On Wednesday July 15, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea in cooperation with the International Peace Institute organized a conference on “The Report of the High-level Independent Panel on the Peace Operations.” The meeting was set to address the report that was published a month earlier on June 16, and concluded with some key points in order to address remaining issues of the peace building operations. The meeting was composed of several sessions – the protection of civilians; conduct and discipline; women, peace, and security.
One of the main themes was how to connect politics and people. As the representative of Rwanda pointed out, those who take responsibility, particularly Security Council and its mandate, should look beyond their national interests and capabilities and be more people-oriented. Secretariat and Security Council need constant interaction in order to overcome all of the implementation challenges on the ground. Moreover, the protection of civilians requires regular integration and synergy between the protection and community outreach. The UN offices and personnel need to build personal and credible relationships with local communities and consequently empower them.
The second session on discipline and conduct referred to the cases when UN offices may commit crimes, particularly sexual exploitation and abuses. These cases should not be left unpunished – “immunity must never mean impunity,” as one of the speakers stated. One case can damage the credibility of thousand successful examples when peace-keepers sacrifice their lives to protect civilians. There should be a responsible way of acting in order to provide support for victims, and more transparent actions would have an impact on behavior.
The third session was dedicated to women and how they can provide peace and security. Notably, women can make peace more sustainable and effective. Alongside children, they are the ones that suffer the most – displacement, abuses, sexual violence and slavery. Women should be vocal advocates on all levels of peace-building, they can breach economic and political devices in sustaining peace and security. The Security Council should listen more to the women that come from the ground, it is the right time to change the course of actions towards a better sustainable future for all of us, where women and children are equal partners. We need to ensure true inclusion of women on all levels of peace consolidation, such as conflict prevention, diplomacy, security reform, rule of law, transitional justice and others. Lastly, the representative from International Peace Institute hit the nail on the head noting that “security and health of the nation depends on the status of women.”
In conclusion, peace-building operations can face many challenges, not only on the ground, but also in the rooms of Security Council and UN Secretariat. However, politics or bureaucracy should not be in the way of peace consolidation, but credible facilitators of the process.