Challenges faced by complex peacekeeping operations

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Issues related to deployment of peace operations




Protection of United Nations personnel


During the year, 86 civilian and uniformed staff lost their lives while working in United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. Continuing attacks against United Nations and associated personnel underscored the need for host countries, the parties concerned and the United Nations itself to ensure their safety and security. While the United Nations maintained that it cannot work behind concrete walls and barbed wire, barricaded from the people it serves, questions were raised on how much could be accomplished in environments where humanitarian and peacekeeping personnel were being targeted.


Following the Baghdad bombing of 19 August, the Secretary-General appointed an independent panel of experts to make recommendations to improve the security system for United Nations personnel in Iraq and similar high-risk environments. DPKO also led an interdepartmental review of the UN Secretariat’s response to the bombing. These reviews are playing an important role in the overall evaluation of the United Nations Security Management System.




The Training Advisory Group of DPKO began developing an integrated strategy for training staff deployed in the field, particularly on cross-cutting issues such as gender and peacekeeping, child protection and DDR. The Department’s Military Division continued its activities related to peacekeeping training for military and civilian police. The Division also pursued training, targeting uniformed staff about to be deployed. In 2003, the Office of Mission Support led a major training exercise at the United Nations logistics base in Brindisi, Italy. The Department of Public Information led training for public information officers in DDR and received external funding to conduct a rapid reaction course for public information field staff in 2004.


Mainstreaming gender issues into peace operations


Mainstreaming gender issues into peacekeeping operations remained a priority for DPKO. The Department encouraged the establishment of gender affairs offices and focal points in field operations in order to prioritize the proactive role that women can play in ensuring lasting peace. In 2003, there were gender advisers in five peace operations—in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, the DRC, Afghanistan and Timor-Leste — responsible for spearheading efforts to mainstream gender concerns into all aspects of peacekeeping. In addition, a gender advisor post was approved for the United Nations Mission in Liberia. During the year, a gender capacity was established at DPKO headquarters to support gender advisors deployed in peace operations. The Department also issued gender training modules to Member States to be used in pre-deployment training for military and civilian police personnel. Obtaining gender balance among peacekeeping staff remained a priority. Towards the end of the year, women represented 25% of civilian professional staff, 4% of civilian police and 1.5% of military personnel working in peacekeeping operations.




HIV/AIDS is a major health concern for both peacekeepers and local residents, as well as a politically sensitive issue with a potentially serious impact on the effectiveness of peacekeeping missions. In January, UNAIDS sponsored the appointment of the first HIV/AIDS advisor in DPKO to coordinate its overall HIV/AIDS strategy and facilitate mission initiatives. Four peacekeeping missions—in Timor Leste, the DRC, Ethiopia and Eritrea and Sierra Leone—had HIV/AIDS policy advisors, and HIV/AIDS focal points were identified in six other peacekeeping missions. To raise awareness among mission personnel, the Department improved its training materials, developed and initiated a pre-deployment training module reviewed by some 75 countries, including all major troop contributors, and distributed HIV/AIDS awareness cards in 10 languages to deployed peacekeepers. Several peace operations partnered with United Nations agencies to conduct HIV/AIDS prevention, gender and human rights workshops for peacekeepers.


Disciplinary issues


DPKO undertook a number of steps to raise awareness of United Nations standards of conduct and improve monitoring of personnel behavior in field missions. It also strengthened its internal procedures for dealing with cases of serious misconduct. In October, the Secretary-General promulgated a bulletin that spelled out his zero tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeeping personnel. Each mission was charged with appointing a senior focal point to receive reports on cases of sexual exploitation. By the end of the year, several missions had already taken measures to implement this policy.


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