The 2023 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial will be held in Accra, Ghana on December 5-6, making it the first peacekeeping ministerial on the continent of Africa. Ahead of the ministerial, IPI, together with the Republic of Ghana, hosted a policy forum on November 16 to bring together member states and UN officials. The event supported the objective of the fifth UN Peacekeeping Ministerial to strengthen the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations and their impact on the communities they serve. Member states were able to convene outside of the official ministerial meetings and offer key takeaways and opportunities to galvanize member state pledges gathered from the preparatory conferences held in anticipation of the ministerial.
This year’s preparatory conferences represented priority thematic areas for the ministerial. These include the protection of civilians, strategic communications (including addressing mis- and disinformation and hate speech), safety and security, the mental health of peacekeepers, and women in peacekeeping.
Jenna Russo, Director of Research and Head of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations at IPI, considered these thematic areas in her remarks against the backdrop of an increasingly complex and evolving geopolitical landscape. Noting the mounting challenges that peacekeeping missions face today—namely, protracted conflict, climate change, pandemic, transnational organized crime, and the misuse of emerging technologies—she emphasized, “Effective response requires all of our collective efforts working together for the sake of peace.”
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations of the UN delivered opening remarks. As he looked to the upcoming forum, he highlighted this unique opportunity to revitalize and enhance peace missions in a changing landscape of peacekeeping and security operations.
Harold Adlai Agyeman, as the Permanent Representative of Ghana to the UN, focused his remarks on the expectations that this year’s host holds for the upcoming ministerial. “The aim is to achieve concrete outcomes to improve peacekeeping.” He highlighted member state pledges as the most important element to ensure that peacekeeping remains relevant and responsive.
Other panelists briefed the audience on the individual preparatory conferences for the ministerial. Showeb Abdullah, Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh provided an overview of the UN Preparatory Conference on Women in Peacekeeping Operations, co-hosted by Bangladesh, Canada, and Uruguay in Dhaka, earlier this year. He identified as a priority for any consideration of women in peacekeeping the role of peacekeeping partnerships, enhancing accountability, and deploying gender-responsive capabilities.
Adarsh Tiwathia, Principal Medical Officer and Deputy Director, DHMOSH/DOS of the UN, delivered takeaways from the Preparatory Conference on mental health support for uniformed personnel. Detailing how little support is available in peacekeeping contexts for mental health services, she identified telemedicine, technological integration, and a focus on pre-deployment and post-deployment services for personnel members as potential ameliorative measures.
Usman Jadoon, Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN spoke about the discussions on ways to improve safety and prevent fatalities of peacekeeping personnel held at the Preparatory Conference on Safety and Security, co-hosted by Japan and Pakistan in Islamabad.
Ed Caelen, Military Advisor of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN provided a summary of the Preparatory Conference on Protection of Civilians and Strategic Communications, co-hosted by Indonesia, Netherlands, Rwanda, and the UK in Kigali.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations
H.E. Harold Adlai Agyeman, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the UN
Md. Showeb Abdullah, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the UN
Adarsh Tiwathia, UN Principal Medical Officer and Deputy Director, DHMOSH/DOS
H.E. Muhammad Usman Iqbal Jadoon, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN
Ed Caelen, Military Advisor, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN
Jenna Russo, Director of Research and Head of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, International Peace Institute