UN peacekeeping chief outlines reforms needed to keep operations fit-for-purpose

14 September 2020

Over the next 10 years, the world could well be transformed by potentially lethal new technologies, climate disruptions and disruption caused by expanding cities, the UN peacekeeping chief told the Security Council on Monday, outlining the adaptations required to keep the Organization’s flagship enterprise fit-for-purpose as it confronts daunting new security threats.

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

Continued engagement

Delivering his annual briefing, he said the Declaration of Shared Commitments – adopted by Member States, the Secretariat and international and regional partners – is the cornerstone of such work.  “Our continued engagement for the implementation of these commitments remains indispensable”, he stressed.

All those involved must build on the progress made and shift into a second phase of A4P implementation, he said.  The Secretariat has begun crafting overarching priorities.  For the next phase - in 2021 and beyond – the Department is drawing on analyses of the persistent challenges and needs facing its operations, pushing to complete tasks pending from the first phase.

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

Priority areas

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

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

Indeed, the pandemic has laid bare the widespread nature of inequality, he said.  Operations will need more substantive strategic integration with development and peacebuilding actors, on an ongoing basis.  It will likewise be important to deepen integration within operations - among civilian and uniformed components - as well as with the 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 will be essential and the Department will continue the shift towards more agile operations, with improved situational awareness.

Gender perspective not just ‘about numbers’

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

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

Describing broad areas where gains have been made, the peacekeeping chief highlighted political efforts in Sudan, where the initialling of the 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 (UNIFIL) worked with women’s groups and the Government to develop the first national action plan on resolution 1325 (2000), one of several examples of expanded political space for women’s participation.

And in terms of protection, he said the four large multidimensional missions have conducted major force transformations to shift their posture and presence, strengthening their strategic flexibility and operational adaptation.

International solidarity key to progress

The upcoming 2021 Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting due to take place in Seoul will be another opportunity to contribute, he said.  As the UN celebrates its seventy-fifth 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 that we can ensure that progress continues to be made in the right direction”, he stressed.

 

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