Panel Discussions - Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Protection of Civilians Now at Heart of All Peacekeeping Missions
The protection of civilians is now a crucial aspect of UN peacekeeping missions, as well as of NATO and African Union (AU) operations. This is what emerged from a half-day seminar held at IPI on May 20th entitled “Protecting Civilians in Peace Operations: Best Practices and Emerging Issues.” Organized jointly by IPI and the governments of Austria and Norway, the seminar brought together practitioners from both the humanitarian and peacekeeping fields and individuals with personal, on-the-ground experience protecting civilians.
“Protection of civilians is at the heart of peacekeeping mandates,” Ambassador Geir Pedersen of Norway said at the seminar’s opening. And according to the majority of the speakers, protecting civilians is now the most important factor that both NATO and AU peacekeepers take into account when deploying to crisis areas.
The seminar also pointed to how conflicts worldwide still pose serious threats to the lives of thousands of civilians. “Today’s conflicts have a devastating impact on civilians with dire humanitarian and human rights consequences,” said Andreas Riecken, Chargé d’Affaires of the Austrian Permanent Mission to the UN.
The seminar highlighted some of the challenges that still remain when it comes to the cooperation between humanitarian and military personnel in peacekeeping missions.
“There is a complex operational interplay between humanitarian actors and military actors in these environments [as] we come from distinct entry points, and have sets of principles that in some cases are distinct” said Greg Puley, Chief of the Policy Advice and Planning Section at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “But we must work together.”
Cooperation between military and humanitarian personnel is also a focus of UN Security Council mandates for peacekeeping missions, Mr. Puley said.
Now, mission mandates that include language on the basic protection of civilians also call for the “creat[ion of] the security conditions conducive to the provision of humanitarian assistance,” he said. This, he added, means that cooperation between the sectors two is essential.
The important, though complex relationship between the humanitarian and peacekeeping communities is something that both NATO and the AU have also been exploring.
“There are two dimensions to NATO peacekeeping missions,” said Stephen Evans, Assistant Secretary-General for Operations at NATO. “The first is when the protection of civilians is the mandated focus of a NATO operation,” such as the alliance’s missions in the Former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. In such cases, Mr. Evans said, NATO troops are deployed specifically to protect civilians who are under threat.
The other dimension, he said, is when the protection of civilians is an act of “mitigation” during a larger military operation. Mr. Evans said that, in such cases, troops should work to limit accidental civilian deaths. The current mission in Afghanistan is of this second kind, he said, as NATO troops are expected to fight insurgents while also protecting civilians.
In such hybrid missions, protecting civilians can also turn into an operational asset, the speakers noted. “Avoiding civilian casualties enhances the support of the local population,” said Robert Ayasse of the Focal Point for Protection of Civilians at NATO headquarters.
But while the protection of civilians has become an essential component of NATO’s work, as Mr. Evans and Mr. Ayasse noted, African Union missions still face some hurdles in that regard.
Walter Lotze, of the Peace Support Division of the AU’s Mission to Somalia, said that only recently did the AU get around to including in its missions language explicitly mentioning the protection of civilians. It was in 2012, he said, that the AU’s Peace and Security Council took what he called a “landmark” decision by enshrining the protection of civilians in all future AU mandates.
“That means that all our missions will now have considerations on the protection of civilians as part of the planning process, as part of the mandate, and as part of what we do in the field,” he said.
But reforming the AU’s mission mandates may not be enough, some speakers noted. “One of the biggest problems we have is our lack of resources,” said Col. Aphaxard Kiugu, Military Adviser to the Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations. Some AU states, including Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia, have offered to provide troops to support efforts in South Sudan, but they still need logistical support from the UN, he said.
The two panels were chaired by Ambassador Pedersen and by Adam Smith, IPI Senior Fellow and Head of the IPI Center for Peace Operations.
Remarks were also delivered by Brigadier-General Reinhard Trischak of Austria’s Federal Ministry of Defense and Sport; Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Ben Majekodunmi of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and Marla Keenan, the Managing Director and Director of Military Engagement at the Center for Civilians in Conflict.
The two panels also included: David Haeri, the Chief of the Policy, Evaluation, and Training Division at UN DPKO; Capt. Brice Erbland, of the French Ministry of Defense; and Hana Salama, of the Every Casualty Programme at the Oxford Research Group.
The Global Observatory
Are Recent Prison Breaks in Nigeria Part of a Southward Expansion by Boko Haram?
Whoever is behind them, these prison breaks signal that Nigeria’s authorities are struggling to maintain the rule of law, not just in the far northeast, but also in the Middle Belt and the southwest.
Key Global Events to Watch in December
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.
2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.
The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.
December 09, 2014
Small States in a Multilateral World
Despite their size and limited resources, small states have an important and crucial role to play in the multilateral system and can leverage their power through cooperation.
December 02, 2014
Protecting Civilians in Armed Conflict: From Concept to Norm
Five years after the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1894, the concept of Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (PoC) has become a widely accepted norm at the UN, featuring more and more in Council mandates and becoming a cornerstone of UN missions on the ground.
November 27, 2014
Dialogue on Multilateralism Continues in Geneva
The Geneva launch of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM) took place on November 27th in the Palais de Nations, the UN headquarters in Geneva which used to be the seat of the League of Nations.
December 15, 2014
Video: Nazila Fathi on the Struggle for Modern Iran
December 12, 2014
Video: Effective Governance in Challenging Environments
September 25, 2014
IPI Remembers Margaret Vogt