demands from the Security Council for intervention in areas that are very volatile, complex and where you have a mixture of terrorism, extremism, etc.” he said.

The HIPPO report recommended the UN remain committed to the “primacy of politics” and to putting more emphasis on prevention mechanisms and mediation, which included providing more adequate funding to the Department of Political Affairs through assessed contributions for special political missions.

Listen to the interview, which has been edited for clarity and length:

Read the full transcript of the interview here.

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