The State of UN Peace Operations Reform: An Implementation Scorecard

Secretary-General Ban Kimoon with Secretary-General-designate António Guterres, just before the General Assembly meeting appointing Guterres by acclamation as the next UN secretary-general,October 13, 2015. (UN Photo/Evan Schneider.)

There are currently more peacekeepers on the ground than ever before, and they increasingly operate in contexts where the UN is being asked to manage conflict rather than restore or keep peace. This has led many both within and outside of the UN to challenge and question the foundational assumptions and doctrines of UN peacekeeping and to ask whether peace operations are “fit for purpose.”

Against this backdrop, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) in October 2014. The HIPPO released its report putting forward 166 recommendations in June 2015, followed three months later by a report from the secretary-general on the implementation of these recommendations. But one year later, no formal progress report has been produced.

This report, composed of a visual “scorecard” and accompanying narrative, aims to fill this gap. It presents a nuanced picture of progress to date by identifying where both the UN Secretariat and member states have taken the most concrete action across nine strategic areas. It then suggests how the next secretary-general and member states can take forward the HIPPO’s recommendations in each of these areas. Its recommendations include the following:

  • The next secretary-general should make bold, “game-changing” proposals early in his term, particularly on restructuring the UN peace and security architecture, financing, and improved management of peace operations.
  • The informal groups of friends of HIPPO, together with the broader UN membership, should carry forward the spirit of peace operations reform as a package.
  • Member states should champion and build consensus around key HIPPO recommendations that the next secretary-general puts forward.
  • Member states should pilot country-specific implementation of HIPPO recommendations, including the need for political solutions to guide the design and deployment of peace operations and for sequenced and prioritized mandates.
  • The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) should continue discussing the HIPPO recommendations in its 2017 session.

This paper is part of a series of IPI papers exploring field support challenges faced by UN peace operations. IPI owes a debt of gratitude to the French Ministry of Army’s Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy for supporting this series.