UN plans to reduce peacekeeper deaths


Last year saw the highest number of peacekeeper fatalities through violent acts in over two decades, with 56 peacekeepers killed.

In an effort to reverse this trend and improve the safety and security of UN peacekeepers, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in November appointed a retired Brazilian lieutenant general to carry out an in-depth review of peacekeeping fatalities and injuries due to hostile acts.

Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz’ report aims to identify why the UN had so many casualties caused by acts of violence in recent years and what should be done to reduce them.

In the course of the review for the report, the team visited UN peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Mali and South Sudan, accessed internal UN data and conducted 160 interviews.

The report does not address mandates and confines its conclusions to operational issues in MINUSMA, MONUSCO, MINUSCA, UNAMID and UNMISS.

The report, already submitted to the Secretary-General, states the influx of armed groups, extremists, organised crime and other criminal elements and threats has created a situation where the UN flag no longer offers “natural” protection to peacekeepers.

The review team identified four broad areas where the UN and member states must take action to reduce fatalities.

These include changing mindsets so personnel are aware of risks and empowered to take the initiative to deter, prevent and respond to attacks; improving capacities so that mission and personnel are equipped and trained to operate in high threat environments; achieving a “threat sensitive mission footprint” aligned with mission mandates and limiting exposure of the mission to threat; and enhancing accountability to ensure those able to take action to prevent fatalities and injuries live up to their responsibilities.

Following the submission of the report, the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support (DPKO-DFS) developed an action plan to implement its recommendations.

The action plan focuses on operational behaviour and mindset; capacity building and readiness and support issues.

It includes immediate headquarters and field-level actions, as well as concerted political engagement with member states – including troop- and police-contributing countries (T/PCCs) and legislative bodies- as regards performance and force/police generation, among other initiatives.

DPKO-DFS established an implementation support team led by two senior officials to co-ordinate and monitor implementation of the measures at headquarters and provide support to field missions.

MINUSMA, MONUSCO, MINUSCA, UNAMID and UNMISS all set up action plans and appointed teams to implement them.