Twenty Years of Protecting Civilians through UN Peacekeeping Operations: Successes, Challenges, and New Frontiers

On May 22nd, IPI together with the Permanent Missions of the Netherlands and Uruguay to the UN, and the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) cohosted a policy forum on “Twenty Years of Protecting Civilians through UN Peacekeeping Operations: Successes, Challenges, and New Frontiers.” This side event was a part of Protection of Civilians Week, which is taking place on the margins of the May 23rd UN Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians under the Council presidency of the Republic of Indonesia.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1270, which authorized the UN peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone with the first explicit mandate to protect civilians under threat of physical violence under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. To mark this important anniversary, this event will bring together key peacekeeping stakeholders to reflect on the evolution of policy and practice in the implementation of protection of civilians mandates over the past two decades.

The protection of civilians through UN peacekeeping operations has become one of the most important and visible mandates of the United Nations and its member states. Eight out of fourteen UN peacekeeping operations currently have a protection of civilians (POC) mandate, constituting the vast majority of civilian and uniformed personnel deployed to these operations around the world. While POC has been the subject of significant focus by member states at the Security Council and the General Assembly Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, the UN Secretariat has also developed a body of policy and guidance that defines the concept of POC and clarifies the responsibilities of civilian, police and military components in protecting civilians.

Peacekeeping missions have also established innovative practical tools and approaches to enhance the implementation of protection mandates and diversify their posture and activities. However, these missions continue to face many challenges in implementing protection of civilians mandates, particularly as they operate in increasingly difficult environments and are asked to do more with less in a context of political and financial pressure.

This side event will take stock of the conceptual and practical evolution of POC in peacekeeping contexts, and draw on experiences and lessons from the field to examine recurring and emerging challenges. Specific and concrete recommendations will be explored to strengthen the protection of civilians through UN peacekeeping operations and prepare these operations to meet the new frontiers of protecting civilians.

The full concept note for the event is available here.

Opening Remarks:
Mr. Jake Sherman, Director of the Center for Peace Operations, International Peace Institute
H.E. Mr. Karel Van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Netherlands to the United Nations

Keynote Address:
H.E. Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations

Ms. Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, UN Departments of Peace Operations and Political and Peacebuilding Affairs
Mr. David Gressly, Deputy Special Representative for Operations and the Rule of Law, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO)
Lt. Cdr. Marcia Braga, Former Military Protection of Civilians and Gender Advisor, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), and 2019 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award Winner
Ms. Alison Giffen, Director, Peacekeeping, Center for Civilians in Conflict

Dr. Namie Di Razza, Senior Fellow, International Peace Institute

Concluding Remarks:
H.E. Mr. Elbio Rosselli, Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations