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Peace, crisis and conflict

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Arthur Boutellis

MINUSMA’s 2021 mandate renewal in uncertain times

The Security Council will renew the mandate of the 8-year-old United Nations Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in June 2021 at a time of multiple transitions: on the Malian side with the Transition government due to end in February 2022, and on the mission side with a new SRSG. It also comes at a time of great uncertainties over the future of the peace process and political transition, but also over the future of the French regional military operations Barkhane and the Joint Force G5 Sahel. The overall security situation has deteriorated in Mali and beyond in the Sahel since 2013. Yet, Northern Mali enjoys a semblance of stability as the two rival coalitions of signatory armed groups found a modus vivendi. But progress in the implementation of the peace agreement is slow, state presence minimal, and attacks on a more resilient MINUSMA continue. Although violence has decreased in Central Mali since September 2020 largely due to the brokering of local agreements of different sorts, insecurity continues to spread further to the South of Mali. There seems to be a general consensus that the two strategic priorities of the MINUSMA mandate should remain to support the implementation of the Algiers Agreement by the Malian parties and to facilitate the implementation of a comprehensive politically led Malian strategy to protect civilians and re-establish State authority in Central Mali. The main issues for discussion will be how to carry out these priorities more effectively and how to best add to the mandate elements pertaining to supporting the Malian Transition without diverting limited resources away from the first two strategic priorities. Beyond the strategic priorities, issues of human rights and accountability, people-centered approaches, strategic communication, women’s participation, and climate-related security risks are also discussed in this report. Many of the challenges the mission is facing will however not be resolved by an adjusted mandate alone; but a clearer strategic direction from MINUSMA’s leadership strongly backed by a unified Security Council can certainly help.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
MINUSMA 2021 report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
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Publications
Report

Assessing the Effectiveness of the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)

The United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) began its deploy- ment to Sudan in 2007 in the midst of widespread violence. UNAMID was the largest peace- keeping operation in the world at the time. Its drawdown and transition began a decade later, and today less than one-quarter of that force remains, concentrated in a small area in central Darfur. The intervening years witnessed a moribund peace process and a scorched-earth govern- ment military campaign against Darfuri rebels that killed thousands of civilians. A popu- lar uprising against the ruling system erupted in December 2018, and in April 2019, Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled Sudan since 1989, was deposed. The new transitional government and military-civilian Sovereign Council are now seeking to rescue a struggling economy and make peace with the people on Sudan’s peripheries. While the recently endorsed Juba Agreement brings new hopes for peace in Darfur, the way forward remains far from certain. With nearly two million IDPs, a deep humanitarian crisis, and rising levels of violence, Darfur in 2020 is far from being a stable place as UNAMID—the African Union and United Nations’ most important tool for security and stability—appears set to depart. This report assesses UNAMID’s impact over a ten-year period (2007-2017) and across its three strategic priorities: mediating between the government and non-signatory armed movements; protecting civilians, monitoring human rights, and facilitating humanitarian assistance; and supporting the mediation of community conflict. The report also makes observations and draws lessons from UNAMID’s transition (2017- 2020), a process still underway and for which it is too early to assess the definitive impact. Reflecting upon UNAMID’s unique features, the report includes lessons from the hybrid nature of the operation, as well as from the challenges posed by fragile host-nation cooper- ation. It draws on existing analyses and data as well as more than 140 interviews and focus group consultations with 700 community members in Darfur.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
EPON UNAMID 2020 report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
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Publications
Report

Assessing the Effectiveness of the United Nations Integrated Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)

The Central African Republic is emerging from a long history of slave raiding and trading, French concessionary colonialism, and authoritarian political rule. In December 2012, tensions escalated into civil war characterised by sexual and gender-based violence and near-gen- ocidal fighting. The United Nations Security Council authorised the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) to deploy in September 2014, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The Mission has the most complex of all current peacekeeping mandates. Of the three primary tasks in MINUSCA’s original mandate: (1) protecting civilians, (2) overseeing a political transition, and (3) extending state authority, the operation has fulfilled the second task, and is effectively working toward achieving the first and third. The Mission has helped to avert wide-scale killings and possible genocide, mitigate sexual violence, monitor human rights, protect vital humanitarian aid delivery, enable the development of female participation and leadership, build state capacity (especially in policing and justice), and enable democratic elections. In a creative, “bottom-up” approach to peace, the 15,000 members of MINUSCA have helped to establish dozens of local peace and reconciliation committees. Regional powers and MINUSCA have complemented this approach with a “top-down,” high-level, peace process that resulted in the landmark February 2019 Peace Accord. Several groups, however, con- tinue to spoil the peace. Armed groups control 75-80% of this lush, resource-rich, and land-locked country. The political economy of the conflict tends toward strengthening armed groups and spoilers. MINUSCA remains unpopular among many Central Africans. Dis- and misinformation about the upcoming 2020-21 elections and COVID-19 continue to under-mine progress. MINUSCA is helping to stabilise – providing a vital service to the country, region, and world – but it will be difficult to fully implement its mandate and depart a peaceful and prosperous Central Africa anytime soon.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
MINUSCA 2020 report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
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Report
Jaïr van der Lijn, Linda Darkwa, Fiifi Edu-Afful, John Karlsrud, Natasja Rupesinghe

Assessing the Effectiveness of the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)

Until 2016 MINUSMA managed to strengthen stability in northern Mali, decreasing the number of civilians killed in the conflict, and allowing large numbers of displaced persons to return home. MINUSMA also assisted the peace process, culminating in the 2015 Algiers Agreement. Many of these achievements are still standing. However, since 2016 MINUSMA’s effectiveness in terms of stabilisation and the protection of civilians has decreased. In the North, the signatory parties have been making slow progress in the implementation of the Algiers Agreement and the 2018 Pact for Peace. In addition, central Mali has destabilised significantly, as Jihadist activities have stoked a vicious cycle of inter-communal violence that has reached unprecedented levels. MINUSMA has only been mandated to help the Malian government address the situation since June 2018. As one of the largest multidimensional peacekeeping operations – currently including nearly 13,000 soldiers and 1,800 police officers from 57 contributing countries, and almost 750 civilians – MINUSMA has been provided with significant resources and an extraordinarily ambitious mandate. However, the Mission finds itself at a crossroads. It needs time to succeed, but this is valuable time Mali does not have. Civilians have come under increasing attack, and the US, in particular, is losing interest in supporting a costly UN peace operation that is not able to deliver quick results. This report considers the degree to which there is an alignment between the mission’s resources and its mandate. It also makes an assessment of the options available to the Mission to increase its effectiveness in the face of extremely challenging circumstances.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
MINUSMA 2019 report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
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Publications
Report
Alexandra Novossoloff

Assessing the Effectiveness of the United Nations Mission in the DRC/MONUC-MONUSCO

The report focuses on both the most recent period of MONUSCO’s mandate (2013-18), and takes into account the work of the MONUC since 1999, thereby taking a long-term view of the peacekeeping presence in the country. The UN peacekeeping engagement in the DRC since the end of the Second Congo War has spanned nearly 20 years, three presidential elections, eight Special Representatives of the UN Secretary-General, and numerous political and security crises involving national and regional actors and non-state armed groups. The Mission has reinvented itself, tried to adapt to changing conflict dynamics, and had to shift its posture due to demands from the Security Council, the Congolese government and regional states, as well as in response to recent funding cuts. As one of the largest multidimensional peacekeeping operations – currently including 15,000 soldiers and 1,300 police officers from 124 contributing countries, as well as 3,400 civilians – MONUC-MONUSCO has been provided with significant resources and an extraordinarily ambitious mandate. Assessing the match between resources and mandate and the ways the Mission has adapted its approaches to be effective in extremely challenging circumstances are the key objectives of this report.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
MONUC-MONUSCO 2019 report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
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Report
Adam Day

Assessing the Effectiveness of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

The report focuses on the most recent period of UNMISS’ mandate (2014-18), aiming to provide a “snapshot” of the mission’s work across its four main mandate areas: the protection of civilians (PoC), facilitation of humanitarian delivery, promotion of human rights, and support to the peace process. As a large, multidimensional peacekeeping operation – with 17,000 troops, 2,000 police and 2,000 civilians – UNMISS has been provided with significant resources and an extraordinarily ambitious mandate. Assessing the match between resources and mandate, and the ways the Mission has adapted its approaches to be effective in extremely challenging circumstances is a key objective of this report. Throughout its existence, UNMISS has been part of a much broader regional and international constellation of actors working to stabilise the country and encourage conflict parties to enter into a meaningful peace process. In many cases, UNMISS has played a limited supportive, coordinating, or otherwise indirect role in the overall trajectory of the country; in others, it is a central actor in the eyes of the people of South Sudan. This presents a challenge to any assessment of the Mission because, at most, UNMISS can be considered one contributor among many working together to end the civil war and lay the foundations for durable peace. Causality in these settings is difficult to establish. Nevertheless, drawing on the substantial data and analyses available, and interviews with more than 260 people in South Sudan and the region over several weeks, this study presents a set of evidence-based findings about the impact of the Mission and the factors that have enabled and inhibited the fulfilment of its mandate.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
UNMISS 2019 report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
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Publications
Report

Assessing the Effectiveness of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

This report assesses the extent to which the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has achieved its current strategic objectives and what impact, if any, the mission has had on broader political and security dynamics in Somalia.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
  • AU
AMISOM 2018 report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
  • AU
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Publications
Report

How effective is policing in protecting civilians in peace operations? Lessons from the UN Mission in South Sudan

Policing, as a governance service, is part of a multidimensional peace operation deployed to respond to conflict and other crises. It helps prevent conflict relapses, build sustainable peace, ensure the rule of law and justice, protect and promote human rights, and protect civilians. In various reports and resolutions, the United Nations (UN) recognises the invaluable role of the police in international peace interventions. This monograph analyses the effectiveness of policing in protecting civilians in the case of the UN Mission in South Sudan. It sets out lessons and prospects for enhancing the effectiveness of policing in peace operations in protecting civilians.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
UN Policing in Africa report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
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Report

A quest to win the hearts and minds: Assessing the Effectiveness of the Multinational Joint Task Force

In January 2015, the African Union (AU) authorised the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) as a regional security arrangement of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to deal with the threat of Boko Haram (BH) in the Lake Chad region. Its mandate includes the responsibility of ensuring a safe and secure environment in the areas affected by the BH insurgency, reducing violent attacks against civilians, facilitating stabilisation programmes in the Lake Chad region, facilitating humanitarian operations, and the provision of assistance to affected populations. To achieve its mandate, the MNJTF undertakes both kinetic and non-kinetic operations. Its mandate has been renewed annually since 2015, and in December 2022, the AU renewed its mandate for another 12 months. This report assesses the effectiveness of the MNJTF in delivering on its three mandate priorities to generate recommendations. It is important to note that the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) renewed the mandate of the MNJTF earlier than expected, and as a result, this report offers reflections on how to enhance the effectiveness of the mission going forward. Despite long standing constraints, such as insufficient funding, gaps in operational command and control, inadequate equipment and an intelligence-sharing cell, the MNJTF has recorded appreciable successes. Its efforts and successes have counteracted BH and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists, resulting in a significant decline in attack incidents in the region. In addition, they have created a conducive environment for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their communities and the resumption of trade between the northeast of Nigeria and neighbouring markets in Cameroon and Chad. The recent acquisition of assets, growing coordination among the sectors, and shift from a defensive to an offensive posture brought about by the current Force Commander (FC) are some factors contributing to the recent successes of the MNJTF. Nevertheless, the lack of policing capability, intelligence gaps, evolving terrorist-organised crime dynamics, and resource-capacity mismatch are some of the current impediments to the efforts of the MNJTF to end the menace posed by terror groups in the Lake Chad region.The partnership between the AU and the MNJTF is considered vital not only for the mission’s credibility but also for the critical role the AU can play in appropriately resourcing the MNJTF. While the general conclusion drawn from respondents was that the AU was doing its best to improve the situation, there was still a need for it to do more in certain important areas. This situation calls for the prioritisation of current challenges and for appropriate deployment of available resources to address them. To enhance the capacity and effectiveness of the force in combating terrorism in the Lake Chad region, the report recommends prioritising developing police capacity across member states, strengthening the MNJTF intelligence capacity, aligning training with core priority areas to close capacity gaps, and institutionalising a due diligence framework for funds utilisation. The prospects of the MNJTF achieving its core responsibilities in the months and years ahead will depend to some extent on how the mandate renewal recognises and allocates sufficient resources to address areas of priority concerns.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
MNJTF report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
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Report
Lotte Vermeij

UN Peacekeeping Operations at a Crossroads: The Implementation of Protection Mandates in Contested and Congested Spaces

The Protection of Civilians remains a critical feature of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, offering unique support to populations at risk in fragile and failing states, with a focus on long-term stability and peace. Hosting nations are, however, increasingly engaging the support of bilaterally deployed forces and private military contractors to achieve military and security objectives, often at the expense of existing peace and diplomatic processes and human rights. Adapting and responding to these changing environments is essential for UN missions in terms of retaining their relevance and realising their mandated protection objectives. This requires improved support and resource allocation and improved utilisation of existing resources. Drawing on in-depth interviews and conversations with representatives of UN peacekeeping operations and UN Headquarters, this report explores challenges and opportunities in the implementation of protection mandates of four multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations, namely, MINUSCA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, and UNMISS. It offers insights into contextual challenges arising from the volatility of the environments in which they work and internal challenges related to the complex nature of jointly implementing civilian, military, and police protection activities. Given the crossroads UN peacekeeping operations find themselves at, the report provides forward-looking recommendations and encourages reflection and flexibility to support enhanced engagement on key protection issues that are integral to international peace and security.

  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
EPON Protection report cover 2.png
  • Africa
  • Peace operations
  • United Nations
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