Virtual Challenges Annual Forum 2020: Framing Peace Operations in a Changing Global Landscape

How can we sustain effective peace operations and strengthen collective engagement and political support to improve peace operations? This was the theme for the 13th Challenges Annual Forum, held virtually from Stockholm.

The on-going Covid-19 pandemic was not only framing the timely discussions, with the pandemic’s risk of undoing decades of peace and development dividends. It also made it impossible to meet physically, resulting in the Partnership’s first virtual forum – VCAF20.

This year’s virtual concept enabled having three co-hosting Partners:
the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa,
the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.

Three dialogue strands
The key objective of the Annual Forum is to provide Challenges Forum’s partners and key stakeholders with a forum for discussion, generating concrete recommendations for development and reforms of peace operations. VCAF20 offered five days of meetings, where the participants engaged in discussions on three themes/dialogue strands:

1) AU-UN Partnership in Peace Operations
2) Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace in Peace Operations
3) Performance and effectiveness of Peace Operations

Using the digital event and conference platform ‘Whova’ provided the participants direct access to the streamed sessions, while offering a social platform for networking and virtual discussions, as well as background material and videos.

Live streamed sessions
For the first time, the Annual Forum’s opening and closing sessions were live streamed for a wider external audience, with several prominent speakers.

Top from left: Dr. Björn Holmberg, UN Assistant Secretary-General Mr. Volker Türk, Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Mr. Ian Martin. Second row from left: Ms. Victoria Holt, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Ms. Karin Landgren, Mr. Said Dji Third row from left: Indonesian Foreign Minister HE Ms. Retno L. P. Marsudi, Norwegian Foreign Minister HE Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide, Ms. Marie Louise Baricako, and Dr. Jakkie Cilliers. For the full titles and affiliation of the speakers, please see the captions under the film clips below.

The opening and closing sessions are available to watch below. (Click here for the full playlist with all films from VCA20.)

OPENING DAY – WELCOME SESSION. Speakers: H.E. MsIne Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway, H.E. Ms. Retno L. P. Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia Dr. Jakkie Cilliers, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, South Africa, Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, USG, Department of Peace Operations, UN, Mr. Sven-Eric Söder, DG, Folke Bernadotte Academy, and Chair of the Challenges Forum International Steering Committee. Moderator: Dr. Björn Holmberg Director, Challenges Forum International Secretariat (CFIS)

OPENING DAY – HIGH-LEVEL CONVERSATION. Speakers: Mr. Volker Türk, Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, Ms. Marie Louise Baricako, chair of the INAMAHORO Movement, Women & Girls for Peace & Security. Member of FEMWISE Africa and AWLN, Ms. Victoria Holt, Vice President at the Henry L. Stimson Center, Mr Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Colombia and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. Moderator: Dr. Björn Holmberg Director, Challenges Forum International Secretariat (CFIS)

CLOSING DAY – HIGH-LEVEL CONVERSATION. Speakers: Ms. Karin Landgren, Executive Director, Security Council Report, Mr. Said Djinnit, Senior Advisor, African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Conflicts (ACCORD) and European Institute of Peace, Mr. Ian Martin, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Member of the HIPPO review panel. Moderation by Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Member of the UN High-level Advisory Board on Mediation and Challenges Forum Patron. Introduction by Ms. Susanna Ahlfors, Event- & Communication Officer, Challenges Forum International Secretariat

CLOSING DAY – KEY TAKEAWAYS. Speakers: Mr. Rolliansyah Soemirat, Director for International Security and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Dr. Cedric de Coning, Research Professor, Research Group on Peace, Conflict and Development, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), Ms. Annette Leijenaar, Head Peace Operations and Peacebuilding, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Pretoria, South Africa, Dr. Björn Holmberg, Director of the Challenges Forum International Secretariat (CFIS), Mr Benoît Pylyser, Senior Strategic Adviser,CFIS.

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