2017 saw the highest number of peacekeeper fatalities through violent acts in over two decades, with 56 peacekeepers killed. In an effort to reverse this trend and improve the safety and security of UN peacekeepers, the Secretary-General in November 2017 appointed Lieutenant General (Retired) Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil) to carry out an in-depth review of peacekeeping fatalities and injuries due to hostile acts.
The Report aims to identify why the UN has had so many casualties caused by acts of violence in recent years and what should be done to reduce these casualties. In the course of the Review, the team visited UN peacekeeping operations in the DRC, Central African Republic, Mali and South Sudan, accessed relevant internal UN data and conducted 160 interviews to inform their work. The Report does not address the issue of mandates, but instead confines its conclusions to operational issues in MINUSMA, MONUSCO, MINUSCA, UNAMID and UNMISS.
The Report, which was submitted to the Secretary-General, states that with the influx of armed groups, extremists, organized crime, and other criminal elements and threats, the UN flag no longer offers ‘natural’ protection to peacekeepers.
The Review Team identified four broad areas where the United Nations and Member States must take actions to reduce fatalities.
These include (1) changing mindsets so that personnel are aware of the risks and empowered to take the initiative to deter, prevent, and respond to attacks; (2) improving capacities so that the mission and personnel are equipped and trained to operate in high-threat environments; (3) achieving a “threat sensitive mission footprint” that is aligned with mission mandates and limits the exposure of the mission to threat; and (4) enhancing accountability to ensure that those able to take actions to prevent fatalities and injuries live up to their responsibilities.
Following the submission of the Report, the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support have developed an Action Plan to implement its recommendations. The Action Plan focuses on three main areas: operational behaviour and mindset; capacity building and readiness; and support issues. The Action Plan includes immediate Headquarters and field-level actions, as well as concerted political engagement with Member States -- including with Troop- and/Police-Contributing Countries (T/PCCs) and legislative bodies -- concerning performance and force/police generation, among other initiatives.
DPKO-DFS have also established an implementation support team led by two senior officials, which will coordinate and monitor implementation of these measures at Headquarters and provide support to field missions. In the meantime, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, MINUSCA, UNAMID and UNMISS have each created action plans and appointed similar teams to immediately implement them.
Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers (Independent Report): http://bit.ly/2G6XKkS
Summary of the Action Plan to Implement the Report on Improving Security of UN Peacekeepers: http://bit.ly/2G5DTCE