Thirty years after the original Agenda for Peace, the United Nations Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace (NA4P) policy brief was just published. Much has changed since 1992, when the UN was experiencing one of its most cooperative and energetic moments. Today, increasingly intractable conflict dynamics, deeply polarized geopolitics, and a stagnant Security Council offer far less room for such a bold statement about the UN’s peace and security role.
The NA4P’s approach to peacekeeping reveals the extraordinary pressures facing the UN today. Published only weeks after the Security Council decided to close the UN Mission in Mali, the NA4P sections on peacekeeping feel like a continuation of that retreat providing little new ideas on the future of UN peace operations, leaving the “new” thinking confined to a reinvigorated call for delegation of peace enforcement operations to regional organizations in general and the African Union in particular. There is a risk that the NA4P’s fuzziness on peacekeeping signals a drift into irrelevance, rather than strategically reshaping and repositioning what has been one of the UN’s most important instruments over the past 75 years.
In preparation for the UN Summit of the Future to be held in September 2024, what the NA4P does propose however, is for the international community to “undertake a reflection on the limits and future of peacekeeping” that will take into account “the comparative strengths and successes of peacekeeping, as well as its doctrinal and operational limitations”.
As one early contribution to the coming “Year of Reflection”, a GCSP Policy Brief on The New Agenda for Peace - An Opportunity to Reshape Peace Operations has been co-authored by Dr Adam Day, Ms Annika Hilding Norberg, and Dr Charlie Hunt. It suggests that the NA4P, when read as a whole, provides a surprisingly powerful starting point for a new paradigm of conflict prevention that could generate and shape a new era of peace operations.
- Ms Annika Hilding Norberg, Head of Peace Operations and Peacebuilding, GCSP (Introductory Remarks and Facilitator)
- Mr Renato Mariani, Head, Policy Planning Unit, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, United Nations
- Dr Adam Day, Director, United Nations University Centre for Policy Research in Geneva
- Dr Emma Birikorang, Deputy Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre
- Dr Cedric de Coning, Research Professor, Peace, Conflict and Development Research Group, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
- Dr Jibecke Joensson, Head, Brussels Office, CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation