Accra to host seminal UN 2023 peacekeeping event

343

Preparatory meetings have and will be still take place ahead of what is billed as the seminal event of the year for United Nations (UN) peacekeeping.

Set down for Accra in Ghana on 5 and 6 December, the 2023 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial will focus on achieving concrete outcomes to improve peacekeeping operations in line with ongoing reform efforts, in particular the world body’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P), A4P+ and its digital transformation strategy.

Building on the success of previous peacekeeping ministerials and taking into account the evolving context in which peacekeeping operates, the objective of this year’s event is to strengthen UN peacekeeping in two ways. The first is generation of high performing and specialised capabilities as well as other pledges to meet UN needs and new or expanded, sustainable capacity building, training and equipping partnerships in key areas.

A UN note has it: “In consideration of challenges facing UN peacekeepers and peacekeeping missions, the 2023 Ministerial will specifically focus on protection of civilians, strategic communications (including mis- and disinformation and hate speech), safety and security, peacekeepers’ mental health and women in peacekeeping”.

“Peacekeeping,” it continues, “is a powerful demonstration of multilateral co-operation and effective partnership. As such, achieving progress in these areas will require creating new and deepening existing bilateral and triangular partnerships. This includes conduct, discipline and environmental sustainability where partnerships already have a positive impact”.

“Protecting civilians is a priority mandate task of the largest peacekeeping missions and involves all mission components. Effective protection is vital to building trust and the legitimacy of UN peacekeeping. It requires capabilities with the right mind set, training and equipment, including increased mobility and more effective early warning and response. There will also be a strong emphasis on the primary responsibility of the host State for the protection of civilians.”

On mis- and disinformation, the note reads: “Efforts to strengthen strategic communications and to address them have a direct impact on the safety and security of UN peacekeepers”.

“Peacekeepers are deployed in deteriorating and complex political and security environments, face asymmetrical threats an increasingly become targets. By improving the safety and security of peacekeepers, those men and women will be better positioned to deliver on their mandates, including protection of civilians.

“This requires the continued adaptation of missions’ capabilities and capacities, including leveraging technology and mitigating and countering the threat of IEDs.

“Extended deployment in harsh, remote and insecure environments puts an enormous strain on the mental health of peacekeepers. Enhancing support to their mental health is long overdue and will be an important focus of the Ministerial, building on efforts to develop a mental health strategy for uniformed peacekeepers and other initiatives. Many troop and police-contributing countries lack capacity to provide adequate mental health support before, during and after deployments, making this an important area for capacity building partnerships.”

Two preparatory meetings – one on women in peacekeeping and the other on mental health support for uniformed personnel have taken place with another two to come. Safety and security come under the microscope in Islamabad later this month (30 and 31 August) with protection of civilians and strategic communications in Kigali on 23 and 24 October the final one before the December Ministerial.