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Department of Political Affairs

Political Missions play increasingly important role, report says

Political Missions 2012

Political missions are playing a central role in addressing conflicts globally though many face financial and security concerns that limit their impact, concludes an independent report released recently on the work of multilateral missions.  The report, published by New York University’s Center for International Cooperation, notes that during 2012, a year in which the numbers of troops deployed in peace operations declined, the pressure on political missions to manage complex peace processes increased.  The role played by such missions in high-profile conflicts suggests they are continuing to gain traction in multilateral crisis response, the report underlines.

Political missions have responded to various rapidly unfolding developments over the year, from West Africa to the Middle East.  In Libya, the United Nations Support Mission supported the first democratic elections after decades of authoritarian rule, while mediation efforts involving the United Nations Regional Office for West Africa have supported post-coup transitions in West Africa.  On Syria, Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi have engaged with national, regional and international parties in leading diplomatic efforts to end Syria’s bloody civil war.
Political Missions 2012 highlights the activities of political missions deployed by the United Nations and regional organizations over the year.  At a launch event on 13 December, the publication was welcomed by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, the Head of the Department of Field Support Ameerah Haq, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Guinea-Bissau Joseph Mutaboba, and the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, Paul Seger.  
This occasion also served as a launch for a Special Political Missions Start-up Guide,  a reference document for United Nations officials which clarifies the procedures and responsibilities during the critical and often fast-paced start-up phase of special political missions.  The guide will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the support of the Department of Political Affairs in establishing special political missions, the  latest of which have been set up in Central Africa, Libya and Yemen.