Change, and Continuity, in the Reform of the UN’s Peace and Security Work

The ongoing reform of the United Nations “peace and security pillar” aims to make the world body’s work on conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding more holistic, more coordinated and, consequently, more effective. In concrete terms, the reform will translate into the merging, as of 1 January 2019, of the regional divisions of the UN’s main peace and security offices, the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). DPA and DPKO will morph into the “Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA)” — which will also include the UN’s peacebuilding support office — and the “Department of Peace Operations (DPO)”, respectively. As DPA chief Rosemary A. DiCarlo told Politically Speaking recently, the creation of a single regional structure “will be a major factor in our ability to produce better analysis, to look at things regionally, not just country-specific, or mission-specific. It will enable all of our staff members to really have a better understanding of where the issue they are handling fits in a broader context. In the end, I think, we will see that we will be more effective in our [field] missions and in conflict prevention.”

DPPA will continue to manage special political missions and peace processes in the field, while DPO will oversee peacekeeping operations. DPPA will perform other functions DPA has been responsible for, as summarized below.

The reform of the peace and security pillar is part of a broader change effort encompassing the management of the UN as well as its development system. We will look in a coming piece at how the three reform processes converge

Preventive Diplomacy

As of 1 January 2019, DPPA will carry on DPA’s role in preventive diplomacy. It will act as the main support structure for the provision of the Secretary-General’s “good offices” to parties in conflict, providing analysis, planning and other backing to the work of peace envoys and overseeing the political missions in the field that serve as key platforms for preventive diplomacy.

Mediation

DPA’s Mediation Support Unit will come under DPPA. The Unit provides advisory, financial and logistical support to peace processes; works to strengthen the mediation capacity of regional and sub-regional organizations; and serves as a repository of mediation knowledge, policy and guidance, lessons learned and best practices. DPA manages the United Nations Standby Team of Mediation Experts — an “on call” group of experts established in 2008 that can be deployed to assist mediators in the field. Team members have provided support in dozens of negotiations, and hold expertise on issues including power-sharing, natural resources and conflict, constitution-making, cease-fires and other security arrangements, and gender issues as they relate to conflict.

Member of the Standby Team of Mediation Experts speaking with outgoing Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. UN Photo
Member of the Standby Team of Mediation Experts speaking with outgoing Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. UN Photo

DPPA will continue DPA’s role in support of the High-Level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Mediation. The 18 members of the HLAB — current and former global leaders, senior officials and renowned experts — back specific mediation efforts around the world with their unparalleled range of experience, skills, knowledge and contacts.

Peacemaking

DPPA will continue to anchor the UN’s peacemaking efforts, monitoring global political developments and advising the Secretary-General on the prevention and management of crises. It will also continue to provide support to numerous envoys of the Secretary-General engaged in peace talks or crisis diplomacy.

Elections

Elections in Afghanistan. UN Photo
Elections in Afghanistan. UN Photo

The head of DPA, and of the future DPPA, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, serves as the United Nations focal point for electoral assistance. DPA’s Electoral Assistance Division supports the focal point in that role. The Division recommends the parameters for all United Nations electoral assistance to be given to countries that request it.

Support to Member State Bodies

DPPA will continue to assist the Security Council — as DPA does today — carry out its crucial functions, providing both substantive and secretariat support. DPPA will also provide staff support to two panels established by the General Assembly, namely the Special Committee on Decolonization and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Security Council briefing. UN Photo
Security Council briefing. UN Photo

Title picture: UNOWAS CPIO

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The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs

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Politically Speaking

The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs