LONDON, 19 September 2014 (IRIN) – The flags flew, the bands played, green African Union (AU) berets were swapped for blue UN ones, and MISCA officially became MINUSCA. As the handover was taking place MINUSCA tweeted: “The key priority of the UN in CAR is to support the political process & conclude the country’s transition”, setting off alarm bells among those who thought the new force’s number one priority was supposed to be protecting civilians.
Alison Giffen, who heads the Civilians in Conflict Project at the Stimson Center (A Washington-based think-tank), does not think too much should be read into the wording of one tweet, but is concerned that MINUSCA, like other peacekeeping missions, has too many things on its priority list.
“We are currently asking peacekeeping operations to do far too much at the same time,” she told a meeting in London this week. “We are asking them to do protection of civilians, along with elections, the extension of state authority, state-building, and this dilutes resources… The other reason why civilian protection creates a challenge is that the peacekeeping operation has to really partner with the host state government, even when that host state government may itself be involved or implicated in abuses.”
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