Defining the Boundaries of UN Stabilization Missions

In 2004, the United Nations (UN) Security Council authorized the first stabilization mission in Haiti. Since then, it has authorized three more in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and the Central African Republic. Yet the Security Council has never defined the term “stabilization,” explained how stabilization missions differ from other UN peace operations, or elaborated on the outcomes it expects stabilization missions to achieve. This report argues that there is no consensus as to what stabilization means, and that there is a wide gulf between understandings in New York (where it is often viewed as involving offensive military force) and in the field (where it is often viewed as civilian-led and development-focused work). In the absence of a clear definition of stabilization, it is unclear to many stakeholders whether these missions violate the core principles of peacekeeping. The lack of a definition creates a risk of unrealistic expectations for what missions will accomplish and makes it impossible to evaluate success. It can contribute to a mismatch between mission objectives and capabilities, lead to ad hoc and ineffective implementation of mandated tasks on the ground, and discourage countries from authorizing or contributing troops to these missions. Recognizing these problems, the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations declared last year that “the usage of this term by the United Nations requires clarification.” Drawing on understandings of stabilization in concept and in practice, this report proposes a new definition of stabilization in the context of UN peacekeeping: supporting the transfer of territorial control from spoilers to legitimate authorities. This definition, unlike others proposed, is consistent with the mandates and activities of...

Has UN Peacekeeping Become More Deadly? Analyzing Trends in UN Fatalities

Has UN Peacekeeping Become More Deadly? Analyzing Trends in UN Fatalities by Marina E. Henke is the 14th paper in the Providing for Peacekeeping Series. How deadly is UN peacekeeping? Have UN peacekeeping fatalities increased over the past decades? Those who have attempted to answer these questions differ drastically in their assessments, in part due to the dearth of data and the variety of calculation methods employed. In order to fix some of these shortcomings and take a fresh look at these questions, this report analyzes trends in UN peacekeeping fatalities using a new dataset compiled by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As a result of the new data employed and methodological innovations, this report constitutes the most detailed study of UN fatality trends thus far. The analysis reveals that overall UN fatalities are not substantively on the rise. Indeed, total fatality ratios are declining. Nevertheless, this decline does not equally apply to all types of UN fatalities; there is strong evidence that UN fatalities due to illness are on the rise. While these findings are important, further research is needed to adequately examine whether UN peacekeeping missions have become more dangerous in recent years. Read the paper...

South Africa’s conflict prevention efforts must be more strategic

South Africa appears to be at a crossroads in defining its foreign policy priorities; particularly in terms of its peace and security engagements in Africa. On the one hand, the country still places peace and security engagements at the core of its priorities in the continent. On the other hand, its approaches to peace and security are increasingly being questioned. This comes at a time when there is a growing drive to bring prevention to the core of global responses to conflict; the result of an increasing realisation that such responses need to become more proactive, inclusive and ultimately more effective. Acknowledging that the international community has not reached the potential of its peace and security tools, theUnited Nations (UN) conducted three reviews on its approaches to peace operations, peacebuilding and women, peace and security last year. The reviews reinforced the point that conflict prevention must be brought to the forefront of all UN initiatives. Similarly, the African Union (AU), in its efforts to achieve its vision for Africa in 2063, has declared its intentions to silence the guns by 2020. South Africa has long advocated for better use of conflict-prevention mechanisms internationally, including for tools like mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding support to be better integrated. South Africa could therefore become a more active player in assisting the UN and AU as the organisations rethink their conflict-prevention initiatives. South Africa could also assume a more important role in preventing the outbreak of conflicts on the continent. This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies. Read full article...

Waging Peace: UN Peace Operations Confronting Terrorism and Violent Extremism

Of the eleven countries most affected by terrorism globally, seven currently host UN peace operations. In countries affected by terrorism and violent extremism, peace operations will increasingly be called upon to adapt their approaches without compromising UN doctrine. But to date, there has been little exploration of the broader political and practical challenges, opportunities, and risks facing UN peace operations in complex security environments. This has created a gap between the policy debate in New York and the realities confronting UN staff on the ground. This policy paper aims to bridge this gap by examining the recent drive to integrate counterterrorism (CT) and preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) into relevant activities of UN peace operations, as well as the associated challenges and opportunities. It seeks to expand the scope of discussions beyond whether peace operations can “do CT” to how they can better support national governments and local communities in preventing terrorism and violent extremism. Based on extensive conversations with UN officials, member state representatives, and practitioners, the paper offers a number of recommendations. At the level of headquarters, the UN should: Improve its capacity to analyze and respond to the factors and grievances leading to radicalization and violence; Enhance system-wide dialogue, coherence, and policy guidance; and Prioritize objectives and capacities related to CT and P/CVE in mission mandates. To make field missions more effective, the UN should: Preserve and expand the space for dialogue with all parties; Enhance capacity for early warning and response; Integrate CT and P/CVE into compacts with host governments where relevant; Enhance mission engagement with civil society, women, and youth; Design integrated strategies...

Unarmed Civilian Protection: The Methodology and Its Relevance for Norwegian Church-Based Organizations and Their Partners

Executive Summary Unarmed civilian protection (UCP) is one of the most effective responses there is to one of the greatest, consistent challenges of our time: The killing of civilians in warfare. As opposed to other approaches to reconciliation and peaceful resolution to conflict which indirectly target violence, UCP is directly aimed at stopping violence. Simply through being present, and through using their presence strategically, international civilians deter violence, protect local civilians and support the efforts of the locals to protect themselves and plan for a peaceful future. The most utilized element of UCP is accompaniment. Results from accompaniment and other UCP methods include significant drops in gender based violence, locally facilitated peace agreements or ceasefires, reduced levels of violence in camps for internally displaced people, reduced levels of humiliation of civilians at military check-points, an increase in children’s access to education, an increase in access to health care, accurate and timely information delivered to key humanitarian actors, and multinational companies pulling out of investments that cause breaches of human rights law. The main actors in the accompaniment and UCP field of work utilize a variety of means to protect civilians. The means include protective presence, monitoring and documenting, internationalizing local abuse, building relationships with all stakeholders, building and supporting local civic capacities, and facilitating dialogue. Accompaniers and protection officers create spaces where local actors themselves can find the best approaches to peace. UCP is especially relevant for the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. If the excruciating needs in conflict-affected areas are to be met, it is time to spend more energy on the women who suffer from violence...

Synthesis Report: Reviewing UN Peace Operations, the UN Peacebuilding Architecture and the Implementation of UNSCR 1325

In 2015, three reviews in the field of Peace and Security were undertaken: the UN Peace Operations Review, the Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture and the Review of the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325. These reviews reflect the acknowledgement that the changing dynamics of conflict in the world necessitates a revision of the UN’s tools in order for the organisation to maintain its relevance and ability to meet these challenges. This report presents the key recommendations as well as common themes across the reviews. The common themes are: the changing nature of conflict; the importance of the women, peace and security agenda for the UN’s work; the primacy of prevention and the need for a long-term focus; the necessity to shift towards people-centred, inclusive processes; the primacy of politics; the need for field focus and context awareness; the privileging of the military response to violent conflict is counterproductive; partnership with other actors is important; leadership and professionalisation of the UN is needed; and a call for stronger UN system coherence. We end by offering some recommendations to the current and next UN Secretary-General: What can the current Secretary-General do: • Ensure that the three reviews are viewed together to ensure synergy and coherence. • Implement the lower-hanging fruits and short-term suggestions to ensure quick wins. • Keep up the momentum of the processes. Keep them on the agenda for the new Secretary-General without making too much of his own mark on processes that cannot be concluded. • Push for a merit-based approach regarding the selection of a new Secretary-General. An agenda for a new Secretary-General: • Reorganising...
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