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The Primacy of Politics and the Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping Operations

  • Trygve Lie Center for Peace, Security & Development, International Peace Institute 777 United Nations Plaza, 12th Floor New York, NY, 10017 United States (map)

The International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations are pleased to invite you to a policy forum entitled “The Primacy of Politics and the Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping Operations.” This policy forum will explore the perceived and actual tensions between the pursuit of political solutions and the protection of civilians in peacekeeping contexts. The event will follow the 2018 Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians organized by Poland (#United4Civilians).

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Mr. Karel J. G. van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
Mr. Ralph Mamiya, Consultant; formerly Protection of Civilians Team Leader, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Mr. Sébastien Lapierre, Chief, Policy and Best Practices Service, UN Department of Peacekeeping operations (TBC)
Ms. Daniela Kroslak, Leader, Darfur Integrated Operational Team, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Ms. Chloé Marnay-Baszanger, Chief, Peace Mission Support Section, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Ms. Allison Giffen, Director, Center for Civilians in Conflict
Dr. Namie Di Razza, Research Fellow, International Peace Institute

This event is the first as part of IPI’s recently launched Protection of Civilians Project. While the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) stressed the “primacy of politics,” UN peacekeeping missions are often mandated to protect civilians in challenging environments where the peace process has stalled and political solutions seem out of reach. In these contexts, protecting local populations from physical violence may appear to be an operational imperative for the mission and a priority over engagement in protracted and uncertain political processes.
This policy forum will provide an opportunity to discuss situations where there is a risk of competition between the primacy of politics and the centrality of protection, as well as where they are complementary and mutually reinforcing. While the two objectives are hardly mutually exclusive, in practice pursuing both can raise challenging questions. In South Sudan, Darfur, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN mission’s political role may seem elusive, and its protection goals may appear to detract from its political effectiveness. The political stance of UN missions intervening in support of host states may also be an important limitation for peacekeepers mandated to protect civilians from all threats of physical violence—including from host-state forces.
In these situations, where civilians are clearly at risk, how should peace operations reconcile political strategies and the protection of civilians? In the absence of viable political processes at the strategic level, what political measures and strategies can be used in parallel with military operations to protect civilians on the ground?


For questions contact:
Beatrice Agyarkoh, or 212-225-9628