By Lesley Myers

When I arrived in Bangui, it was a city in crisis. It was late 2015 and the capital of the Central African Republic had once again descended into sectarian violence, two years after the country’s most recent coup. Civilians were the targets of killings and rape, and looting was widespread. The UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, which had begun its operations in 2014, was helping a transitional government to quell fighting and hold a constitutional referendum and democratic elections that could restore the country to basic order.

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2015, Demolition of a grenade in PK5. Photo: UN/MINUSCA, Nektarios Markogiannis

The Bangui I left in 2019 had slowly but dramatically changed. The threat of violent atrocities and ethnic cleansing had been averted. Rumours of genocide had quieted. Although conflict persisted, violence had decreased in the capital and a democratically-elected government was working to implement a peace agreement that it had negotiated and signed with all 14 major armed groups. As a civilian planner for MINUSCA, it was obvious to me that the mission had played a major role in this process. However, exactly how much of this change could be attributed to the mission, was less clear. …

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Young cyclists in Kosovo deliver 600+ reusable masks to 200 Albanian, Serbian, Roma and Ashkali families in Lipjan/Lipljan.

By: Idil Uner

Five years ago, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2250 (UNSCR 2250) — the first multilateral policy framework that acknowledges “the important and positive contribution of youth in efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.”

This monumental resolution marked a fundamental shift in the understanding of who young people are and their role for peace and security. …

By Charlotte Morgan and Isabelle Truong

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the landmark Security Council resolution 1325, the first one to recognize women as key agents of peace. According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the ground-breaking resolution “underscored the link between gender, inequality and fragility, and between women’s security and international security.”

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To commemorate the landmark anniversary, UN Secretary-General António Guterres made a rallying call to peacekeeping partners to summon political will and recommit to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

At a roundtable, the Secretary-General met virtually with four women leaders from Mali, Central African Republic, Darfur and Cyprus, who spoke about their work to advance women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace processes, conflict resolution and politics. …

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By David Haeri

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This anniversary comes along with a message of hope: together, in a world where cooperation is key to ensure the success of peace processes, we can achieve more for populations.

Our peacekeeping missions around the world are a major innovation of the United Nations, and they are constantly evolving to cover more demanding mandates, environments and tasks, from political support and protection, to institution building. By doing so, peacekeeping missions empower local populations and societies to transition from conflict to peace.

This important anniversary also reminds us of our commitment. While we do have tens of thousands of troops, civilians and police deployed, how can we measure to which extent peacekeeping operations are advancing peace on the ground? …

By Naomi Belay

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Members of the Nigerian Police detachment serving with the United Nations Force in the Congo, photographed as their train pulls out from the station in Leopoldville. Some one hundred men of the detachment are en route to Matadi to assume duties in connection with the re-opening of that port for ONUC supplies, June 1961.

Although first suggested by the former United Nations Secretary-General Trygve Lie in 1948, the official emergence of the United Nations Police (UNPOL) was in 1960 following the first deployment of UN Police officers to the United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC). Since this genesis 60 years ago, UN Police has proven itself to be a critical and valuable component in supporting the navigation towards peace.

Today, nearly 9,000 UN Police officers, of about 11,000 total authorized, are deployed in 18 peace operations throughout the world, diligently working to diffuse the effects of conflict and violence on vulnerable communities and striving to foster global peace and security. Their core responsibilities include assistance to host-State police through operational support and capacity-building, but in some missions, UNPOL officers also act as interim law enforcement, directly responsible for all policing functions and the maintenance of law and order. …

In 2019, over 1.6 million persons in South Sudan were internally displaced. Over 200,000 such individuals were living in protection of civilians sites hosted by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). While the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Armed Conflict in South Sudan has led to a decrease in armed violence in many parts of the country, internally displaced persons continue to face many difficulties when returning to their communities.

Illegal occupation of housing, land, and property remains one of the key impediments to the voluntary and safe return of individuals from internally displaced persons and protection of civilian sites and remains a source of conflict. Since early 2018, under the Mission’s protection of civilians mandate, the UNMISS Rule of Law Advisory Unit has been raising awareness and providing technical advice to national and international stakeholders in order to improve frameworks to better protect the displaced population’s housing, land, and property rights. …

By Josefine Ulbrich

Last year, 1,054 cases of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) were recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by the UN’s Mission (MONUSCO), affecting 1,048 women and 6 men. But reported cases are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Of the 5.5 million internally displaced people in the DRC, 51 per cent are women and girls. In order to engage the most affected populations in conflict-ridden areas of the DRC, MONUSCO’s 15 Female Engagement Teams (FET) are a critical tool to prevent and reduce violence as part of the wider protection efforts of both civilian and uniformed components in the Mission. …

By Elena Schiatti

My name is Elena Schiatti and I serve as Women Protection Advisor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the UN Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO). Now working in Bukavu, South Kivu Province, I previously worked in Kasai Central province and was based in the provincial capital, Kananga, for a year. Between 2016 and 2018, this province witnessed a violent armed conflict between the Kamwina Nsapu militia and State security and defense forces. Human rights violations and abuses were committed by all parties and included brutal sexual violence that mainly targeted women and girls.

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The conflict that started as a customary dispute, then snowballed into attacks that involved unimaginable acts of violence, carried out against entire villages as well as neighborhoods of Kananga, terrorizing the local population. Such incidents destroyed local social structures and forced thousands of people to flee across the province or to neighbouring Angola. The conflict left many scars and had a significant and enduring impact on the already weak infrastructural and economic development of the region, leaving much of the population in extreme poverty. …

In the Darfur region of Sudan, with the myriad of internally displaced persons and nomadic communities, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a significant threat to peace and security and further deteriorated the socio-economic situation.

The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) — the peacekeeping mission that has been deployed since 2007 to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian aid and help the political process in Darfur — has been adapting to these new challenges while continuing to implement its mandate.

UNAMID’s Governance and Community Stabilization Section (GCSS) works to address issues such as intercommunal violence and competition over limited natural resources, rights to land and the use of land. The proliferation of small arms, weakened traditional conflict resolution mechanisms, and the absence of the rule of law and effective state institutions has made a difficult situation even more complex. …

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An all-female demining team in action in South Sudan. Photo: UNMAO/Elena Rice

“Demining is seen as a man’s job.” These are the words of Itta Betty Oliver Lowela, who works with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in South Sudan. When Itta Betty became one of the first South Sudanese women to be trained as a deminer in 2007, she did so in a place emerging from decades of conflict. Thirteen years later, explosive ordnance (EO) — from remnants of war buried out of sight to improvised devices laid during recent conflict — continues to pose a threat to South Sudanese people. …


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