Cairo, Egypt - Today’s Peacekeeping missions are facing increasing pressure to adapt to riskier and more volatile environments. This is particularly relevant in Africa and the Arab world where the majority of peacekeeping missions are deployed. While recent reform initiatives have focused on strengthening uniformed capabilities, the operational realities on the ground call for a review of ‘whole-of-mission’ performance to ensure better design and delivery of peacekeeping, from mandate to exit.Significant efforts are currently taking place in the UN to reform the peace and security architecture, and to make peacekeeping more fit for purpose. In addition to the ongoing reviews of eight peacekeeping operations, the Secretary-General’s new initiative “Action for Peacekeeping (A4P)” is an important step in the same direction.
To advance this conversation, the Government of Egypt--in cooperation with CCCPA, and with the support of international and regional partners (Governments of Japan, Norway, Canada, the United Nations Development Programme and UN Women)--organized a High-Level Regional Conference on “Enhancing the Performance of Peacekeeping Operations: From Mandate to Exit”, on 18-19 November 2018. The conference addressed key strategic and operational dimensions of performance throughout the life cycle of a peacekeeping mission, including mandate, planning, leadership, readiness and capacities.
The conference provided a unique platform for officials from top troop- and police-contributing countries (T/PCCs) from Africa and the Arab World to share their views on strengthening UN peacekeeping, with other actors and stakeholders. These included members of the UN Security Council, host nations, financial contributors, representatives of international and regional organizations (including the United Nations, African Union, and the League of Arab States), as well as mission leaders, and leading international research and training centers, scholars, experts, and practitioners.
In his keynote speech, H.E. Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, highlighted that the conference comes as part of Egypt’s commitment to advance African and Arab contributions to the peacekeeping reform debate: “We, Africans, are the primary contributors, thought that we should step up to the task and demonstrate our collective commitment in Africa to ensure that UN peacekeeping remains credible and viable in meeting the challenges facing our world and, at the heart of which, our continent.” With regards to Egypt’s preparation for its presidency of the African Union in 2019, he stated that “Egypt stands ready to deepen Africa’s partnership with the UN, especially and to identify a common and practical approach to improving performance of UN peacekeeping.”
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, praised Egypt’s “constant support and critical contributions” to peacekeeping, including by deploying personnel in six operations--five of which are high-risk missions, namely the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID). In addition to its troops, he added that “Egypt is also contributing vital capacities, such as medical, transport and engineering units, which are essential to mandate implementation.” He described the conference to be in the “spirit at the heart of the Secretary-General’s initiative on Action for Peacekeeping”.
The sessions tackled different aspects of peacekeeping performance, including defining a clear national political strategy that supports mandate implementation, and dealing with peacekeeping as part of the continuum of peace interventions to sustain peace. Special importance was given to conducting a frank and timely analysis of the field dynamics to assist the process of mandate prioritization. Discussions also focused on strengthening uniformed capabilities and adopting a holistic and inclusive approach to assessing a mission’s ability to better deliver the intended results.
The conference also shed light on sharing the responsibility of a mission’s performance among all stakeholders, including the UN Secretariat, financial contributors, T/PCCs, host nations and regional organizations. Troops need to be well-trained and better equipped to improve the performance of peacekeeping operations. For this purpose, new methods in training need to be considered, including scenario-based and in-mission trainings.
Speakers at the opening session addressed the need to strengthen cooperation among all stakeholders. H.E. Masaki Noke, Ambassador of Japan to the Arab Republic of Egypt, highlighted that “Japan will continue to work closely with African countries and the UN and other organizations in addressing the current challenges of peacekeeping”.
Anne Kjersti Frøholm, Specialist Director for Peace Operations at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that “efforts must continue to strengthen the UN’s partnership with regional organisations, especially the AU. We support the use of UN assessed contributions for AU operations, combined with AU funding.”
On her part, Ambassador Larisa Galadza, Director General of the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program of Global Affairs Canada, shed light on the importance of increasing female participation in peacekeeping: “We have built strong momentum for increasing the participation of women police and military in UN operations, through the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations.”
The conference saw the participation of many high-level speakers, including Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support; Lisa M. Buttenheim, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support; Mourad Wahba, UN Assistant Administrator of UNDP and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States; Kenneth Gluck, Deputy Special Representative and Deputy Head of MINUSCA; and Sivuyile Bam, Head of the Peace Support Operations Division in the Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission.
The conference comes at a time when Egypt is at the forefront of efforts to strengthen UN peacekeeping. Egypt is currently the world’s 7th largest contributor to peacekeeping missions, the 4th largest police contributor and the 11th largest troop contributor. In addition, Egypt plays a pivotal role in shaping peacekeeping policies and doctrine, particularly through its recent membership in the United Nations Security Council (2016-2017), and development of detailed guidelines on the role of peacekeeping missions in sustaining peace, as outlined in Security Council Presidential Statement S/PRST/2017/27.