The most comprehensive assessment of UN peace operations since the Brahimi Report of 2000 was completed this year, when the High-Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations (HIPPO) issued more than 100 recommendations to make UN peace operations “fit for purpose.” It was followed by the UN secretary-general’s report, outlining key actions to move the panel’s recommendations forward between now and the end of 2016. To support this agenda, how can the UN Secretariat and member states build and sustain the political momentum for the implementation of the recommendations of the UN secretary-general and HIPPO, as well as build on synergies with other global reviews—on the peacebuilding architecture, and on women, peace, and security?
This meeting note outlines key aspects of the agenda for improving UN peace operations and sketches a way forward for maintaining the political momentum for implementation. Focusing on political settlements, the protection of civilians, tailored and context-sensitive responses, and global-regional partnerships, it offers ideas to support ongoing initiatives to build and sustain momentum for change in UN peace operations.
The report stems from an expert meeting in Seoul on October 22, 2015, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and the International Peace Institute (IPI).
The following are among the recommendations that emerged from the meeting’s discussions:
- Learn from past reform efforts: Manage expectations on reform; have a clearly articulated strategic vision from the secretary-general and buy-in from the UN Secretariat to overcome the challenge of bureaucratic resistance within the UN; use concrete proposals that can be more easily championed by member states; and have longer-term five-to-ten-year plans aligned with General Assembly budget cycles.
- Build a compelling narrative: Motivate support for change by the collective sense of urgency around the growing disconnect between current UN responses and the increasing complexity of conflicts with various layers connecting with transnational aspects of organized crime and violent extremism.
- Create consensus and support of member states: The High-Level Thematic Debate on UN, Peace, and Security announced by the president of the General Assembly for May 10-11, 2016, could usefully help identify synergies among the different reviews, generate such a vision, and build member-state support for it.
- Avoid cherry-picking: Overcome the appetite to cherry-pick recommendations from the secretary-general and HIPPO reports; ensure the promotion of a holistic and coordinated approach needed for comprehensive reform; and come up with a more detailed implementation plan, thus breaking down challenging issues into more manageable bundles of proposals.
- Generate public support: Link the findings of the HIPPO report to the current crises that UN peace operations are facing from South Sudan to Libya, and as new ones emerge. Clearer and more independent monitoring and evaluation is needed.
- Move forward using long-term sight: Increase understanding of common themes across the pillars of the HIPPO report and also of synergies with the Peacebuilding Architecture Review and the Report of the Secretary-General on Women, Peace, and Security.