UN on keeping peacekeeping missions fit for purpose

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Over the next 10 years, the world could be transformed by potentially lethal new technologies, climate disruptions and disruption caused by expanding cities, the UN peacekeeping chief told the Security Council when he outlined adaptations needed to keep the world body’s flagship enterprise fit-for-purpose in confronting new security threats.

“We count on your support, as Council members, as well as other peacekeeping partners to strengthen our operations through Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) – and beyond”, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said referring to the 2018 initiative to streamline peace mission mandates.

Delivering his annual briefing, he said the declaration of shared commitments adopted by member states, the Secretariat and international and regional partners is basic to confronting new security threats

All involved must build on progress made and shift into a second phase of A4P implementation, he said.   For the next phase – in 2021 and beyond – the peace operations department is drawing on analyses of persistent challenges and needs facing operations, pushing to complete tasks pending from the first phase.

It is defining a limited number of global priorities for each A4P thematic area, which will provide strategic direction for reform efforts – for the UN system, as well as member states and other partners.

Laying out eight cross-cutting issues, he called first for ensuring all actions are coherent with – and contribute to – overarching political strategies advancing “positive” peace.

“Aiming for short-term stability is not enough,” he said.  Missions need to link particular mandate areas – whether protection of civilians or institution-building – back to politics.

The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the widespread nature of inequality, he said.  Operations will need more substantive strategic integration with development and peacebuilding partners, on an ongoing basis.  It will also be important to deepen integration in operations – among civilian and uniformed components – as well as with UN country teams.

In addition, focus will be maintained on enhancing mission and headquarters performance and accountability, he said, through regular evaluations and policy frameworks. Improving the safety and security of peacekeepers is essential and the Department will continue the shift towards more agile operations, with improved situational awareness.

He also recommended strengthening the Department’s strategic guidance and planning capacities by developing clear objectives known to all, strengthening efforts to achieve a more robust and agile posture – including using new technologies – and applying a gender perspective across all work.

“Gender is not only about numbers. It is about meaningful consideration of gender differentiated impacts of our work and what we hope to achieve,” Lacroix said.

Describing broad areas where gains have been made, the peacekeeping chief highlighted political efforts in Sudan, where initialling of a peace accord between the Transitional Government and Darfur armed groups was facilitated by the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

In the area of women, peace and security, he said the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNFIL) worked with women’s groups and government to develop the first national action plan on Resolution 1325), an example of expanded political space for women’s participation.

In terms of protection, he said the four large multi-dimensional missions conducted major force transformations to shift posture and presence, strengthen strategic flexibility and operational adaptation.

The upcoming 2021 Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting in Seoul will be another opportunity to contribute, he said.  As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, the need to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” remains as imperative as ever.

“It is only through strengthened joint and collective international action and solidarity we can ensure progress continues to be made in the right direction”, he said.