UN Peacekeeping operations at a crossroads

Published 28. Jun 2022
The implementation of protection mandates in contested and congested spaces

The protection of civilians remains a critical feature of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, offering unique support to populations at risk in fragile and failing states, with a focus on long-term stability and peace.

Hosting nations are, however, increasingly engaging the support of both bilaterally deployed forces and private military contractors to achieve military and security objectives, often at both the expense of existing peace and diplomatic processes, and human rights. Adapting and responding to these changing environments is essential for Missions in terms of retaining their relevance and realising their mandated protection objectives. This requires both improved support and resource allocation, and improved utilisation of existing resources.

Drawing on extensive in-depth interviews and informal conversations with representatives of both UN Peacekeeping Operations and UNHQ, this report explores challenges and opportunities in the implementation of the protection mandates of the four multi-dimensional peackeeping operations, namely MINUSCA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO and UNMISS. It offers insights both in terms of contextual challenges arising from the volatility of the environments in which they work and internal challenges related to the complex nature of jointly implementing civilian, military, and police protection activities.

Given the crossroads UN peacekeeping operations find themselves on, the report provides forward-looking recommendations and encourages reflection and flexibility to support enhanced engagement on key protection issues that are integral to international peace and security.