International Order & Conflict

Looking Beyond Peace Agreements

Peacekeeping missions can put politics first without putting peace agreements first.
Part of the Peacekeeping Reform Project
By Aditi Gorur Author

This commentary was originally published on IPI Global Observatory

Peace agreements have traditionally been seen as the cornerstone of peacekeeping. The United Nations Security Council usually calls for support for the implementation of peace agreements as one of the highest priorities in peacekeeping missions’ mandates. Peace agreements also featured prominently in the analysis of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO), as it called for peace operations to recognize the “primacy of politics.”

But putting politics first does not have to mean putting peace agreements first. Instead, some former mission leaders and experts suggest a broader approach driven by an analysis of the interests and capacities of the stakeholders in a conflict. This can help a mission identify and act on drivers of violence that may be excluded from or overshadowed by a peace agreement. Using a stakeholder analysis as the starting point for political strategies can help peacekeeping missions respond in a more coherent and comprehensive way to security challenges.

There’s a reason that peace agreements are perceived as so central to peacekeeping: they are often the instrument that paves the way for a deployment of a peacekeeping mission in the first place. Peace agreements can be invaluable tools for peace operations tasked with supporting conflict transformation. They can help all stakeholders involved in signing the agreement or supporting the process understand their respective roles and responsibilities. They can bolster the mission’s legitimacy by ensuring that the mission’s work is linked to the vision of national stakeholders, and not just the preferences of the international community. They can provide the mission, the government, and other actors involved a clearer understanding about the objectives they are collectively trying to meet.

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