Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UN peacekeeping challenges

The UN Secretary General's panel on peacekeeping -- the one appointed last year rather than the one that is still being organized in light of French sexual soldiers' misconduct in the Central African Republic -- has submitted a report on needed ways to strengthen discipline. The report itself has not been released, but the UN's press release on it is available here.
“We will be leading the implementation phase from my Office, with the close participation of all the key departments”, the UN chief stated. “My instruction to them will be to carry on the spirit the Panel employed; to be bold; and to see the task as nothing less than preparing the United Nations to rise to the challenges of the future.” 
Speaking on behalf of the Panel with the Vice-Chair, Ameerah Haq, former UN Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, Mr. [JoséRamos-Horta emphasized the need for UN missions to be “tailored to context,” the UN being encouraged to embrace the term ‘peace operations’ to denote the full spectrum of responses in one articulated sequence, without isolating military components from police and civilian ones. 
In addition, a “more resilient global and regional architecture for international peace and security” is required for the future; he said, convinced that the UN Headquarters must lay out a “vision” and focus more on enabling field missions, while personnel should renew “their resolve to serve and protect the people,” with one goal in mind: the well-being of civilians on the ground. 
The Panel worked primarily through consultations, thematic workshops, review of submissions and relevant literature, capital visits, and targeted interviews, Mr. Ramos-Horta. Consultations with Member States, civil society and academia were held and the Panel received more than 80 written submissions from more than 50 Member States, regional and other organizations – such as the African Union – UN partner entities, civil society, academia and research outfits. 
Calling for a stronger push for prevention, the Panel recommends the establishment of an “international forum on prevention drawing on external resources and knowledge,” as well as an “earlier engagement” by the Security Council to address “emerging threats”. 
On rapid deployment, the group was unanimous in recommending the UN to lay out a “vision” and “roadmap for a stronger network of national and regional standby capabilities.” 
Taking note of complaints expressed by a number of troop and police contributing countries about the lack of consultations, the Panel has concluded that such consultations should be institutionalized “to forge a common purpose for missions from the outset,” the Chair continued 
Among other recommendations, the report says the UN Secretariat should consider the establishment of a position of an “additional Deputy Secretary-General responsible for peace and security”, as well as a proposal for a single ‘peace operations account’ to finance all missions and related back-stopping activities in future.
The New York Times also ran a story about the report, available here. Excerpt:
The review recommended more aggressive disclosure of information on disciplinary actions taken by contributing countries, including six-month deadlines for completing investigations. 
It also recommended creating an “adequately resourced” victim assistance program and barring peacekeeping troops from any country listed on the secretary general’s annual report on children and armed conflict and on conflict-related sexual violence, until that country is removed from the list. Other recommendations included ways that peacekeepers might be deployed more rapidly.

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