The power of language to incite violence and inspire peace has long been recognised. New and social media, the diffusion of mobile technology and the speed of communication have recently driven home both the perils and promise of powerful rhetoric. At the same time, as UN peace operations continue to reach record levels, those who engage in the difficult and dangerous work of making,
keeping and building peace are faced with the need to justify their approach to a, sometimes sceptical, audience of the public, press and policymakers. In these increasingly hostile and complex environments, it is perhaps more important than ever for UN peace operations to be able to communicate strategically with both its local and international audiences.
Challenges Forum’s Partner, the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York, hosted a workshop on ‘The External Review of UN Police Division: Consultation with Civilian Policing Experts’ on 27 January 2016 with the aim of collecting input from civilian policing experts for the ongoing review of UN’s Police Division.
Challenges Forum's Partner, the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York, hosted a High-Level Panel Discussion on ‘Exploring Approaches to Countering Violent Extremism in Post-Conflict Prison Settings’ as part of a meeting of the Group of Friends (GoF) of Corrections in Peace Operations activities. Charge d’affaires a.i. H.E. Michael D. Grant chaired the session on 11 January 2016 which aimed to promote a knowledge base on Combat Violent Extremism (CVE) in prisons in post-conflict contexts, as well as to discuss the need for multilateral responses.
As the United Nations High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) was focusing on their encompassing review, it became of particular concern to its Members that in reverse to the gains made in the 1990s and the following decade, the number of states lapsing or relapsing into armed conflict was once again on the rise. Clearly, the track record of the United Nations and the international community as a whole in helping certain countries and regions to sustain and deepen peace processes has become inadequate. This includes UN peace operations. Noting that ‘UN peace operations struggle to achieve their objectives,’ HIPPO called for change ‘to adapt them to new circumstances and to ensure their increased effectiveness.’
After the experiences of Rwanda and Srebrenica in the 1990’s, and the United Nations (UN) failure to act, the protection of civilians (POC) has taken an increasingly prominent role in international peace operations. The first mission to be mandated with an explicit POC-mandate was the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNASIL) in 1999. While the emphasis on POC may initially have been met with reluctance, both from traditional Troop and Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs) and from within the system, the concept has increasingly taken a central role in UN peace operations after the presentation of the milestone Brahimi Report in 2000. More than 98 percent of military and police personnel currently deployed in peace operations have a mandate to protect civilians, as part of integrated missionwide efforts.
The Challenges Annual Forum 2015 was hosted by the Armenian Institute for National Strategic Studies at the Ministry of Defence and held in Yerevan in 5-6 October 2015.