Effectiveness of Peace Operations Network (EPON) Week at the United Nations, New York – 10-12 May 2022
1 The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), together with over 40 partners from across the globe, has established an international network to jointly research the effectiveness of peace operations and United Service Institution of India (USI) is one of its partners. The Effectiveness of Peace Operations Network (EPON) aims to enhance the effectiveness of UN peace operations (UNPOs) by enabling and supporting collaborative research. The network is coordinated by NUPI. EPON is the first global research network to use a shared methodology to assess the effectiveness of contemporary peace operations. The research and reports generated are available through this website.
2 In continuation of its efforts to assess the effectiveness of specific missions, EPON invited USI of India in 2021 to partner with the research. To present its research reports, and other contemporary UN Peacekeeping related issues to the UN Department of Peace Operations (UNDPO), EPON Week was organised by NUPI from 10 to 12 May 2022 at UN HQ New York. The event was organised in the form of roundtables and panel discussions. Following participated:
(a) Major General PK Goswami, VSM (Retd), Deputy Director, USI of India – representative of the USI.
(b) Major General (Dr) AK Bardalai (Retd), Distinguished Fellow, USI of India – As a special invitee in an individual capacity.
(c) Colonel (Dr) KK Sharma (Retd), Visiting Fellow, USI of India and Professor, Chitkara University, Punjab – As part of the team member of the one of the studies by EPON.
3 Following focused activities were programmed:
– Roundtable: on Maintaining the operational resilience of peace operations in the face of climate-related disruptions.
– Reception at Norwegian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
– Presentation of EPON reports to UN Department of Peace Operations.
– Roundtable: Enhancing the effectiveness of UN peace operations: Lessons emerging from the research of the Effectiveness of Peace Operations Network.
– Roundtable: The role of observer missions in the future of peace Operations.
Round Table Discussion 1: Maintaining the operational resilience of UN peace operations in the face of climate-related disruptions
4 This event was co-organised by the UN Department of Peace Operations (UNDPO), The Effectiveness of Peace Operations Network (EPON), the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
5 This roundtable was conducted in two parts. First, it considered ‘How to Prepare UNPOs for Climate-related Impacts’, such as extreme weather events, that can disrupt mandate implementation and undermine the performance of UNPOs. In the opening remarks, Dr Cedric de Coning, Research Professor, NUPI & Coordinator, EPON; and Mr Alexandre Zouev, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, DPO; highlighted how not only climate may affect the operational resilience of UNPOs, but may also be a driver of conflict. Panellists for the first round were:
– Pernilla Rydén, Director, Challenges Forum Secretariat – who discussed linkages of climate-related risks and PKO. She highlighted that military as well as police components are not yet fully prepared and need enhanced planning and training by TCCs and PCCs.
– Dr. Jair van der Lijn, Director of the Peace Operations and Conflict Management Programme, SIPRI – stressed that climate can perpetuate effects on security and resources. UNPOs to be aware of the effects of environmental degradation and also understand how to mitigate it. However, UNPOs are temporary in nature, thus it is for the host government to lead and sustain the efforts to mitigate climate effects with assistance from UN country teams.
– Hiroko Hirahara, Head of Unity State Field Office, UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) – discussed how climate/flood impacted UNPOs in UNMISS and all resources were mobilised since no specialists were available.
– Dr. Adriana Erthal Abdenur, Co-founder and Executive Director of Plataforma CIPÓ, Brazil – emphasised that the impact of climate-related risks is very local, so this perspective may not be considered for all. For qualitative data on these impacts, the involvement of local community members is a must and then only corrective steps can be initiated. Sometimes local impacts may be due to reasons other than climate-related.
6 In the second part, the focus was on the ‘Capabilities and Readiness of TCCs/PCCs’. It reflected the capabilities that Troop and Police Contributing Countries, and the UN Secretariat, may need to put in place to ensure that peacekeeping operations are able to continue to carry out their mandates when faced with climate-related shocks, including the protection of civilians and support for humanitarian assistance.
7 This session was chaired by Ms Eiko Ikegaya, Chief, Policy and Best Practices Service, DPET, DPO; with the following on panel:
– Major General PK Goswami (Retd), Deputy Director, USI of India.
– Joanna Harvey, Department of Peace Support (DOS), UN DPO.
– Jon Christian Moller, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Norway to UN.
– Dr Elisabeth Lio Rosvold, Senior Research Fellow, NUPI.
8 Major General PK Goswami (Retd), enunciated perspective on how India is preparing its troops for managing adverse environmental conditions, domestically as well as on peacekeeping operations. Following were highlighted:
(a) Environmental protection is an extremely important and serious subject for Indians. The majority population stays in the rural areas and the environment affects its survivability. Thus, it is close to the citizen’s heart, and comes quite natural to an average Indian since is a part of the civilisational character and DNA; for example – Chipko movement (andolan) of 1970s.
(b) He stated that the Indian Army is very conscious and eco-friendly, and constantly improves the ecological environment in its area of responsibility. Lush green cantonments and military stations are live examples and ecological role models. Ecological cells are at the formation level for ecological conceptualisation/ planning. Indian Army also has Territorial Army (Ecological) battalions for implementing some major ecological projects.
(c) Due to the diverse topography and climates, India has been facing many climate-related challenges, and the armed forces are trained to mitigate these tasks. Thus climate-related challenges necessitate our armed forces to be always ready to respond in the rescue support of the citizens.
(d) The Indian operational environment varies from Mountain and Glaciated regions with a -500 C temperature and 30% oxygen limit, to arid sandstorms infected deserts with +500 C temperatures. The units also operate in dense forests of Northeast and island territories, and riverine terrain of Punjab. Units regularly move from one sector to another, every 2 to 3 years, hence have exposure and trained for all types of sectors and terrains. Before induction into any of these regions, units go through mandatory training in the regional battle schools (Desert Battle School, Siachen Battle School, CI School East, or West). This first-hand experience with a variety of topography and climates, adds to troops’ operational resilience.
(e) Under the ‘Aid to Civil Authorities’, a secondary task, the Indian Armed Forces are trained for the maintenance of law and order, essential services, disaster relief and other types of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in the country and abroad, be it heavy flood, cloud burst, land/mountain slide, tsunami, earthquake, avalanche/snow blizzard or rescue of a young child stuck in borewell.
(f) HQs & units are assigned specific responsibilities for these ‘Aid to Civil Authorities’ tasks, maintain a close liaison and carry out drills with the civil authorities for better response time, ensuring availability of tools (boats, and other required equipment) and communication protocols are well-rehearsed.
(g) Indian troops are trained in watermanship, handling of boats, mountain climbing and operation of related equipment and responding to the disaster in their area of responsibility. These trained troops when deployed in any part of the world, carry their characteristics and specialisation, and utilise them for the wellbeing of a citizen in whose support they are deployed.
(h) Thus, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief come quite natural to Indian troops since they are trained, equipped and organised. Indian Army’s resilience to operational tasks is on the test continuously and no climatic conditions are harsh. Indian soldiers are trained to operate under all conditions and performs well under any challenge including environmental/ climate-related risks.
(j) Indian Army has a very well prepared and consciously updated Standing Operation Procedure (SOP) to adequately prepare troops for UN missions, with the KSAOs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities & Other characteristics) required to address complex challenges. This includes nominated unit trained fully by conducting three training cycles of 4 weeks each (for approximately 300 personnel) – UN Peacekeeping training (2 weeks), Mission Specific training (1 week) and Integration training (1 week); followed by validation test of the complete battalion.
(k) The key is the Assessment and Planning – to anticipate likely tasks in a mission area, train and equip before deploying, and if required Contingent Own Eqpt (CoE) profile be modified accordingly. A major deficiency felt in various missions has been the lack of interoperability, with diverse troops. There is a need for common communication protocols and redundancies to ensure a cohesive approach.
(l) Leadership: No operational plan moves as planned thus planning contingencies is as important as the actual plan. So, each plan should have redundancy and be able to adapt to a situation. Salient points for mission leadership:
(i) Leader should follow – Assessment – Prepare, Equip, Train – Contingencies planning (A PET C).
(ii) Communication (with the higher up, lateral and subordinate, civil-military, host government and population, and negotiation and mediation techniques) is cornerstone of leadership. Thus, importance of strategic communication and consultative leadership.
(iii) Due to diverse composition of troops, training, characteristics, cultural background, capabilities, strong points & weaknesses; Leaders be fully aware of the skills and sensitivities of diverse troops, for ease of handling troops under command.
(iv) Should be able to exploit technology for better situational awareness and addressing strategic outreach to various stakeholders. India has been pushing this forward and has recently launched a technology platform for peacekeepers called UNITE AWARE.
9 Following recommendations were put forward:
(a) Adopt the Indian Army’s Good Practices related to the protection of the environment.
(b) Use local Indian expertise for sustainable environmental and ecological conservation.
(c) Employment of Ecological Task Force (troops other than on peace mission) under UNEP/UNDP, along with UNPKOs, for environment protection and resuscitation. Ab-initio use of some local population and products will result in employment for local population and ease of handing over of project when UN forces wind up.
(d) Environment/Climate-related specific tasks cannot be performed by Peacekeepers as a routine, at the cost of peacekeeping. Thus, the UN to increase financial and human resources dedicated to planning and implementation of the Environment Strategy.
(e) Short joint orientation training in the mission area, on induction, for better interoperability.
Round Table Discussion 2: Presentation of EPON Studies of Effectiveness of Protection Mandates and Lessons emerging from the research
10 Col (Dr) KK Sharma was the research delegate on EPON studies with NUPI and worked on the project on Protection of Civilians (POC) from August 2021 to May 2022. It focussed on the effectiveness of POC mandate in UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). He presented emerging lessons on POC to the experts in the UN HQ on 11 May 2022. The study showed that all components are working in an extremely challenging environment and able to help the local communities within the constraints of the context and increased violence. A few lessons as applicable to the military and police forces were highlighted as follows: –
(a) Collaboration and Jointness was the prime need identified by all components. It was found lacking at many levels. Collaboration is required on the protection mandates of various components, their interlinkages and cross-component implementation. Most recommended that there should be dedicated protection advisors/focal points within the civilian, military, and police components to enable the achievement of seamless integration of the protection mandate. Extensive POC training and understanding of other components and their mandate was identified as a pre-requisite during pre and post-deployment.
(b) Information-Sharing. The multidimensional nature of MINUSCA means the civilian, military and police components need to work side by side within the Mission. To do this effectively, information sharing, coordination and liaison are required. Many pointed out that information sharing is often personality-driven. Situational awareness and thereby the ability to prepare, prevent and respond to any situation is greatly enhanced by cross-coordination throughout the Mission components. While information sharing may be adequate at the mission headquarters level, it was found missing at tactical levels.
(c) Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) by the peacekeepers is a critical component of the POC and its effects are strategic in nature. For peacekeepers, Self-Risk Assessment by the UN Force was identified as a best practice, as it provides an early warning for TCCs and other components.
(d) Children Protection. In spite of violence against the children, the Child Protection Section of MINUSCA has succeeded in taking Armed Groups on board and sparing schools and children. This could be replicated elsewhere. Other components need to work with these teams to enhance their initiative.
(e) Different organizational cultures are unavoidable as 122 nations are participating in 22 UNPO and political missions. Differences are pronounced among civilian, military and police colleagues and need a workable UN culture through these missions. The trend amongst the civilian cohort we engaged with was that the civilian component (at the operational level) had little influence or ability to shape military decisions, despite the clear POC implications of such decisions.
(f) Building of Community Trust. Delivering on the protection promises helps in engaging the communities. Any lapses put all the other components at risk. It was felt that strategic communication needs to be used more proactively and to more effectively to support the PoC strategy. Community Liaison Assistants (CLAs) also act as a force multiplier and were detailed by our interviewees as crucial to the Mission-wide Early Warning (EW) system.
(g) Within the military component, the Military Gender and Protection Advisor Structure wears ‘five hats’ – CRSV, Gender, PoC, Child Protection and SEA. All components wished to see a separation of this composite workload. After delivering a Train the Trainer (ToT) course at the HQ level, to enable Sector focal points to disseminate further training within their AO, the Force HQ teams were able to allocate resources to visit the sectors to monitor the subsequent training. This was a good practice to enhance coordination and effectiveness.
Applications of Lessons and Preparation of Peacekeepers
11 All the lessons point towards a need for training and briefing of peacekeepers before and after their deployment in the field. Extensive guidelines on the same have been provided by the Integrated Training Services of UN DPO. These are the Core Pre-deployment Training Materials (CPTM) and Specialised Training Materials (STM).
12 Pre-Deployment Training. The military contingents do not need any basic training in their primary security-related operational duties. However, they need to be prepared for the new role in the mission area. Pre-deployment training needs to be structured around the three-module 28 lessons of CPTM and STM. There are Reinforcement Training Packages related to a priority cross-cutting thematic area, relevant to a specific category of personnel to be deployed in missions. Based on the EPON lessons, requiring training focus, are as follows: –
a) Training must include preparation at a physical, conceptual and moral/ethical level. Understanding of shift from conflict resolution to protection roles. Basic understanding of the Structure of a UNPO mission, area of operation, mandate analysis, POC policy and ROE awareness.
b) Understanding of the Stakeholders and Collaboration. Roles and responsibilities including mandates of the humanitarian components must be thoroughly understood by all. All UN components have stakes in a peace process and understanding their roles will increase respect, trust and collaboration. Diversity in UN peacekeeping missions needs to be respected and understood. There should be extensive briefings on the information flow and joint operations centre for not only information but also POC joint planning, joint analysis and joint assessment of implementation. There is a need of mainstreaming the POC mandate amongst all components.
c) Understanding Non-State Actors. Non-UN and groups not a party to a peace accord can be the major spoilers in the process. Training must devise strategies to deal with them and also seek guidelines from the Force HQ in a mission area. It is preferred that each mission has a legal document to determine how to interact with these non-state actors, including detailed Rules of Engagement (RoE) specifically tailor-made for them.
d) A combined components training or joint exercise must be attempted before deployment. This should be based on case studies or practical scenarios. This can also be co-opted with training or briefing on Laws of war (IHL), Human Rights law and understanding of SEA/CRSV.
e) Understanding the role of specially designed structures – Like the Force Intervention Brigade of Congo mandated with offensive operations. Various concepts of Rapidly Deployable Battalions based close to Force and Sector Headquarters to respond to POC matters through short-term Static Combat Deployments. Similarly for South Sudan, preparation for undertaking short and long-range patrols, and establishing Temporary or Permanent Operating Bases.
13 Post-Deployment Training. Various lessons and interactions with the missions recommended that training must include the mentoring programme with ‘on the job training’ being delivered to focal points in the field. Equally, Force and UN police staff could be ‘seconded’ to other units to learn ‘on the job’ and enhance relationships. Integrated training on the basic ‘five hats’ of protection activities (CRSV, SEA, Gender, Child Protection and POC) should be delivered jointly. The creation of roving training resources with civilian experts from across a mission can be done to deliver sessions on their protection mandates. Integrated scenario-based training should be used to enable participants to work through situations in a simulated environment. Mission components should work together to implement evaluation and impact assessments to ensure training is useful and understood.
Round Table Discussion 3: The role of observer missions in the future of peace operations
14 The third and the last session of the EPON Week was on the ‘Role of Observer Missions in the Future of Peace Operations’. Like the other two previous sessions, this session was held in form of a round table conference in one of the conference rooms of the UN Secretariate.
15 The session began with Dr Alexandra Novosseloff presenting her study – A Comparative Study of Older One-Dimensional UN Peace Operations. It was followed by five panellists including two from the UN HQs giving their opinions. What emerged from the discussion is that there was a consensus on the continued relevance of the observer mission in the wake of the Ukraine conflict. Major General (Dr) AK Bardalai who was one of the panellists as a special invitee by the EPON, stated that the older missions have become status quo. While a few missions like UNMOGIP is a status quo missions by choice, other missions have become status quo out of compulsion. Because at the time of establishment, these missions were not created to address the root cause of the conflict. The common factor that binds these missions is the absence of an exit strategy. At the same time, the consequences of an outbreak of hostilities or escalation of violence in case of inter-state conflicts are far worse than that of intra-state conflicts. Therefore, older missions of the cold war era are still relevant. Whether such missions can be of use in the case of the Ukraine conflict will have to be examined in the context of different variables.
17 On the sidelines of EPON Week, the USI delegation took the opportunity for the following interaction:
(a) Calling on Permanent Mission of India (PMI) to UN, New York – On 09 May 2022, the delegation called on Shri R Ravindra, Deputy Permanent Representative of India to UN and apprised him about the issues being discussed during EPON Week. The delegates were briefed about India’s position on Climate Change.
(b) Meeting with Officer from Office of Rule of Law and Security Institution (OROLSI), Department of Peace Operation, UN HQ – On 10 May 2022, interacted with Mr Stephane Jean, Judicial officer and Mission Coordinator, OROLSI. UNSC Resolution 2589 on Accountability for Crime Against Peacekeepers, was discussed in detail. After the presentation, Mr Jean suggested that the USI can consider including the subject as part of its UN peacekeeping discussions/webinar to elicit suggestions to make the provisions of SCR 2589 more effective.
(c) Meeting with Mr David Haeri, Director, Policy, Evaluation & Training Division, DPO – On 10 May 2022, discussed mutual cooperation and collaboration between DPO & USI and presented UN-related USI publication.
(d) Meeting with Pernilla Ryden, Director, Challenges Forum – On 11 May 2022, discussed mutual cooperation and collaboration between Challenges Forum & USI and presented USI Memento and UN-related USI publication.
(e) Meeting with Dr Cedric de Coning, Research Professor, NUPI and Coordinator EPON – On 11 May 2022, discussed mutual cooperation and collaboration between NUPI/EPON & USI and presented USI Memento and USI publications on peacekeeping.
(f) Meeting with Officer from UN Women – On 11 May 2022, meet Lt Col Llani Kennealy, Strategic Military Advisor, UN Women; to apprise UN peacekeeping related activities of USI and discussed how USI can help take forward UN Women agenda.