Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping: Reform Requests and Initiatives of the Secretariat

August 01, 2011

Since 1999, ten UN peacekeeping operations have been mandated to protect civilians from the 'imminent threat of physical violence.' Over the next ten years, UN peacekeepers struggled to fulfill this mandate as belligerents in a variety of conflicts explicitly targeted civilians. In an effort to evaluate the achievements and failures in this regard, UN DPKO and UN OCHA commissioned former FOPO co-director Victoria Holt and research assistant Max Kelly, as well as consultant Glyn Taylor to conduct an independent review examining the planning and implementation of mandates to protect civilians. Protecting Civilians in the Context of UN Peacekeeping Operations: Successes, Setbacks and Remaining Challenges (2009) identified problems and made detailed recommendations to the UN Secretariat, UN member states, and leaders of UN peacekeeping operations.

Within the first five months following the study's release, key recommendations were included in UN Security Council (UNSCR) Resolution 1894 on the protection of civilians in armed conflict and in the annual report of the UN General Assembly Special Committee on Peacekeeping. As a result, over the last two years the UN Secretariat has undertaken a set of reforms that seek to enhance the ability of peacekeepers to protect civilians on the ground.

To track the development and implementation of these reforms, Stimson has compiled a table of the requested reforms, entitled Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping: Reform Requests and Initiatives of the Secretariat. The table is intended to inform advocates and UN member states of the reforms underway, and the reforms that have yet to be undertaken.