In the conflict-affected contexts where UN peacekeeping missions with Protection of Civilians (POC) mandates are deployed, civilians often contend with severe, complex, and rapidly evolving threats to their physical security rooted in unresolved legacies of violence. Several peacekeeping missions with POC mandates have been developing better tools in the form of Early Warning and Rapid Response (EW/RR) systems to quickly understand the protection threats to civilians, decide how best to intervene, and rapidly set potentially life-saving responses in motion.  

Many protection threats to civilians arise in remote areas far from Mission Headquarters. Peacekeeping Field Offices thus coordinate the collection of information about these threats through the mission’s civilian, police, and military components using a range of capacities and mechanisms. Field Offices also coordinate mission activities and operations intended to address protection threats. However, UN peacekeeping faces a serious gap in implementing effective EW/RR at the Field Office level in part because of specific factors that constrain Field Offices from quickly sharing information across components to facilitate comprehensive and coordinated mission responses to protection threats. Inaction and late reactions by peacekeeping missions can have severe consequences for civilians and can lead to decreased trust in peacekeepers.  

This issue brief looks at bottom-up innovations at the local level in peacekeeping missions that can help improve EW/RR through better coordination of civilian and uniformed (military and police) peacekeepers. Between 2019 and 2020, two Field Offices in different missions independently developed new approaches to facilitate more integrated and rapid information sharing—a key element of processing early warnings of protection threats that enables rapid responses and can save lives. In the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the Bouar Field Office piloted a new Equateur Region Communications and Operations (ERCO) Centre to improve integration and coordination among Field Office sections. In the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the Beni Field Office created the Integrated Operations & Coordination Hub (Beni Hub) to consolidate and disseminate early warnings of protection threats and minimize response times.  

Both initiatives were bottom-up developments that sought to improve the flow of critical information within Field Offices given the structural challenges they face. Based on 56 interviews conducted in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this issue brief presents research findings and analysis of the demonstrated positive impacts of these mechanisms, including improvements in integration for field-level EW/RR. 

Read and download the report here.



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