In 2014 the UN Secretary-General appointed a High-Level Independent Panel to comprehensively review peace operations. When the Panel published its report in June 2015, it argued that four essential shifts are needed for peace operations to become more effective. One of these shifts was that the UN Secretariat must become more field-focused and UN peace operations must become more people-centered (UN, 2015c: viii). The panel called for “a renewed resolve on the part of UN peace operations personnel to engage with, serve and protect the people they have been mandated to assist” (UN 2015c: viii).
This is also one of the central lessons that has emerged from the peacebuilding and peacekeeping literature over the last two decades, namely that many peace interventions are ineffective or less successful because they have been too top-down and template driven. These findings agree with recent research by EPON. The EPON studies to date found that these peace operations perceive themselves to be primarily accountable to the UN Security Council, the UN Secretariat and the troop and police contributing countries, and are not doing enough to assess their impact on the societies they are meant to protect and serve.
On 4 February, the International Studies Association (ISA), UN Academic Impact (UNAI), and the two EPON partners, the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) organise a seminar on how to make UN peace operations more inclusive and people-centered. The event is hosted by the UN and is organised as part of an initiative to help facilitate exchanges between scholars/researchers and policymakers/practitioners.
10:00 – Welcome & Introductions
Cedric de Coning, NUPI
La Neice Collins, UN Academic Impact (UNAI)
Joel Oestreich, Drexel University, representing the International Studies Association (ISA)
David Haeri, Director, Policy Evaluation and Training, DPO
Teresa Whitfield, Director of the Policy and Mediation Division, DPPA
10:30 – Why is it important and what will it take to make Peace Operations more inclusive and people-centered?
Facilitator: Adam Day, UNU
Interactive Panel (no presentations, facilitated discussion):
Cedric de Coning, NUPI
Linnea Gelot, FBA
Charles T. Hunt, UNU/RMIT University
11:30 – Engaging with the recommendations: what can Peace Operations do to become more inclusive and people-centered?
Facilitated discussion with the aim of developing specific recommendations for making peace operations more inclusive and people-centered.
12:00 – Report back, wrap-up & closing
Adam Day, UNU
Youssef Mahmoud, Senior Advisor, IPI
After the meeting this blog was published that reflected on some of the key issues discussed.