The Challenges Forum has a long-standing focus on and commitment to concepts and doctrine development for peace operations. In April 2013, the Challenges Forum held a workshop entitled The Art of the Possible––Peace Operations Under New Conditions: A Dialogue with the Field Community at the UN Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda. One of the key observations of the workshop was that there was a need to explore broader peace operations typologies and what the new 2013 mission types might require, including an examination of what concepts, tools, rules and institutional changes might be needed to deliver on new mandates and how these might differ to existing UN peacekeeping paradigms.
At the time of the Entebbe workshop, the UN Security Council had recently authorized mandates for UN missions in the DRC, Somalia and Mali to operate in increasingly volatile and complex environments. Of particular interest and concern was the authorization and deployment of the Intervention Brigade (FIB) in eastern DRC. The brigade is deployed under the command of the Force Commander of MONUSCO and within the authorized strength of the mission.
Resolution S/RES/2098 states that the responsibility of the intervention brigade is to ‘neutralize armed groups’ and ‘reducing the threat posed by armed groups to state authority and civilian security’ through ‘targeted offensive operations’ in a ‘robust, highly mobile and versatile manner’. The resolution states that the intervention brigade should not ‘create a precedent or any prejudice to the agreed principles of peacekeeping’.
The humanitarian community raises concerns that the deployment of the intervention brigade makes the UN a party to the conflict, thereby hampering the humanitarian community’s access to vulnerable communities. Equally, several troop-contributing countries have also been wary of the scope of the operation. The FIB’s success in defeating the M23 militarily in November 2013 is met with cautious optimism by observers. There are risks that the FIB model would be seen as an exportable model for other peacekeeping situations.
The developments in 2013 are driving new requirements quite distinct from the premises of earlier peacekeeping missions. What are the implications for UN peacekeeping’s core principles relating to the use of force, consent of the host country, and impartiality? These new mandates signify a substantial shift that is already underway in the Security Council’s approach to UN mission mandates.
Should the conceptual, operational and bureaucratic modus operandi developed for UN peace operations of the last two decades be re-visited for the new types of missions undertaken in Mali and the DRC?
Or should separate thinking and doctrine emerge from these rather than straining existing doctrine to cover all mission variations?