UN Peacekeeping Summit 2016: How can peacekeeping contribute to peace?

<p>A year on from US President Barack Obama’s peacekeeping summit, defence ministers have come together in London to examine progress and the ambitious reform agenda spelled out in the 2015 UN <a href="http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/reform.shtml">High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations report</a>.</p>
<p>The <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/un-peacekeeping-defence-min... Defence Peacekeeping Ministerial 2016</a> in London promises much. A report card on member state resource commitments made last year, a deeper consideration of the reform proposals and a specific focus on women, peace and security. </p>
<p>The risk, though, is that the conference limits itself to more operational concerns, for example, numbers of troops and equipment, rules of engagement and so on.  Of course a greater commitment to realising the protection of civilians and addressing sexual violence and exploitation is critical and urgent. These are politically-sensitive issues and, despite being universally acknowledged as requiring action, states continue to struggle to find consensus on a common way forward. National caveats continue to weigh heavily on progress. </p>
<p>Ultimately though, these issues are about changes in operational behavior and more immediate priorities. <strong>The broader challenge for the Summit is whether it will address the end goal of peacekeeping operations - peace. </strong>While peacekeeping operations do not have sole responsibility, their ultimate mandate is to contribute to lasting peace. The days of standing a post between two warring parties while others get on with the business of peace are over. There is no escaping the politics, no escaping the context. Commanders and their forces are intimately intertwined with conflict dynamics and this will only grow as new models such as the Force Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are trialed.</p>
<p>This means, understanding the context better, including through greater and closer engagement with the population but also careful, joint and properly resourced planning and analysis; embedding peacekeeping operations in a broader political strategy to promote <em>sustainable</em> conflict resolution and thus exit strategies for missions and moving beyond just protecting women to actively involving them in building peace. </p>
<p>These three reform needs are spelt out clearly in the in the UN’s <a href="http://www.un.org/undpa/en/speeches-statements/16062015/HIPPO-report">High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations Report</a>, which under the <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/28/declaration-leade... coming out of the 2015 Summit states acknowledge as an important road map for more effective peacekeeping operations. </p>
<p>As a long term partner of International Alert and recognised leader within the DRC community, national spokesperson of the <a href="http://www.international-alert.org/news/rien-sans-les-femmes#sthash.MXXg... Sans les Femmes</em></a> movement and one of only two civil society representatives at the Summit, Solange Furaha will illustrate the urgent need for this kind of change. With the peacekeeping mission in DRC - MONUSCO - accounting for around 20 per cent of the total UN peacekeeping budget and costing more than $11 billion since 1999, it is incumbent upon the international community to heed her words and calls for reform if we are to see progress, not only in that country but in other places around the world where peacekeepers continue their vital work.</p>
<p>As we focus on resources and new commitments, we must equally focus on how we reduce the need for such forces and their own role in making this happen. </p>
<p>While this gap persists our military, police and other peacekeeping elements will be left without a sustainable exit strategy, in cycles of perpetual mandate renewals or having to re-deploy as conflict re-emerges.</p>
<p>Above all though, progressing this reform is essential to meeting the needs of those people we ultimately seek to help to live lives free from fear and violence.</p>