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TfP Partners participate in 2014 Challenges Annual Forum
30 Oct 2014
The annual Challenges Forum was entitled Building Capacity for Peace Operations in Response to Diversified Threats: What Lies Ahead? The event was held at the Peacekeeping Centre of the Ministry of National Defence in Beijing, China from 14-16 October 2014. The Training for Peace (TfP) Programme Partners participated at the 2014 Annual Challenges Forum. The Challenges Forum is a platform to discuss the strategic and dynamic exchange of experiences, ideas, best practices, and proposals to positively influence the peacekeeping practice and approaches through debate and research. The purpose of this year’s Challenges Forum is to discuss the emergence of non-traditional threats in peacekeeping missions. These threats have become a worrying concern for stakeholders, as they may potentially undermine the efforts and achievements of peace operations. In attendance were the Director of the Forum’s Secretariat - Ms Annika Hilding Norberg; the Senior Colonel Zhang Li - Deputy Director General Peacekeeping Affairs Office Ministry of National Defence China; H.E. Mr Wang Xuexian, Former Ambassador of China to South Africa;  Mr. David Haeri - Director, Policy, Evaluation and Training Division, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, United Nations; and Major General Li Tian - Director General, Peacekeeping Affairs Office, Ministry of National Defence, China. The Forum was attended by 120 participants from thirty (30) countries, across five continents. During the three days deliberations, the TfP Programme contributed to identifying emerging challenges related to the need for strengthening of norms and concept of peacekeeping; the development of strategies to engage and deal with EBOLA; increased internally displaced persons; Cross Boarder and Transnational Crime; capacity building for peace operations; effective of  the Operational Doctrinal and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of peacekeeping operations; and the growing attacks on UN peacekeeping missions in Mali, Central Africa Republic (CAR), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Further, matching the capabilities of the military, police and civilian component of peace operations to be able to respond to the patterns of threat was also discussed, thus citing the relevance of training in this regard. The 2014 Challenges Forum also touched on existing key peace operations challenge that continues to affect the smooth running of peace support operations. This include, the absence of  peace in trying to keep the peace; operational difficulties in high risk environment; strengthening cooperation with regional actors close to the conflict; and the emergence of cyber threats. From the deliberations, it came our clearly that the above mentioned challenges can be addressed through rapid response, mobility survivability and active engagements amongst partners. Increased research on peacekeeping operations was identified as integral to the improvement in the implementation of peacekeeping operations as it informs policies for deployment. At the end of the Forum, vital recommendations were drafted which will be captured in a report that will be presented to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations for consideration by the UN Secretary General for Peacekeeping. This initiative will contribute in shaping the efficient conduct of peace operations globally. The Annual Forum provided the opportunity to reflect on general practices and trends in peacekeeping, namely:
  •  The UN Secretary General’s request in June 2014 for a UN Peacekeeping Review, a wide review of UN peace operations, has been met with both strong interest and scepticism;
  • 87% of uniformed personnel of the UN are deployed in Africa, and there is critical interest and deployment in Africa;
  • Challenges in dealing with robust mandates and responses to difficult situations such as in Mali and DRC;
  • There is a need for further rapid response capacity, but this is often overlooked due to the critical challenge of developing logistics and infrastructure for the missions;
  • Peacekeeping missions have increasingly come under attack;
  • Dealing with issues of transnational threats and the regionalised nature of conflicts, which have directly affected implementation of peacekeeping operations is a challenge;
  • Also large interest in wider issues that impact peacekeeping such as climate change, transnational organised crime, terrorism, corruption, cyber crime and disease pandemics, as demonstrated with the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa; and
  • Difficulties in the implementation of peacekeeping mandates that are embedded within political conflicts.
A brief partners meeting was held separately from the annual forum. Partners discussed the hosting of a Seminar for the UN Secretary General in New York to present the Challenges Forum report on designing mandates and capabilities for future operations. Annette Leijenaar, Division Head Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at ISS will represent ISS at the event as the co-head working group on Impact assessment and Evaluation of Peacekeeping Operations that fed into the report. The Seminar will take place on 27-28 January 2015. Read more: Challenge Forum Beijing Program    

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