United Nations peace missions keeping pace with the times

25.02.2019 - Article

The project Action 4 Peacekeeping aims to ensure that United Nations peace missions take greater account of structural causes of conflict, says the German Foreign Office.

The United Nations is the largest peacekeeping body in the world. Peacekeeping missions are a hallmark of the United Nations. In many conflict regions they are the only international instrument available to protect people and take the first steps towards stability. At the German Foreign Office on 18 and 19 February, experts discussed the future of United Nations peace missions under the motto 'Action 4 Peacekeeping.'

Comprehensive reforms: Action 4 Peacekeeping

Vietnamese members of UNMIS, the peacekeeping mission in Sudan.
Vietnamese members of UNMIS, the peacekeeping mission in Sudan.© ANN

Due to the shifting nature of conflicts and the complexity of operations in countries such as Mali, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti, the individual missions and UN peacekeeping in general are the subject of ongoing reform efforts. The main focus is on relations with the host state and questions pertaining to resources – skills, personnel and finances – alongside political issues and how to deal with challenges such as terrorism and cross-border threats.

Since 2017, Secretary-General Guterres has initiated comprehensive reforms of the United Nations. Based on the tenet 'Sustaining Peace' he is working to ensure that the UN practises holistic crisis management that is geared towards prevention.

On 25 September 2018 a declaration on peacekeeping entitled 'Action 4 Peacekeeping' was adopted by 150 states, including Germany, and four international organisations. It is designed to form the basis for peacekeeping to be better adapted to the current needs of conflict resolution.

Germany’s commitment to peacekeeping

Germany’s engagement in UN peace missions is an important component of German foreign and peace policy. Germany is currently engaged with personnel – soldiers and police officers – in the UN peace missions in Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Lebanon, Haiti, Kosovo and Western Sahara. Moreover, Germany is the fourth-largest contributor to the budget for peace missions (after the United States, China and Japan) and is one of the largest voluntary donors to the UN in the area of peacekeeping, crisis prevention and stabilisation. Germany thereby supports and assists the implementation of UN mandates in numerous mission contexts, for instance through stabilisation measures, training programmes for peacekeepers and provision of capabilities. The Federal Government also attaches high priority to increasing the proportion of women in peacekeeping.

Focus of Germany’s Security Council membership

A UN peacekeeper's blue helmet
A UN peacekeeper's blue helmet© dpa

Germany will continue to push for the further development of peacekeeping and the implementation of the 'Action 4 Peacekeeping' agenda. When peace missions are on the Security Council agenda, the German Government will work for effective mandates. Stabilisation and peacebuilding need to be taken into consideration from the outset and transition processes ranging from peacekeeping to post-conflict rehabilitation put in place to avoid a descent back into conflict. The Security Council and the UN as a whole therefore need to focus more closely on structural causes of conflict and conflict catalysts such as climate change and human rights violations.

©German Foreign Office

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