Gearing up for seminal UN Peacekeeping Ministerial conference

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Rwanda this week hosted a preparatory conference for this year’s United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Ministerial.

The UN Ministerial event is set for Accra in Ghana on 5 and 6 December and will, among others, focus on concrete outcomes to improve peacekeeping operations in line with ongoing reform efforts. These relate, in particular, to the world body’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P), A4P+ and its digital transformation strategy.

In addition to high-level Rwandan delegates including Defence Minister Juvenal Marizamunda, the preparatory conference in Kigali was attended by senior representative from Indonesia, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The Rwandan defence minister told delegates the timing of the UN peacekeeping ministerial was appropriate as peacekeeping missions worldwide faced “serious challenges”.

“The challenges are acute with respect to the core task of protecting civilians in a context where disinformation, misinformation and hate speech are propagated faster than ever through social media platforms.

“One must also highlight that challenges to multi-dimensional peacekeeping missions are increasing with the proliferation of armed groups, many acting as peace spoilers, living off war economies, bent on sexual violence, organised crime, drug trafficking, etc. No single peacekeeping mission is free from these threats,” he said.

An issue affecting all peacekeeping missions, the Rwanda Ministry of Defence (MoD) reports him as saying, is “managing the legitimate expectations of local populations”. He wants to see “the international community use technology more effectively to counter false messages and deconstruct false narratives to shape domestic and international perception about UN missions”.

The UN peacekeeping ministerial is billed as “the seminal high-level event”. Held every two years it sees defence and foreign ministers, not only from troop contributing countries (TCCs) to UN peacekeeping missions, attend alongside the top men and women in the UN Department of Peacekeeping.