A Question of Accountability


UN/Eric Kanalstein

United Nations peacekeeping troops often take the blame for mission failures, but a recent op-ed by Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)’s Peacekeeping Advisor Lauren Spink argues that the UN Security Council and Secretariat must share in accountability for peacekeeping operation failures and enact meaningful reform to support field operations.

Published at Global Peace Operations Review, the op-ed, titled "Accountability for Peacekeeping Failures Must Be Shared by the UN in New York," discusses the implications of the UN decision to dismiss the Kenyan Force Commander of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) following a UN Special Investigation on the performance of peacekeepers during a July outbreak of violence in South Sudan's capital, Juba. (CIVIC published its own report on the violence as well.)

Spink writes:

The fallout from the decision to dismiss the Kenyan Force commander has not been insignificant. As a result of the dismissal, Kenya announced that it would withdraw all of its troops from UNMISS and would cancel plans to contribute additional troops to a special Regional Protection Force authorized by the UNSC to be deployed to increase the Mission’s capacity in Juba. Notably, the Kenyan Government has also disengaged from the peace process in South Sudan. In the past, Kenya played a prominent role in negotiations to end violence between Sudan and South Sudan and amongst rival factions within South Sudan.

Spink emphasizes that while the Kenyan commander's dismissal should not be considered a misstep, the failures on the part of UNMISS aren't just the fault of commanders on the ground. For example, the UN leadership in New York has not done enough to drive a political solution to South Sudan's troubles.

These failures in New York directly affects troops' morale and willingness to put themselves in harm's way. Such disillusionment on the part of troop-contributing countries will continue, Spink writes, unless meaningful reform in how the UN supports peacekeeping operations from Turtle Bay.

Read the full commentary here.