world is witnessing armed conflicts with interlocking threats, manifesting in persisting
violence, having catastrophic
consequences for people and societies. Contemporary United Nations Peace Operations
(UNPOs) operate in environments of ever-challenging political instability and sectarian
violence. Additionally, there is a disturbing trend of growing host nation
resistance and denial of sovereign rights.
Recognising the evolving
challenges in conflict environments, the international community has
collectively committed to take active and concerted measures to address the
rise in peacekeeping fatalities and enhance safety and security in the Action
for Peacekeeping (A4P) Declaration.
and maintaining a secure environment is a strategic responsibility, led by the
Senior Mission Leadership Team. While the military component provides
environmental security, the safety and security framework is coordinated by the
Department of Safety and Security.
design and deployment of UNPOs should be in concert with international and regional
partners with host nations as leads.
The peace operations need to adopt a
robust posture along with dynamic manoeuvring. Situational awareness and critical
thought help to challenge the narrative and innovate responses. Technology should
be used to force-multiply mandate effectiveness; however, human-centric
approach to peacekeeping must be predominant. UN’s joint structures are to be
maximised for an integrated approach to information management, operational coordination,
humanitarian assistance and logistical support.
Whenever the operational situation permits, every reasonable effort has to be made to resolve a potentially hostile confrontation by means other than the physical intervention to include strategic foresight, local mediation and skilful use of a deterrent posture. Notwithstanding, when criticality demands the force can be used with operational guidance under the provisions of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), ensuring minimum collateral damage and protecting those not part of the conflict cycle.
peacekeepers, one is a facilitator to the peace process, and the pivotal role
must remain with the host nation and its populations. Institutionalised working
arrangements and consultative networks need to be developed in the entire range
of peace-making, peacekeeping and peacebuilding spectrum. There is a need to communicate regularly
in an evidence-based two-way traffic.
success of a peace operation is largely dependent on the capability of peacekeepers
to deliver, which results from comprehensively developed training. Training is
a function of command, which makes leaders responsible and accountable for
individual skills and operational preparedness. With the introduction of asymmetric and cyber threats, it is necessary that militaries train realistically
for high intensity peace operations, with thrust on countering unconventional and
Our conventional peacekeeping mindset of operating in the
classical strategic-operational-tactical hierarchical construct has to change.
This calls for an attitudinal shift towards field delegation, empowering our
junior leaders to think strategic and take time-critical decisions. Inaction
has to be curbed and honest mistakes accepted as part of the learning
The training on IHL requires peacekeepers to ensure that
relevant rules and principles of IHL are disseminated, understood and complied with
- not only by UN personnel but all forces operating in the mission’s zone of
responsibility. Effective leadership must ensure proportionate response with minimum
Lieutenant General JS Lidder, UYSM, AVSM (Retd) is a veteran of the 1971 war, he has served in the Indian Army for over 40 years, and has held a number of important military command and staff appointments at various levels both in India and abroad. He has vast UN experience in both political and military spheres. He was Chief of Staff in ONUMOZ (Mozambique) from 1994-95 and Force Commander UNMIS (Sudan) from 2005-08.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation that he/she belongs to or of the USI of India.