The Value of Peacekeeping: Stories from the Field
Brief summary of presentation of information made
The moderator, Hawa Diallo of UN DPI, introduced the panel and encouraged the audience to listen closely to the stories told.
Daria Miglietta Ferrari, Senior Political Affairs Officer, Department of Peacekeeping Operations
- Many people classify the success of peacekeeping operations simply by how quickly the peacekeepers can get in and out. Not only is that bar too high, but it is also an inaccurate measurement of success.
- Success usually depends on the UN Security Council’s mandate: what does it ask the peacekeepers to do? For example, in the Middle East, the UN is seen as intrusive. So peacekeepers have been given very little space to work, and therefore their definition of success ought to be tempered.
- The peacekeeping operations often take an up-and-down cycle, depending on how much presence is necessary. For example, in her time in Timor-Leste, just as the operation was about to conclude, violence spiked again. UN personnel remained for many more years after that.
Brigadier General Khan Firoz Ahmed, Defence Advisor, Mission of Bangladesh to the UN
- Bangladesh, a smallish developing country, has more than 7,000 troops currently participating in peacekeeping operations, making it the second-largest contributor in the world.
- Any peacekeeper, not just a Bangladeshi one, follows the three UN values: integrity, professionalism, and respect for diversity.
- It’s obviously a failure if the operation does not live up to these values. But how else do we measure impact?
- There must be a connection between troops and locals – especially when the troops are not sure what is happening with distant UN and member state policy. The politics can get confusing, but as long as it is clear that peacekeepers are present for the sake of humanity, then the operation can be labelled as a success.
Jonathan Greenway, Strategic Communications Officer, Department of Public Information
- We have started a “Thank You Peacekeepers” media campaign at DPI, and we are looking into how the NGO community can get involved.
- There’s a common logo, a blue ribbon, to identify the campaign. It recognises the sacrifice of fallen peacekeepers.
- We wish to tell the individual stories of peacekeepers. (The screen then showed short videos of two peacekeepers telling their stories.)
- We distribute the content through national governments, UN Information Centres, and in areas where peacekeepers are actively present.
- We hope to engage youth audiences, starting in schools and universities.
Charles Anyidoho, Senior Political Affairs Officer Europe Division, Department of Political Affairs
- Most peacekeepers go beyond the call of duty, and some have sacrificed their lives for peace.
- The most important thing is to have the host country on board, which unfortunately is not often the case.
- For peacekeepers, seeing future success in the country (for example, successful recent elections in Sierra Leone) is one of the greatest feelings. Proof of success.
- From vast experience, he can say this: it does not matter how poor a government is performing. As long as there is peace, you can be fairly sure that there will be human progress and an improving standard of living, because of the ingenuity and resilience of people.
Amaka Azikiwe, Political Affairs Officer, UN Operations and Crisis Centre
- When the UN is present, the locals can often be initially pleased, but grow hostile very quickly. This is because the cost of living rises so much that many locals cannot afford the simplest of commodities.
- She participated in a peacekeeping mission in northern Mali, in the Sahara Desert.
- Out of a team of 20, she was the only female. They all shared a bedroom and one bathroom. She used the situation, in a conservative Muslim village no less, to encourage female participation in elections and the Malian peace process.
Douglas Coffman, Strategic Communications Officer, Department of Public Information
- He worked a desk job at the USA State Department until he felt trapped and unused. He decided to volunteer as a polling station monitor in Cambodia’s first democratic election in decades. After several near-death experiences, Douglas joined a peacekeeping mission in Croatia and has been involved in UN peacekeeping ever since.
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
The peacekeeper mindset has many parallels with the mission of The Salvation Army. Many Salvationists serve in dangerous areas and are at risk of facing violence and persecution – and yet they press on, working to meet human need without discrimination and preaching God’s peace. It may be beneficial to organise a campaign to recognise and applaud the work of The Salvation Army’s officers, employees and volunteers in ministry around the world, especially in hostile environments, and to make clear the broad support that they have.
That said, The Salvation Army must take steps to ensure that servants are held to account, much as the UN peacekeepers are. Measurements of impact are difficult to track, and quantifying progress is always a struggle, but accountability in the workplace and in ministry is paramount to bringing a strong gospel message around the world.
Web links for more information
https://issuu.com/salvationarmyihq/docs/journeyofrenewal The Salvation Army’s Accountability Movement
https://peacekeeping.un.org/en Read more about the UN’s peacekeeping workTags: United Nations, SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals