Country Profile: Ukraine

Ukraine first participated in UN peacekeeping operations several months after its 24 August 1991 independence when it deployed a battalion to UNPROFOR. Since then it has remained an active contributor to UN-led and UN-authorized operations, although its profile changed from a significant troop contributor to a provider of specialist equipment and associated expertise, such as helicopters and crews, in the mid-2000s. Until then, Ukraine was an important contributor of uniformed personnel (see Figure 1). In January 2001, for example, it was the 7th largest provider of military and police for UN operations. But these contributions declined during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko (2005 – 2010) and increased only marginally under the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych (2010-2014). Read more in our new profile on Ukraine by Dr Kseniya...

NO CAVEATS, PLEASE?: BREAKING A MYTH IN UN PEACE OPERATIONS

For years, the UN Secretariat said caveats were not allowed in peacekeeping operations. Mentioning them was a kind of “taboo”. They existed on the ground but were rarely acknowledged at the political level in New York. But when operations faced a crisis and troops needed to take more risks than usual, the hitherto hidden restrictions quickly appeared, creating obvious command and control issues. Unfortunately, with peacekeeping operations now facing increasingly challenging environments, contingents refusing to follow orders, or waiting for their national authorities to confirm or countermand orders received from the UN mission’s authorities, has become the norm rather than the exception. Should we condemn this or understand the reasons why UN missions are facing such situations? It is time to stop lamenting that caveats exist and try to better learn how to manage them. CAVEATS ARE CAUSING INCREASING CONCERN In June 2015, the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) report recognized that “the ability of field commanders to ensure performance is severely hampered by caveats and national controls”. The report’s language was strong and it said that after deployment “any further caveats beyond those national constraints accepted at the outset, cannot be condoned”. Undeclared national restrictions, it stated “should be treated as disobedience of lawful command”. The September 2015 Secretary-General’s report on The future of United Nations peace operations called on every contributor to communicate during negotiations over possible deployment those national caveats that would apply to their military or police contingents. The UN Secretariat would take these caveats into account, including whether to proceed with deployment. “Additional caveats beyond those explicitly agreed by the Secretariat cannot...

Country Profile: United Kingdom

In 1995, Britain was briefly the UN’s top troop-contributing country through its commitment to the UN Protection Force in Bosnia, UNPROFOR. Since then the number of British uniformed personnel in UN-led peacekeeping operations has gradually declined. During this time, most UK personnel were deployed in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and Kosovo (UNMIK) with token contributions in several missions in Africa. In UNFICYP, Britain leads Sector 2 and the Mobile Reserve Force. The UK contingent comprises approximately 50 reservists alongside regular troops, who have returned to UNFICYP for the first time since the Iraq and Afghanistan operations began in earnest. In stark contrast, between 2003 and 2013, Britain deployed well over 9,000 troops on various UN-authorized peace operations, principally in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since the beginning of the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan (the British Government has withdrawn all but 450 troops from Afghanistan), UK numbers have grown slightly in UN peacekeeping operations. The UK is currently building on its 2015 pledge to more than double UK military contributions to UN operations, with up to 70 personnel heading to the UN Support Office to Somalia (UNSOS) and between 250 and 300 to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The UK has deployed smaller contingents in UN-authorized and non-UN peace operations in Sierra Leone, the Balkans, Somalia, and Mali. It also deploys specialists as part of bilateral capacity-building initiatives such as British Military Advisory Training Teams (Sierra Leone, Czech Republic, Jordan, Ghana, Nigeria), British Peace Support Teams (South Africa, Kenya), and British Army Training Unit (Kenya). Read more in our newly updated profile on the United Kingdom by David Curran, Coventry University...

Re-thinking police work

A new NUPI working paper is out, examining the Norway-led specialized police team (SPT) that has been deployed to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) since late 2010. The objective of SPT is to build the capacity of the Haitian National Police (HNP) to conduct investigations into sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). According to the authors, Dr Marina L. Caparini and Dr Kari M. Osland, the SPT represents an innovative approach to deploying police personnel in UN peacekeeping operations and to building the capacity of host state police. By providing a closely coordinated team of police experts who work closely with local police in defining, developing and implementing a specific project that is independently funded yet embedded within the UNPOL component, this new deployment mechanism offers several advantages for supporting police and rule of law development compared to the traditional peacekeeping approach that relies primarily on using individual police officers (IPOs) to build police capacity. Download the working paper...

In Fight Against Violent Extremism, Why Is Prevention Elusive?

Countering violent extremism has become a cottage industry in both the global North and South, as Daesh (also known as ISIS) and other transnational armed terrorist groups continue to threaten the very foundations on which national and international peace and stability have rested for decades. For the countries of the Sahel-Sahara and North Africa regions, brutally affected by the scourge of violence, countering violent extremism (CVE) has been embraced as the new overarching framework for a continued pursuit of the “war on terror.” Current Approaches and Limitations Under the CVE umbrella, these countries have multiplied initiatives and adopted various measures both at the national and regional levels to address the roots of radicalization, violent extremism, and terrorism. Efforts based on increasing education and cultural outreach—such as training imams to counter radical Islamic teachings—have become common. Some countries, with the active participation of civil society organizations, have devised national action plans that include the organization of inter-religious and inter-communal dialogue, as well as awareness-raising campaigns aimed at encouraging citizen engagement in the prevention and the fight against violent extremism. Still others have included in their national CVE strategy the creation of socioeconomic opportunities for youth and other marginalized groups to prevent their radicalization. Meanwhile, more traditional law and order-based counterterrorism approaches have also taken on more of a focus on prevention, rather than merely responding to the after-effects of attacks. This includes adopting legislative and policing frameworks to control, repress, and track terrorist activities; training, equipping and reorganizing national security forces and intelligence services; and enhancing border surveillance and check points. Some of these countries, because of porous borders and...

Freeing Prevention From Conflict: Investing in Sustaining Peace

As the preparations for the May 2016 United Nations General Assembly’s high-level debate on peace and security intensify, prevention seems to be on everyone’s lips. The three 2015 UN global peace and security reviews that frame the debate have conveyed a common message: that the political instruments, tools, and mechanisms the world body deploys to address violent conflict all attest to the failure of early prevention. All three reports, not surprisingly, recommended a greater focus on prevention. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his follow-on report on the recommendations of one of these reviews, by the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO), wholeheartedly endorsed this. The skeptics among political observers and those who have followed UN reforms over the years should not be blamed for asking, “So, what’s new?” This is not the first time that the UN and its member states, coming to grips with the woeful shortcomings of their responses to old and emerging global threats, have rediscovered the virtues of prevention. Nothing concentrates the mind more than imminent crisis and once that danger dissipates so does the political will needed, they would argue, to make prevention the first port of call before the outbreak of violence. To prove these skeptics wrong, it is necessary to find ways to help move the prevention discourse from rhetoric to action and to help member states deliver on their commitment to make prevention truly the core function of the UN. At least two inter-related strategies and conversations are needed. The first is to fully appreciate the policy, programmatic, and financial implications of this renewed focus on prevention, particularly as...
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