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ASPI co-hosts workshop on Protection of Civilians and Accountability in New York

By Lisa Sharland

On 18 November 2016, the Permanent Missions of Australia and Uruguay to the United Nations, co-hosted their ninth workshop on the protection of civilians (POC) in UN peacekeeping together with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in New York. The workshop provided a forum for over 120 participants to share their perspectives about ongoing efforts to address accountability when implementing a mandate to protect civilians in peacekeeping operations. The theme was chosen following the recent failures by the mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to respond to attacks on civilians in February 2016 in Malakal and July 2016 in Juba.

Workshop panelists explored issues related to performance, leadership, training and capabilities, and safety and security. This included discussion of efforts to strengthen accountability among stakeholders with responsibility for implementing POC mandates, drawing on the findings of the Secretary-General’s Independent Special Investigation into violence in Juba and UNMISS response (Special Investigation Report). Panelists also reflected on the approaches on the ground in different mission contexts and provided analysis about how recommendations provided by the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) Report could contribute to efforts to improve accountability for POC.

The discussions among workshop participants examined the concept of accountability; discussed the limits of peacekeeping and differing expectations when it came to POC; explored efforts to improve performance; highlighted the importance of leadership and responsibility among all stakeholders; and made some recommendations to strengthen accountability in an effort to ensure missions were more effective in implementing POC mandates. Several participants noted the importance of the incoming Secretary-General personally engaging on these challenges early on in his term in 2017.

The workshop report is available here.