International Peace and Security

By maintaining international peace and security, the UN makes all its work more effective, because by keeping the peace, the Organization can focus on solving global issues, instead of resolving conflicts.  Unfortunately, recent peace and security challenges in areas where the Organization has a limited presence have tested its ability to maintain the peace.  In areas where the UN has a presence, it has increasingly come under attack.

UN Photo/Albert González Farran
A South African peacekeeper with the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) is shown on night patrol at Kassab Camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kutum, North Darfur in 2012.

The UN works to maintain international peace and security in a world where security threats have become more complex.  Although the Organization has had many successes, there are also, unfortunately, several recent tragic cases where the United Nations has not been so successful.  Hundreds of thousands have died around the world as conflicts have recently mounted.

The line has become increasingly blurred between criminals and hostile groups and peace spoilers, including extremists with transnational strategies and sophisticated tactics. The breakdown of the State security apparatus in intra-State and inter-communal conflicts now poses tremendous security challenges and tests the Organization’s capacity to carry out its mandates and programmes.  And the UN, as a relatively soft target, has been the victim of attacks resulting in the tragic loss of life.

With the mounting complexity and growing costs of addressing crisis situations, the imperative of conflict prevention is higher than ever.  In its conflict prevention and mediation work, the United Nations continues to face challenges regarding how best to engage with sometimes amorphous movements or fractured armed groups and how to ensure inclusivity.

The Organization has strengthened its relationships with regional and subregional organizations, which play a significant role in fostering conflict prevention and mediation partnerships, in addition to rapid responses to regional crises.  

Member States have continued to see the value of United Nations support to electoral processes, with requests for assistance — which include technical assistance, the engagement of good offices and support to regional organizations — remaining high.  Electoral assistance has been provided in challenging security environments, many under Security Council mandates.

There is continued political will to prevent the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence, exemplified by the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, and the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, in 2014.

The Security Council has also called for sustained monitoring and reporting on the violations affecting children in armed conflict and for perpetrators to be brought to account.  The global campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”, is aimed at ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children by all national security forces in conflict by 2016.

Member States have demonstrated their continued interest in using peacekeeping and continue to recognize it as an effective and cost-effective tool, without which the human and material costs of conflict and relapse into conflict would be unquestionably higher. Although the environments for United Nations peacekeeping operations have always been challenging, we face today a heightened level and new types of security threat, requiring new approaches and strategies. Peacekeeping operations are being increasingly deployed earlier in the conflict continuum, before any peace or ceasefire agreement. Creating the political and security space necessary for successful negotiations is crucial.

Ensuring that United Nations troops are properly supported and equipped is a high priority. The complexity of contemporary peacekeeping environments requires strengthened partnerships with all stakeholders, including regional and subregional organizations, the wider United Nations family, international and regional financial institutions and donors, and multilateral and bilateral partners. Only through such collaboration can we collectively address the international peace and security challenges we face now, and in the coming years.

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