The Department of Political Affairs is undergoing a significant transformation to realize the vision of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has placed renewed focus on using the political tools of diplomacy and mediation to prevent and resolve conflicts before they spread. With support from Member States, DPA has embarked on a determined effort to reshape its structures, bolster its resource base, and change its institutional culture to be able to rise to the demands and expectations it faces.
Some of the steps DPA has been taking are:
- Introducing greater regional diversity, operational skills and field experience into DPA’s professional ranks.
- Instilling a stronger culture of action to transform a traditionally desk-bound and analytical organization into one that puts a premium on speed, prevention and results.
- Professionalizing DPA's approach to mediation through the Mediation Support Unit and its rapidly deployable Standby Team of Mediation Experts.
- Viewing electoral assistance as another tool for conflict prevention, including through increasingly deploying, at the request of Member States, high-level electoral missions to help increase confidence in election processes and peaceful acceptance of results.
- Putting in place more flexible sources of funding for rapid response, and exploring the development of a Rapid Response Fund to ensure DPA reacts more quickly to demands for its services.
- Stronger management of its field operations through enhanced back-stopping and closer coordination with the United Nations Department of Field Support.
- More effective partnerships with the UN system, in particular with UNDP in the area of crisis prevention.
- Focussing on integrating the entire set of UN actors in DPA-led peace-building offices for a more effective structure to help countries emerge successfully from conflicts.
- Strengthened partnerships with regional or sub-regional organizations to prevent and/or resolve conflicts.
- Raising awareness among Member States of what a revitalized DPA has to offer within a broad menu of crisis response options.
Although the retooling of DPA remains a work in progress, the Department is already taking a more proactive approach in the field successfully.