Advancing political solutions is central to the work of peace operations. Efforts to enhance the political impact of peace operations focus on the role of mission leadership, the reporting of the Secretary-General, the mandate responsibilities of the Security Council and the consultative mechanisms between different stakeholders. Key recommendations included:
1. Strengthen analysis of conflict and peace drivers. Peace operations need an understanding of the drivers of peace and conflict in order to advance political solutions. The Security Council needs to ensure it is offering strategic direction to the peace operations through its mandates informed by analysis that maps the drivers of peace and conflict. This will require the field mission to have a better understanding of the different local constituencies in a mission and understand their motivations, in order to identify key stakeholders to prioritize engagement with as art of the political strategy. The Secretariat should ensure that early mission planning processes clearly map the different stakeholders in the likely mission environment (e.g. government, armed groups, regional actors etc), with an analysis of how they are perceived by the local community, in order to inform peace and conflict analysis for the peacekeeping mission.
2. Focus mission leadership resources on political strategy. The Security Council should work closely with the mission leadership to support their efforts to advance political strategy in their missions of operation. This requires further examination by the Secretariat and think tanks regarding the additional need for human resources to support the mission leadership team, especially given the increasing delegation to the field and recent efforts to make strategic and operational mission planning and implementation more effective. Furthermore, review the division of responsibilities in this team, as to allow the SRSG to dedicate time for political engagement with key stakeholders.
3. Improve Security Council mandating processes. Security Council mandates should evolve based on conditions on the ground rather than set timetables. As part of mandate development, the Security Council should engage more substantively with entities such as ‘Groups of Friends’ to inform the drafting of peace operation mandates. The Council should explore more innovative approaches to roles and responsibilities in drafting peacekeeping mandates, such as further opening up pen-holder roles to non-permanent members of the Council, and to have more inclusive consultations.
4. Strengthen strategic communication. Field missions should develop strategic communications plans that communicate objectives, achievements and milestones with external stakeholders and internally within the mission as part of the mission’s overall political strategy and as a mechanism to build trust, manage expectations among the community they serve particularly when it comes to protection of civilians, and generate support for resources. These plans should be informed by a media sector analysis. Similarly, mission leadership teams should oversee the development of mission-wide communications strategies that identify, among other things, key actors and audiences for the mission to engage with.