A Project for Peace
In the mid-1990's, the International Community engaged in peacekeeping, peace enforcement and other types of operations in various regional conflicts around the world. The daunting challenges faced by peacekeepers in Somalia, Rwanda, Srebrenica and elsewhere needed to be analysed and reflected upon in a more inclusive manner than what was the norm at the time. As a response to this lack of an international, effective and inclusive mechanism to discuss the challenges of peace operations in a systematic, result-oriented, frank yet friendly way, the Challenges Forum platform was launched in 1996.
The first Challenges Forum event was held at the Swedish National Defence College in 1997 on the theme Challenges of Peace Support: Into the 21st Century. The aim of the first workshop was to explore more effective and legitimate ways of dealing with regional conflicts, recognising the importance of civil-military relations, information technology, limited resources and the challenge of integrating diverse national approaches to peace support activities.
The Challenges Forum initiative was founded in 1996 by Ms. Annika Hilding Norberg, when she was a research student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She developed the initial Challenges Forum concept in close cooperation with the National Defence College of Sweden, the Russian Public Policy Centre, the Institute of Diplomacy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Following the first seminar in Stockholm, a second seminar was hosted in Moscow, while the third event was held in Amman.
As more peace operations actors and countries identified common interest and cause with the project, the Challenges Project conducted seven further international seminars around the world between 1999 and 2002, focusing on specific aspects of peace operations. Civilian and military peacekeepers and academics from a total of some 230 organizations and 50 countries attended the first phase of seminars. Each seminar generated a report on a specific subject. In addition, the concluding report Challenges of Peace Operations: Into the 21st Century, was translated by partners into the six official languages of the UN, and presented to the UN Secretary-General at a high-level seminar in New York in 2002. The report addressed 14 substantive areas of inquiry and made 69 practical recommendations to troop and personnel contributing countries. Its purpose was also to inform Member States on peace operations developments and to contribute to the process of reform of UN peace operations.
Subsequently, the Challenges Forum Partnership decided to address some of the challenges identified in the first report during a second phase 2003-2006 with six international seminars under the overall theme Meeting the Challenges of Peace Operations: Cooperation and Coordination. The second phase focused on Regional dimensions of peace operations; the Rule of law; and Education and training. The emphasis of the report was on promoting action and implementation of the report's recommendations. During the second phase, the number of partner organizations and countries increased, offering an even broader cross-section of views and experiences. A Concluding Report of the second phase was presented to the UN Secretary-General at a senior-level Challenges Seminar at the UN Headquarters in 2006.
In January 2006, the Challenges Partnership decided to take the Challenges Project to the next level, by formalising the Partnership and establishing the International Forum for the Challenges of Peace Operations, (Challenges Forum). It was decided that a main event, the Challenges Annual Forum should be held by a Partner organization each year. The first Challenges Annual Forum was hosted in 2008 by France as part of their EU Presidency.
Read about the current work in the Forums and Seminars and Policy and Best Practices pages.