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Promoting the prevention and settlement of conflicts
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Protection, Justice, and Accountability: Cooperation between the International Criminal Court and UN Peacekeeping Operations

Mon, 05/03/2021 - 21:59

Most countries that host UN peacekeeping operations face an impunity gap. Their national courts often lack the capacity to prosecute international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and grave violations of human rights. As a result, special or hybrid courts and international courts, like the International Criminal Court (ICC), often have to step in. In such contexts, some UN peacekeeping operations have been mandated by the UN Security Council to support justice, fight impunity, and pursue accountability, mainly in support of national justice mechanisms.

This issue brief focuses on cooperation between UN peacekeeping missions and the ICC. After discussing the impunity gap when it comes to international criminal justice, it outlines frameworks that provide a foundation for cooperation between the ICC and the Security Council. It then explores the benefits of cooperation and the political barriers and conflict dynamics that have prevented UN peacekeeping operations from fully assisting the ICC.

The paper concludes by considering how the protection of civilians (POC)—particularly the establishment of a protective environment—could provide opportunities for cooperation between peacekeeping operations and the ICC in pursuit of a more coherent approach to international justice. Given that international justice reinforces protection mandates, POC could serve as a guiding principle for peace operations’ future support to international criminal justice. By reflecting and building on best practices and lessons learned from previous challenges, peacekeeping operations can more effectively pursue international justice and ensure the sustainability of their protection efforts.

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Transitions from UN Special Political Missions to UN Country Teams

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 18:46

The UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) currently manages twenty-five special political missions (SPMs) that have a field presence. Nonetheless, research and guidance on UN transitions has mainly focused on peacekeeping operations. This paper takes a first step toward filling that gap by exploring transitions from SPMs to UN country teams (UNCTs).

Focusing on the programmatic and political aspects of transitions, this paper explores the particular challenges of transitioning from an SPM to a UNCT by studying the closure of four missions: the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) in 2011, the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) in 2014, the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) in 2014, and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) in 2020. After presenting the main characteristics of SPMs, it discusses some of the challenges and characteristics of SPM transitions based on the four case studies.

These four case studies show that the drawdown of special political missions with a field presence shares several features with the drawdown of peacekeeping missions, but some aspects are specific to SPMs. In the coming years, the UN will need to develop a more comprehensive picture of the key elements to take into consideration during SPMs’ lifecycles and transitions, as well as specific guidance on the transition of SPMs. This could help the UN deliver a “continuum of responses and smoother transitions” while supporting national priorities.

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Interfaith Leaders Reaffirm Commitment to Peace and Sustainable Development

Tue, 04/27/2021 - 21:15

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A collection of interfaith leaders convened by IPI MENA came together on April 27th to reaffirm their commitments to promoting peace, dialogue, and sustainable development.

During the interventions, French Ambassador Jerome Cauchard emphasized how good education is a prerequisite for the new generations, wherein empathy and the ability to mutually respect and understand each other can lead to peace.

In reference to the increasing number of violent and hate crimes in the United States, US Charge d’Affaires Margaret Nardi reminded the audience of the importance of the diplomatic corps in that, similar to religion, “embassies try to create relations on a personal level, meet them as a person and see their humanity,” which has become particularly important this year during the pandemic.

German Ambassador Kai Boeckmann drew attention to the German Task Force on Religions of Peace that was established in 2016. Ambassador Boeckmann noted the common objective between interfaith leaders and diplomats to “build trust, protect the weak, and strive for stability.”

Mounir Bouchenaki, Advisor to Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), advanced UNESCO’s message on the culture of peace; “through knowing cultural heritage, through education, appreciation of the other, and knowing the other that we can avoid the unfortunate situations of terrorism and massacres of people.”

IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji opened the webinar, “Interfaith Dialogue: Solidarity for Peace,” by paying homage to Stephanie M., a French police officer and the latest victim of violent extremism in the name of religion. Following a moment of prayer and meditation for all victims, Mr. Friji strongly condemned any acts of violent extremism in the name of religion committed by individuals, groups, or states and called for greater solidarity, partnership, and cooperation at all levels through a “message of tolerance, mutual respect, and peace.”

Addressing interfaith leaders of Baha’i, Jewish, Christian, Islam, and Hindu denominations, Reverend Hani Aziz, President of the White Flags Association, Pastor of the National Evangelical Church, and co-organizer of the webinar, reminded the audience that the “true enemy is ignorance and intolerance.”

Pujya Brahmavihari Swami, Religious Leader & International Spokesperson of BAPS Hindu Mandir addressed the audience from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. His message of peace highlighted the “beauty in diversity,” drawing on the links between faith, science, and sustainable peace.

In light of the numerous religious celebrations that coincide with the Spring season, Ms. Tahera Jaberi, Representative of the Baha’i Faith, noted the celebration of Nowruz, Baha’i New Year, is “a time for renewal and reawakening,” not just in the physical world, but the spiritual one, too. “Religion can be seen as a system of knowledge and practice that offers insights and values that can help societies advance.”

Pastor Job Nelson of Bethel Church of Nations in Bahrain, also shared how the celebration of Easter symbolized a season of hope and coexistence, serving as a time for endurance, resurrection, and restoration.

Dr. Abdulla Ahmed Al Maqabi, Law Courts Directorate, Ministry of Justice & Islamic Affairs, echoed the message that all religions carry the message of peace. “We are one about peace, we are one for peace, we are one for everything about peace,” he said.

Mr. Ebrahim Nonoo, Representative of the Jewish Community and President of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities, followed suit by identifying the core message of all holy books as underlining the workings of all societies, “the glue of respect for each other and the acceptance of all religions.”

Chaplain Aaron Carlton, US Naval Forces Central Command, Fifth Fleet Chaplain, expressed his purpose and intent to promote peace, understanding, and dialogue while Pastor Blaine Newhouse, National Evangelical Church, shared his commitment to working toward justice, reconciliation, and peace through faith with those who are likeminded.

Following the interfaith interventions, the virtual floor was opened to a large audience comprising of diplomatic corps, private sector, and media.

IPI Chair Briefs UNSC on Protecting Vital Infrastructure, Natural Environment

Tue, 04/27/2021 - 19:11

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On April 27th, IPI Chair Kevin Rudd briefed the UN Security Council Open Debate on the “Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population,” convened by Vietnam.

In his remarks, Mr. Rudd cites examples of attacks against vital human infrastructure and the natural environment—something that is prohibited by international law—and then lays out what more can be done to prevent such attacks.

Said Mr. Rudd: “The UN Security Council, and its members, must take the lead in respecting and ensuring respect for international humanitarian law, including in upholding their obligation to protect objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. This is the bare minimum yet would yield the maximum results for the protection of essential infrastructure and for mitigating humanitarian and development impacts in the long run.”

SDG Zero? A People-Centered Approach to Universal Connectivity

Mon, 04/26/2021 - 16:39

As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on digital technologies, it has highlighted the growing digital divide between and within societies. Universal access to the digital world has become more urgent than ever, and failure to achieve it could undermine progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. While closing the digital divide and increasing connectivity are among the UN secretary-general’s priorities for 2021, this goal remains elusive and faces many obstacles.

This paper, based on a series of three roundtables convened by IPI, together with Microsoft, in March and April 2021, identifies some of these obstacles to universal connectivity and considers how they can be overcome. It looks in particular at the human rights risks of rushing to close the digital divide. Ultimately, it concludes that achieving meaningful and sustainable progress toward digital inclusion requires all actors to commit to working through a multi-stakeholder platform.

In a spirit of collaboration and to stimulate further dialogue, the paper puts forward the following recommendations:

  • Expand the definition of universal connectivity;
  • Tie digital inclusion to the 2030 Agenda;
  • Ensure that the roll-out of universal connectivity is benevolent;
  • Support context-specific national and local strategies;
  • Develop new financing models such as sovereign guarantees or digital bonds;
  • Build a common understanding of connectivity and digital inclusion;
  • Build confidence among different actors; and
  • Give the UN a leadership role.

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Moving Away from Rhetoric: How to Systemically Include Youth in Peace and Climate Action

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 16:15
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IPI and the Global Challenges Foundation cohosted a virtual policy forum on April 20th that focused on the synergies and connections between the youth, peace, and security (YPS), and climate action agendas, including how to ensure more meaningful engagement with youth leaders across the world on peace and climate governance. It also launched an issue brief on this topic.

Youth have emerged as a powerful voice in the fight against climate change, demanding transformative change to safeguard the planet. Many youth-led organizations from around the world are also engaged in initiatives to build peace and prevent violence in their communities. Youth movements are increasingly calling for their voices to be heard and for policymakers to include them in decision-making processes at the local, national, and global levels.

The following questions guided the discussion:

  • Using the YPS and climate action agendas as leading examples of youth engagement, how can youth be more systematically engaged in decision-making processes at the local, national, and global levels?
  • 2021 is a pivotal year for renewing multilateralism. How can we use the alignment in the Security Council on climate change and the upcoming COP26 and Stockholm+50 Conference to transform governance structures that have excluded youth?
  • What do donors need to do differently for funding to be accessible to youth-led organizations?
  • How do we better engage youth as experts in building evidence, gathering data, and developing case studies on the synergies between peace and climate action?

This event brought together stakeholders from governments, the United Nations, and civil society, ensuring intergenerational and inclusive participation.

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Dr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, IPI President

Speakers:
H.E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King, Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the UN
H.E. Ms. Johanna Lissinger Peitz, Ambassador for Stockholm+50
Mr. Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Assistant Secretary-General for the Climate Action Team
Ms. Nisreen Elsaim, Chair of UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group and Chair of the Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change
Ms. Disha Sarkar, Ambassador for the International Youth Conference from India

Moderator:
Ms. Jimena Leiva Roesch, IPI Senior Fellow and Head of the Peace and Sustainable Development Program

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Youth Participation in Global Governance for Sustaining Peace and Climate Action

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 18:15

Youth movements have played an increasingly prominent role in calling for action to address climate change. Many youth-led organizations are also engaged in initiatives to build peace in their communities. In global policymaking fora, however, youth remain sidelined.

This issue brief outlines the synergies between the youth, peace, and security (YPS) and youth climate action agendas. It also examines the factors that contribute to young people’s exclusion from global governance, including negative misperceptions of youth, outdated policy frameworks, lack of funding, and weak links between youth and global governance fora.

The paper concludes with recommendations for governments and multilateral institutions to better assess the links between youth, peace, and climate change and include young people in decision-making processes. Recommendations include:

  • Bridging the gap between national governments and youth organizations;
  • Bridging the gap between global governance institutions and youth organizations;
  • Systematically putting youth on the agenda of intergovernmental fora and conferences;
  • Prioritizing YPS and youth climate action within the UN Secretariat;
  • Making funding mechanisms more accessible to youth organizations; and
  • Expanding the evidence base on the intersections between youth, climate change, and peace.

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MENA Water Challenges: An Opportunity for Regional Cooperation

Mon, 03/22/2021 - 20:31

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In a webinar organized on March 22, 2021 under the theme “MENA Water Challenges: An Opportunity for Regional Cooperation,” IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji underscored the need for a multi-layered, coherent and comprehensive approach to unleash the potential of water as a tool for regional integration and cooperation. The event coincided with World Water Day.

“Cooperation on water issues can lead to political processes enabling-cross border coordination which in turn diminishes tensions,” Mr. Friji said.

During his keynote address, Mr. Mahdi Al-Hamdani, the Iraqi Minister of Water Resources, acknowledged the growing challenges the region faces, citing population growth, urban expansion, and climate change in addition to security and political challenges, pointing to Iraq’s Tigris and Euphrates regions as examples. He called for unified awareness, cooperation and effective management of water resources at all levels of the multilateral system in order to achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals related to water.

Ms. Akissa Bahri, former Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, stressed that the MENA region’s strategy for water security should focus on “strengthening collaboration and integration” among countries in the region. She pointed to the North African aquifer system as an example of a sustainable, regional cooperative management system via Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia’s collective action in successfully garnering support and funding from international bodies.

Ms. Lena Salame, Conflict Management Specialist at Geneva Water Hub (GWH), poignantly reminded the audience that “unlike other resources, there is no alternative for water.” She said only through committing to the water agenda, might we “mobilize political will – it is the key ingredient to making the [UN’s humanitarian, peace, and sustainable development] agendas move forward.”

Mr. Waleed Zubari, Professor of Water Resources Management at Arabian Gulf University (AGU), raised the dilemma on the perception of water’s “value” in the Gulf region—one of the most water stressed subregions—where its value is often equated to price. The region’s reliance on desalination bears high costs on the financial, economic, and environmental fronts.

Mr. Maruan El-Krekshi, Head of MENA Department at Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) in Finland, shared his organization’s efforts in water diplomacy, particularly with regard to their conflict resolution activities. He highlighted the efficacy of using water as an entry point to convene relevant actors in the region to cooperate within and beyond the context of conflict in the region, drawing from CMI’s work in Libya since 2015.

German Ambassador to Bahrain, Kai Boeckmann announced Germany’s plans to join the Middle Eastern Desalination Research Center (MEDRC), and reiterated Germany’s intention to contribute to cooperation over water disputes in the region.

Among those who took part in the discussion were Raji Unnikrishnan from Bahrain daily newspaper, Gulf Daily News (GDN); Mr. Ebrahim Nonoo, President of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities; Ms. Arwa Kooli, journalist from Dar Assabah; and Joanna Meyer, a water advocate.

The event was hosted by the IPI MENA office. As a key instrument of peace, water remains at the top of IPI MENA’s Regional Integration project.

Bangladeshi Envoy Appeals for Lasting Solution to Rohingya Crisis

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 20:18

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Bangladesh Ambassador to Bahrain Dr. Md. Nazrul Islam, joined by speakers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), launched an urgent appeal to the international community for a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis, and urged the multilateral system to facilitate the voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the refugees back to Myanmar.

During an IPI MENA’s virtual Ambassadorial Conference Series on “The Culture of Peace and the Forcibly Displaced Rohingya People” on March 15, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji opened the event by stressing the importance of a culture of peace in areas such as the promotion of human rights, women and youth, economic integration and regional integration. “In a global environment that has seen heightened rhetoric of hate, intolerance and acts of violence, the practice of the culture of peace is especially pertinent,” he stated.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s policies to integrate and put to practice a culture of peace, Dr. Nazrul Islam emphasized that inclusive growth-led policies, namely empowering women, change lives through development. He pointed to Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, a woman at the helm of a Muslim-majority country, as a role model through her policies towards aiding the 1.2 million Rohingya refugees hosted in Bangladesh.

Dr. Nazrul Islam elaborated on Bangladesh’s efforts within the multilateral system to facilitate the voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the Rohingyas back to their homeland in Myanmar, stressing, “By ensuring justice and accountability, reaching the culture of peace becomes linked to eliminating the culture of impunity.”

A Senior Research Fellow at BIDS, discussant Dr. Nazneen Ahmed noted BIDS independence as a think-tank that conducts policy research on socio-economic development issues within Bangladesh. She acknowledged that while 20% of the country’s 160 million people still live under the poverty line, Bangladesh’s decision to invest in women and children’s education will decrease disparity, and put the country’s projected “developed” status by 2041 within reach.

She regretted Bangladesh’s limited resources and called for support from the international community, stating, “non-financial means of support such as regional integration agreements, are equally crucial to maintaining and achieving peace.”

Mr. Marghoob Saleem Butt, Executive Director of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), noted that Bangladesh, a member of the OIC since 1974 with a vast Muslim population, holds strong values in line with the culture of peace and underlined OIC’s similar commitments to advocating human rights and peace.

Mr. Butt stated that “adopting a Culture of Peace, starting with the overhaul of the education system and aligning policies within a human rights framework, are keys to successful development.” He stressed that an all-inclusive approach involving broader civil society and political leadership in Myanmar must pave the way for peaceful coexistence.

German Ambassador to Bahrain, Kai Boeckmann, questioned the role of the UN in enabling a voluntary, dignified, and safe return of the Rohingyas, to which Dr. Islam reiterated Bangladesh’s engagement with the relevant UN agencies, such as the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. Mr. Butt suggested the UN Security Council (UNSC) impose concrete measures to bring the refugees back through a phased program.

United States Charge D’Affaires to Bahrain, Margaret Nardi, expressed the US’ continued support to Bangladesh regarding the Rohingya crisis as a partner within the UNSC. She referred to US sanctions on Myanmar’s military officials and the freezing of over $1 billion in funds in the country as a means to put pressure towards a democratic process.

UN Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Advisor and Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), Mounir Bouchenaki expressed concern over the loss of cultural heritage, intangible and tangible, during times of crises to which Dr. Islam replied urging the international community’s support in initiating projects that will assess and take necessary steps to preserve cultural heritage at risk of being removed.

Indian Ambassador to Bahrain, Piyush Srivastava, commented on India’s shared interests of working with Bangladesh to resolve the crisis and expressed hope in the international community’s cooperation towards aiding the Rohingya people.

Moderating the panel, Mr. Friji pointed to the recent concerns regarding Bangladesh’s relocation of the Rohingyas to Bhasan Char island. Dr. Islam emphasized that the temporary facilities and measures were put in place after appropriate assessments of the island, assuring that no efforts are being spared to help protect the Rohingya, and pointed to Bangladesh’s recent vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 to the Rohingya refugees in his country.

Participants of the webinar included representatives of the diplomatic corps, government, civil society, private sector, as well as the media.

Strengthening Gender Equality: Inclusion and Meaningful Participation of Women in Building Peace

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 17:26
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On March 8th, International Women’s Day, IPI together with the Government of Sweden, cohosted a virtual interactive dialogue between civil society representatives and H.E. Ms. Ann Linde, Foreign Minister of Sweden and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, to discuss ways to ensure the inclusion and meaningful participation of women at all points before, during, and after conflict, as well as the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

This year, Sweden holds the Chair of the OSCE, with Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Ms. Ann Linde serving as Chairperson-in-Office. On Wednesday, March 10th, she will brief the UN Security Council on this year’s priorities. Upon taking office, the Foreign Minister noted that enhancing gender equality and promoting the WPS Agenda are key priorities of the Swedish Chair.

Ahead of the Security Council briefing, this dialogue provided the opportunity for women peacebuilders and activists from the OSCE region to brief the OSCE Chair on the most pressing issues affecting WPS implementation in their respective contexts.

Welcome Remarks:
Dr. Adam Lupel, IPI Acting President & CEO
H.E. Ms. Ann Linde, Foreign Minister of Sweden
Ms. Liliana Palihovici, Special Representative of the OSCE to the Chairperson-in-Office on Gender
Ms. Heidi Meinzolt, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Civil Society Participants:
Ms. Tolekan Ismailova, NGO Birduino, Kyrgyzstan
Ms. Gulnara Shahinian, Democracy Today, Armenia
Ms. Julia Kharashvili, NGO IDP Women, Georgia
Ms. Maryna Korzh, Fem Group, Belarus
Ms. Nina Potarska, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Ukraine

Moderator:
Dr. Adam Lupel, IPI Acting President & CEO

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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.

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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

Speakers:
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)

Moderator:
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Speakers:
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”

Moderator:
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.

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