“If there was no UN, there would be no one left here,” – Community Leader, Malakal, South Sudan
Peacekeepers are increasingly on the front lines in volatile environments, tasked with protecting civilians in countries where the parties to a conflict are targeting them deliberately. While such operations present significant challenges, failures in protection, such as several high-profile events in South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR), undermine civilians’ faith in peacekeeping missions. Real reforms are needed at both headquarters and mission levels to put peacekeepers in the best position to succeed, thereby improving civilian protection in some of the world’s worst conflicts. CIVIC’s Peacekeeping Program addresses four critical gaps in capabilities along the protection chain:
- Mission planning and decision-making is often disconnected from assessments of threats to civilians;
- Accountability systems for mission leadership, civilian components, and uniformed personnel are ineffective or even absent;
- The UN system lacks understanding and agreement on the importance of civilian harm mitigation and how to operationalize it in peacekeeping operations; and
- Communities at risk of violence are not adequately or effectively engaged in mission strategies developed to protect them.
CIVIC’s Peacekeeping Program focuses its research and advocacy in four countries where Peacekeeping Forces are actively deployed and where they are struggling to implement their protection mandates: Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, and South Sudan.
CIVIC works at both the country and global levels to effect change. We address decision-makers within the UN Secretariat and Member States in New York, and increasingly with key capitals. We use our research to influence the mandates and strategic reviews of peacekeeping operations and to spur responses to protection crises in our four focus countries. Finally, we integrate our research findings into broader peacekeeping reform initiatives that have been introduced by the Secretary-General and Member States.