A plan for progress: How A4P+ is boosting impact on the ground

Mar 30, 2022

By: Purujit Kaur & Katie Leach

One year ago, the UN Secretary-General announced the Action for Peacekeeping+ strategy, a plan focused on enhancing the effectiveness and impact of our 12 peacekeeping operations.

It builds on progress made since the launch of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative in 2018, when more than 150 Member States and four regional organizations adopted the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations, to make missions stronger, safer, and more effective.

Why was A4P+ needed?
The nature of conflict is changing. A4P+ is helping to accelerate the speed at which we are making progress and supporting countries and communities on the path to peace. This quest for relevant, innovative, and effective peacekeeping is not only necessary — it is more critical than ever.

Here’s a message from the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, on the importance of this collective effort.

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What exactly is A4P+?

A4P+ consists of seven priorities and two cross-cutting themes. As seen below, they are designed to accelerate progress on the overall A4P areas of commitment.

Tell me more about these priorities!
Priority 1: Collective coherence behind a political strategy
Advancing and supporting political solutions to conflict is at the heart of peacekeeping operations’ work. Each mission is focused on adopting a common internal approach and coming together with external partners in a collective effort to secure political solutions.

What are some examples?
Last year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO used its convening power and good offices to defuse tensions ahead of the formation of a government. In Mali, MINUSMA is working closely with regional partners to find a compromise on the political transition, while in Central African Republic, MINUSCA is supporting the implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, including in the context of local elections scheduled for September 2022.

Kalemie, Tanganyika, DRC. November 2021 — The Head of MONUSCO, Bintou Keita, on an official visit to Tanganyika, with a delegation from the UN Mission in the DRC. (Photo: Macelliine Comlan)

Priority 2: Strategic and operational integration

Enhancing strategic and operational integration of planning and action on the ground is critical to improving? our impact, including to protect civilians and build peace. This also entails strengthening collaboration between civilian, police and military components of missions.

How is this being pursued?

We are supporting missions to strengthen their planning structures and develop, implement, and monitor whole-of-mission plans, driven by rigorous analysis. The peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, provides a good example of how strategic and operational integration can be achieved by strengthening mission-wide planning capacities and structures. For example, this approach has resulted in the development of an early warning system to facilitate the most rapid response to incidents by civilian, police and military peacekeepers, including to improve the protection of civilians.

Working with other UN agencies, funds and programmes has been particularly important for improving outcomes in many areas of our work — of which addressing conflicts between farmers and herders is just one. In South Sudan, for example, in late 2021, UNMISS and the UN Development Programme facilitated dialogue amongst communities in Eastern Equatoria state to prevent migration related disputes.

The rollout of the Comprehensive Planning and Performance Assessment System (CPAS) is one tool that is helping our 12 operations assess their contribution to change and evaluate performance. CPAS maps actions taken and the resulting impact.

Priority 3: Capabilities and mindsets

Optimizing effectiveness requires the right capabilities, at the right time, in the right place, and with the right mindset. While peacekeepers need appropriate equipment, they must also deploy with a full understanding of what robust peacekeeping means and be willing to act accordingly.

Workforce diversity is equally vital to improve our impact. We are working closely with troop and police contributing countries to achieve gender parity and create mission environments enabling women to play full, equal, and meaningful roles.

What’s the approach?

Peacekeeping is ultimately about partnerships and collective action. Last year’s Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting in Seoul provided an important opportunity to address capability gaps with 62 Member States announcing new pledges, including the deployment of Quick Reaction Forces, helicopters, unmanned aerial systems, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance units.

March 2021 — UNIFIL peacekeepers from El Salvador on a foot patrol along the Blue Line in the vicinity of Halta and the Golan Heights, south Lebanon. (Photo: Pasqual Gorriz)

Priority 4: Accountability to Peacekeepers

We are also strengthening our accountability to peacekeepers. Following the launch of an action plan to improve security in 2018, malicious acts against peacekeepers decreased significantly. However, there was a significant increase from 280 in 2020 to 463 last year and, despite prevention and mitigation efforts, fatalities sadly rose from 12 to 24 in the same period. Many of the recent fatalities result from attacks against peacekeepers in Mali through improvised explosive devises (IEDs) used by non-state armed groups.

Despite an increase in the number of fatalities due to malicious acts in Mali in 2021, the number of fatalities was mitigated by a series of measures, including MINUSMA’s consistent capacity to find and clear IEDs.

What more can be done to better protect those who serve peace, especially in Mali?

A task force has been established at Headquarters to take forward recommendations from an Independent Strategic Review on Peacekeeping Responses to IEDs. In Mali specifically, MINUSMA’s Threat Mitigation framework has contributed to avoiding a high number of casualties and fatalities. We have also increased our ability to detect and clear IEDs during convoys and patrols and are also seeking to enhance night-flying capabilities, early warning systems, situational awareness, intelligence-gathering capabilities and base defences.

Ending impunity for crimes against peacekeepers is also a requirement, and we’re working closely with Member States to bring perpetrators to justice.

December 2021 — A peacekeeper from Niger serving with MINUSMA. (Photo: Harandane Dicko)

Priority 5: Accountability of Peacekeepers

Enhancing accountability of peacekeepers is a top priority. Accordingly, we continue our efforts to strengthen performance as well as conduct and discipline. This includes through ongoing work to strengthen the evaluation systems in place for military, police, and peacekeeping hospital units.

All UN personnel must strictly adhere to high standards of conduct. Any misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, is unacceptable and a breach of trust between the UN and the communities we serve. In these instances, our priority is to support victims through prevention, enforcement, and remedial action.

What’s the latest on UN efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse?
Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres released his annual update on the Organization’s efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.

The report — entitled Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse -includes data on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse relating to personnel in peacekeeping and special political missions, other United Nations entities, implementing partners, and non-UN international forces authorized by a Security Council mandate in 2021.

Bangui (CAR), April 2021 — As part of efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN personnel, the MINUSCA Conduct and Discipline Team organized an educational talk for 75 students — including 53 girls aged 15 to 19. (Photo: MINUSCA)

Priority 6: Strategic Communications

Strategic communication is essential to secure the political and public support needed to effectively carry out our work. Leaders at headquarters and within missions are now required to fully integrate strategic communications into all decision-making and risk management.

We are also focusing on producing compelling, human focused stories backed by credible data to demonstrate the impact of our work. Building the capacity of civilian, police, and military communications personnel is a priority to achieve this, as is strengthening partnerships with other global and local actors to improve our credibility and transparency. This is particularly important in combatting the surge of mis-and disinformation.

What about UN Radio stations?

Yes! UN Radio stations, such as Mikado FM (Mali), Guira FM (Central African Republic), Radio Miraya (South Sudan), and Radio Okapi (Democratic Republic of the Congo) all play a critical role in delivering trusted news that promotes peace and fights fake news. Radio also allows peacekeeping missions to reach wider audiences, especially when communities we serve don’t have easy access to digital technologies.

Central African Republic, April 2021 — Twenty-nine year old, Merveille-Noella’s duty as journalist and producer for radio FmGuira is to educate listeners about important issues, especially COVID-19. (Photo: MINUSCA)

Priority 7: Cooperation with host countries

Finally, UN Peacekeeping is ultimately a joint venture and constructive engagement. Cooperation with our host countries remains at the core of efforts and is central to increasing peacekeepers’ safety and security, bolstering performance, and supporting successful transitions.

Why does this require a dedicated priority?

Missions at times face restrictions and serious violations of “Status of Forces Agreements.” While required by the Security Council to carry out our mandates, UN operations need the full support of host governments and Member States throughout the UN system to achieve their work.

February 2022 — Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix meets with the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic, Félix Moloua. (Photo: MINUSCA)

Two cross-cutting themes

Women, Peace and Security

Given its critical importance to sustaining peace, Women, Peace and Security (WPS) is mainstreamed across all seven A4P+ priorities. Ensuring our work is gender-responsive and enhances women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in peace and political processes is critical in the face of evolving conflicts.

Any success stories?
Mission leaders continue to prioritize WPS, and we are seeing results. For example, in Central African Republic and Kosovo, there has been an increase in women representatives in their respective parliaments. In Mali, more women than ever are involved in the Peace Agreement Monitoring Committee, and, in South Sudan, several women now hold key leadership positions. These achievements offer a glimmer of hope, but women’s leadership and participation are still far from the norm.

March 2022 — UNMISS marks International Women’s Day in Juba, South Sudan. (Photo: Nektarios Markogiannis)

Innovative, data-driven and technology-enabled peacekeeping

The newly launched Strategy for the Digital Transformation of UN Peacekeeping sets an ambitious agenda for driving innovation, capitalizing on new technology, and cultivating new ideas. It will build the capacity and culture necessary to strengthen the timely detection, analysis and response to potential threats and align the responsible use of technology with the values of the Organization.

How can I learn more about this?

Last year, UN Peacekeeping commissioned a number of research papers on digital technologies, peace and security which all underscore how there is no escaping the digital revolution and transformation that is heading our way. The Strategy is also informed by larger UN system initiatives such as the Secretary-General’s Data Strategy.

Peacekeepers of the Rwandan Battle Group in MINUSCA prepare to launch an observation drone to monitor the positions of armed groups.

To learn more about A4P+ and explore related resources, please visit: https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/action-for-peacekeeping-plus

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