In the wake of the crises in Mali and Guinea-Bissau in 2012, IPI co-organized a meeting with the Permanent Missions of South Africa and Azerbaijan to address the role and effectiveness of regional and international early-warning and response mechanisms.This meeting note summarizes the discussion at the meeting. In particular it analyzes the AU’s Continental Early Warning System, the UN’s root-cause approach, national early-warning structures in Ghana and Kenya, the role of civil society, and the challenges of adopting a timely response.
Reports by region: Africa
Preventing Conflicts in Africa: Early Warning and ResponseInternational Peace InstitutePublished September 13, 2012
DR Congo: M23 Rebels Committing War CrimesHuman Rights WatchPublished September 11, 2012
M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are responsible for widespread war crimes, including summary executions, rapes, and forced recruitment. Thirty-three of those executed were young men and boys who tried to escape the rebels’ ranks. Rwandan officials may be complicit in war crimes through their continued military assistance to M23 forces, Human Rights Watch said. The Rwandan army has deployed its troops to eastern Congo to directly support the M23 rebels in military operations. Human Rights Watch based its findings on interviews with 190 Congolese and Rwandan victims, family members, witnesses, local authorities, and current or former M23 fighters between May and September.
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UN Peacekeeping Transitions: Perspectives from Member StatesInternational Peace InstitutePublished September 4, 2012
This issue brief addresses the nature and timing of peacekeeping transitions, paying particular attention to the perspectives of UN member states and decisions by the Security Council. In light of the impending drawdown or reconfiguration of a number of peacekeeping missions, it identifies a resurgent interest among member states in the challenges posed by peacekeeping transitions.
Amid much debate over the financing of peacekeeping missions and responsibility for peacekeeping versus peacebuilding, the report makes a number of recommendations for member states to consider:
- Discussions on transitions need to focus on deciding where and when peacekeeping is the appropriate tool, not just on the cost implications of drawdowns and withdrawals.
- Despite appearances, thematic debates that include peacebuilding concerns are particularly relevant to Security Council practices, as peacebuilding activities can create the conditions that allow for a successful reconfiguration or withdrawal of peacekeepers.
- Discussions on transitions present an opportunity to involve host-country authorities and develop sustainable transition plans from the start of a mission, rather than only as it ends.
A summary of a roundtable discussion held at IPI on the drawdown or withdrawal of peacekeeping and special political missions is also available in a meeting note entitled UN Transitions: Mission Drawdown or Withdrawal.
The Role of UN Peacekeeping Missions in the Protection of CiviliansOxfam InternationalPublished September 4, 2012
The UN Security Council’s (UNSC) role, to maintain international security, includes protecting civilians in armed conflict. Made explicit in 2009, the UNSC noted that "the deliberate targeting of civilians… may constitute a threat to international peace and security, and [the UNSC] reaffirms… its readiness to consider such situations and, where necessary, to adopt appropriate steps."
States bear the primary responsibility for protecting their civilians, even though they may be unable or unwilling to do this. For this reason, the UNSC has developed means to improve the protection of civilians (PoC), including through UN peacekeeping missions. Since 1999, a number of missions have been explicitly mandated"‘to afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence."
Conflict-affected communities where there is a peacekeeping mission present expect to be protected and consistently request better protection. This requires an ongoing effort by the UNSC, the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Troop and Police Contributing Countries (TCCs and PCCs), and individual UN missions. There have been significant normative and technical developments to explain what PoC means and how PoC mandates should be implemented. There remain, however, many challenges to implement these mandates and guidelines to effectively protect civilians on the ground.
Peacekeeping is a temporary solution. But it can help the state take on its responsibility to protect civilians, by supporting security sector reform and rule of law development.
Security Council Cross Cutting Report: Protection of Civilians in Armed ConflictSecurity Council ReportPublished June 12, 2012
This is Security Council Report’s fifth Cross-Cutting Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict following the publication of our first such report in October 2008. With this report we continue to systematically track the Security Council’s involvement in the protection of civilians since it first emerged as a separate thematic topic in 1999. The report looks at relevant developments at the thematic level since our last cross-cutting report and analyses Council action in country-specific situations relating to the protection of civilians, highlighting the case of Syria. It also discusses the impact of evolving Council dynamics and outlines some emerging issues for the Council’s future consideration. It is our hope that the report will serve as a useful resource for Security Council members and others as they prepare for the Council’s next open debate on the protection of civilians and beyond.
Transition Compacts: Lessons from UN ExperiencesInternational Peace InstitutePublished May 15, 2012
This meeting note captures the proceedings at a seminar on November 2, 2011 on “Transition Compacts: Lessons from UN Experiences.” The seminar sought to learn from previous agreements on peacebuilding and development priorities between national governments and international partners in fragile and conflict-affected states.
During the meeting, the International Peace Institute presented a study on United Nations experiences with this first generation of “transition compacts,” a summary of which is included at the end of this note.
The seminar was hosted by IPI and organized in collaboration with the United Nations and the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF), a subsidiary body of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee. Participants included officials from the UN, its member states, the World Bank, and INCAF. The meeting was convened under the Chatham House rule of nonattribution.
Engaging Nonstate Armed Groups on the Protection of Children: Towards Strategic ComplementarityInternational Peace InstitutePublished May 15, 2012
This issue brief provides an overview of the legal, political, and operational frameworks protecting children from the effects of armed conflict, notably from violations by nonstate armed groups. The UN Secretary-General has repeatedly emphasized the need to “more consistently and effectively engage non-State armed groups in order to improve their compliance with the law,” including international human rights and international humanitarian law. This is of particular importance with regard to child protection as armed conflicts have far-reaching impacts on children, who are among the most vulnerable members of society.
The report explores some of the limitations of these frameworks and their mechanisms, and discusses ways to maximize the comparative advantages of different actors when engaging nonstate armed groups to improve the protection of children’s rights.
In part of the conclusion, the authors write:
"A concerted and strategic use of complementary approaches, including those outside of the monitoring and reporting mechanism (MRM) framework, would contribute to improved protection of children from the effects of armed conflicts. Such “strategic complementarity” would help maximize the comparative advantages of each actor for different purposes: to overcome access problems, notably when the states concerned are opposed to the UN’s engagement with nonstate armed groups; to develop specific responses tailored to the characteristics and sensitivities of each nonstate armed group; and to offer alternative approaches to overcoming nonstate armed groups’ perceptions of some actors’ bias in particular contexts. Such alternative approaches already exist but are seemingly overlooked in the MRM framework. Better interaction with actors operating outside the MRM would respond to the legitimate concerns of duplicating efforts and sending mixed messages on the applicable standards."
DR Congo: Local Communities on the Front LineRefugees InternationalPublished April 25, 2012
The day-to-day reality for ordinary people in the Democratic Republic of Congo includes all of the following: latent insecurity, ongoing military operations, and systematic attacks by armed groups – including units of the Congolese military. The international community has been providing humanitarian assistance to the DRC for over a decade and a half, but the need remains acute. The local UN peacekeeping operation (MONUSCO) dedicates the majority of its scarce resources to the protection of civilians, and will need to maintain this critical effort for the foreseeable future. Creative protection efforts by the peacekeepers need to be reinforced and supported. Protection monitoring and coordination efforts – led by the UN Refugee Agency – also need to be repaired.
Learning from Sudan's 2011 ReferendumUnited States Institute of PeacePublished April 16, 2012
This report is based on research conducted in Khartoum, Juba, Washington, and elsewhere in the aftermath of Sudan’s 2011 referendum. It seeks to answer a simple question: Why was the2011 referendum on the secession of southern Sudan largely peaceful despite predictions for renewed civil war? The report examines possible answers and attempts to formulate lessons for global conflict prevention that may emerge from the peaceful Sudan referendum experience.- Numerous predictions asserted that the referendum on the secession of southern Sudan would lead to renewed civil war.- Despite ongoing violence in many parts of Sudan and South Sudan, the referendum process was largely peaceful.
- Numerous predictions asserted that the referendum on the secession of southern Sudan would lead to renewed civil war.
- Despite ongoing violence in many parts of Sudan and South Sudan, the referendum process
was largely peaceful.
- This unanticipated result may prove a relatively rare instance of documented success in conflict prevention.
- Warnings of impending violence came from many sources. They were timely but tended to be vague. Whether they were overly dire because of faulty assumptions about the conflict dynamics deserves scrutiny.
- Two prominent narratives explain why the referendum process was peaceful: one that emphasizes domestic factors and another that focuses on international intervention by Africans and westerners. It is highly likely that both contain important explanations for the peaceful referendum.
- People in Sudan and South Sudan tend to emphasize the domestic narrative; members of the international community tend to focus on international engagement.
Several lessons for global conflict prevention can be drawn from the Sudan referendum experience:
- Preventing conflict in what seems like dire circumstances is possible.
- Coordinated outside actions should support local conflict-mitigating dynamics.
- Technical actions, such as election or referendum logistics, can have a significant positive impact on political processes.
- International actors need to be receptive to taking preventive action.
- Focusing on successes, as well as failures, is critical.
Security Council Working Methods and UN Peace Operations: The Case of Chad and CAR, 2006-2010Center on International CooperationPublished April 11, 2012
This paper, the second in a series on Security Council working methods and the performance of peace
operations, addresses the Council’s engagement in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) from early 2006 to the end of 2010. While the Council explored options for deploying some sort of UN peacekeeping presence to these countries from mid-2006 onwards, these discussions were secondary to much higher-profile debates about the possibility of a large-scale force in Darfur. After Chad had stated its initial opposition to a UN military deployment, France initiated proposals for the deployments of an EU
military mission linked to a UN police presence to Chad and CAR in mid-2007.
After lengthy negotiations, the two organizations deployed in early 2008, and operated in parallel until March 2009. The EU mission then closed, following a pre-arranged schedule, while the UN mission (MINURCAT) deployed a military presence. However, Chad put a growing number of obstacles in MINURCAT’s way, and eventually withdrew its consent altogether. MINURCAT ended its operations in
The goal of this paper is to show how the Security Council’s working methods affected its dealings with Chad and CAR prior to the launch of MINURCAT and the parallel EU mission (EUFOR Tchad/RCA) and its oversight of the two operations from 2008 to 2010. While the two missions’ performance was shaped by multiple contextual factors (and in EUFOR’s case, European politics) it offers lessons about the relevance of working methods to an operation’s effectiveness. This is particularly true because MINURCAT was subject to almost constant political pressure from the government of Chad, and the Council’s working methods inevitably shaped elements of its response to this pressure.