What can we expect from the High-Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations?

The UN Secretary-General appointed a High-Level Independent Panel to review UN peace operations in October 2014. The Panel is expected to publish its report in June 2015. The Panel is led by Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of Timor Leste, Jose Ramos-Horta. With 17 members it has a broad geographical spread and a wide range of experiences, including former special representatives, force commanders, ambassadors, scholars and civil society leaders. The last such major external review of peacekeeping operations was undertaken in 2000 and led by Lahkdar Brahimi. The Brahimi report had a considerable impact on the direction of peacekeeping operations, even though many of its recommendations have not been implemented. It is thus not surprising that the Ramos-Horta report has raised similar high expectations.

What does ‘stabilisation’ mean in a UN Peacekeeping context?

The essential difference between peacekeeping and stabilisation seems to be that in peacekeeping the aim is to arrive at, and then maintain a cease-fire and implement a peace agreement, among the parties to a conflict, whilst in stabilisation, the theory of change is to restore and maintain order by managing or containing aggressors and spoilers. So, in peacekeeping the aim is Conflict Resolution, whilst in stabilisation the objective is limited to Conflict Management or containment.

Is there an African Model of Peace Operations?

The African model that has emerged over the past decade is one of stabilisation missions, undertaken alongside UN special political missions and other political, humanitarian and development initiatives, that are relatively short-lived before they are handed-over to UN peacekeeping missions. These missions are financed and supported by the international community, which considerably limit the ability of the AU or RECs/RMs to independently determine their mandates, scope, size and duration.