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Why the U.N Needs Strong Reforms in its Peace Keeping Mission?

Updated on September 28, 2021
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Nyamweya is a global researcher with many years of experience on practical research on a diversity of topics

The Need for Reform at the UN Peace Keeping Mission

Over a decade, the UN peace keeping has developed to a great extent to become one of the main instruments which the international committee is deploying to manage the complicated issues and crises that jeopardize world security and peace. The number of civilians, police, and military that work in UN’s peacekeeping missions has immensely grown. The UN peacekeeping mission has not only grown in size but it has also come to be a complex one (Langholtz, 2008, 3). This makes it essential for enhanced training programs towards the relevant personnel on handling the various peace missions and programs.

The United Nation’s training programs for peace operations is mandated to provide an affordable and accessible training on its personnel concerning humanitarian relief, peace support and other security operations. The program endeavors to offer both theoretical and practical knowledge to police, military and civilians concerning peace operations in the entire world. The UN training program is one of the thematic programs placed under (UNITAR), United Nations Institute for Training and Research. The essence of this training is to ensure that peace operations are effectively handled through enhancing the preparedness of the military, civilian and the police that are placed in field missions (Buerk, 2009, 1).

In most cases, the training courses and topics for UNITAR were selected based on the current world events and UN resolutions relevant to a particular situation, stated differently, these training programs are not standardized and keep on changing according to the circumstances. Beneficiary issues and needs are also taken into consideration when designing such training courses. This means that the training courses and topics are in most cases dynamic, diverse and which are related to the global peace operations. UNITAR PTP acquires support from an Advisory Board, which include six personnel with high level of expertise in different fields (UNITAR, 2013, 1).

United Nations Training Reform

In the year 2008, one of the crucial documents of a decade was issued by UN concerning it’s operations, guidelines, policies and training programs. For more than sixty years, the UN peacekeeping activities had been guided by policies that were largely unwritten. In the new training reform, the UN captured the experiences of women and men who had served in the peacekeeping missions in various parts around the world. The reform was aimed at defining the scope, nature and basis of the modern peacekeeping operations for the United Nations (UN, 2013, 1).

In the year 2010, the United Nations secretary general established the UN Inter-Agency Reform Task Force on UN Security Sector in order to facilitate an holistic, integrated and coherent security sector reform for UN peacekeeping operation. This reform in UN security sector was initiated as part of an effort of assisting societies and states to establish an effective, accountable and inclusive institution for security training. This was also aimed at contributing to international security, peace, enjoyment of human rights as well as sustainable development (Katz, 2010, 11).

The task force established brought together a number of departments and agencies in UN, which contains specific experts and personnel with different capabilities to help various national actors to increase and maintain security. The task force which was named as the UN Inter-agency task force has come up with the new practices, and standards that can offer support for local organizations, managing a record of security experts, as well as offering an enhanced training to the personnel at the UN, national actors, external actors, local and sub local organizations.

The United Nations Department of Field Support and Peacekeeping Operations introduced reforms to its training programs in 2010. The major aim of these reforms was to professionalize, and strengthen the management, planning and the training programs. The department through such reform wanted to ensure that the increasing number of peacekeeping personnel that work in the field and the headquarter receive relevant training and guidance regarding their work in order to handle the work in a professional manner.

Together with the Global Security Sector Advisory Team, The Peace keeping program by UNITAR has also launched e-learning courses as part of the reforms in UN security sector. The purpose of this course was to combine knowledge and experience of the Global security Sector team and the online training expertise of UNITAR.

In May 2013, UNITAR came up with a degree program in Conflicology among various peacekeeping personnel, research institutes and university colleges. This degree provides insights and knowledge on transformation, conflict resolution, training management and mediation aspects. This program is supposed to offer adequate training on UN personnel on peacekeeping, University students and scholars on how to apply conflictology in peacekeeping initiatives. In addition, it also facilitates the enhancement of professional projects through offering these participants an opportunity to access a network of individuals who are working for promoting peace.

Need For Reform

Reform in UN security sector was crucial for both security and developmental purposes. The essence of the reform was not only to enhance the training programs but also offering a competitive edge for personnel working in this section. In this perspective, the significance of the e learning programs for UN Security Council for instance cannot be over emphasized. This is because many more countries in the global community have come to support and involve themselves with SSR implementation. The need for more SSR personnel is constantly rising. Moreover, face-to-face type of training has not been able to effectively meet this increased training need. This means that there is an increased need for SSR training among the various personnel involved in these programs (Unitar, 2013, 1).

As realized twenty years since the end of the cold war, the UN support mission have developed from conventional interposition mission and observations commonly experienced in the cold war period to the present day multifunctional and multidimensional missions. Presently, peacekeepers are in most cases mandated to undertake the crucial post conflict resolutions as well as nation building initiatives. Protection of civilians is also another complicated requirement for peacekeeping. These have necessitated a comprehensive training approach on how to handle such complexities.

Reform on security training programs were also initiated because of the frequent failure in UN peace activities in various parts of the world. For instance, UN Security Council had a mandate to ending the long civil war in Sierra Leone, which had gone for more than eight years. During the course of that mission, failures in peace executions led to more than 500 military personnel from Zambia and Kenya to be taken hostages by rebel groups which was identified as the Revolutionary United Front. According to this rebel group, the peacekeepers were taken hostages because they were being forceful disarmed by the UN troops, a factor that was adamantly denied by the UN officials (United Nations, 2011,1). Although the peacekeepers were released at a later date, an evaluation of the crisis by the UN officials indicated that apart from the peacekeeping units being poorly resourced, they were also poorly trained. Furthermore, most of these troops did not have clear understanding with regard to the appropriate use of force and the general extent of their mandate.

Furthermore, major reforms with regard to training on peace keeping mission on UN had been initiated as early as 2000 owing to the constant failures and missteps from various peacekeeping operations earlier on. These failures and missteps in UN peacekeeping initiatives gave UN a bad image globally. In addition, they caused many quarries regarding whether UN was capable of handling these peace operations around the world. Apart from the Sierra Leone case where more than 500 peace keeping troops from Zambia and Kenyan origin were kidnapped by the rebels due to what was largely attributed to mishandling of the whole situation, other cases included the Srebrenica, Rwanda and Somalia ones, where again, UN peace initiatives failed to bear positive results. Although the history of UN is full of reform, the more heightened one were experienced in 2000. This is when the UN peace security undertook a thorough evaluation concerning its security missions and operations. This was in order to set a concrete, specific and practical recommendation in assisting the Security Council to carry on with its activities and programs (Linda, 2007, 119).

Success of UN training Reform

The Internal law brought up by Unitar in the new security reform has promoted the acquisition of knowledge of international law by law professionals among member countries, and various professionals with a view to enhancing reverence of global law. In addition, the UN Security organ has strived to assist member countries on how to better apply the knowledge of international law and application of instruments for international law in security systems, there has been a specific emphasis on instilling law knowledge that relate to international law in helping various nations in implementing the multilateral environmental and peace agreements.

Further, the new reform has succeeded in awareness creation, improving theoretical and practical knowledge with regard to handling of various peace initiatives and programs. The expertise and skills in this area have also increased and the difference of the past and present peace operations is quite notable. Since the UN security unit decided to “save the subsequent generations from the blight of war”, more efficient methods for achieving its objectives have been designed and implemented in various places and ways. Through the aspect of advanced training in conflict evaluation, mediation and negotiation skills, UNITAR has been able to meet its crucial goals in peace initiatives around the world (MashPedia, 2013, 4).

The new training programs that are among the leading edge and in particular the peacekeeping training program have offered more learning opportunities that are more innovative to assist in preparing the military, police personnel and even the civilian placed in the UN peacekeeping missions in various parts around the globe. In addition to these aspects, the reform also facilitated the development of new training methods, instruments, handbooks and manuals, CD-ROMS, glossaries and simulations (UNITAR, 2013, 1).

Contrary to earlier programs, which were concentrated on UN staff, the New training programs have been extended to government officials of member countries, diplomats, scholars, regional organizational staff, magistrates and judges, indigenous people, peacekeepers, humanitarian workers, UN staff of various capacities, legal professionals as well as the public staff (Unitar, 2013,2)

The UN training programs have enhanced peace operations in various parts of the world to the point of winning the Nobel peace prize. Unlike other areas such as Somalia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone where UN peace operations were not as much successful, the fruits of the training reforms can be seen in the recent peace initiatives in such countries as Guetamala, Cambodia, Tajikistan, Namibia, and Elsavador where peace have either been successfully struck or successive going on (Linda, 2007,3).

The differences made by the reform on UN peacekeeping is also notable in the present peace initiatives that are going on Burundi, Timor-Leste, Code d’ Ivoire, Liberia, Kosovo Haiti and Syrria. Through the enhanced training, basic security is now almost guaranteed and the response to crises is much faster. There are many cases where UN have successfully supported and assisted the operation and stabilization of new state institutions and eased political transitions. The present UN peacekeeping department has assisted many countries to end their conflicts and to go on with their normal developments despite the obvious challenges in these peace initiatives (Goldman, 2008, 4).

Challenges of the New Peacekeeping Training Programs

Prioritization and identification of training needs

Since this training has been extended to member states, scholars, UN staff, staff of regional organizations, magistrates and judges, indigenous people, peacekeepers, humanitarian workers, among others, their training needs may vary accordingly. However, the training responsibility among member country, field support as well as the department of peacekeeping operations are not clearly defined. In ensuring that these parties and the resources contributed by them are effectively deployed in the peacekeeping training , it therefore becomes crucial to bring on board clear training policies and guidelines to designate the responsibilities and roles of all the parties concerned in peacekeeping training programs. In addition, they also ought to create a governance mechanism that can be able to make priorities in peace keeping clear (Pearson, 2008, 4).

Lack of Clear Training Standards

Again due to the geographical and changing conditions, the UN Peace training programs have not been standardized. Standardization of these programs is necessary in enabling instructors to have flexibility with regard to adapting the training resources to their regional contexts. At the same time they should ensure that the knowledge and skills so transmitted is the same as those offered on other parts of the world irrespective of whether the training institution, instructor or objective in delivering the course were different or based in other parts of the word (Stimson, 2011, 11).

According to United Nations General Assembly, (2013) there is an increased need to predeploy the new training standards at all level in order to improve the capability of sufficiently preparing and deploying the police, military and civilians in peacekeeping operations. In this perspective, the training materials should be updated and should also offer the basic information concerning the training aspects of the military, police and civilians that are mandated with the task of peacekeeping in various parts of the world.


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