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Furthering the European Reengagement With Peacekeeping in Africa

Tue, 21/01/2020 - 20:45
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A number of European countries have deployed to United Nations missions in Africa after years of absence from the continent, and on January 21st IPI hosted a policy forum to discuss this renewed engagement and launch a policy paper on the subject. Co-sponsored by IPI, the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN, and the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the event featured experts including the authors of the paper, Non-resident IPI Senior Adviser Arthur Boutellis, and Major General (ret.) Michael Beary, former Head of Mission and Force Commander, UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Gen. Beary introduced the subject by outlining several of the key reasons why countries like Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden— as well as Canada—had reengaged. Northern Africa and the Sahel are strategically important for Europe, he said, peacekeeping contributions are weighed heavily in bids for seats on the Security Council, and after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drawdown in Afghanistan, NATO and the European Union (EU) members need to participate in international operations to keep their capabilities operational and funded. Of note, he added, is that individual countries pursued reengagement in different ways. “We would emphasize in our report that the return is not a monolithic bloc, and reasons for return are based on different national interests, military traditions, and historical backgrounds.”

Among the challenges for these troop-contributing countries (TCCs), he singled out the “trust deficit” among mission staff—he described it as “who controls what?­”—and compliance with the UN’s rigorous “10-1-2” medical support rule which calls for enhanced first aid within ten minutes, enhanced field care within one hour, and damage-control surgery and acute medicine within two hours.  Meeting those standards was “vital” to maintaining public support, he explained.

Going forward, Gen. Beary said that the UN planning process should allow for more input from the European TCCs and that European forces should be prepared for longer deployments that extend beyond one year. Alluding to another goal that needed to be addressed urgently, he said, “We also must meaningfully engage uniformed females in all segments of UN peacekeeping.”

Mr. Boutellis, in comments made via video, said that the European TCCs added great value to UN peacekeeping through their top-tier technology, adaptive vehicles, and the financial support they attract. “The presence of European TCCs helps keep the attention of Brussels and of the Security Council,” (on these peacekeeping missions) he added. On the down side, he noted that there were problems associated with the Europeans not accepting UN command and control, which created “trust and confidence concerns… Also, sometimes the European TCCs want to be treated differently,” he remarked. “In some missions, they refuse to paint their vehicles or aircraft white.” They may also have their own camps, dividing them away from the rest of the mission, which creates further security concerns.

He pointed out that the part of the paper that dealt with how the other TCCs viewed the European TCCs was reassuringly entitled “not so bad after all.” For example, he said, they valued the air coverage and the training capabilities that the Europeans brought and “understand the imperative to satisfy the political concerns of their capitals.” He stressed, however, that the UN had to “engage European capitals more strategically, be up front about mission expectations, and keep working to gain the trust of the European TCCs.”

Col. Richard Gray, Counsellor, Military Adviser of the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN, said his country had absented itself from UN peacekeeping for eight years and that “this interlude from peacekeeping had some consequences, including a loss of capabilities for how to deploy within UN peacekeeping. We had to relearn, and thankfully, the UN system helped with that.” He asserted that its experience with NATO in Afghanistan did furnish Sweden with some fresh capabilities that helped when it participated in the UN peacekeeping operation in Mali. He credited requests from Canada and EU countries with leading to the development of better Medevac (medical evacuation) policies. “Capacity building of TCCs goes both ways,” he said, “and all TCCs can learn from each other.”

Adam Smith, Team Leader, Strategic Force Generation and Capabilities Planning Cell, UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO), said he took heart from the title of the report Sharing the Burden: Lessons from the European Return to Multidimensional Peacekeeping. “‘Sharing the burden’ encapsulates what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re engaging the Europeans because we realize that peacekeeping has changed, and Europeans have high capabilities which need to keep up with changing peacekeeping contexts… Much work remains to be done to educate European TCCs and Canada about what UN peacekeeping is and how it has changed.”

Madalene O’Donnell, Team Leader for Partnerships, Divisions of Policy, Evaluation, and Training, UNDPO/DPET listed five objectives that guide her office’s efforts to facilitate member states’ contributions to UN peace operations:

  • Encouraging member states to establish informal coordination among themselves and to create a mechanism to enable collective action;
  • Positioning these dialogues within the broader conversation about the state of the multilateral system;
  • Increasing the participation of women;
  • Conducting greater joint diplomacy so as to “tell a better story” about UN peacekeeping; and
  • Using the “new EU mechanisms and priorities to garner better EU participation in peacekeeping.”

Closing remarks were offered by Col. Richard Decombe, Military Adviser, Permanent Mission of France to the UN, and Brian Flynn, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN.

Col. Decombe said the characteristics essential to good multilateral peacekeeping were “credibility” to attract support and funding, “solidarity” to enable European countries to work in concert with other countries, and “complementarity.” Elaborating on the last point, he said, “This is not a question of competition or making useless comparisons but making the most of how the TCCs complement each other.”  

Ambassador Flynn noted that Ireland had an “unbroken record” of 60 years of participating in UN peacekeeping. “How we can support our European partners to contribute to UN peacekeeping is something that we prioritize,” he said. “We recognize that the burden of peacekeeping has for some time not been shared evenly, and we must all be ready to step up and play our role, and we have to look at how we can help and encourage other countries to do so.”

The discussion was moderated by Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations.

Sharing the Burden: Lessons from the European Return to Multidimensional Peacekeeping

Tue, 21/01/2020 - 18:44

Since 2013, after years of near absence from the continent, a number of European countries, along with Canada, have again deployed to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. The European presence in UN peacekeeping in Africa is now nearly at its largest since the mid-1990s. These countries provide much-needed high-end capabilities, as well as political and financial capital, to UN peacekeeping operations. Nonetheless, securing and sustaining European contributions to these types of peacekeeping operations remains an uphill battle for the UN.

This paper draws lessons from this renewed engagement by European countries and Canada, both from their point of view, as well as from that of the UN Secretariat, UN field missions, and other troop contributors. It aims to explore how these bodies and other countries can best work together in a collective endeavor to improve UN peacekeeping’s efficiency and effectiveness. Toward this end, the paper recommends a number of actions to the UN Secretariat:

  • Build peacekeeping operations around first-class medical systems;
  • Focus on improving processes for casualty evacuation;
  • Strengthen the UN’s capacity to foster partnerships among troop-contributing countries;
  • Engage Europe strategically and politically;
  • Be flexible and make European contributors (and others) feel included in planning;
  • Continue educating European contributors about UN peacekeeping;
  • Do not limit engagement with European contributors to high-end capabilities;
  • Ensure European contributors adhere to UN standards; and
  • Encourage European contributors to commit to longer deployments.


A Peacekeeper in Africa: Learning from UN Interventions in Other People’s Wars

Tue, 07/01/2020 - 17:00

For more than seven decades, UN peacekeeping operations have fulfilled an essential role in managing international crises. Alan Doss has spent a decade at the highest levels of UN peacekeeping in Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At a moment when peacekeeping faces enormous challenges, both politically in the Security Council and operationally on the ground, it is worth reflecting on the successes and failures of the past, and on the insights they may offer for UN peace operations today.

Looking back on his years with the UN, Doss provides a firsthand account of the operations he led. The frustrations he recounts are valuable both as history and for what they tell us about the limits of peacekeeping. The successes and satisfactions he relays are valuable for their reminder of the UN’s ability to rise above its limitations and the important contribution it makes to peace.

A Peacekeeper in Africa is a joint project of the International Peace Institute and Lynne Rienner Press.

See more about the book from Lynne Rienner Press.


  • Foreword—Terje Rød-Larsen
  • A Journey in Peacekeeping


  • Sierra Leone: The Search for Peace
  • Côte d’Ivoire: The War of Succession
  • Liberia: From War to Peace


  • Into the Cauldron: Congo Past and Present
  • Crisis Without End: The Kivu Wars
  • The Contagion of Conflict: Other Places, Other Wars
  • Pursuing Peace: Stabilization, Peacebuilding, and Transition


  • Great Expectations: Intervention and Its Conceits
  • Pipe Dreams and Possibilities: Navigating Pathways to Peace


  • A Job Like No Other: Leading Peacekeeping Missions
  • Facing the Future: Actions for Peace

Making Sanctions Smarter: Safeguarding Humanitarian Action

Thu, 19/12/2019 - 20:42

In recent decades, sanctions have increasingly been used as a foreign policy tool. The UN Security Council has imposed a total of fourteen sanctions regimes alongside those imposed autonomously by the EU, the US, and other countries. Despite efforts to institute more targeted sanctions regimes, these regimes continue to impede or prevent the provision of humanitarian assistance and protection.

This policy paper focuses on the impact of sanctions regimes in four countries: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. It aims to assist the Security Council, relevant UN organs, UN member states, humanitarian actors, and other stakeholders in ensuring that humanitarian activities are safeguarded in contexts in which sanctions regimes apply. While there are no straightforward solutions, the paper offers several ways forward:

  • Including language that safeguards humanitarian activities in sanctions regimes;
  • Raising awareness and promoting multi-stakeholder dialogue;
  • Conducting better, more systematic monitoring of and reporting on the impact of sanctions on humanitarian activities;
  • Developing more and improved guidance on the scope of sanctions regimes; and
  • Improving risk management and risk sharing.

This paper is accompanied by an issue brief that provides further detail on the types of impact sanctions can have on humanitarian action.


Cote d’Ivoire Foreign Minister: Time to Renew Push for Africa’s Rightful Place on UN Security Council  

Tue, 17/12/2019 - 20:50
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“Africa will not continue to accept, given its weight in the world today, that it has no permanent seat in the Security Council with everything it entails as an advantage to have that seat,” Marcel Amon-Tanoh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire, told an IPI Global Leader Series event on December 17th.

Mr. Amon-Tanoh predicted a resumption of the debate in the General Assembly that had lapsed over the past decade over how to expand the Security Council and make its membership more representative of the United Nations membership as a whole. The 15-member Council is widely perceived as reflecting the world of 1945 when it was created rather than the realities of today where countries like Nigeria and South Africa, along with Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Germany, and Turkey have gained stature relative to the existing five permanent seat holders, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“I think everybody will agree along with our countries that the UN Security Council as it exists today does not reflect the world we live in,” Mr. Amon-Tanoh said. “It is being discussed in the Security Council but not in the General Assembly, and we must try to make sure that the debate in the General Assembly that has lost energy can once again regain a dynamic quality so that the debate that existed at the time of [former Secretary-General] Kofi Annan can exist today.”

Noting that there was now talk of Africa seeking from three to five such permanent seats, he said, “Africa should have the ambition of having permanent seats on the Council regardless of number, and it is unjust or even hypocritical not to consider the African continent, which is both envied for its natural wealth and resources, which is the target of much interest by all the great powers because Africa is a great continent which has its means through sheer force of resources to determine the future of humanity, and must be present in negotiations. Countries should take an initiative in order to relaunch debate on the Security Council in the interest of the whole world.”

The subject arose in the course of comments by Mr. Amon-Tanoh on the occasion of his country’s concluding its two-year term as an elected member of the Council—a particularly auspicious development since only two years ago the UN was ending its peacekeeping mission (UNOCI) in the country, and now the country  has become a contributor of UN peacekeeping troops.

This swift passage from being a country that had experienced two civil wars between 2002 and 2011 and was on the agenda of the Security Council for 13 years to being an engaged member of the body was discussed by the second speaker at the event, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary General of the UN Department of Peace Operations.

“It’s very meaningful and quite impressive to see the Côte d’Ivoire having gone from being a country whose status was an item on the agenda of the peacekeeping operations to being an active contributor to the UN Security Council’s work,” he said. “It enriched the Security Council and our operations to have the contributions of Côte d’Ivoire and generally of countries that have directly experienced all the complexities and outcomes of peacekeeping. UNOCI, having been one of the early multidimensional peacekeeping missions and having gone through so many situations in the country, was unprecedented, and I think this informed the way Côte d’Ivoire took part in the Security Council.”

Mr. Lacroix said he viewed the ten elected members of the Council as essential “bridge builders” between the disputatious permanent members and other member states on the Council. “The Security Council is divided now, characterized by the division of permanent members,” he said. “As the Secretariat, we expect a lot of the role of bridge builders from the elected members. On top of that, we have the experience of legitimacy like Côte d’Ivoire that adds to the capacity of those members and that can benefit—we’ve seen it in many situations—the Security Council, the UN, and can help overcome difficulties and divisions that characterize our organization today.”

IPI Vice President Adam Lupel noted that during its just completed two years on the Council, Cte d’Ivoire hosted formal debates on post-conflict reconstruction and peace, security, and stability, and on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations, reflecting critical thematic issues on the Council’s agenda. The country also had been a penholder for the situation in Guinea-Bissau and a co-penholder for the UN Office of West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS). He recalled that Côte d’Ivoire’s single Council presidency took place a year ago, in December 2018.

Mr. Amon-Tanoh said the country had been guided in its Council work by three main priorities:

  • Sharing its experience acquired in emerging from crisis and consolidating peace.
  • Contributing to the strengthening of international peace and security, including through support for UN peacekeeping activities.
  • Amplifying the voice of the African Union on current security and humanitarian issues that inhibit development of the continent.

“In this regard,” he said, “be it the conflict in Libya, the security and humanitarian situations in the Lake Chad basin and the Sahel, as well as issues relating to the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Darfur, Somalia, Burundi, or the Horn of Africa, my country has always stressed the need for reinforced cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in matters of peace and security.“

Beyond that, he said, Côte d’Ivoire had paid “particular attention” to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar “for whose solutions it has always advocated dialogue.”

In the cases of Syria and Yemen, he said, Côte d’Ivoire “focused on the political processes for ending the crisis and the urgent management of humanitarian situations” and “insisted on the need for lasting ceasefires in these hotbeds of tension, in order to open up the political spaces essential for the establishment of a constructive dialogue.” In North Korea, it championed “fruitful dialogue,” and in Iran, it counseled a return to the Security Council-endorsed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement. He highlighted the fact that during its presidency, Côte d’Ivoire hosted two high level meetings, one which he chaired, on the need for collaboration between regional and sub-regional organizations and the UN system, and the other, chaired by the country’s president, Alassane Ouattara, on economic reconstruction in the consolidation of peace.

In conclusion, Mr. Amon-Tanoh said he hoped his country would be remembered for “making its voice heard, a voice at the service of dialogue, peace, and fraternity between peoples, the voice of a country that has recently hosted a United Nations peacekeeping mission, and which, through its exemplary crisis resolution and peacebuilding strategies, has returned to peace, stability, and prosperity.”

The discussion was moderated by IPI Vice President Adam Lupel.

Live coverage of the event in French can be found on the IPI Francophone page.

The Peacekeeping Transition in Darfur: Gaining Advantage from Crisis

Mon, 16/12/2019 - 21:00
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A popular revolution in Sudan eight months ago ended the 30-year rule of dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir, abruptly transforming the country’s governance institutions and beginning the reshaping of its social contract. It occurred at a time when the African Union (AU) and the United Nations were deep in preparations for the reconfiguration and eventual withdrawal of the hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) from Sudan’s Darfur region.

IPI Policy Analyst Daniel Forti told an IPI audience that UNAMID’s transition is “the most complex mission transition the UN has ever undertaken.” Mr. Forti was speaking at a December 16th policy forum, held in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN, to discuss the upcoming stages of the mission’s reconfiguration and to launch an IPI policy paper that he authored called Navigating Crisis and Opportunity: The Peacekeeping Transition in Darfur.

Charlotte Larbuisson, Political Affairs Officer, UN Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, said that “with the events of the past year, the peacekeeping transition is itself taking place in a transition – in Sudan’s democratic transition. We started this transition from peacekeeping in Darfur in a very different environment. We have had to adapt to changing circumstances and shift the trajectory of the peacekeeping. The outcome will probably look quite different than we were envisioning at the beginning of the transition.”

Suggesting that the crisis might actually amount to an opportunity, she said, “The events of 2019 have impacted the substance and direction of the transition and have resulted in a new enabling political environment in Darfur, testing the flexibility of the transition and its ability to adapt. The transition in Darfur is taking place in a different political environment so we have altered our political engagement.”

Framing the peacekeeping transition within recent developments throughout Sudan, Mr. Forti concluded that “UNAMID’s experience has thoroughly tested many of the UN’s emerging principles regarding mission transitions.” Three of these are that: “Transitions are inherently political and are premised on how the UN reconfigures its engagements with a host country; transitions depend, in part, on how well the UN can achieve system-wide integration on the ground and strengthen coherence with a range of national counterparts and international actors; transitions need to be flexible and adaptable, especially in dynamic political environments where the host country re-assumes ownership over a range of security, governance, and development initiatives.”

Gunnar Berkemeier, Peacekeeping Coordinator, Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN, said he was “optimistic” about the possibilities. “First and foremost, there is buy-in from the government of Sudan. We have a chance to make this a mission that the Sudanese government and people really want.”

At the same time, he said, while the change had been dramatic, one had to be aware of what had not changed. “It is completely fair to say that there is a ‘new Sudan’, but there are also old issues in Darfur that have been drivers of division in the country that remain to be addressed. We have to take into account the duality of supporting the political process but also addressing the remaining peacekeeping and peacebuilding needs. We have to be ambitious with the mandate because in this moment, we have the opportunity to make real headway on these issues. There must be a great deal of flexibility built into the mandate to deal with its outcome and progress.”

Jürgen Schulz, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, introduced the conversation by saying, “We have seen many important developments and decisions in Sudan in the last year, and many Sudanese representatives have called it ‘a new Sudan’, so now we must ask ourselves, ‘What do we do with the peacekeeping mission?’” He noted that the Security Council would soon be taking up the matter of how to reconfigure UNAMID “when we will ask ourselves, ‘What should be the structure? The mandate? The geographical extent?’ There are no easy answers or fixes.”

Looking forward, Mr. Forti enumerated five priorities that should inform the next stages of the peacekeeping transition:

  • Strengthening the engagement with the UN Security Council and AU Political and Security Council.
  • Ensuring the primacy of any follow-on presence’s political mandate.
  • Reinforcing joint planning efforts to strengthen national ownership over the transition process, scale up peacebuilding work and identify fresh complementary opportunities for new actors.
  • Integrating human rights and protection into all areas of work.
  • Sustaining international attention and financial support to make funding more “predictable and streamlined.”

Natalie Palmer, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the UN, spoke of earlier divisions over the peacekeeping transition within the Security Council.  “We did not have a sustainable peace agreement in place, many concerns had not been addressed, and for the UK, the priority was to have a flexible and responsible withdrawal,” she said. “There were two camps in the Security Council – those who were very happy to see the mission leave, and do it quickly, and those who were wary of leaving without a peace agreement. Financial pressures also contributed to a rapid drawdown.”

She said that while the current configuration of UNAMID is “probably still not the most appropriate tool to address the challenges in Darfur, we have a new opportunity to support a new government and peace process.” The drawdown had been paused until March of 2020, she said, and “there are still major protection concerns, especially for women and children, and a continued need for humanitarian support and aid.”

Husni Mustafa, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Sudan to the UN, praised the AU and UN collaboration that produced the hybrid peacekeeping force in 2007. “This unique partnership is a success story for us,” he said. “The cooperation between the AU and the UN is ongoing, especially between the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council. We must focus on national ownership.”

Ms. Larbuisson said she was hopeful for the success of the twin transitions underway.  “The current transitions in Darfur and Sudan are an opportunity to ensure that the support we provide is in line with the new phase that the country finds itself in,” she said. “We need to seize it to get the peacekeeping transition right and help the new authorities build peace.”

Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, moderated the discussion.

Navigating Crisis and Opportunity: The Peacekeeping Transition in Darfur

Fri, 13/12/2019 - 21:23

In the face of evolving security dynamics and geopolitical pressures, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council initiated the withdrawal of the AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in 2017. This transition is a uniquely complex undertaking—all the more so following Sudan’s political revolution in April 2019, which required the UN and AU to rapidly adapt their support to the country. This complex environment is putting all the principles of peacekeeping transitions to the test.

This paper examines the dynamics of this peacekeeping transition in Darfur, focusing on UNAMID’s drawdown and reconfiguration, as well as the UN’s efforts to build the capacity of other actors to sustain peace following the mission’s exit. It highlights five broad priorities for this transition going forward:

  • Strengthening political engagement between the UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council;
  • Translating the AU-UN joint political strategy into an effective follow-on presence;
  • Reinforcing the transition concept;
  • Integrating human rights and protection in all areas of work; and
  • Sustaining international attention and financial support.

This paper is part of a larger IPI project on UN transitions and is complemented by similar case studies on UN peacekeeping transitions in Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, and Liberia, as well as a paper exploring experiences and lessons from these three transitions.


The Importance of Inclusion, Human Rights and Women’s Participation in Building Sustainable Peace

Thu, 21/11/2019 - 21:00
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On November 21st, IPI and the Normandy Region co-hosted a policy forum on the importance of inclusion and human rights in building lasting, durable, and sustained peace, with a particular emphasis on the importance of women’s participation in peace processes and international mediation.

The Normandy Region launched the Normandy for Peace Initiative in 2017, and it organizes a forum for peace in Normandy, France, each year. Last year’s second annual forum attracted 250 speakers from 50 different countries, and organizers are planning the third for June 3rd, 4th and 5th of this year just before the celebrations of the 76th  anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy.

François-Xavier Priollaud, Vice-President of the Normandy Region, said that the best way to honor the generation that liberated Europe from the Nazis 75 years ago was to build a durable, inclusive peace that enshrined human rights. “Sustainable peace is not just peace through peace treaties,” he said. “It’s the concept of democracy, it’s the vision of multilateralism, and we need to make sure that the sustainable solutions are always coming out of dialogue.”

He said that Normandy for Peace was based on “four pillars. We have a campus for youth learning to solve and diffuse conflict. We have an annual award for liberty. There is also the Normandy for Peace Library, which is a resources center online. The fourth area is dedicated to art, science, and culture. These pillars of peace put men and women at the heart of the solution.”

Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy Region and former French Defense Minister, singled out climate change and inequality as drivers of conflict. “When you talk about sustainable peace, there is one topic we only talk about in part, which is inequality—in nations, within mankind, firstly between nations.” He argued that the current large migrations from the global south were prompted by inequality, “but tomorrow they will be triggered by the issue of climate change. The hope is that one day we’ll stop with nice statements, declarations, and statements of principles and give official development aid.” As for the persisting inequality of women, he declared, “Whenever women play a key role in society, societies are wealthier and healthier. Whenever women play a real role, peace wins and war loses.”

Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations, acknowledged the gains that Mr. Morin cited but lamented, “With all these potential benefits, one wonders why the situation is as it is today, being that there are fewer women mediators, there are fewer women in peacekeeping or in negotiating peace agreements. Peace agreements fail to make reference to women or address concerns such as gender balance.”

She referenced her own involvement in the African Women Leaders Network and said there needed to be many more such networks, all communicating with one another and building partnerships with local groups acting to prevent conflict and otherwise promote the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. “Meaningful participation of women in peace is not just about increasing their numbers in processes,” she said. “We must deal with real qualitative representation. This is to ensure that their rights, needs, and experiences are properly reflected in reconstruction processes. Studies have shown that inclusion of women in peace processes is critical.”

IPI Senior Fellow Sarah Taylor cited instances around the world in places like Yemen, Syria, Libya, Mali, and Sudan where women were actively involved in advocating for political change and negotiating for life-saving humanitarian access yet not included in the peacemaking process.  “In the Central African Republic, despite sexual violence being fundamental to the violence that country continues to experience, and despite the mobilization of women leaders at every level, women were virtually excluded from recent peace talks and were—as in so many other cases—brought into the discussion only at the tail end,” she said.  In other examples, Libyan women were let into peace talks only “through sheer resistance and at the last minute,” and women from Mali flew themselves to peace talks in 2012. In Afghanistan, she noted, “women have been called ‘pet rocks’ for which the rucksack of peace does not have space.”

She said there was no one solution but suggested some “creative mechanisms” to increase women’s participation like the “the ecosystem approach. Let’s not place all of women’s participation in one basket. Let’s deploy resources across the board so that ‘participation’ is not one woman who has all the expectations upon her.” She also advised setting quotas and strengthening accountability to the commitments of the WPS agenda.

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, critiqued what he called a “narrow perspective of making peace,” where mediators feel that human rights concerns can complicate reaching peace settlements and should therefore be put off until after the peace is struck. To the contrary, he said, “we know that justice at least sometimes is a deterrent for the kinds of atrocities that fuel and perpetuate conflict. We’ve seen this in many cases where leaders go out of their way to avoid the possibility of justice and fight tooth and nail to prevent this from happening. Even though I would never say that international justice will always work as a deterrent, if you nonetheless can stop an occasional genocide, mass atrocity, that’s worth doing in and of itself.”

On the need for including women in peace processes, he warned against tokenism or, as he put it, taking “the Margaret Thatcher approach. I don’t believe having a woman in the room magically makes things better, but in Afghanistan where a key issue is will the Taliban re-impose gender discriminatory policies, how you can decide the future without women in the room is just crazy.”

Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, moderated the discussion.

Live coverage of the event in French can be found on the IPI Francophone page.

Toward a More Effective UN-AU Partnership

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 21:00
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IPI held a policy forum on November 7th on the evolution of the strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, with a specific focus on how they undertake conflict prevention and crisis management efforts. Organized with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the African Union Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, and the Training for Peace Programme, the forum also served to launch a research report on the subject produced jointly by IPI and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

Co-authored by IPI Policy Analyst Daniel Forti and ISS Researcher Priyal Singh, the report looks at the partnership at the member state level in the UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council, as well as at the operational level between various UN and AU entities. It also assesses the partnership across several thematic issues, including the AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative;  mediation; women, peace, and security; electoral support; peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction and development, and youth, peace, and security. The report offers six recommendations for the UN, the AU and their member states to strengthen the partnership.

Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, UN Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, identified the reasons why conflict keeps reemerging across Africa as “exclusion, marginalization, and discrimination” and said the most effective response was through partnerships. She noted approvingly that at the political and policy making level, the word that most recurred was “joint” as in “joint visit, joint communiques that is becoming more common.”

Jerry Matthews Matjila, the Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN, and Odd-Inge Kvalheim, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway, made opening remarks, with Ambassador Kvalheim praising the report as “a valuable tool for understanding the relationship between the UN and AU to guide their efforts and also to point out where support from others is needed” and Ambassador Matjila talking about the October 2019 South African presidency of the Security Council during which the three African members of the Council (A3)—South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, and the Côte d’ Ivoire—acted in concert and coordination. “The A3 in 10 months had 13 common statements, you never had that before,” he said. “The A3 became like something you have to cross on African issues. Why? Because they were united.” Reflecting this assertiveness, South Africa hosted the 13th Joint Annual Consultative visit between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council during its Council presidency.

Underscoring the need for effective partnership between the UN and the AU, Mr. Forti noted that the report’s focus comes at a time “when conflict prevention is a priority for both organizations, but neither has the political, financial, and operational tools to prevent conflicts or manage crises on their own.” He said while the two councils are increasingly interdependent, they are defined by “an overriding tension” because their relationship is “fundamentally unequal in terms of powers, authority, resources, and political status.”

Describing the complementary strengths of the UN and AU in conflict prevention and crisis management, he said, “The AU often has more legitimacy to engage national actors, including governments, and can therefore access more political entry points to engage on a crisis before or when it emerges. With its global mandate for international peace and security and its diverse field presences, the UN has more operational and logistical capabilities and a larger, more predictable budget. These comparative advantages can color how day-to-day interactions unfold.”

Mr. Forti said these dynamics can also force the two institutions into what he called “a difficult balancing act. On the one hand, the UN may defer to the AU because of its push for political ownership and leadership while on the other hand, the AU may defer to the UN due to its greater resources, capacities, and in-country presences.”

Like the relationship between the two councils, the partnership between the UN Secretariat and AU Commission remains a “work in progress, but has grown considerably in recent years” Mr. Forti said. There are important formal mechanisms for engagements, but “in reality, the UN and AU depends just as much on day-to-day collaboration, both in headquarters and in the field.”

Mr. Singh highlighted three of the thematic areas that are priorities for the partnership. The AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative aims to end all wars by 2020, and has become a beacon for the two organizations in guiding their conflict prevention efforts. The two organizations work closely on the varied mediation efforts in Africa through a range of political and policy instruments. However, “the UN-AU partnership must account for the heterogeneous nature of the various political institutions involved in mediation, as well as these various mandates, capacities, and comparative advantages,” he said.

The women, peace and security (WPS) agenda is potentially another fruitful entry point for joint UN-AU action, but Mr. Singh counseled care in applying it properly.  “While opportunities for more impactful UN-AU engagements on the WPS agenda are plentiful, the challenge again, however, is how well these engagements are coordinated and managed to ensure collective, coherent, strategies and responses to advance this critical agenda,” he said.

Fatima Kyari Mohammed, the AU’s Permanent Observer to the UN, commended the increasing UN-AU collaboration and the growing institutionalization of the partnership, but said there was still more to be done to put it into action effectively. “Implementation is what really matters,” she said. “Post-adoption is where the work starts.”

Elaborating on key points in the report, Ms. Mohammed said it was critical to ensure that cooperation proceeds in a “systematic, protocoled, predictable” manner, that council-to-council cooperation go beyond the annual meeting of the two bodies, and that joint analysis is followed up by joint action.

Citing the UN Charter’s Chapter VIII governing regional arrangements, she asked, “How can we strike a balance between the role of the Security Council in the maintenance of peace and security and the ability of the AU to develop its own capacity and take its own action? We have yet to find a clear answer.”

In closing remarks, Gustavo de Carvalho, Senior Researcher at the ISS, highlighted the importance to the African continent of multilateral institutions like the AU and the UN. “We are in a moment in which it is almost a cliché to say that multilateralism is at stake,” he said. “Many countries mention the idea of being small countries because together they can have more impact. This is why it is important to strengthen these two multilateral institutions.”

IPI Senior Fellow Sarah Taylor moderated the discussion.

The Prestige of Peace: The Nobel Prize in Context

Wed, 06/11/2019 - 20:40
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Just weeks after the committee named Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as the 2019 laureate IPI hosted Asle Toje, a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, for a conversation about the prize.

Introducing Dr. Toje at the November 6th event, IPI Vice President Adam Lupel recalled that when he spoke at IPI for the first time last year, he said that “it is no exaggeration to say that the Nobel Peace Prize is the most prestigious prize in the world.” Mr. Lupel remarked, “It must also be added that to be on the committee is itself quite a prestigious honor.” Dr. Toje is the youngest member of the five person Norwegian Nobel Committee, which is chosen by the Norwegian parliament.

Dr. Toje began his remarks with a brief background of Alfred Nobel’s life and how he earned the considerable fortune that led him to write what Dr. Toje called “one of the world’s most famous wills and testaments,” therein instituting prizes in physics, physiology, chemistry, literature, and peace.

According to Dr. Nobel’s will, which both Dr. Lupel and Dr. Toje cited in their discussion, the prize for peace is to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

Dr. Toje explained that since the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901, there has been an ongoing debate about how to interpret the relatively brief and broadly general language in the criteria for the peace prize. While Alfred Nobel could not have conceived of the relevance of climate change or human rights in his lifetime, Dr. Toje explained that the Nobel Committee has adopted a “dynamic interpretation” to account for the importance of modern day issues.

The committee’s interpretation and application of Dr. Nobel’s will and testament is evident in the way that the selection of laureates has reflected contemporary priorities over the past century. Dr. Toje pointed out that after the first World War, the selection of winners centered around the League of Nations. Then, after World War II, “no issue was given more focus than nuclear disarmament.” More recently, the committee has focused on such issues as women’s rights, human rights, and climate change.

Regarding those who claim to have been nominated for the prize, Dr. Toje said that while the committee “will not speak against” such claims, the list of nominees remains confidential for 50 years, and the committee is bound to secrecy until lists are released. Still, he explained that every year, the committee receives questions from people claiming to have been nominated, asking if there is a diploma or a consolation prize. “Sadly,” Dr. Toje explained, “ we don’t we don’t give any runner-up medals.”

When asked about the relevance and diversity of the prize winners, Dr. Toje explained that the committee tries not to judge “different actors by different standards.” He elaborated, saying, “There is a tendency, at least in Europe, to be a bit cavalier about developments in Africa.” To Dr. Toje, this indicates that “we need to check development in Africa and in the Middle East,” where many of the world’s conflicts exist, and “if that means that we just have to really read up on the politics and the religious affairs of countries that we know little about before we start the process, so be it.”

Dr. Toje also addressed the relevance of international institutions in the future of promoting peace, admitting, “We’re facing a global challenge unlike anything we have seen in the past.” He believes that there is still a great deal of work to be done, and stated “I do believe that the United Nations will have a core role to play in this.” Though power balances and dynamics are shifting around the world, Dr. Toje pointed out that the UN has successfully overcome such challenges in the past and will continue to do so in the future. “I do believe that international institutions and multilateral cooperation is the path forward.”

Though much of the discussion focused on the history of the prize, Dr. Lupel asked Dr. Toje to place himself in the future, posing the question “When you look back on the Nobel Peace Prizes of this period, what do you hope to see?” Dr. Toje said he would hope that the Nobel Committee continues to “take its job seriously.” He continued, “We have this opportunity, once a year, to shine the light of global attention at one single issue, so we must choose carefully.”

In answering questions about the impact of the prize, Dr. Toje said the Nobel Peace Prize is always controversial. “There are always some people who feel that this laureate was the wrong one,” he admitted, highlighting that when Kailash Satyarthi was named a laureate in 2014, his award was not well-received within his own Brahmin community. Sharing further examples of controversial laureates, Dr. Toje remarked that Barack Obama’s award remains “deeply controversial,” and that while the selections of Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa received criticism at the time, they are looked back on as “among sort of the stellar moments of the Nobel Peace Prize.”

However, Dr. Toje added, “Once the announcement has been made, we realize it lives its own life,” alluding to the intensity of public reactions. “If the Nobel Peace Prize didn’t spark outrage and strong emotions, well, we wouldn’t be living up to our reputation.”

Women Police in UN Peacekeeping

Tue, 05/11/2019 - 19:50
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Diverse police forces that reflect the populations they serve are better prepared to carry out mandates for the prevention, detection and investigation of crime, the protection of persons and property, and the maintenance of public order and safety. As an illustration of that, in United Nations peace operations, women police have been challenging traditional gender roles and embodying a new model for independence, equality, and economic success.

On November 5th, IPI, in partnership with the Government of Canada, Peace Is Loud, and the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the UN Department of Peace Operations, hosted a discussion on experiences of women UN police (UNPOL) officers and how they contribute to implementing the women, peace, and security agenda.

The event began with a clip from the 2015 film A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, which follows three women UNPOL officers in an all-female police unit deployed from Bangladesh to Haiti as UN peacekeepers for one year.

Geeta Gandbhir, the film’s director, showcased the experience of being on patrol with women, and the civilian response to seeing female police in place of male officers. Where people would often “hide” in their camps from the male troops, women and children came outside and followed the women through the camp, sometimes reaching to hold their hands. The women had “immediate rapport” with the community, she said. “This showed us how critical it was to have women on the ground.”

And the experience also had a positive effect on the women officers, she said, adding that it was a “powerful moment” seeing the women “transform.” The women in this unit came from patriarchal and fairly traditional families and had never enjoyed the independence and freedom of movement they suddenly encountered. Ms. Gandbhir said that one of the Bangladeshi police women told her, “We women go from our father’s house to our husband’s house.” In addition, women had mostly been assigned to desk jobs, and there was no opportunity for them to get field experience. “Some had never been on a plane,” emphasized Ms. Gandbhir, so “for them to travel to Haiti on this mission, alone, was an incredible act of bravery.”

These women also earned new financial security, Ms. Gandbhir explained, making on mission three times what women made in Bangladesh. And because they were able to pay for their children’s education, many women were willing to do additional tours, to be able to support their extended families as well.

Once the women returned home, they became a symbol of hope and emulation. One woman’s five-year-old son “told us that he wanted to be a big shot police officer, like his mother,” said Ms. Gandbhir. “To hear that statement alone told me that what the women were doing was smashing patriarchy and bringing equity and equality in both places where they existed—at home and abroad.”

Currently, of the 9,353 police personnel serving in 23 UN peace operations, 1,420 are women police officers. Luis Carrilho, a UN Police Adviser in Haiti who was featured in the documentary, told the IPI audience that gender parity was a “top priority” for UNPOL, and spoke about the UN’s efforts to make the police recruitment process more accessible. “Our strategy has goals in a very measured way,” said Mr. Carrilho. Regardless of whether the police troops were men or women, he reported, “The priority is always for us to fulfill the mission on the ground.”

Mr. Carrilho enumerated four initiatives that aimed to increase women’s participation in UN policing. The first, he said, was putting in place female role models, and gave the example of the female police peacekeeper of the year award. The next was creating a female senior police leadership roster which countries could draw on to place women in key positions. Third, he said, was developing a senior female police commanders course to better prepare female police to hold positions at the highest level. Finally, he added, was increasing the number of women involved in the selection process for peacekeeping.

Paula Dionne, Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, emphasized how “it is not enough to simply increase the number of females deployed. Rather, it is crucial to place them in key positions where the true value of what they do in conflict-torn states and countries can be realized.”

Policing and gender considerations have significantly changed in the past few decades, Ms. Dionne continued, citing her 33 years of experience. When she started, Ms. Dionne said, she had to wear a different uniform from the men and was “expected to take on pink jobs, as opposed to the tougher jobs.” Women, she said, had to “break down the barrier to our right to be part of specialized teams which were usually filled by males.”

Ms. Dionne concluded that “we have certainly come a long way in recognizing the value female police officers bring to peace and security, but there is more that can be done.” Necessary, for example, were “including a feminine voice in recruitment posters, a ‘she’ alongside the ‘he,’” attitude, which would entail adding photos of female officers to the material, and including female presenters at training sessions, which, “while seemingly small, goes a long way in encouraging female participation.”

Nirupam Dev Nath, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN, said that the film “speaks volumes of the rewarding experiences” that, he said, “have long-term impact, not only in the host countries our women police officers serve in, but also globally, and back to their own country.”

Mr. Dev Nath pointed to the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, and how that was the first year that individual police officers from Bangladesh were sent to East Timor. Ten years later in 2010, the all-female police unit was sent to Haiti. Right now, he added, out of 700 police officers who are serving under the UN umbrella, almost 24 percent of them are women, which he hailed as a significant accomplishment.

The biggest challenges to deploying women peacekeepers, Mr. Dev Nath said, ranged from pre-deployment training down to including the family members in the decision making. In fact, he added, women’s participation in peacekeeping was felt deeply by the community; he called it an “inclusive journey” that bore “real fruit.”

Unaisi Vuniwaqa, Police Commissioner for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), spoke on challenges to recruiting women for peacekeeping police, from her own experience. Access to opportunity, Ms. Vuniwaqa said, is “very key.” Prior experience, she argued, “will greatly help them when they come into the mission to be able to deliver at the highest level, whether it’s police commissioner or deputy police commissioner.” Without such exposure, said Ms. Vuniwaqa, it would limit being able to come into the mission and getting the opportunity to serve at a higher level. Additionally, she said, what was needed was more confidence in leaders who recruit and deploy police women, so that women are able to take on equal responsibility before they embark on the mission.

Ms. Vuniwaqa shared her personal experience of persisting in finding a place. “I had to try about three or four times to be able to get into the professional position in the police division,” she said. “I continued to look at myself in every attempt that I made and how best I could be able to package my CV and my experiences.”

Ms. Vuniwaqa attributed her ultimate success to a course benefiting female officers for UNPOL. This course, she said, helped her to prepare for further interviews that she was able to get through. As a result, she tried to replicate this course for recruitment in the South Sudan mission, “to assist our female officers to prepare the forms that they’re supposed to submit to a police division before they can then be listed for the interview.”

One of the telling stories from women police in her mission, concluded Ms. Vuniwaqa, was how they recently appointed two female officers for the position of POC coordinators. They are in charge of this protection of a civilian site in South Sudan that has about 30,000+ IDPs. “And since we put in these two female officers, they have been doing a great job,” she said. And “of course,” she added, “they can do just as well as their male counterparts.”

Two Expert Panels Debate Forces Operating in Parallel to the United Nations

Mon, 04/11/2019 - 18:34
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United Nations peace operations often operate in complex theaters where a wide array of actors are also deployed by specific member states or regional organizations to effectively address peace and security challenges, and on November 4th, IPI and the French Ministry of Armed Forces held a policy forum to explore peacekeeping partnerships.

The event featured two panel discussions and launched two IPI publications, Partners and Competitors: Forces Operating in Parallel to UN Peace Operations by IPI Senior Fellow Alexandra Novosseloff and Lisa Sharland, Head of the International Program  of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), and Lessons for “Partnership Peacekeeping” from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by Paul D. Williams, Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, opened the morning-long discussion by noting that six UN operations are now fielded in partnerships with regional, subregional, and other non-UN forces, and he suggested this pattern presaged upcoming deployments. “Regional and subregional bodies are increasingly authorized by the UN Security Council to take on roles for which the UN peacekeeping forces are ill-suited,” he said. “Parallel forces will be an essential aspect of planning and deploying all UN peacekeeping in the future.”

Laure Bansept of France’s Ministry of the Armies said there had been around 40 such coalition deployments since the end of the Cold War and that they were “helpful in situations where the UN lacks the capacity or skills to work in certain sensitive contexts” and allowed the UN to “focus on its mandates.” Referencing France’s support for African-led peace operations, she said these partnerships proved essential “when humanitarian situations rapidly deteriorate and threaten the stability of a region, and no other organization can address it as immediately.”

IPI Research Fellow Namie Di Razza said that regional organizations “offer what UN peace operations don’t have—they have different entry points and different resources and capacities.” Citing her experience researching the case of Mali, she warned, however, that while all actors pursue the same objective in different ways, they also risk “confusion, conflation with peacekeeping operations, and duplication.” She suggested there should be “a clear division between forces.”

Ms. Sharland listed three “rationales” for deploying parallel forces:

  • Where there is a humanitarian imperative, and immediate action is necessary, they can respond more rapidly and robustly than a UN force.
  • Since parallel forces can be more advanced militarily, they can overcome reservations about the capability of UN peace operations.
  • They can serve national interests and intervene to protect their own nationals.

She also listed four “classifications” of parallel forces:  military stabilization, crisis response, insurance or deterrence, and capacity building, and three different types of actors: bilateral, multinational, and regional organizations.  “No two parallel forces are the same,” she said, “so while we can draw some broad lessons, we must be conscious of each unique context.”

Her co-author, Dr. Novosseloff, addressed some of the challenges these parallel force partnerships pose. “UN and parallel forces may have different motivations and goals, and this impacts the way they work on the ground and also their effectiveness,” she said. “The lack of mutual understanding and communication at the strategic level can be more damaging than we think. The divisions of labor that should be at the heart of the deployments are not clear enough.”

She said that central to these concerns was “the impartiality of UN peace operations and how partners can work with non-UN forces that may have different objectives. It impacts the perception of local populations so the impartiality of the UN will be at stake.” Such a lack of distinction, she said, could be exploited by “those seeking to undermine the peace or the process by going after the UN.” And potential mission overlap raised the danger of UN forces being “dragged into situations for which they are not equipped.” Airing these objections, Dr. Novosseloff said, should not be seen as minimizing the positive elements of parallel deployments, “such as additional niche capacities, military robustness, and political support. But the various stakeholders have to make stronger efforts to make them less of competitors and more genuine partners.”

The report makes a series of specific recommendations, but in general, Dr. Nosovoleff concluded, it represented a “plea for a stronger cooperation between all stakeholders involved in crisis management because all the money spent comes from the same pockets, and there needs to be a greater accountability.”

Col. Richard Decombe, Defense Mission of the Permanent Mission of France to the UN, said that while there remained room for improvement in how parallel forces operate, “it’s already an achievement.” Detailing the work of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), he explained how a coordinating forum involving five different partners (MINUSMA, Barkhane, G5 Sahel Joint Force, Malian Armed Forces, and EU training mission) met every two months. “What is in place is quite good, in terms of coordination and communication so the partners are at least informed on what the others are doing,” he said. What they can do better, he said, was having a stronger focus on building up the capacity of local security forces.

Naomi Miyashita, Senior Political Affairs Officer, UN Department of Peace Operations, said that parallel forces were of great value to the UN, which typically confronts situations with a dense web of competing regional and international interests and no clear path to a comprehensive political solution. “Parallel operations shape the space that others have for alternative approaches,” she said.

Self-criticism was essential, she added. “We must be constantly asking ourselves what the progression of the conflict has been and be constantly critically evaluating whether our interventions are having the desired effect and whether stability in itself is a good enough long term objective. We need to be clear about where we add value and where we have strength and comparative advantage. For the UN, it’s its political role, support for political processes and ability to protect civilians.”

The second panel of the morning provided an opportunity to discuss Paul D. William’s IPI report on Lessons for “Partnership Peacekeeping” from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The report describes AMISOM as the AU’s “longest, largest, most expensive and deadliest” peace operation and says that for the UN it is “the most profound experiment not only with providing logistical support in a war zone, but also with partnering on the political front.” Dr. Williams described AMISOM as “probably the most complicated model for any modern peace operation we’ve ever seen,” a model, he said, that “evolved in response to a series of crises and in an ad hoc manner.” As a consequence, he said, the AMISOM model is “not one that screams out for replication, but there are a lot positive things we can draw from it.”

Since AMISOM reflected “the primacy of politics”, the fraught state of politics in Somalia, a country with no state authority for decades, has prevented the mission from becoming effective, he said. “AMISOM has been unable to deliver a peace dividend because the Somali government did not come in behind it and support it.”

In Dr. Williams’ account, AMISOM was less nimble than its principle adversary, the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, and the conflict became “cat and mouse”, with the government regularly “displacing” al-Shabab but “not destroying its capabilities.” The result was starkly counter-productive, he said. “Extending state authority and consolidating it in a place where the central government is not universally accepted as legitimate is not peacebuilding, it’s actually conflict-provoking.”

AMISOM has also failed to stabilize the polarized society, attract local support, shape an exit strategy, or design what kind of government structure it should leave behind, he said. “At a fundamental level, there are real limits to what a peace operation can achieve when the local actors do not want to see the issue reconciled and resolved. Until the parties in Somalia reconcile, AMISOM will be stuck holding the line and not generating the means for its successful exit.”

Rick Martin, Director of the Division for Special Activities in the UN Department of Operational Support, acknowledged that the situation in which AMISOM is working is “very complex.” But he said there were lessons to be learned, principally that “a partnership of the sort we have in Somalia needs to start at the strategic level—it has to be built on planning, as a contingency for further cooperation, and focus on building capacities between the two organizations. ”He agreed with Dr. Williams that the AMISOM model should not be replicated but conceded that “something similar is likely to evolve again in the future.”

Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, Chief Advisor on Peace, Security, and Governance, AU Permanent Mission to the UN, said that the UN mission in Somalia compared favorably to the UN mission in Afghanistan. It illustrated, he said, the particular challenges that Africa presented. “The AU talks about peace operations, not peacekeeping. Peacekeeping is driven by consent, impartiality, but our peace operations range from peacekeeping to open warfare and counter insurgency. When we went into Somalia, there was a clearly identifiable enemy, so in the views of al-Shabab, we were ‘legitimate targets.’ We haven’t been deterred by the absence of peace to keep. We have gone in, created peace, and then maintained the peace, as in Somalia and Liberia.”

Among the lessons he said were learned from the mission in Somalia were that from the outset, there has to be a “political strategy” and “planning” for a subsequent “multi-dimensional phase,” and neighboring states must be “involved and committed.”

Chloé Marnay-Baszanger, Chief of the Peace Mission Section of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), said that “we are witnessing a reconfiguration of how the international community responds to conflict, and Somalia has been a good example of how to think through our processes. If the UN is not the primary vehicle for leading international intervention, then how can we make sure that human rights are still a priority in crisis response?”

She said that Somalia presented a distinct problem because there was no Protection of Civilians (POC) mandate to AMISOM. In its absence, she said, “what we managed to do through the human rights due diligence policy, we managed to strike a conversation about how we reduce the likeliness of violence against civilians in the context of complex violence.” She said that the most important lesson that the Somalia and the G5 Sahel experiences taught was “going forward, we put mechanisms in place so that from the beginning, we don’t have to course-correct.”

Dr. Di Razza moderated the first discussion on parallel forces, and Mr. Sherman the second on lessons from AMISOM.

Partners and Competitors: Forces Operating in Parallel to UN Peace Operations

Mon, 04/11/2019 - 06:00

Figure 1. Past and current parallel forces around the world (Click for full graphic)

Figure 2. Timeline of parallel force and their type (Click for full graphic)

Since the end of the Cold War, the UN Security Council has authorized or recognized the deployment of more than forty parallel forces that operate alongside UN peace operations. As the Security Council has deployed peace operations in increasingly non-permissive environments, the division of labor between UN missions and these parallel forces has blurred, and their goals have sometimes come into conflict. This raises the question of whether they are partners or competitors.

This report examines the missions that have operated in parallel to UN peace operations to identify how to strengthen these partnerships in the future. It analyzes and categorizes the types of parallel forces that have been deployed and examines the rationales for deploying them. It also looks at strategic and operational challenges, including the challenges unique to peace operations operating alongside a counterterrorism force. Finally, drawing on lessons from past and current parallel deployments, it offers recommendations for member states, the Security Council, and the UN Secretariat. These include:

  • Strengthening coordination of assessments, planning, and application of UN standards: The UN and actors deploying parallel forces should conduct joint assessments and planning when deploying or reconfiguring missions. The UN Security Council should also engage more regularly with parallel forces and encourage the continued development of human rights compliance frameworks for them.
  • Clarifying roles, responsibilities, and areas of operation: Peace operations and parallel forces should clearly delineate their responsibilities and areas of operation, assess the risks of collocating, and improve strategic communications with the local population. The Security Council should also continue to put in place mechanisms to strengthen the accountability of parallel forces, especially when peace operations are providing support that could contribute to counterterrorism operations.


Gender and Protection of Civilians

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 20:13

The United Nations agendas for Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and for Protection of Civilians (POC) both deal with protecting vulnerable populations. The comparison of these two agendas and opportunities to enhance protection were the focus of a November 1st IPI-Canada roundtable discussion, held under the Chatham House rule of non-attribution.

Discussants expressed concern that protection of women from sexual violence has been prioritized over other forms of gendered violence, such as female genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual violence against men and LGBTQ communities, trafficking, and domestic violence. One reason, agreed participants, is that gender-based violence is chronically underfunded. In addition, women are often appointed as gender experts solely because of their sex.

The experts lamented the fact that women tend to be seen only as victims of violence and not as agents of protection from violence. To overcome this barrier, speakers highlighted the need for more female uniformed and civilian personnel on the ground in peacekeeping missions with POC mandates and involved in developing POC strategy. Even so, they noted, women’s participation is often treated with a tokenistic, “tick the box” approach.

In order to insure that peacekeeping missions better and more safely engage communities, especially with women, participants agreed that accountability measures in peacekeeping should be strengthened, and that it was necessary to embrace a wider understanding of “protection.” One way to do this, they said, was to frame accountability around the UN Sustainable Development Goals, since UN member state governments have made public commitments to concrete goals and indicators and to carry out certain gender-sensitive measures of protection.

To truly mainstream these concepts, discussants suggested it would be useful to conduct local analysis in conflict communities and examine intercommunal conflicts. Speakers said that the strategic integration points of the WPS and POC agendas were climate change, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The second session of the workshop focused on research questions. Participants pointed out that gender considerations are often an afterthought in peace operations, and explored ways to implement POC that do not reinforce the stereotype of women as victims. They pointed out programs that have been working well and recommended monitoring and scaling up these efforts.

One question that arose was whether domestic violence should be addressed in POC mandates. Discussants argued that intimate partner violence is not unrelated to conflict, and that it must be included in gender-based violence analysis and action. However, doubts were raised as to whether military and police personnel, who are the primary actors in peacekeeping, were the right people to address this intimate type of violence.

Finally, participants discussed how best to incorporate male victims in protection peacekeeping mandates and pointed out that because of patriarchal systems of power, the threats men and boys face are under-reported and protection of men and boys receives less attention. Discussants highlighted the fact that “gender” is not specific to women and that to say, “we need more women in peace operations to carry out the WPS agenda” takes the onus off of men to implement the WPS agenda and reinforces the stereotype of women as victims and men as perpetrators of violence.

Making Women’s Rights and Inclusion a Priority in Afghanistan Peacemaking

Wed, 30/10/2019 - 19:49
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The international community’s role in supporting women as vital stakeholders in an inclusive and enduring peace in Afghanistan was the subject of an October 30th IPI policy forum cosponsored by Cordaid, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and the NYU Center for Global Affairs.

Rina Amiri, Senior Fellow at the NYU center and longtime expert on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, said that while the world’s weariness with the ongoing Afghan war was speeding up people’s eagerness to come up with a way to end it, it was also resulting in concessions being made on earlier promises of inclusion. “Women’s rights and inclusion has moved from an absolute priority of the international community to something that is relegated just to inter-Afghan talks,” she said.

In light of this, she asked, “What are the arguments that we need to make that we’re not making, how can we move from lip service to genuine commitment, what are the ways that we should be thinking about inclusion and process design?”

IPI Senior Fellow Sarah Taylor spoke of a disturbing discordance between the pledges of UN member states to the women, peace and security agenda that she heard voiced in the Security Council debate on the subject the day before and the reality that women are still being kept from positions of power and influence 19 years after the passage of the landmark resolution 1325. She alluded to the example of the work done in Sudan by women “putting their bodies on the line, breaking curfews, braving tear gas yet still excluded from the discussions that determine the future of their communities.”

Storai Tapesh, Deputy Executive Director, Afghan Women’s Network, said that recent peace negotiations between the Taliban and the United States in the Qatari capital Doha allowed for more women’s participation than in past talks but still did not attract the necessary support from the international community. “We saw the added value of women during the recent dialogues in Doha,” she said. “It was us, the women of Afghanistan, who were putting important issues on the table. As opposed to the men, we were not negotiating out of a position of self-interest but pushing the real issues such as human rights, the red lines of the constitution and the need for an immediate ceasefire.”

Though those talks have now stalled, Ms. Tapesh said the women of Afghanistan are still “very much committed” to them and want to see them resumed and “facilitated” by the international community. Clarifying the kind of support they needed, she said, “Afghan women do not want you to fight our battles; we need support for our voices and space to advocate for peace.”

Testifying to the importance of women’s inclusion to the sustainability of peace processes, Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, said, “You cannot actually build a truly prosperous society that enables any country to realize its full potential if you exclude some 50% of the population from the economic and legal life of the country, never mind the social. More than half of all peace processes collapse within five years if they don’t have sustainable provisions, and those sustainable provisions have been shown in well-documented evidence to include gender and women’s provisions.”

Ambassador Pierce was asked by the discussion moderator, Jake Sherman, director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, about how to balance the push for women’s rights with the overall push for a peace accord without one jeopardizing the other. “You must have some very robust clauses about human rights and women’s rights, but I don’t know if in a negotiation with an informal organization such as the Taliban, it is good to go in loudly with your red lines,” she said. Instead, she explained, “the point at which you ask for the things you really need is at the end when peace is in sight.” Signaling the critical nature of this sequencing, she warned, “When we sacrifice the long term goal for short term expediency, we end up regretting that quickly and find ourselves back at the table negotiating peace again.”

Ms. Pierce acknowledged that it was particularly difficult to introduce the subject of women’s rights into conversations with the Taliban, a group notorious for its overt sexism and violence against women. “But the fact that is a difficult argument isn’t an argument for not making it,” she said. She added that those who counsel taking up the subject only “at the pace that the Taliban want” are ignoring evidence of women’s rights having been brought into the process successfully with tact, good timing and persistence. “You do it incrementally, you do it gradually, but above all, you do it steadily, don’t go backward.”

Mahbouba Seraj, a member of the Afghan Women’s Network, urged the international community to adopt a principled position on Afghanistan without regard to pleasing one side or the other. “Do not worry about the Taliban or Trump, but take a stance because if you don’t do that and stay on the basis of being wishy washy with the Taliban, then they are going to take advantage of that.”

Teresa Whitfield, Director, Policy and Mediation Division, UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that actions to include women in peace processes had to go beyond the numbers. “We need to normalize the process that women have substantive contributions in peace processes and not just that there are two women at the table,” she said. She asserted that obtaining respect for Afghan women’s rights would require a “creative” approach, given the nature of the Taliban. “The Taliban doesn’t include women in leadership so we cannot recruit and include them through their political or military power,” she said. Among the alternatives from her office’s experience that she suggested were advisory boards, gender subcommittees, women lawyers, broad consultations with civil society, online platforms, and social media information sharing.

In conclusion, Ms. Whitfield stressed, “The absolutely fundamental need for those of us who represent the international community and are on the outside of conflicts is to put in the legwork, the analysis, the research, the knowledge, and always focus on harnessing international forces. The demand for Afghan women’s rights comes from Afghan women, and that’s what needs to be represented in some shape or form at the table in the peace process.”

Turning Women, Peace and Security Commitments to Implementation

Tue, 29/10/2019 - 20:05

The UN Security Council adopted the landmark resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security (WPS) in 2000 and since then, the international community has made notable strides toward implementing the WPS agenda through member state commitments. However, in recent years, the world has witnessed backsliding on these commitments and a backlash against robust attempts at women’s inclusion and gender parity.

On October 29th, experts on WPS gathered at an IPI roundtable to launch and discuss the findings of a new report from Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS), “The 10 Steps: Turning Women, Peace and Security Commitments to Implementation.” The report includes recommendations for action on women, peace, and security as the 20th anniversary of resolution 1325 approaches.

The “10 Steps” report is the product of consultations with over 200 organizations in conflict-affected states. It recommends precise and actionable steps for realizing the WPS agenda, with a particular focus on the role of civil society. GAPS and its partners found that commitments on Women, Peace and Security are “vast and comprehensive,” but that “in practice this has not translated into the inclusion of gender perspectives and women and girls’ rights in policy and programming.”

Participants began the discussion by addressing the current state of the WPS agenda, especially noting the regression on gender parity and women’s inclusion in formal peace processes. Despite considerable progress on women’s inclusion in peacekeeping, discussants lamented that “it has been easier to get women into military, police, and peacekeeping forces on the ground than to get women into negotiating rooms.”

When women are excluded from peace processes, it was noted, the resulting peace agreements include few or no gender provisions. Accordingly, the WPS agenda has aimed to improve gender inclusion in peace negotiations in order to strengthen the outcomes of such processes. Initially, some progress was made. Before resolution 1325, only 11% of peace agreements made any references to women and gender, but in the following 14 years, this number went up to 27%. However, since 2014, the number has dramatically decreased.

Some participants called for women’s increased “meaningful participation” in the face of such discouraging statistics, but others stressed that the term “meaningful participation” is itself far too vague. Suggestions included making calls for “consequential participation,” or even “feminist participation.” Irrespective of the terminology they chose to employ, many agreed that greater women’s participation is greatly needed.

The roundtable then shifted its focus toward ways to engage civil society in implementing the WPS agenda, as the GAPS “10 Steps” report stressed. Participants acknowledged that governments are not the only drivers of the agenda, and civil society continues to play a vital and integrated role in its actualization. Civil society provides insight that guides state action, and it helps governments stay in touch with challenges to implementation on the ground. Moreover, where state action is often slowed by bureaucratic processes and political tensions, civil society helps to push the agenda along and accelerate progress.

When considering what the next steps member states should take on WPS, participants called for action on an array of issues, including the need for gender-conflict analysis, addressing violence against women, and changing social norms around gender.

The work remaining for the international community, participants argued, is ensuring accountability to the commitments outlined in the nine WPS resolutions that have been adopted by the Security Council. Though the agenda is often thought of as a “gender issue” or “security challenge,” it has much broader implications than these characterizations suggest.

“We are all guardians of this incredible WPS agenda,” agreed participants, and its realization will require creativity and widespread action.

Toward a More Effective UN-AU Partnership on Conflict Prevention and Crisis Management

Sun, 20/10/2019 - 16:00

(Click to jump to interactive map below)

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Organizational diagram of the UN-AU partnership (Click for full graphic)

The United Nations and the African Union (AU) have worked in tandem since the AU’s establishment in 2002. During this time, their partnership has evolved to focus increasingly on conflict prevention and crisis management, culminating in the 2017 Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. But while the organizations’ collaboration on peacekeeping has been extensively studied, other dimensions of the partnership warrant a closer look to understand how to foster political coherence and operational coordination.

This report, done in partnership with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), therefore considers the evolution of the strategic partnership between the UN and the AU, with a focus on their approach to conflict prevention and crisis management. It looks at this partnership at the member-state level in the UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council, as well as at the operational level between various UN and AU entities. It also assesses the partnership across several thematic issues, including the AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative; mediation; women, peace, and security; electoral support; peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction and development; and youth, peace, and security.

Based on this analysis, the paper offers several recommendations to guide UN and AU stakeholders in improving cooperation. These include strengthening council-to-council engagement, working toward a collective approach to conflict prevention and crisis management, creating a dedicated team within the AU Peace and Security Department to support the partnership, better aligning work on peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction and development, building momentum on the AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative, and expanding diplomatic capacities to support the partnership.

UN, AU, and REC/RM peace operations, liaison offices, and peace and development advisers (as of July 2019) (Click on each country for operations’ details. Best viewed on desktops.) a img {/**remove hover border**/ display:block; Margin: 0 auto; } a[href$="pdf"]:last-of-type:after { /* don't display "PDF" after the links in the margin */ display: none!important; }


Helen Clark, Irina Bokova Discuss Importance of Multilateralism and Women’s Rights

Thu, 26/09/2019 - 20:30
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Women’s rights are increasingly facing pushback with global trends towards populism and shifting centers of power. This pushback is also occurring at a time when preparations are being made to mark the anniversaries of key international commitments to women’s rights in 2020, including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.

A September 26th discussion at IPI between Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and former United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, and Irina Bokova, former Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), focused on these challenges and possibilities for a way forward. Speakers drew upon their experience to discuss women’s rights amid the current geopolitical context, the deeply gendered nature of current threats to multilateralism, what these geopolitical trends mean for building peace, and how to ground the multilateral system in respect for women’s rights and equal status.

In opening remarks, IPI Vice President Adam Lupel declared that “It should go without saying, I would think, that ensuring a robust and effective multilateral system requires the equal status and participation of what amounts to 52% of the population.” But, he said, “somehow it doesn’t.”

Sarah Taylor, IPI Senior Fellow, cited the Open Letter of the Group of Women Leaders for Change and Inclusion that addressed this problem. This group, whose leaders include Ms. Clark, Ms. Bukova, and Susana Malcorra, former Foreign Minister of Argentina and Chef de Cabinet for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, came together earlier this year to “collectively call attention to the need to achieve full gender equality and empowerment of women across all ambits of society and the critical importance of multilateralism as a vehicle in support of that.”

Ms. Clark highlighted the fact that since the March 8th formation of the women’s group, people singled out attacks of populist nationalist leaders on the international system, noting also that the same people tend to be attacking women’s rights at home.

“We, as a group, believe that the multilateral system has been incredibly important for establishing women’s rights as a huge priority,” Ms. Clark continued. “Therefore anything that undermines the multilateral system is bad for women, because we look to the multilateral system through its treaties, conventions, declarations, commissions, organizations, to uphold and promote women’s rights.”

Ms. Clark cited the UN’s long history of multilateralism and women’s rights, but noted that the debate on women’s sexual health and gender identity is undergoing great change. “Frankly there’s a much broader conversation that’s being had,” she said, about how “it is a right of anybody to express their gender identity however they want to express it, and to have their dignity upheld as an individual.”

Ms. Bokova, described how as a young diplomat, she encountered debates as to whether discrimination against women was considered a human rights violation. Despite progress towards gender equality, she said, “we are [also] seeing a lot of setbacks.”

Ms. Bokova added that we must “go broader,” when it comes to issues such as women’s health. “It’s not just an issue of women’s equality, it’s an issue for community engagement, it’s an issue of health.” Her recommendation for a broader approach was to “present the agenda not just as an ethical framework for women, but as a societal problem that is linked with the overall well being of communities of countries.”

Ms. Bokova emphasized the urgency of addressing women’s rights and multilateralism. “We are really at a critical point,” she warned, “Either we do something, raise our voices, mobilize, in order to move forward and to once again bring the agenda to the multilateral system as a priority, as unfinished business, as an accelerator to peace and sustainable development, or we just will not live up to the expectations of so many women in the world.”

María Elena Agüero, Secretary-General of the Club de Madrid, noted the effectiveness of “multilateralism that delivers.” She said her organization aimed to bring together democratic former heads of state and government from all over the world, and that she had tried to have as fair representation and distribution as possible.

However, Ms. Agüero said, creating a gender balance had been held back because there have been too few women heads of state. Equality, though, is not only a task for the Club de Madrid, she added, but society writ large. Ms. Agüero pointed out that the numbers of women leaders are increasing, so “let’s make this happen.”

Dr. Taylor moderated the discussion, and in concluding remarks said, “Gender is implicated in the political movements that reject multilateralism and strive towards isolation, including through efforts to control women’s bodies; violations of women’s rights are part of the ways in which conflicts are justified and fought; and gender equality and robust adherence to women’s rights standards—including women’s full participation in decision-making—are fundamental to strengthening the multilateral system.”

Advancing Women’s Roles and Rights amid Global Challenges

Wed, 25/09/2019 - 16:36
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The United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) almost two decades ago, and over 80 countries have implemented national action plans to carry out the WPS agenda, yet despite these commitments, the status of women’s roles and rights globally are under threat. In conflict resolution processes, for instance, mediators and negotiators are rarely women, and women’s rights are insufficiently reflected in agreements.

IPI’s inaugural Women, Peace, and Leadership Symposium on September 25th focused on the challenges of implementing the WPS agenda in an increasingly restrictive political context, and especially given the upcoming 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325. The event at IPI was cohosted by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and provided a forum for leaders to draw upon the experience of their countries and institutions to lay out an ambitious agenda for this anniversary.

Adam Lupel, IPI Vice President, stressed that the global pushback against women’s rights is a “critical, truly timely topic.” He highlighted Sweden’s pioneering role as the first country in the world to adopt a feminist foreign policy. Pointing to challenges to the multilateral system that pose a direct threat to women’s rights, he framed the discussion around how to build long-term institutional support for women’s rights and roles in all efforts to build peace, asking the panelists: What are the components of a robust women, peace, and security agenda; what are the biggest barriers to achieving them; and what are the key messages to overcome these challenges?

Ann Linde, Sweden’s new Minister for Foreign Affairs, referenced the launch of a feminst trade policy during her time as Minister for Foreign Trade, but said that even with ample support of the WPS agenda in policy discussions, implementing the agenda had proven to be an ongoing challenge.

“We are now working to make sure that attention to these issues is maintained on the ground,” she stated. The international community, she said, is “still failing to fully implement the commitments we have made. We are still failing the women who suffer from the consequences of war, including victims of conflict-related sexual violence.”

Ms. Linde added that because women are always the first to suffer in conflicts, “We cannot rest until women are on the top of the agenda in all the prevention and peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected countries.” Even when women are at the forefront of change, she pointed out, “they do not get to sit in the room where the future is decided.”

Grace Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said that in her country, “What we have found is that although this crop of women now have these very, very important skills, whenever there is a conflict, they are never included in a peacebuilding process.”

Dr. Pandor said, “We also hold the view that the participation of women should not just be in getting to a point of settlement or peace. We believe that women must get training in constitution-making, in formation of public institutions, and in the maintenance of democracy so that they don’t become marginal after conflict is resolved.”

To address the dearth of women’s voices on peace processes, she said, “We want to encourage the secretary-general and various structures of peace and security in multilateral bodies to have a database of women with these skills and ensure that whenever there are processes to resolve conflict and arrive at peace, that these women are utilized.”

Asmaa Abdalla was recently appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sudan, and is the first woman to hold the position. She said that this was in keeping with the history of women’s political participation in Sudan, where during the early Nubian kingdoms the queen took part in peacemaking. Now, in West Sudan, she added, “We have women poets calling for peace.”

Ms. Abdalla spoke on her country’s progress toward implementing resolution 1325. “We have a comprehensive plan, and national institutions with civil society participation, and strong campaigns against female genital mutilation,” she said, but added that the political atmosphere was not encouraging for 1325. A mark of the change in focus for the government of Sudan, the minister noted their intent to ratify CEDAW, the international binding instrument on women’s rights.

Contributing to this atmosphere, she said, was the lack of engagement by men to implement the resolution, and limited awareness in the country of the WPS agenda. “We need to enhance… the role of the media in raising awareness about 1325 and its positive effects,” she said.

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that being the first woman to lead the UN political department was “sort of like being the first man on the moon.” But, she said, the women, peace, and security agenda had grown progressively over almost 20 years, and has had a profound cultural change on the UN. “Gender equality is mainstreamed into our peace missions,” said Ms. DiCarlo. Still, “this work hasn’t been easy, and it is nowhere near complete.”

What’s needed, argued Ms. DiCarlo, is effective implementation. “We have many resolutions, we’ve had many discussions—we need to walk the talk, focus truly on the implementation of what we have already committed to.” She also called out the pushback to WPS measures. “Global backlash against women’s rights threatens the gains we have already made and it certainly threatens our work going forward.”

Kaavya Asoka, Executive Director of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security, agreed that backlash was a threat, saying that there has been more suppression of women human rights defenders than ever before. “Women are facing retaliation for engaging in political life, for peacefully protesting and advocating,” she said. “Given the global rise of misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, it is critical that all of you in this room speak out publicly against any attempts at undermining international human rights standards.”

Ms. Asoka pointed out that one barrier to realizing a robust agenda is selective implementation of its different components. “You can’t advance the parts of the agenda that are easiest to implement, or that align with your national interests,” she argued. “You can’t pick and choose. It’s all or it’s nothing. True commitment to WPS requires going beyond symbolic gestures and technocratic solutions. It requires measurable impact on the ground, and the only credible benchmark of meaningful implementation is positive change in the lives of conflict-affected communities.”

Ms. Asoka singled out the example of women’s lack of political participation in Yemen, where both warring parties refused the presence of women’s advisory groups in peace talks. The resulting agreement has no mention of gender, she said. “We saw a 66% child marriage increase, and a 70% increase in gender-based violence.”

Dr. Panor called for a more universal and inclusive approach to women’s rights. “The fact that we discuss women as distinct from every other person is a peculiarity that needs to end. We are part of humanity, and everything that happens in every society must include us because we’re not marginal, we’re not an instance, we are part of society.”

Terje Rød-Larsen, IPI President, gave opening remarks and Dr. Lupel moderated.

Read IPI’s latest Issue Brief on the status of the WPS agenda here>>

Inside the Engine Room: Enabling the Delivery of UN Mandates in Complex Environments

Wed, 24/07/2019 - 16:49

Particularly in the complex environments where it increasingly deploys, the UN depends on a range of functions to implement its mandate. These include but are not limited to provision of security, facilitation of access, medical support, support to staff welfare, logistics, coordination, and risk management. Compared to substantive tasks implemented as part of mandates, these enabling functions, or enablers, have received less scrutiny. As a result, enablers—and their financial costs—are often unknown or misunderstood by member states, donors, and even UN staff.

This paper explores these enablers by explaining what they are, why they are needed, how much they cost, and how they are—or should be—funded. It then investigates the challenges the UN needs to tackle to put enablers on a path to sustainable funding, including:

  • Reporting and consolidating data: While data is not the end point, it is a necessary starting point for the UN to engage in dialogue with those who use enablers and those who pay for them.
  • Dedicating the necessary capacity: More spending on enablers is required now if lives and resources are to be saved later.
  • Managing trade-offs: The UN needs to set and articulate clear priorities to guide the difficult trade-offs between different enablers and their associated risks.
  • Integrating operations into planning: Operational planning is critical to avoid retroactive, ad hoc arrangements, especially during mission transitions.
  • Communicating the importance of enablers: Effective communication on the need for enablers is necessary to convince member states and donors to fund them.

Ultimately, there must be greater coherence between those who define UN mandates, those who fund them, and those who implement them.