On Nov 15, CIVIC’s Peacekeeping Director Alison Giffen was one of two civil society representatives invited to speak at the 2017 Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial hosted by the Canadian Ministry of Defence. Alison was asked to respond to a panel during a session on Early Warning and Rapid Deployment. Her remarks are below.
Thank you for inviting me to speak as a representative of the Civil Society Roundtable held in Ottawa in preparation for this Ministerial. At the Roundtable, participants recognized that the UN Secretariat, Member States, and civil society must collectively improve early warning, but noted the greater challenge of breaking down barriers to early action.
Rapid deployment is inextricably linked to the preceding session on protecting populations at risk. Egregious violence against civilians tears at the social fabric of a country, stunting peacebuilding, delaying development, and leaving communities vulnerable to exploitation by extremist and criminal networks.
We must therefore ensure that the UN has the ability to deploy rapidly to a country in crisis and, as importantly, to move quickly and flexibly once in theatre to halt escalations of violence.
Rapid deployment in theatre hinges on integrated threats-based assessment and planning. Peacekeepers must understand when, where, and why communities are at risk and how a peacekeeping operation can use its civilian, uniformed, and political capacities to protect civilians.
To undertake integrated assessment and planning, UN peacekeeping operations need capabilities to:
- To engage safely and effectively with communities at risk of violence;
- Communicate and when appropriate coordinate with organizations that are providing protection and humanitarian assistance;
- Employ expert UN civilian personnel to engage safely with these external actors;
- Develop stronger information sharing and analysis cells; and
- Improve planning and decision-making mechanisms across all components of a mission, including through scenario-based planning and table-top exercises.
Here is the challenge: Peacekeeping operations do not yet have adequate policies, guidance, tools, or training to enable missions to effectively accomplish these tasks.
We must work together to close these gaps in order to capitalize on the rapid deployment capabilities pledged today.