United Nations Peace Operations 2020: The United Nations Reviews and Their Implications for Tomorrow’s Missions

On 8-9 May 2016, the Challenges Forum marked its 20th anniversary with the event United Nations Peace Operations 2020: The United Nations Reviews and Their Implications for Tomorrow’s Missions. The two-day meeting in New York, co-hosted by the Permanent Missions to the UN of Armenia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sweden and the United States, focused on the findings of recent expert and high-level reviews of UN peace operations and what they mean for future peace operations.

Recognizing the challenges, but also drawing on the achievements made in recent years by UN peace operations, the 20th Anniversary Forum highlighted progress and identify areas of UN peace operations which need further consideration, attention and support. The event comprised a series of high-level and interactive conversations between prominent representatives of Member States, the UN, academia and think tanks. The meeting was organized in conjunction with, but separate from, the General Assembly High-level Thematic Debate on the UN, Peace and Security to be held 10-11 May.

Discussions at the Challenges Forum event considered the findings of the recent peace operations reviews, including the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) Uniting Our Strengths for Peace – Politics, Partnership and People, and the subsequent report of the Secretary-General on implementation of its recommendations; Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace – A Global Study on the Implementation of United Security Council resolution 1325; the report of the Advisory Group of Experts for the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture The Challenge of Sustaining Peace; Transforming our World: the 2013 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and the report Performance Peacekeeping of the Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping. In addition, participants took stock of the current status of the Leaders´ Peacekeeping Summit process on capabilities generation, where some 50 countries last year pledged new, concrete support for UN peace operations, as well as future requirements and opportunities in the lead up to the follow up meeting in London in September.

Four background papers, published ahead of the meeting to stimulate an interactive discussion, can be found to the right.

  • Dr Cedric de Coning – Challenges and Priorities for Peace Operations Partnerships between the UN and Regional Organizations - the African Union example
  • Dr William Durch – Implementing 'Uniting Our Strengths for Peace': An approach to benchmarking ‘HIPPO’ recommendations in five key areas and Annex I
  • Dr Louise Olsson – Leading the Way to a More Equal Peace: Senior Management and Gender Mainstreaming
  • Mr William R. Philips - The UN Reviews and What Should be Done to Improve the Safety and Security of United Nations and Associated Personnel?

An exhibition on Telling the Story of UN Peace Operations developed by the Challenges Forum and Färgfabriken in collaboration with the UN Departments of Peacekeeping and Field Support will be launched in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary. The exhibition will be located outside the General Assembly Hall on 10 May-20 Juli 2016.

(Group photo from the Challenges Forum 20th Anniversary Event on 8 May 2016)

(Key note speakers at the Challenges Forum High-level Reception on 9 May 2016, together with Director and Founder Annika Hilding Norberg).

(H.E. Mr Mohammad Taisir Masadeh, Secretary-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs of Jordan, Former Force Commander, UNMEE, Jordan)

(H.E. Mr Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, delivering key note speech)

(General Micael Bydén, Supreme Commander, Sweden, delivering key note speech)

H.E. Mr Dian Triansyah Djani

(H.E. Mr Dian Triansyah Djani, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations) 

CF20 Bosah

(Mr Anthony A. Bosah, Chargé d’affairs, Permanent Representation of Nigeria to the UN, Chair of the United Nations Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations, Nigeria)

CF20 Petr Iliichev

(Mr Petr Iliichev, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations)

CF20 Victoria Holt

(Ms Victoria Holt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State, United States)

CF20 Annika Hilding Norberg

(Ms Annika Hilding-Norberg, Director and Founder, Challenges Forum, Folke Bernadotte Academy, Sweden)

Maj. Gen. (Retd) Anis A. Bajwa,; Mr Alexander Ilitchev; Dr Sarah Cliffe; Maj. Gen. (Retd) Anis A. Bajwa; Dr Stephen Jackson; Dr William Durch.


The first session considered the content of the reviews and what impact these could and should have on future missions. In addition to the findings of the HIPPO Report and the UN Secretary-General’s subsequent response, key recommendations of the AGE Report and the Global Study on Security Council resolution (SCR) 1325, such as the primacy of politics and importance of conflict prevention; national ownership, as well as the roles of leadership and engagement with local communities, including civil society and local women's organizations were assessed to be of particular relevance for peace operations. It was noted that the challenges presented by institutional structures and financing arrangements (which reinforce conceptual and practical stovepipes between peacekeeping and peacebuilding) remained significant and would need further attention by the next UN Secretary-General. Nonetheless, many of the speakers suggested that partners and Member States should not wait until the next Secretary-General is in office to progress many of the reforms, as the momentum needs to continue.

Issues that participants believed had gained sufficient traction with Member States and that could be or were already in the process of being implemented this year included improved force generation processes which, together with pledges made at the 2015 peacekeeping summit, will improve deployment times; enhanced use of technology and innovation (including the deployment of more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and development of intelligence policies); better performance management by troop and police contributors (including repatriating under-performing units); and engagement with host countries through the use of compacts. Recommendations that were recognized as requiring further analysis and sustained attention and leadership under the next Secretary-General included financing and structural arrangements; engagement in early prevention activities, including with regional organizations; improving efforts to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda; and strengthening responses against sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).


Dr Sarah Cliffe, Director, Centre on International Cooperation, New York University, United Kingdom


Dr Stephen Jackson, Chief, Policy Planning and Guidance, Department of Political Affairs, UN
Lt. Gen. (Retd) Abhijit Guha, Member, High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, Senior Member, United Service Institution of India, India
Mr Alexander Ilitchev, Member, High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, Russia
Maj. Gen. (Retd) Anis A. Bajwa, Member, Peacebuilding Architecture Review, Pakistan
Dr William Durch, Senior Adviser, Challenges Forum, Distinguished Fellow, Stimson Center, Former Director, Brahimi Report, United States (background paper).

Commissioner Ann-Marie Orler; H.E. Mr Matthew Rycroft; H.E. Ms Victoria Holt; Mr. Kamapradipta Isnomo; Lt. Gen. Luiz Paul Cruz.


Forum participants took stock of the current status of pledges made through the Leaders’ Peacekeeping Summit process on capabilities generation, in which some 50 countries last year announced significant, new, and concrete support for UN peace operations. Mechanisms developed to support the progress, such as the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System, were viewed as a positive development and one that assisted Member States in following through on their pledges. However, in order to ensure such pledges improved operational capabilities and enhanced impact on the ground, there was seen to be room for improvement in the areas of the guidance and direction; integration; leadership; management of diversity; force generation and compliance; and mission support. To keep the momentum of the process, the panel and participants discussed what was required next – by the Member States as well as the UN Secretariat.


H.E. Ms Victoria Holt, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State, United States


Lt. Gen. Luiz Paul Cruz, Director for Peacekeeping Strategic Partnerships, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, UN

Mr. Kamapradipta Isnomo, Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to UN

Commissioner Ann-Marie Orler, Head of Division for International Affairs, Swedish Police

H.E. Mr Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the UN

Dr Uğur Güngör; H.E. Mr El-Ghassim Wane; Mr Amr Aljowaily; H.E. Mr Jean-Pierre Lacroix; Dr Cedric de Coning; Dr Benyamin Poghosyan.


The third conversation focused on the evolving partnerships between the UN and regional organizations, and what the implications of the UN reviews can mean for future missions, both those of the UN and regional organizations. Participants noted that the relevance of Chapter 8 of the UN Charter, welcoming regional solutions to conflicts, has by no means faded. On the contrary, many of today’s conflicts benefit from a proactive regional approach. It was suggested that as the UN cannot handle all conflicts on its own, by supporting as well as being supported by regional efforts, local capacity can be strengthened, as and when required, and UN missions can be strengthened by regional capacities, when the situation so calls for. In order to fully realize synergies and benefit from the comparative advantages of the UN and regional organizations, it was proposed that these partnerships needed to be more predictable, formalized and institutionalized, while yet maintaining a degree of flexibility to respond to the particular needs of each situation. Clearly defined roles and burden-sharing were seen to reduce the risk of disagreements and any barriers to fruitful cooperation. The potential benefits and possible negative or unintended consequences of working with regional and sub-regional organizations were discussed. Issues that were raised included the need to develop more substantive cooperation with a broader base of regional organizations. The benefits of examining experiences across regional organizations, and in particular, the 'trilateral' cooperation between the AU, EU and UN, were noted. The implications of recent external and internal challenges for, or competing requirements on, regional organizations were assessed. It was agreed that the varied situations of different regional organizations, in turn, could impede formalizing their relationships with the UN in identical ways.


Mr Amr Aljowaily, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for UN Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt


Dr Cedric de Coning, Senior Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Senior Fellow, African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, South Africa (background paper)

H.E. Mr El-Ghassim Wane, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, UN

H.E. Mr Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Director-General, Directorate for UN and International Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France

Dr Uğur Güngör, Center for Strategic Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey

Dr Benyamin Poghosyan, Deputy Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defence Research University, Armenia

Mr Sven-Eric Söder; H.E. Mr Zohrab Mnatsakanyan; H.E. Mr Syed Akbaruddin.


Mr Sven-Eric Söder, Director-General, Folke Bernadotte Academy, Sweden


H.E. Mr Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the UN

H.E. Mr Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative of India to the UN

Mr Greg Hinds; Ms Fadzai Gwaradzimba; H.E. Mr Motohide Yoshikawa; Ms Fadzai Gwaradzimba; Mr William R. Phillips.


During the fourth conversation, participants addressed the challenges related to the increasing deployment of UN and associated personnel into high-risk environments. Participants acknowledged that safety measures have indeed been implemented by the UN, with Member State support, but noted that the demanding and ever-changing security context will require both the UN and Member States to remain committed to and focused on exploring and implementing ways in which to enhance the safety and security of UN peacekeepers and associated personnel. It was recognized that accidents and threats such illness and disease often pose greater risks to personnel in the field than malicious acts, and that this should be considered when designing safety measures.

Views were expressed that prevention and mediation constitute the best prescription for peace and stability. Political solutions must determine the design and implementation of UN peace operations, and the UN should draw on its strength in terms of breadth and legitimacy by employing its whole system in an integrated way. It was suggested that two way communication with the local society was key. Missions need to explain their activities and objectives to the local population and authorities, hence strategic communication should be a priority. Such communication must build on careful analysis and a well-developed strategy, ensuring that the messages and means of communication are adapted to the local setting and targeted audience. More needed to be done to support the development of effective strategic communication in support of UN peace operations. Furthermore, it was stressed that any misconduct by UN and associated personnel could have a detrimental impact on the safety of mission staff as well as the UN as a whole.


H.E. Mr Motohide Yoshikawa, Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN


Mr William R. Phillips, Former Chief of Staff, MINUSMA, now Integration Project, Department for Safety and Security, UN (background paper)

Ms Fadzai Gwaradzimba, Assistant Secretary-General, Department for Safety and Security, UN

Mr Greg Hinds, Police Commissioner, UNMIL

H.E. Lt. Gen. (Retd) Javed Zia, Ambassador of Pakistan to Tripoli, Libya

CF20 Conversation 5 panel

Ms Riana Paneras; Dr Louise Olsson; H.E. Mr Michael Grant; Ms Gwendolyn Myers; Mr Alan Ryan.


The fifth conversation emphasized that the involvement and consultation of women in peace efforts is essential in order to gain full understanding of the local context and conflict as well as to ensure local ownership and that policies and programs reflect all parts of society. Involving e.g. women leaders, ex-combatants and organizations was suggested to be decisive for building sustainable peace and stability. It was emphasized that gender mainstreaming must permeate all components and different phases of a peace operation, including the initial conflict analysis and mandate design. Similarly, all actors – Member States, including the host state; UN agencies, funds and programs; the Security Council; the Secretariat; and partner organizations – must cooperate to ensure that gender lenses are applied. Furthermore, the need to translate the relatively broad contents of relevant Security Council resolutions into practical goals and requirements was noted.

The importance of promoting women leaders in UN missions and Country Teams was underlined. Identifying and investing in suitable women candidates at mid-level positions for more senior positions was one suggestion to encourage more women in leadership roles. Another suggestion for promoting gender awareness was that the UN should establish the post of an Under-Secretary-General on Women, Peace and Security. The main challenges for management to successfully lead the process of gender mainstreaming were explored and included a general lack of awareness of what gender mainstreaming entails. The importance of providing pre-deployment training on related issues was highlighted, and the inclusion of gender aspects in e.g. national crisis management exercises was mentioned as a positive example. The challenge of increasing the number of women serving in UN peace operations due to the limited number of women serving in national forces was acknowledged.


H.E. Mr Michael Grant, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN, Chair of the UN Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations Working Group, Canada


Dr Louise Olsson, Senior Adviser, Gender and SCR 1325, Folke Bernadotte Academy, Sweden (background paper)

Ms Riana Paneras, Senior Researcher, Peace Operations and Peace Building Division, Institute for Security Studies, Former Police Commissioner, UNAMID, South Africa

Ms Gwendolyn Myers, Founder and Executive Director, Messengers of Peace-Liberia Inc (MOP), Global Shaper, World Economic Forum, Liberia

Mr Alan Ryan, Executive Director, Australian Civil-Military Centre, Australia

CF20 Panel Working Luncheon Day2

Dr Kari M Osland; Mr Stefan Feller; Mr David Haeri; Capt.(N) Hervé Auffret, H.E. Mr Mohammad Taisir Masadeh.


The sixth conversation at the Forum focused on the ongoing work by the UN to develop and update policies and guidelines for peace operations and what was required to ensure that developed policies, guidelines and doctrines were effectively implemented at all levels and by all actors: the UN system itself and, not least, Member States and Contributing Countries. It was noted that in the last few years, there had been major and concrete progress in the development of guidance and manuals related to specific core functions of UN peace operations, such as the protection of civilians, but that the principles of peacekeeping had remained intact, as had the relevance of e.g. the Capstone Doctrine. The importance of ensuring that there were links between the strategic, operational and tactical level guidance was stressed. The effective development of military doctrine and guidance in several areas, including the development of military unit manuals led by Member States, was discussed and broadly welcomed.


Mr David Haeri, Director, Division for Policy, Evaluation and Training, Departments for Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, UN


Mr Stefan Feller, Police Adviser, Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, UN

Capt.(N) Hervé Auffret, Chief, Policy and Doctrine Team, Office of Military Affairs, Department for Peacekeeping Operations, UN

H.E. Mr Mohammad Taisir Masadeh, Secretary-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs of Jordan, Former Force Commander, UNMEE, Jordan

Dr Kari M Osland, Head, Research Group on Peace and Coflict, Norweigan Institute of International Affairs, Norway

CF20 Conversation 7 panel


The final session focused on assessing what implications there may be of the UN reviews findings on future capabilities and capacity-building for the military and civilian, including police, components. It was generally agreed that the recommendations of the reports in conjunction with the recent broad and specific development of new guidance and doctrine for the military, civilian and police components, as discussed in earlier sessions, have indeed generated a need to review existing both capabilities and capacity-building requirements for UN peace operations. Issues of specific interest and relevance included the need to ensure that missions were tailored to the context they were deploying in and invested in developing national capacities. It was noted that capacity building and the development of policing institutions in particular can take several decades and requires sustained and ongoing engagement.

The ongoing development of training materials and programs by regional and national peacekeeping training centres was welcomed, but more needed to be done in terms of ensuring that peacekeeping training was integrated into the DNA of security forces, with the suggestion that peacekeeping training should be included as part of ordinary military training. For police, there needed to be more analysis on how much countries were willing to invest in preparing their national police forces for international peacekeeping activities, to ensure the investment in developing training was appropriate. Given the limited deployment time of police officers, the question of determining how much of that time should be spent on training was raised as part of the discussions.


Dr Almut Wieland-Karimi, Director, Center on International Peace Operations, Germany


H.E. Mr Martin Garcia Moritán, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN

Dr Carl Ungerer, Head, Leadership, Crisis Management and Conflict Program, Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Switzerland

Mr Andrew Carpenter, Chief, Strategic Policy and Development Section, Police Division, Office of Rule of Law and Security Institions, Department for Peacekeeping Operations, UN

Ms Julie Sanda, Head, Department of Conflict, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Studies, National Defence College, Nigeria

Concluding remarks day 2


Mr Anthony A. Bosah, Chargé d’affairs, Permanent Representation of Nigeria to the UN, Chair of the UN Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations, Nigeria


Mr Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Patron, Challenges Forum, President, International Crisis Group, France

Mr Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary-General, Rule of Law and Security Institutions, UN

Ms Elizabeth Spehar, Director, Policy and Mediation Division, Department of Political Affairs, UN

Ms Annika Hilding Norberg, Director and Founder, Challenges Forum