Civil war has raged in South Sudan for two years. Horrific atrocities continue to be committed against the civilian population by both primary parties to the conflict as UNMISS has struggled to protect civilians within and beyond its protection of civilians (POC) sites. This report by the Stimson Center and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute examines the challenges the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has faced in its efforts to protect civilians from physical violence despite the priority and focus of the revised mandate that was adopted following the outbreak of civil war in December 2013. The report offers recommendations for stakeholders to consider as part of the upcoming mandate review that will take place by December 15, 2015, as well as lessons for future reviews.
Revising The UN Peacekeeping Mandate In South SudanBy Lisa Sharland and Aditi GorurDecember 14, 2015
Within and Beyond the Gates: The Protection of Civilians by the UN Mission in South SudanOctober 7, 2015
As armed conflict broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) had to quickly transition from supporting the nascent nation to protecting civilians from harm. Over the last two years, government and opposition forces, as well as armed militias affiliated with them, have often deliberately targeted civilians, including through killings, sexual violence, abductions, the destruction of homes and crops, and the looting of cattle. Based on field research in South Sudan in August 2015, including more than 80 interviews with civilians affected by the conflict, UN representatives, government and military officials, representatives of international humanitarian organizations, and local civil society leaders, this report examines the UN mission’s successes and challenges in proactively protecting civilians from harm.
Around 200,000 people displaced by the conflict are currently sheltered within six UN bases across the country. These sites have undoubtedly saved lives, providing many people a refuge from the horrific conflict-related violence. At the same time, around 90 percent of the displaced population in South Sudan is not within these sites, but rather in often difficult to access areas of the conflict-affected states. The protection needs of these civilians have been and remain enormous, and UNMISS needs to do more to project force and proactively protect people outside the UN bases.
UNMISS’s mandate is currently up for renewal at the UN Security Council. The protection of civilians should remain one of the mission’s highest priorities, with further support from the UN Security Council and Member States to better enable the mission to engage in robust protection in areas where it is needed most.
Establishing Safety and Security at Protection of Civilians SitesBy Jenna SternSeptember 21, 2015
In December 2013, a civil war broke out in the new nation of South Sudan. As the fighting erupted inthe nation's capital and spread through the country, tens of thousands of civilians fled from conflict affected areas and sought refuge at bases of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). UNMISS opened its gates to those seeking protection and quickly prepared Protection of Civilians (POC) sites within and adjacent to its bases where people could take shelter from the violence. As of August2015 - more than a year after the inception of the conflict - about 200,000 people were estimated to reside in these POC sites, and more are continuing to arrive. Although the mission has undoubtedly saved many lives by accepting these civilians onto its bases, the influx of people onto U.N. premises has presented unique challenges and placed a huge strain on the mission's resources. UNMISS bases were not designed to house and protect such a large number of people over such a long period of time.
This policy brief examines current approaches to establishing safety and security, and outlines the most challenging internal security issues in UNMISS POC sites to inform future guidance. It focuses on the implications of the U.N.'s lack of judicial authority, the problems associated with indefinite detention,the difficulties of weapon confiscation, the organization of community watch groups, and the particular challenge of gender-based violence. In addition, it draws lessons from safety and security in other IDP and refugee settings that may offer insights for confronting similar challenges in POC sites.
The Role of Police in UN Peace OperationsBy Sofía SebastiánSeptember 21, 2015
To most people, the term
"United Nations peacekeepers" conjures images of soldiers in blue helmets, but U.N. peacekeeping operations also include critical non-military components. In environments characterized by weak or dysfunctional rule of law institutions and in contexts of criminal and low-intensity violence, U.N. police can play a vital role in maintaining security and protecting the civilian population from physical violence.
In contexts like South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Haiti and Mali, peacekeepers face unique challenges-including high levels of criminal violence, trafficking and organized crime networks, and the presence of large numbers of civilians seeking long-term protection at U.N. bases-that U.N. military forces do not have the skills and capacities to address on their own. In situations where violence risks escalating to a full-blown war or mass atrocities, U.N. police can be critical to maintaining security and protecting the civilian population from physical violence, filling the gap between the protection capabilities of military and civilian components of peacekeeping missions.
A new policy brief by the Stimson Center - The Role of Police in U.N. Peace Operations: Filling the Gap in the Protection of Civilians from Physical Violence - identifies important doctrinal gaps that have
hindered U.N. police effectiveness in protecting civilians from physical harm. These gaps have generated confusion about what protection from physical violence means; the specific roles (and ability to use force) of different types of U.N. police, including formed police units and individual police officers; the mandated tasks of physical protection in non-executive mandates; how the military and police must cooperate in different protection scenarios; and how U.N. police may protect civilians as a primary agent of protection in contexts of criminal violence.
The policy brief argues that in order to enhance U.N. police capacity in the protection of civilians from physical harm, the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations should adopt new guidance on police and protection, address broader capability and training deficits (including in the area of rapid deployment), expand the recruitment pool of U.N. police and
politically engage with police- and troop-contributing countries to better define the responsibilities of U.N. police in physical protection.
This policy brief is the third in a series of Stimson's Civilians in Conflict project publications, which will explore issues relevant to this year's high-level review of U.N. peacekeeping, with a focus on how U.N. interventions can better protect civilians.
Safety and Security Challenges in UN Peace OperationsBy Haidi Willmot, Scott Sheeran and Lisa SharlandJuly 15, 2015
Ensuring the safety and security of personnel in United Nations (UN) peace operations is vital for
fulfilling the organization’s duty of care. It also has a strategic impact, including on the efficacy of
mandate execution, force generation, the evolution of peace operations, and sustaining the relevance of the UN in the maintenance of international peace and security.
Since the tragic bombing of the UN headquarters in Iraq in 2003, a concerted effort has been made across the UN system to improve and strengthen security arrangements. However, too often, security issues are perceived as primarily technical matters, and they are not prioritized as strategically and politically important. The increasingly volatile environments into which UN peace operations are deployed and the demanding tasks being mandated require immediate and serious consideration of security issues.
Effective security is about protecting UN personnel while enabling, not limiting, operational activity. Those involved need to take up this challenge—to save lives, restore the peace, and better achieve the goals of the UN. To that end, the organization (including member states, the UN Secretariat, and other UN entities) should take the following steps.
Reducing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping: Ten Years After the Zeid ReportBy Jenna SternFebruary 12, 2015
In 2004, after numerous allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by United Nations (UN) peacekeepers made international headlines, both the UN Security Council and US Congress deliberated over what actions should be taken to solve the problem of peacekeepers violating the populations they were sent to protect. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked the Permanent Representative of Jordan, His Royal Highness Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, a former civilian peacekeeper and the UN ambassador of one of the major peacekeeping troop contributors, to prepare a comprehensive report on sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping missions.
The Zeid Report, released in March 2005, recommended the establishment and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to eradicate SEA by UN peacekeeping personnel. The report’s recommendations included propagation of UN standards of conduct, reforming the investigative process, strengthening organizational, managerial and command responsibility, and instituting individual disciplinary, financial and criminal accountability. Releasing the Zeid Report was a significant step for the UN in its effort to combat SEA. The report was an acknowledgement by the Secretary-General that SEA in peacekeeping was a major problem and set forth a rough plan for action.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Zeid Report’s release. Since then, the UN has taken several steps to implement these recommendations. First, an entirely new Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU) was established at UN headquarters. Second, training, investigative and victim assistance procedures have been developed through a “three-pronged” strategy of prevention, enforcement and remedial action. Third, the UN’s administrative justice system was overhauled.
Building EU-UN Coherence in Mission Planning & Mandate DesignBy Thierry Tardy and Richard GowanNovember 13, 2014
Just over five years ago, relations between the EU and UN were strained due to the difficulties of planning and implementing coordinated missions in Chad and Kosovo. Today, relations are considerably more cordial, but there is still room to improve the two organizations’ joint planning procedures. This paper aims to assess what has been achieved in the field of planning coordination and what the remaining challenges are; it also makes some suggestions for further action.
Perceptions Of Security Among Internally Displaced Persons In Juba, South SudanBy Aditi GorurSeptember 25, 2014
This brief synthesizes voices of internally displaced persons seeking protection at United Nations peacekeeping operation bases in Juba, South Sudan. In early August 2014, the Stimson Center conducted seven focus groups with people living in two protection of civilians (POC) sites inside UN bases in Juba. The purpose of these focus groups was to understand better how people living in these sites perceived their security. A summary of the findings is presented in this report.
The analysis is a product of Engaging Community Voices in Protection Strategies, a three-year initiative of Stimson’s Civilians in Conflict project. The initiative seeks to protect civilians under threat by ensuring that conflict-affected communities are safely and effectively engaged in external protection strategies. The Stimson Center is grateful to the focus group participants who volunteered their time to talk about extremely difficult subjects, as well as to the humanitarian agencies that facilitated the focus groups in the midst of this crisis.
Engineering Peace: The Critical Role of Engineers in UN PeacekeepingBy Arthur Boutellis and Adam SmithFebruary 3, 2014
Although engineering may be the least critically analyzed aspect of peacekeeping, it is one of the most crucial elements to the functioning of a UN peace operation. This report details the various roles that engineers play in UN peace operations and examines the type of engineering capacities available to a mission.
Without sanitary and secure camps, electricity, and passable roads or air strips, the mission is unable to function. Engineers design, prepare, and build these components for a peacekeeping operation. They also play a central role in the mission’s and host-state’s peacebuilding efforts—constructing roads and bridges, for example, and delivering tangible dividends for citizens.
Informed by field research with the UN missions in Haiti and South Sudan, the report outlines challenges to the effective use of engineering during a mission’s various stages. The authors make a number of suggestions for improving the UN’s use of engineers and conclude with five overarching recommendations for UN peace operations:
1. Develop rapid start-up or surge engineering capacities.
2. Better integrate engineering requirements into mission planning.
3. Adapt to changing needs in the mission consolidation phase.
4. Create win-win partnerships to address engineering needs beyond the mission.
5. Build local engineering and private-sector capacity for additional peace dividends.
Peacekeeping Reimbursements: Key Topics for the Next COE Working GroupBy Bianca SelwayDecember 12, 2013
In preparation for the first meeting in three years of the United Nations Contingent-Owned Equipment System (COE) Working Group, which takes place in January 2014, this brief analyzes the key issues under discussion and explains the procedural challenges ahead.
With UN peacekeeping operating in more complex environments and taking on new tasks, peacekeepers need appropriate equipment to carry out their mandates. A central aspect to equipping peacekeepers is ensuring that member states are appropriately reimbursed for their contributions under a equipment reimbursement system, called the Contingent-Owned Equipment System (COE). Every three years the United Nations conducts a meeting to negotiate the terms and conditions of the financial reimbursements paid to member states for the equipment they provide to UN peacekeeping operations. Preparations and briefings to member states are already underway in New York for the next COE Working Group meeting, to be held January 20–31, 2014. With 98,311 military and police deployed with their related equipment in seventeen missions around the world, the financial implications of these tri-annual discussions can be significant.1 In MONUSCO alone, the
mission’s annual budget for reimbursements to troop-contributing and police-contributing countries for major equipment and self-sustainment in the fiscal years 2008/09, 2009/10, and 2010/11 were $144 million, $160 million, and $180 million, respectively.2