Three years since the UN Secretary-General launched his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative to strengthen peacekeeping operations internationally there has been “significant progress but the work is far from done” according to the world body’s the peacekeeping chief.
At an event to take stock of progress to date, identify gaps and look ahead for A4P, Jean-Pierre Lacroix acknowledged the bravery and dedication of UN blue helmets serving “in some of the most challenging places in the world”. He detailed accomplishments including electoral assistance in the Central African Republic (CAR) and reducing violence in South Sudan.
Despite “saving lives, protecting people and helping build peace”, he pointed out “significant challenges to peacekeeping remain, even as new ones confront us”.
Lacroix introduced “A4P plus”, the next phase of the initiative to drive progress across the “Declaration of Shared Commitments, highlighting seven new “highest priority” areas, beginning with encouraging collective coherence:
“UN peacekeeping missions must adhere internally to a common strategy and use our unique convening power to bring together partners to bring our collective resources to bear”, he said.
The next two priorities call for enhanced integrated planning to achieve greater impact and ensure peacekeeping missions have the right “capabilities and mindsets”.
Underscoring the fourth priority of “delivering accountability” for peacekeepers, the UN official highlighted the need for greater troop protection, citing recent attacks against blue helmets in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali.
“Holding perpetrators of crimes against peacekeepers accountable must be a priority,” he said.
Attention must also be paid to behaviour in terms of improving accountability for conduct and discipline while recognisng good performance, he said.
“We will further enhance accountability focussing on prevention, enforcement and remedial action. We must strengthen response to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse,” he said.
Lacroix stressed strategic communications must be a shared responsibility in missions and leadership.
“We need to better integrate data and insights from strategic communications into planning cycles and reputational risk management efforts”, he said.
As his final point, Lacrois chief emphasised “constructive engagement and co-operation” with host countries will remain “at the core of efforts” to increase peacekeepers’ safety and security, bolster performance and support successful transitions.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call to action for “accelerated implementation of the women, peace and security agenda in peacekeeping to help de-escalate disputes, prevent conflicts and promote sustainable and inclusive peace”, will be integrated into these priorities.
Boosting situational awareness, including early warning and prevention efforts will see moves to data-driven and technology-enabled peacekeeping.