Mandates key to mission success – or failure


Mandates are fundamental to the success and failure of any peacekeeping mission, says Albert Gomes-Mugumya. Yet mandates have often not been clear, precise or flexible or based on realities on the ground.

Gomes-Mugumya from the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Uganda says United Nations mandates have in the past articulated complex and often disparate goals.

“For example, in the Balkans, the Vance plan was mandated to creating safe areas in Bosnia (Srebrenica) that were impossible to implement in the absence either of a broader political agreement or of adequate resources,” he says.

Mandates should “give unequivocal yet broad strategic guidance and clearly state the political objectives of the mission,” Gomes-Mugumya says.

The fuzziness of mandates are often only matched by the lack of resources allocated to missions. “Many peacekeeping operations have suffered from lack of financial resources, which have undermined their effectiveness and, at times, led to their failure,” he adds.

Missions further suffer from inappropriate staffing. Not only are many missions deficient of key personnel, such as explosive ordnance disposal staff, but those who are volunteered by UN and African Union member states may be poorly trained and inadequately equipped – even lacking proper uniforms, “which is important in getting respect from the local population”.

Gomes-Mugumya laments that most contingents are not self-sustaining, many lack sufficient logistical and integral transport support, and frequently require outside material and financial support from stakeholders and bilateral partners to sustain their operations.

This is not good enough.