Prioritizing, Sequencing, and Streamlining UN Security Council Mandates: Taking Stock of Lessons Learned and Pathways Forward

There have been several efforts to make UN peace operations mandates more realistic, effective, and achievable over the past two decades. Most notably, the 2015 report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) recommended that the council “make use of sequenced and prioritized mandates as a regular practice.” However, several challenges have inhibited efforts to make mandates more fit for purpose, and the extent to which mandates have become more prioritized and sequenced varies. In parallel, the council has sought to move away from lengthy “Christmas tree” mandates in favor of greater streamlining. However, while streamlining is intended to make mandates more focused, these changes have implications for missions’ budgets and operational capabilities, and mission leaders’ decision making.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report cohosted a roundtable discussion on May 14, 2024 to reflect on UN Security Council efforts to prioritize, sequence, and streamline mandates. This roundtable brought together representatives from the UN Secretariat and member states as well as external experts.

Overall, participants agreed that, over the past ten years, the council’s decisions to prioritize and sequence mandates have impacted missions’ work and resource allocation. Participants expressed differing opinions over whether and how the council should prioritize and sequence mandates in the future. Participants also identified the budgetary and operational opportunities and risks presented by streamlining mandate language moving forward.