Better performance means better impact for peace
By David Haeri
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This anniversary comes along with a message of hope: together, in a world where cooperation is key to ensure the success of peace processes, we can achieve more for populations.
Our peacekeeping missions around the world are a major innovation of the United Nations, and they are constantly evolving to cover more demanding mandates, environments and tasks, from political support and protection, to institution building. By doing so, peacekeeping missions empower local populations and societies to transition from conflict to peace.
This important anniversary also reminds us of our commitment. While we do have tens of thousands of troops, civilians and police deployed, how can we measure to which extent peacekeeping operations are advancing peace on the ground?
Peacekeeping missions must implement their mandates in complex, often volatile environments. They support national actors to achieve peace, but also face negative forces working to inflame and prolong conflict. This means it can be difficult to assess how missions are contributing tangibly towards advancing peace. A good way to assess this progress is to use systematic performance assessments tools.
For missions to concretely and systematically assess their performance, they need first to set clear strategic objectives, based on an analysis of the context they face and how they can influence the conflict and peace dynamics. This allows a mission to develop clear plans describing how their actions will have influence and impact on the ground. Progress must then be measured using data and assessed using solid analysis.
This is made possible through the Comprehensive Planning and Performance Assessment System, (CPAS), a key priority under the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) agenda, launched by Secretary-General António Guterres in 2018.
Developed by Department of Peace Operations’ Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training (DPET), CPAS gives missions a tool to help them more effectively implement their mandates and show their impact using systematic data and analysis, while being rooted in specific contexts and adaptive to change.
CPAS is, in fact, more than just a tool: It is a collaborative planning process.
From across the mission, staff and personnel conduct a context mapping and stakeholders’ analysis that allows the mission to identify key trends and events that constitute positive, or negative, drivers of change. This is used to build a results framework, which is in effect a plan that shows the impact the mission wants to see on these key drivers of change, and how the mission’s own actions will drive outcomes that accomplish that impact. To monitor and measure progress along this chain of action and impact, indicators are identified against the different levels of the framework. The data collected, usually on a quarterly basis, is being used to inform strategic decision making, by providing specific recommendations.
By combining better understanding of the context with a flexible approach and reliable data, CPAS provides a way to clearly demonstrate the impact that peacekeeping missions have in their areas of operations.
In MINUSCA, for example, the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, CPAS is helping to coordinate and track the mission’s support to the implementation of a peace agreement, signed in December 2019. By tracking indicators such as the number of conflict-related civilian deaths, the number of children released from armed groups (a commitment under the agreement), and the number of public buildings being occupied by armed group members, the Mission can more readily see where its support to the peace agreement is bearing fruit and where it isn’t. Where it isn’t, CPAS helps identify why, so that MINUSCA can adjust its approach and reach out to partners for support to help overcome roadblocks and improve performance on the ground. In areas where it is having an impact, MINUSCA can begin to show how its work is contributing to those results.
The visualization feature of CPAS is particularly helpful for missions’ staff, who can demonstrate more easily to senior leadership, as well as the world, actual progress. Over time, this draws a convincing picture of the impact a mission can have over one, or several, priority areas of work.
Rooting our performance in tangible data strengthens strategic decision-making and ensures our resources — human and financial alike — are distributed most efficiently. This makes peacekeeping missions more adaptable to growing challenges, bringing stability where there is conflict, maintaining peace and security where needed and serving millions of people daily. While peace does not solely rely on United Nations efforts, it is our duty and responsibility to know where and how we can best contribute. As our missions continue to implement CPAS, I expect a clear picture to emerge: that peacekeeping missions remain one of the world’s most useful tools to promote peace and security.
David Haeri is the Director of Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training (DPET) in the UN Department of Peace Operations.