The Forum confronted the dilemmas of connecting the compromises and negotiations necessary for immediate stability with the planning and vision necessary for peacebuilding agendas like Agenda 2030 and the UN sustaining peace resolutions.
Peacekeeping can work
To do so in a meaningful manner, it brought together a range of actors working on or engaged in humanitarian aid, development cooperation, peacebuilding, and stabilisation, including the NUPI-coordinated Effectiveness of Peace Operations Network (EPON).
The objective of EPON is to improve research-based knowledge on the effectiveness of specific peace operations and the impacts they are having on the conflict systems they are trying to influence. The Forum therefore represented a good occasion to ask one simple but difficult question – does peacekeeping work?
Based on key findings from recent research on the African Union operation Somalia (AMISOM) and the UN operations in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mali, the panel responded that peacekeeping can work if the following is in place:
- A political strategy
- Resources that are related to the mandate
- The limits of peace operations are understood as one of several tools for peace
- Peacebuilding is integrated
- The host country is engaged from the outset
- And a people-centered approach is improved
See EPON's publications here:
- Full report: Assessing the Effectiveness of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
- Full report: Assessing the Effectiveness of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
- Full report: Assessing the Effectiveness of the United Nations Mission in the DRC / MONUC – MONUSCO
- Executive summary: Assessing the Effectiveness of the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)
A range of challenges
During the conversation, a number of issues were raised, such as the existing tension for peacekeeping operations between being inclusive and keeping their specificity among the tools of crisis management that the “international community” has at its disposal. Another dilemma was highlighted: that peacekeeping operations cannot succeed without the by-in of the host-government, but at the same time supporting a government that is not inclusive and at times predatory may only make things worse.
In addition, the importance of a comprehensive approach was underlined particularly in connection to planning. Peace operations should ideally be based on a joint strategic plan, which includes thinking about the exit strategy and which tasks are handed over to whom. In short: No entry-strategy without an exit-strategy.
The panel was chaired by Sharon Wiharta, Peace Operations Specialist, Challenges Forum International Secretariat, hosted by the Folke Bernadotte Academy. The panel was composed by:
- Cedric de Coning, Coordinator, EPON; NUPI & ACCORD
- Alexandra Novosseloff, lead author of EPON study on MONUSCO and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, International Peace Institute (IPI)
- Jair van der Lijn, lead author of the EPON study on MINUSMA and Head of the Peace Operations and Conflict Management Programme, SIPRI
- Dennis Gyllensporre, Force Commander, MINUSMA
- Barrie Freeman (Ms.), Deputy and Political Director PBSO/DPPA
- Ashraf Swelam, Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA)
- Efraim Gomez, DDG, Head UN-unit, Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
NUPI has received funding from the Norwegian Research Council and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support EPON and its research, including via the UN Peace Operations project (UNPOP) and the Training for Peace (TfP) programme. For more information about EPON, see its website.
A summary of the event can be downloaded here.