May 2018 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 April 2018
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Expected Council Action

In May, the Council will be briefed on aspects of UN peacekeeping by three heads of military components of UN peace operations: Lieutenant General Leonard Ngondi, Force Commander of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID); Major General Jean-Paul Deconinck, Force Commander of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); and Lieutenant General Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, Force Commander of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix is also expected to address the Council. No outcome is anticipated.


The force commander briefings, which have been held annually since 2010, focus on the operational challenges of implementing mission mandates. On this occasion, the meeting is expected to focus on two particular issues: the need to adapt to changing security and operational environments and the implementation of Council mandates. These two issues were recently highlighted at the 28 March open debate on “Collective Action to Improve UN Peacekeeping Operations”, held at the initiative of the Netherlands.

Adapting to Changing Security and Operational Environments

In 2017, 61 peacekeepers were killed as a result of hostile acts, the highest number since 1994. As a reaction to this worrying phenomenon, the Secretariat assigned a team led by Lieutenant General (ret.) Carlos dos Santos Cruz of Brazil to write a report on improving the security of UN peacekeepers. The report concluded that a change of mindset is needed to adapt to the new contexts in which the UN flag no longer offers “natural” protection and to break from a “Chapter VI Syndrome” that leads peacekeepers to deploy without a full appreciation of security risks and the operational approach needed to address them. The report argues that a more proactive posture will contribute to the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations and their ability to protect civilians and their own personnel. Building on the report, the Secretariat has developed a plan of action that identifies concrete ways to improve the safety and security of UN personnel.

Force commanders are expected to raise what they perceive as the most pressing issues needed to fulfil their mandates in situations with a challenging security environment. They may be interested in weighing in during the discussion regarding the appropriate level of “robustness” for UN operations, when circumstances call for a more proactive posture and when they do not, and how force posture has an impact on the broader mandate of the mission. 

The Implementation of Council Mandates

During the 28 March open debate, Secretary-General António Guterres warned about mandate inflation and the impossibility of implementing many mandated tasks, calling on the Council to sharpen and streamline mandates. This is in line with previous reports (including the Brahimi report in 2000 and the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations) that advocated for the prioritisation and sequencing of Council mandates to make peace operations more effective. Among the issues that may be raised as needed to achieve this goal are appropriate resources, realistic expectations, prioritising tasks, aligning resources and mandates more closely, and having coordinated and coherent political strategies.

Issues and Options

As the Secretariat engages in efforts to reform peacekeeping, Council members could draw lessons on how it agrees on strategic objectives for these missions, designs mandates, and monitors the capacity to achieve them. This could also include a more concerted effort to receive military advice and operational information from force commanders by having them brief the Council alongside heads of missions on a case-by-case basis. As the Secretariat rolls out a new methodology to carry out strategic reviews, including an independent element, the Council could discuss the way in which it expects to consider the conclusions of such reviews.

Council Dynamics

In past years, Council members have found the force commander briefings useful because of the substance of the discussions and the interactive format, which allows them to ask questions. The success of these sessions prompted then-Council member Australia to organise a briefing with the heads of police components of peacekeeping operations during its November 2014 presidency. Since then, a meeting with the heads of police components has also been held annually.

This year’s meeting comes at a time of considerable discussion about peacekeeping reform. During the 28 March open debate, Guterres announced a new initiative, “Action for Peacekeeping”, aimed at mobilising all stakeholders to create peacekeeping operations fit for the future. At press time, Council members are negotiating a draft presidential statement circulated by the Netherlands as a follow-up to the open debate.

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Security Council Meeting Records
28 March 2018 S/PV.8218 The Council held an open debate on peacekeeping, chaired by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte.
23 May 2017 S/PV.7947 This was a briefing on peacekeeping operations by force commanders.

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