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Updated: 12 hours 4 min ago

Prioritization and Sequencing of Security Council Mandates in 2021: The Case of UNMISS

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 22:04

Nearly one year after the creation of a transitional government in February 2020, the main pillars of the June 2018 permanent cease-fire and September 2018 peace agreement in South Sudan continue to hold, but their implementation has progressed at a worryingly slow pace.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report organized a virtual workshop on February 10, 2021, to discuss UNMISS’s mandate and political strategy. This workshop offered a forum for member states, UN staff, and outside experts to develop a shared understanding and common strategic assessment of the situation in South Sudan. The session was intended to help the Security Council make informed decisions with respect to the strategic orientation, prioritization, and sequencing of UNMISS’s mandate and actions on the ground. The workshop’s deliberations focused on the political and security dynamics in South Sudan, as well as on UNMISS’s current mandate and priorities for the coming year. Participants also discussed the findings of the independent strategic review of UNMISS, which were shared with the Security Council in December 2020.

Participants concluded that moving forward, the UN will need to engage more deeply and systematically to help South Sudan address underlying challenges. Encouraging South Sudanese ownership of the peace process and the country’s long-term sustainability is imperative. Doing so will require the Security Council, the UN Secretariat, and UNMISS to map out a coherent political strategy rooted in critical benchmarks and a clear understanding of how to leverage international partners and to map out options for UN support to the political transition.


A New Era for UN Peace Operations Transitions

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 16:05
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On Tuesday, February 23rd, IPI together with the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN cohosted a virtual policy forum entitled “A New Era for UN Peace Operations Transitions.”

The panel discussion reflected on the evolving policy and practices related to the transition of UN peace operations. It also highlighted IPI’s body of research on transitions at the conclusion of a multi-year IPI project on the topic. In particular, the discussions focused on the political and policy trends surrounding transition processes, while offering speakers an opportunity to focus on recent and upcoming transition processes (e.g., with the UN presences in Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

UN mission transitions highlight the temporary nature of peace operations, and they aim to support countries in shifting away from periods of armed violence toward sustained peace and development. Recent transition processes underscore how these efforts are both highly political and operational, requiring flexible and close cooperation with host governments, national actors, and international partners alike. In light of the political pressures placed on UN peace operations, reconfigurations and drawdowns have at times occurred amid incomplete political settlements, persistent threats to civilians, and significant social and economic disparities.

This virtual policy forum addressed the contemporary dynamics shaping current and future UN transitions and reconfigurations. It reflected on lessons observed from previous transitions and highlight how the UN’s approach to transition processes has evolved. The policy forum also considered the research produced by IPI’s project on peace operations transitions since 2018, including a new publication on the UN transition in Sudan.

Opening Remarks:
Mr. Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs
Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN

Mr. Daniel Forti, IPI Senior Policy Analyst
Ms. Rania Dagash-Kamara, Chief, Policy and Best Practices Service, UN Department of Peace Operations
Ms. Rachel Scott, Senior Policy and Partnerships Advisor, UN Development Programme
Ms. Siria Maniam, Senior Transition Adviser, UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)

Mr. Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs

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Walking a Tightrope: The Transition from UNAMID to UNITAMS in Sudan

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 19:13

The UN’s transition in Sudan started out in 2014 as a process to close the African Union–United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in the face of waning international support and overwhelming pressure from an autocratic regime. But in 2019, Sudan’s revolution and ongoing political transition radically transformed how the UN engages with Sudan. UNAMID’s closure in December 2020 and the start-up of a new special political mission, the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), now constitute one of the most complex reconfigurations the organization has ever attempted.

This paper examines the ongoing UN transition in Sudan, focusing on the establishment of UNITAMS and UNAMID’s exit from Darfur.The paper evaluates the transition across four themes pertinent to the transition of UN peace operations: the creation of a shared political vision for the transition, national engagement in the process, efforts to comprehensively plan the transition, and the dynamics of international financial support and partnerships.

In order to sustain the UN’s reconfiguration in Sudan while supporting Sudan’s own political transition, the UN should consider the following:

  • Articulating a forward-looking political compact with Sudan to guide UN support to the political transition;
  • Rapidly expanding support for urgent peacebuilding and protection priorities in Darfur;
  • Continuously evaluating the UN’s operational presence and substantive impact outside of Khartoum;
  • Encouraging the Sudanese government to provide regular updates on the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement and its national protection of civilians plan;
  • Providing frequent, detailed assessments of UNAMID’s drawdown and liquidation;
  • Undertaking a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of UNITAMS; and
  • Considering additional reforms to the UN’s peace and security pillar on mission planning processes.

In addition, to support the efforts of the UN and the Sudanese transitional government, UN member states could consider the following:

  • Increasing financial support to coherently address Sudan’s peacebuilding and development needs;
  • Maintaining a close relationship between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council on Sudan; and
  • Sustaining international attention on Sudan’s transition and maintaining UN support.


UN Peacekeeping Operations and Gendered Threats to the Protection of Civilians

Tue, 02/16/2021 - 17:50

The intersection between the protection of civilians (POC) and gender has been addressed in Security Council resolutions on POC and on women, peace, and security (WPS) since the late 1990s. Nonetheless, understanding how POC and gender converge, and translating this convergence into implementable action plans, are challenging tasks for peacekeeping missions.

This paper examines how peacekeeping missions conceptualize and define gendered threats to civilians at the field level. It analyzes key policy documents that provide substantive guidance to peacekeeping missions on POC and gender and looks at the way the language in the mandates of peacekeeping missions provides a conceptual framework for understanding gendered POC threats. It also explores the way mission-level POC strategies frame the juncture of gender and POC, how missions identify and analyze gendered POC threats, and the coher­ence and sustainability of their approaches.

The paper concludes that UN peacekeeping missions could consider devel­oping “safeguarding frameworks” on the intersection of POC and gender. These frameworks could provide more detailed guidance that challenges the conflation of “gender” and “women” and the association of gender-related protection primarily with sexual violence. They could also dictate that missions need to assess the gender aspects of every threat and could help move missions from coordinating to integrating their work on POC and gender.


A UN for All? UN Policy and Programming on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics

Thu, 02/11/2021 - 16:49

Sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) have been on the UN’s agenda for more than twenty-five years. Many of the earliest developments took place in the UN human rights mechanisms and Human Rights Council. Increasingly, however, UN agencies, funds, and programs are also integrating SOGIESC into their policy and programming.

This paper explores what these UN entities have been doing to respect, protect, promote, and fulfill the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. It looks at how the UN’s work on SOGIESC has intersected with its work on human rights, global public health, development, humanitarian affairs, peace and security, and gender. It also assesses what has been driving forward policy and programming on SOGIESC and the barriers that have held back further progress.

The paper concludes with recommendations for the UN Secretariat, UN agencies, funds, and programs, supportive UN member states, and LGBTI activists across five areas:

  • Building the human resources needed to institutionalize the UN’s work on SOGIESC;
  • Making the UN a safe and accepting workplace for LGBTI people;
  • Mainstreaming and coordinating work on SOGIESC;
  • Strengthening partnerships between the UN and other actors; and
  • Continuing to expand policy and programming on SOGIESC into new areas.


Breaking the Mold: Lessons from Sixteen Years of Innovative UN Political Engagement in Nepal

Wed, 02/10/2021 - 16:32

UN political engagement in Nepal between 2002 and 2018 has long been considered a successful example of sustained and innovative support to a critical peace process. Many governments in the broader region, however, have largely eschewed international assistance in resolving conflicts, perceiving it as an unnecessary infringement on state sovereignty or a threat to regional balances of power.

This paper looks at lessons the UN could learn from its political presence in Nepal. It summarizes the four periods of the UN’s involvement, highlights best practices, and reviews the challenges faced and how they shaped the range of actions available to the UN. It concludes with eight lessons for the UN:

  • Foster relationships with key conflict parties before there is a need for an active UN political role;
  • Use indirect means to keep the regional players positively engaged, when direct means fail;
  • Draw on or generate high-quality, fast, actionable, and representative conflict information;
  • Design UN missions according to context;
  • Manage a mission’s (perceived or real) footprint in order to maximize leverage;
  • Build a dedicated communications strategy to help set and manage expectations regarding what a mission can and cannot do;
  • Consider using human rights monitoring as the groundwork for conflict resolution; and
  • Be willing to make unpopular decisions, if they are the right decisions for sustaining the peace.


Women, Peace, and Security Mandates for UN Peacekeeping Operations: Assessing Influence and Impact

Sun, 01/31/2021 - 16:24

Peacekeeping mission mandates now routinely include language on women, peace, and security (WPS). Despite this progress, negotiations in the Security Council on the inclusion of WPS language in mandates have at times been contested, and it is not always clear that more detailed or “stronger” language on WPS in mandates translates to changes in peacekeeping missions. The language included in mandates can even perpetuate stereotypes, including the assumption that every uniformed woman is responsible for implementing a mission’s WPS mandate.

This paper explores the different elements of the WPS agenda that are included in peacekeeping mandates, assesses the factors that influence the inclusion of language on WPS, examines the drivers behind the implementation of the WPS agenda in the field, and assesses the impact that mandate language has on uniformed women peacekeepers. It concludes by considering how the Security Council and other stakeholders could advance the WPS agenda through mission mandates, including by:

  • Proposing WPS language early in the Security Council’s mandating process;
  • Facilitating engagement between country experts and WPS experts in member states’ permanent missions to the UN;
  • Using informal consultations to understand the needs of women affected by conflict;
  • Including language in mandates that reflects the contributions of both women and men to operational effectiveness; and
  • Ensuring that approaches to WPS in the Security Council consider the full spectrum of gender.


Considering the Protection of Civilians during UN Peacekeeping Transitions

Mon, 01/25/2021 - 17:27

In contrast to recent transitions, the next wave of UN peacekeeping transitions is set to occur in contexts where civilians continue to face threats of physical violence. These transitions are likely to have major implications for the protection of civilians (POC), which should be a key consideration for the UN when planning these missions’ exit strategies. As part of the transition process, the UN needs to shift its strategic and operational approach to POC.

This issue brief outlines how the strategic goals of POC will change during a transition and how the operational approach to POC across the UN system will need to be adapted. It examines the shift from mission-driven POC strategies to nationally led POC plans to ensure the sustainability of POC gains and mitigate the risk of violence following a mission’s departure. It also explores the need for a UN system-wide approach to POC—one that involves all relevant UN entities—to reconfigure and manage this aspect of the UN’s engagement in crisis settings and the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding.


Reflections and Lessons on UN Support to Local Mediation Efforts

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 16:00
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On January 20th, IPI together with the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN, cohosted a virtual panel discussion on “Reflections and Lessons on UN Support to Local Mediation Efforts.”

Track 1 mediation processes involving national political and military leaders have increasingly struggled to deliver comprehensive peace agreements that address today’s fragmented conflicts and include local communities’ needs. As a result, the UN has become more engaged in supporting local mediation actors and efforts, including in contexts with and without UN peace operations.

To reflect on the UN’s experience with such engagement to date, the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs’ (DPPA) Mediation Support Unit (MSU) recently published “UN Support to Local Mediation: Opportunities and Challenges.” This report aims to deepen understanding of the UN’s engagement in mediation at the local level and the strategic and political relevance of this engagement to the UN’s overall peacemaking efforts.

In parallel, IPI released a report titled “Parallel Tracks or Connected Pieces?: UN Peace Operations, Local Mediation, and Peace Processes.” This report considers how local mediation fits into the broader political strategies of UN peace operations, including what capacities the UN would need to increase its engagement in local mediation, what role it can play, and how it could better configure itself and engage in partnerships.

This discussion provided an overview of the DPPA and IPI reports, including perspectives from the field, highlighting lessons, insights, opportunities, and challenges as the UN engages in and with local mediation efforts.

Opening Remarks:
Teemu Turunen, Director, Centre for Mediation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Arthur Boutellis, IPI Non-resident Senior Adviser, and co-author of IPI report “Parallel Tracks or Connected Pieces”
Asif Khan, Chief of Mediation Support and Gender, Peace and Security, UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs
Gabriela Iribarne, Central Regional Office – Kabul, Head of Office and Area Security Coordinator, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Guang Cong, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Political), UN Mission in South Sudan
Marie-Joëlle Zahar, Professor, Université de Montréal, IPI Non-resident Senior Fellow, and contributing author to DPPA’s “UN Support to Local Mediation” report; and co-author of IPI report “Parallel Tracks or Connected Pieces”

Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs

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Mental Health in UN Peace Operations: Addressing Stress, Trauma, and PTSD among Field Personnel

Wed, 12/23/2020 - 18:32

The challenging environments where many contemporary UN peace operations are deployed can take a toll on the mental health of both uniformed and civilian personnel. This has led to increased attention to questions around mental health in peace operations, and in 2018, the UN made mental health and well-being a system-wide priority. Yet two years later, much remains to be done to improve mental health in UN missions.

This paper looks at the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues among the military, police, and civilian personnel of UN peace operations. It analyzes the types of stressors and psychological factors affecting personnel in the field, explores the political and institutional challenges to instilling change, and reviews the UN’s response to the mental healthcare needs of field personnel. It concludes with recommendations for the UN to ensure its duty of care for field personnel:

  • Raising the profile of mental health in UN peace operations: The Secretariat and member states should shed light on the difficult conditions facing peacekeeping personnel and better assess the prevalence of mental health issues among staff; strive to reduce the stigma associated with mental health; and come to a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in supporting mental health needs.
  • Providing more pre-deployment support: There is a need to train and sensitize personnel on how to recognize mental health issues, symptoms, and coping mechanisms. Preparedness and pre-deployment training on PTSD, trauma, and mental health should be based on minimum standards so that all contingents are equally prepared and equipped.
  • Strengthening support during deployment: Both the Secretariat and member states should uphold their duty of care for personnel in missions, including by fostering a culture of care, offering adequate psychosocial support, and improving human resources arrangements.
  • Continuing to provide support post-deployment: The UN and member states should recognize that their duty of care does not end after field personnel return from deployment. They should continue following up with former personnel to ensure they are receiving the psychosocial support they need through dedicated structures and resources.


Release of KPMG Forensic Review and IPI Probity Review

Tue, 12/22/2020 - 16:32

Statement by the International Peace Institute
22 December 2020

The International Peace Institute is an independent, not-for-profit think tank that has been instrumental in promoting peace, security and sustainable development by contributing to informed and effective international policy since it was established in partnership with United Nations Secretary General U Thant in 1970.

On October 29, 2020, the IPI Board accepted the resignation of its former president and CEO Terje Rød-Larsen.

At the same meeting, the Board decided to commission global accounting firm KPMG to undertake an independent forensic review to address its concerns about Mr. Rød-Larsen’s interactions with Jeffrey Epstein. These concerns included donations Mr. Rød-Larsen accepted from Epstein-affiliated foundations on IPI’s behalf, a short-term loan from Epstein to Mr. Rød-Larsen personally, and whether IPI was involved in other transactions related to Epstein.

The KPMG Forensic Review team was instructed to ensure IPI had fully accounted for all donations received from either Epstein or his entities, so that the total amount could be donated to support victims of human trafficking and sexual assault in accordance with the Board’s direction of December 4, 2019. In issuing this instruction, the Board was conscious that different Epstein-related foundations had made donations to dozens of non-profit institutions totaling tens of millions of dollars over many years.

KPMG was also asked to confirm IPI’s finding that the organization at no stage made any payments to Epstein.

The KPMG Forensic Review analyzed more than 152,000 transactions between January 2010 and October 2020 to identify any payments involving Epstein or 56 entities reportedly affiliated with him.

In summary, the KPMG Forensic Review found:

• No donations or reimbursements related to Epstein or his entities were received by IPI beyond those that have already been publicly disclosed by IPI;
• No payments were made by IPI to Epstein, either directly or to his entities;
• No transactions related to Mr. Rød-Larsen’s personal loan agreement;
• No IPI expenses related to Epstein, except for a $122 meal charge by Mr. Rød-Larsen in 2011; and
• All donations were properly disclosed to the US Internal Revenue Service.

We are releasing the KPMG Forensic Review in full so that IPI’s supporters, partners and staff can continue to have the same confidence in IPI that they have had for the past 50 years.

>>Download KPMG Forensic Review<<

All donations and reimbursements identified by the KPMG Forensic Review have been previously identified and publicly disclosed by IPI. They include five donations from Epstein-affiliated foundations totaling $650,000 between 2011 and 2019, reflecting approximately 0.9% of IPI’s total revenue over that period. IPI also paid the upfront cost of an airfare for economist Lawrence Summers during his engagement on an IPI project on the proviso that IPI was swiftly reimbursed. That reimbursement of $14,158 was made by an Epstein-affiliated entity.

In addition to the KPMG Forensic Review of IPI’s accounts, the Board requested a Probity Review to examine whether any IPI policies, regulations or laws had been breached, and to recommend how existing policies and procedures could be strengthened. This Probity Review was conducted by Mr. Cliff Perlman, Attorney-at-Law, who has more than 25 years’ expertise in the governance of non-profit institutions and serves as Treasurer on the IPI Board of Directors.

The Probity Review found:

• No evidence that any laws or regulations were breached in the course of IPI and Mr. Rød-Larsen’s contact with Epstein and his entities;
• No evidence of Epstein deriving any personal benefit from IPI in exchange for his donations; and that
• Mr. Rød-Larsen, while not technically breaching any IPI policies that existed at the time, should still have informed the Board of his decision to secure donations from Epstein-related entities and should not have taken a personal loan from him.

>>Download Probity Review<<

The Board has also directed IPI, based on this experience, to revise its policies and procedures over the past year. These include:

• A new Gift Acceptance Policy, adopted in December 2019, which requires IPI to consider whether potential donors are of sufficient good character;
• An updated Conflict of Interest Policy, which is being further updated to directly address reputational risk and any business dealings with donors and their affiliates;
• Updates to IPI’s Ethics Policy, Whistle-blower Policy and its new Anti-Fraud Policy; and
• Educating IPI’s staff and Board on how to recognize and respond to any future potential conflicts of interest.

As noted above, Mr. Rød-Larsen tendered his resignation as president and CEO on October 29, apologizing to the Board for his grave error of judgment.

We – the Board, management and staff of IPI – remain dismayed that a character as detestable as Epstein was permitted to associate himself with this proud and respected organization. Epstein’s crimes, which have destroyed so many lives, are inexcusable and reprehensible. They are in opposition to IPI’s core values.

It is our sincere hope that the institution will learn as much as possible from this disturbing episode and move forward with the essential work of supporting the international community to address the great challenges facing the peoples of the world and our planet in the decades ahead.

In this time of rising competition and growing division, IPI’s work to advance thinking on concrete ways to build and sustain peace, provide opportunities for dialogue, and generate objective, evidence-based research on issues of concern to the multilateral system has never been more necessary and important.

We look forward to continuing to work in partnership to realize our goal of creating a more peaceful and prosperous world now and in the years ahead.

For further information:
Dr. Adam Lupel
Acting President and CEO

Launch of The Accountability System for the Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping Report

Thu, 12/17/2020 - 17:30
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On December 17th, IPI together with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs cohosted a virtual policy forum on “The Accountability System for the Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping.”

Protecting civilians from violence is a priority mandate for most current UN peacekeeping operations. The UN has established a robust normative framework to guide and professionalize the implementation of protection mandates in the field, and missions have developed a number of tools, mechanisms, and activities to strengthen their posture and preparedness to deliver on this core objective.

On a number of occasions, however, UN missions have failed to prevent or respond to attacks and abuse targeting civilians despite being aware of the risk, receiving adequate warning, or being in the immediate proximity of the incident. While many investigations have highlighted shortcomings in performance and called for more accountability, most have remained confidential, and the actions taken to address these failures have often escaped the public eye.

After two decades of policy developments to clarify the roles and responsibilities of peacekeepers to protect civilians and numerous efforts to refine operational approaches in the field, stronger accountability is urgently needed. IPI has undertaken a comprehensive research project to map and evaluate existing accountability tools and mechanisms at the UN, shift the debate around accountability beyond confrontational narratives, and build a culture of positive and proactive accountability for all actors involved in peacekeeping operations’ efforts to protect civilians.

This policy forum provided an opportunity to present the main findings and recommendations of the policy paper authored by IPI’s Senior Fellow Dr. Namie Di Razza. Panelists discussed the recent efforts undertaken by the UN Secretariat, missions, and member states to promote performance accountability in peacekeeping, analyze the remaining gaps, and explore the way forward.

Opening Remarks
H.E. Ms. Yoka M. G. Brandt, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN
Ms. Bintou Keita, Assistant-Secretary-General, UN Department of Peace Operations and Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs

Dr. Namie Di Razza, IPI Senior Fellow and Head of Protection of Civilians
Mr. El-Ghassim Wane, Professor of International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs
Mr. Ludovic Grenouillon, Senior Military Strategic Partnership Officer, Office for Peacekeeping Strategic Partnership, UN Department of Peace Operations
Mr. Andrew Leyva, Permanent Mission of the United States to the UN
Mr. Yasser Halfaoui, Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UN

Mr. Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs

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The Accountability System for the Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping

Wed, 12/16/2020 - 17:13

Download the Report Download Case Studies: South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, and Darfur. *Outlined tools can be activated in exceptional circumstances Author

, Head of IPI’s Protection of Civilians

Download Detailed Factsheets:
1. Force commander’s evaluation
2. OMA evaluation
3. Police evaluation
4. Risk premium
6. Special investigation
8. BOI
10. Mission evaluation
11. CPAS
12. AAR
13. Medals
14. Conduct and discipline
15. Compact
16. e-Performance

Over the last two decades, UN peacekeeping operations have striven to protect civilians from physical violence. The protection of civilians (POC) is now based on a clear normative and policy framework, and its practical implementation relies on a number of innovative tools, tailored and multidimensional approaches, and the more proactive posture of peacekeepers. On a number of occasions, however, UN missions have failed to prevent or respond to threats despite being aware of the risk, receiving adequate warning of an attack, or being in the proximity when abuses were committed. Numerous reports and investigations into these incidents have highlighted shortcomings in performance and called for more accountability. Despite institutional ambitions, however, there is still limited accountability for the actors involved in protecting civilians.

To help address this challenge, IPI undertook a project to map how existing accountability mechanisms in the UN could be applied to peacekeeping missions with POC mandates. Through a combination of desk research and key informant interviews, IPI developed a set of tools to help guide the UN and its member states in building a robust, multi-actor, multilayer “system of accountability for POC.” These tools include:

  • A policy paper analyzing the concept of accountability, identifying accountability mechanisms that exist and those that are needed, reviewing recent initiatives by the UN Secretariat and member states to strengthen accountability mechanisms for POC, and recommending steps that could be taken to strengthen these mechanisms further;
  • An interactive graphic of the accountability mechanisms that can be or have been used to ensure accountability for the implementation of POC mandates by peacekeeping operations, with detailed fact sheets on each of these; and
  • Case studies on how UN accountability tools have—or have not—been used in response to specific POC incidents in four different UN peacekeeping missions.

Collectively, these tools point to the need for a culture of active accountability for all actors, based on a shared willingness and commitment to assume responsibility and be answerable for the effective delivery of protection mandates. Toward this end, the policy paper offers the following recommendations:

  • Working toward a more cohesive accountability structure by streamlining processes, improving coordination between accountability structures, broadening the scope of accountability tools to include all POC stakeholders, enhancing planning for POC, and tracking POC responses.
  • Strengthening independent, dedicated, and transparent accountability tools by using more independent investigative teams, strengthening the role of the Office for Peacekeeping Strategic Partnership, providing dedicated resources for POC accountability, and striking a balance between transparency and politics.
  • Enforcing consequences by following up on shortcomings in performance and considering POC in the force generation and selection processes, as well as going beyond punitive measures by developing incentives.
Detailed Factsheets for Selected Mechanisms (Click on each mechanism below for their detailed factsheet – desktop only)

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Parallel Tracks or Connected Pieces?: UN Peace Operations, Local Mediation, and Peace Processes

Thu, 12/10/2020 - 18:30

Track-1 mediation processes have increasingly struggled to deliver comprehensive peace agreements that address fragmented conflict dynamics and include local communities’ needs. As a result, local mediation has increasingly been a focus for the UN, including for UN peace operations. UN peace operations can play an important role in supporting local mediation initiatives, whether these initiatives are separate from, complementary to, or integrated into national processes.

This paper considers how local mediation fits into the broader political strategies of UN peace operations. Building on a series of country case studies published by IPI and the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs’ Mediation Support Unit, it provides preliminary answers to whether, when, where, and how the UN can engage in local mediation efforts. It explores what capacities the UN would need to increase its engagement in local mediation, what role it can play, and how it could better configure itself and engage in partnerships.

While this paper does not advocate for UN peace operations to engage more or less in local mediation processes, it concludes that missions ought to assess whether, when, and how short-term investments in local mediation can contribute to longer-term, sustainable conflict resolution. In each case, they should tailor their role based on informed strategic decisions and appropriate partnerships and as part of a broader effort to strengthen and foster greater coherence in national peace processes.


The Future of UN Peacekeeping

Wed, 12/09/2020 - 16:15
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On December 9th, IPI together with the UN Department of Peace Operations cohosted a virtual event on “The Future of UN Peacekeeping.”

The panel event was part of a wider process led by the UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO) to anticipate changes, considered emerging strategic trends and possible future scenarios and their potential implications for UN peace operations.

Over the coming decade, existing and emerging trends are likely to continue and deepen. How should the UN prepare and adapt peace operations for these challenges to international peace and security? Geopolitical competition will have consequences for how the UN responds, and under what circumstances. Changes in prevailing conflict dynamics may further strain established UN tools, while also necessitating new approaches. Global economic downturn in the wake of Covid-19 is likely to have consequences for peace and stability and the financial wherewithal of the UN to respond. Meanwhile, climate change, disease, migration, and new technologies will shape the international peace and security challenges of the next decade—and the types of responses that will be required.

The discussion also reflected on how the UN should adapt its policies, practices, skills, and capabilities in order to continue to make an effective operational contribution to peace and security.

Ms. Rania Dagash, Chief, Policy and Best Practices Service, UN Department of Peace Operations
Dr. Paul Williams, Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, John C. Whitehead Visiting Fellow in International Diplomacy in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, and Senior Fellow, UN Foundation
Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Distinguished Fellow, Brookings Institution
Ms. Laetitia Courtois, Permanent Observer to the UN & Head of Delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross

Mr. Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs

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Prioritizing and Sequencing Peacekeeping Mandates in 2020: The Case of MONUSCO

Mon, 12/07/2020 - 19:03

The UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in December 2020. This comes as the UN begins to consider the eventual withdrawal of the mission. In October, the mission and the Congolese government submitted a “Joint Strategy on the Progressive and Phased Drawdown of MONUSCO” to the Security Council.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report organized a workshop on November 12, 2020, to discuss the mandate and political strategy of MONUSCO. This workshop provided a forum for member states, UN stakeholders, and outside experts to share their assessment of the situation in the country. The discussion was intended to help the Security Council make more informed decisions with respect to the strategic orientation, prioritization, and sequencing of the mission’s mandate and actions on the ground.

There was strong agreement that the mission’s existing strategic priorities—the protection of civilians and support to stabilization and the strengthening of state institutions—should continue to provide an overarching framework for the UN’s engagement across the country. In addition, participants expressed the importance of focused engagement with local actors, including local government officials and civil society representatives. Participants also encouraged the UN to develop a transition plan that lays out a shared political vision for the future of the UN’s engagement in the country. They discussed the transition in terms of defining an “end state” rather than an “end date,” with a gradual drawdown that is based on realistic and measurable benchmarks, fosters national ownership, and ensures an integrated UN approach.


Revitalizing Efforts in Preventing Violent Extremism

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 20:11

Experts from Norway, Lebanon, and Egypt called for revitalized efforts to combat violent extremism in the current context of multilayered crises. The call was made during a webinar entitled “Countering Violent Extremism During Times of Crises,” hosted by IPI MENA on November 30th.

Moderating the panel, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji, pointed to recommendations from IPI’s key report, the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM), particularly the “need for concerted multilateral approaches in developing a new narrative to neutralize and dilute extremist ideologies.”

“Such narratives can be developed by a new task force or ad hoc committee comprising religious leaders, individuals from civil society and the private sector, and, above all, youth actors from around the globe,” he stressed.

In her opening remarks, IPI MENA Research Intern Eliza Cheah reiterated the crucial role of education, the need to leverage the use of new and traditional media, as well as the inclusion of youth and women in tackling violent extremism. She said that we “as a global community, must take a dynamic and multilateral approach that matches the fluidity of extremism. An approach that involves the whole of societies, in order to counter and ultimately prevent violent extremism.”

Professor Fadi Daou (Lebanon), Chairperson and CEO of Adyan (Religions) Foundation, underlined his entity’s “theory of change” analysis as a method that informs on their practice and implementation of PCVE policies. “The best result is when you provide isolated individuals who are vulnerable to extremism, with the capacity to influence their societies, to become change-makers,” he stated, while highlighting the impact of the ongoing global public health crisis on vulnerable communities and the new types of challenges that actors across all levels are facing.

Dr. Cathrine Thorleifsson, (Norway), Researcher at the Centre for Research on Extremism, University of Oslo, pointed to the role of digital subcultures in driving the new pattern of right-wing extremism, which has gradually increased on the global level. She highlighted the challenges governments face when forming policies to counter anonymous, leaderless, and transnational movements in the online realm. “In the next 10 years, we will see much more cyber-governance incorporated between states and tech companies in the online space,” Dr. Thorleifsson projected.

Ms. May Salem, (Egypt) Program Manager at Cairo Regional Center for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa, elaborated on how COVID-19 has affected global terrorism trends, and how these trends have been manifesting in the African context. She provided case studies of the different approaches taken by terrorist groups toward the pandemic. “It is imperative to invest in prevention [of violent extremism] and shift toward a resilience paradigm,” she stressed.

IPI MENA Policy Analyst, Ms. Dalya Al Alawi emphasized the need to incorporate, build, and reinforce gendered frameworks towards the development of any PCVE strategies and policies. “Frameworks can be created for collaboration between civil society, national and international NGOs that link to good practices led by women and women’s organizations at the local level,” she stated. She pointed to several grass-root women-led interfaith organizations that target radicalized youth through religion and education as key examples of women’s vital roles in building communities’ resilience against extremism.

IPI MENA Director Calls on Muslim Youth to Tackle Intolerance & Discrimination

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 18:05

From left: Mr. Nejib Friji, IPI MENA Director, Ms. Saibatu Mansaray, Former US Assistant Director for Public Health with Ms. Amel Ouchenane (moderator).

During a webinar hosted by the Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum (ICYF) on November 25th, an international organization affiliated to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji called for greater preventive approaches and measures to build community resilience to intolerance, religious discrimination and hate speech.

Addressing an audience comprising of over 100 youth from 52 countries at the ICYF’s Youth Council of Foreign Ministers 2020 Virtual Summit’s fourth session, entitled “Islamic Committee for Economic, Cultural & Social Affairs: Islamophobia, Minorities Rights, Social Advocacy,” Mr. Friji stressed the importance of engaging in intergenerational dialogue with the youth on such issues as the key stakeholders of our collective futures.

“Instead of reactive strategies, it is our responsibility to support proactive preventive measures for a future that encompasses tolerance, sustainability, and peace,” he stressed. He emphasized the role of education in equipping the youth with the skills and values needed to foster a sense of global citizenship, universal principles of responsibility, accountability, and cultural understanding to counter negative misconceptions and combat prejudices and hate speech.

Emphasizing that freedom of expression should not lead to tolerating hate speech or exclusionism, he pointed to public policies as key in this respect. “Government-led initiatives must use a succinct language of tolerance and respect that avoids ‘othering’ of any community,” he stated.

He also referred to the media’s influential reach and capacity as a tool to aid social advocacy in tackling cyberbullying, hate speech, and prejudices.

“Media is an integral part of the lives of entire family units, but particularly for youths today,” he stated. “They are the generation who grew up alongside the digital era. Cultural and creative communities must use this space wisely to explore a culture of peace and tolerance within future generations.”

Parallel to education and social media as preventive tools to counter discrimination are religious leaders, civil society, and communities. Mr. Friji stressed the need to engage in productive dialogue with religious and community leaders in their capacity to build awareness, tolerance, and cooperation within their societies.

“The global community holds the tools necessary to foster tolerance and sow the seeds of a culture of peace,” he concluded. “We must all lead by example. This can only be achieved through multilateral effort and cooperation to emerge stronger as a global community that is well poised to achieve durable peace and sustainable development.”

Panelist Ms. Saibatu Mansaray, former US Assistant Director for Public Health, also encouraged youth to engage in mutual respect and understanding to ensure cooperation between all societies and communities.

“We must promote the knowledge of different minorities, cultures, and their languages,” she stressed. “Protected rights of minorities can promote an inclusive, peaceful, and cohesive society which is vital to security, sustainable development, and peace.”

She called for greater interfaith etiquette, religious competence, and tolerance, particularly during times of crises and upheaval, to prevent misconceptions and judgments, along with increased participation of women.

“Women, you have a voice and we need to hear it,” she stressed. “You have a seat at the table, do not wait for an invitation.”

She concluded by emphasizing that all youth have a role to play in improving their societies, communities, and countries. “You are leading the charge on change. If we don’t improve our countries and communities, who will?”

The panel was followed by a question and answer session with youth participants from Pakistan, Nigeria, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Liberia, and other countries on the importance of being an agent of change to tackle discrimination and ensuring that peace becomes a global priority.

Community Engagement in UN Peacekeeping Operations: A People-Centered Approach to Protecting Civilians

Tue, 11/24/2020 - 17:08

As the practice of the protection of civilians (POC) has evolved in peacekeeping missions, the UN has increasingly focused on “people-centered” approaches. As a result, community engagement has emerged as a core component of POC efforts. By engaging with communities, missions can build trust, gather information, and build a protective environment, ultimately improving their ability to protect civilians.

This paper examines the positive implications and impact of this increased focus on community engagement, as well as the challenges and risks it can pose for communities and missions. It analyzes the community engagement activities of the military, police, and civilian components of the UN missions in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, and South Sudan. The paper concludes with recommendations for these four missions, the UN Secretariat, and UN member states on the Security Council:

  • UN member states should continue to refine the language on community engagement in peacekeeping mandates.
  • The UN Secretariat should develop more in-depth modules on community engagement in relevant training materials.
  • Relevant UN stakeholders should explore how missions’ military personnel can improve their community engagement.
  • The UN Secretariat and missions should optimize their use of community liaison assistants.
  • The UN Department of Peace Operations should continue to explore where the unarmed civilian protection methodology could complement community engagement by UN missions.


IPI MENA Hosts Korean Ambassador on Sustainable Development & Peace

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 21:33

Event Video: 

On November 23rd, IPI MENA hosted Hae-Kwan Chung, Ambassador of Korea to Bahrain, in an online event entitled “Korean Economic Development: Speedy & Sustainable.”

During the presentation, which was moderated by IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji, Ambassador Chung first presented the historical context of Korea’s economic ruin and reliance on foreign aid following its liberation from Japanese occupation, the advent of the Korean War, the People’s Revolution, and the multiple military coups.

“The government’s analyses into the causes of economic crises highlighted the areas for change,” Mr. Chung reflected, noting that the change in policy paradigms from a government-led economy to one that embraced “liberalization, market-orientation, stabilization” was key to Korea’s economic growth and resilience to this day.

He pointed to four key factors—state-led development plans; export and large companies-oriented policies; investment in human resources; and a strong work ethic— as well as four sustainable and inclusive growth policies—rural development, social welfare, education, science and technology investment— as the foundations of Korea’s economic growth, and ability to overcome the economic crises.

The presentation was followed by a question and answer session with government officials, diplomats, representatives of civil society, the private sector, and media.

Mr. Abdulnabi Alshoala, Chairman of Al Fanar Investment Holding, praised Korea’s short and exemplary journey to becoming a global economic powerhouse, in comparison to many developed countries in the West that have taken much longer. He also noted the role that the educational system has played, and highlighted it as an area for countries in the region to look into through further bilateral exchanges.

Mr. Ahmed Jawahery, Chairman of Middle East Trading & Engineering, suggested ways to enhance bilateral cooperation between Bahrain and Korea.

Mrs. Margaret Nardi, US Charge D’Affaires to Bahrain, drew parallels between Korea’s journey towards economic development and Bahrain’s current plan, noting that there are possible silver linings to the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. She pointed to state-led diversification programs in Bahrain as a positive first step in concerted efforts to be taken by both the government and the people.

Mr. Ebrahim K. Ebrahim, founder of Fintech Robos, underlined the need for increased exchange of business delegations and beyond, to Korea and vice versa, in order to learn and gain experiences.

Bangladesh Ambassador H.E. Dr. Muhammed Nazrul Islam suggested further collaborations with other ambassadors to encourage the sharing of knowledge, practices, and experiences, noting that “economic prosperity and peace go hand in hand.” He commended IPI MENA for organizing such a platform.

Mr. Friji closed the session by posing the age-old question of “how does South Korea view an end to the conflict with North Korea and hopefully a reunify the Korean Peninsula?”, to which Mr. Chung responded that reunification is long overdue, and confirmed Korea’s position of willingness and commitment to develop peace through dialogue.

The event was part of IPI MENA’s Ambassadorial Conferences Series.

In attendance were:

Egyptian Ambassador H.E. Yasser Shaban
German Ambassador H.E. Kai Boeckmann
Indonesian Ambassador H.E. Nur Rahardjo
Moroccan Ambassador H.E. Mostafa Benkhayi
Nepal Ambassador H.E. Padam Sundas
Tunisian Ambassador H.E. Mr. Salim Ghariani
Turkish Ambassador H.E. Kemal Demirciler;
Yemen Ambassador H.E. Ali Hassan Al Ahmadi
Dutch Honorary Consul H.E. Mrs. Zeenat Dawani
UAE Second Secretary Mrs. Noof Al Mubarak
Indonesian Embassy’s Economic Affairs Officer Ms. Alia Filtrate
Sudan Embassy; Shura Council (Senate) First Vice-Chairman
H.E. Jamal Fakhro; Shura Council Member
Dr. Mohamed Al Khuzaii;
Supreme Council for Women (SCW) Head of Department of Domestic & International Cooperation, Ms. Noura Abdulaziz Al-Rifai
SCW International Cooperation Specialist, Sheikha Zain Bint Hamad Al Khalifa
GPIC Chairman Dr. Abdulrahman Al Jawahery
Bin Juma Chairman, Mr. Abdulla Juma;
Tricom Group Chairman & CEO Mr. Tareq Wafa
Al Ansari Group Chairman Mr. Jaleel Al Ansari
Gulf Daily News Business Editor, Avinash Saxena


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