Conflict Trends 2014/2

ACCORD Conflict Trends 2014/2

"The holistic approach to managing conflict in post- conflict environments, as reflected in the contribution of multidimensional peacekeeping operations, ensures that peace and security activities are aligned with political, governance, democratisation and socio-economic development objectives to address the larger development agenda, and thus also the root causes of conflict. The holistic approach also involves a myriad of actors in the mission (military, police and civilians), and besides the peacekeeping operation, includes state and non-state actors, both local and international – such as non-governmental organisations and the humanitarian community...

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This requires a significant degree of coordination and integration of effort at the local, national, regional, continental and supranational levels. Both the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) have established a more systematic way of conducting peace operations, particularly in the context of conflicts within states – balancing the need for immediate response to crises with the provision of security, humanitarian assistance and protection of civilians with longer-term considerations for post-conflict peacebuilding and development.

Missions such as the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and increasingly robust mandates – as in the case of the Intervention Brigade of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) – allude to the operational shifts from peacekeeping towards peace enforcement, to address the contemporary challenges of responding to the complex nature, context and drivers of interstate conflict in the post-Brahimi era. It is 20 years since the Rwandan genocide, and the need to respond rapidly to conflict has never been more important. The UN uses mechanisms – such as the UN standby arrangements system (UNSAS) with member states – to deploy missions rapidly. The AU, through the African Standby Force, which aims to have a rapid deployment capability, has been building its capacity to respond to crisis on the continent in a timely manner. This has included establishing the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) in 2013, following the response to the situation in Mali.

The focus of this Training for Peace (TfP) in Africa Conflict Trends special issue is 'Towards a Holistic Approach in Peacekeeping'. This issue provides a platform for reflection from academics, policymakers and practitioners in conceptualising key issues and debates on the holistic approach to peacekeeping, and in better understanding that conflict management can never be limited to just military or security responses, but must also address the political, governance, socio-economic and humanitarian dimensions of conflict. Drawing on emerging and evolving trends in the field, the articles highlight the opportunities and challenges experienced by both the UN and AU multidimensional peace operations in the implementation of a holistic approach to managing conflict in post-conflict environments. The aim is to provide information, guidance, experiences and lessons to the UN and AU policymakers and practitioners for the assessment, planning, implementation, management and evaluation of peace operations, as well as for improved coordination with other actors.

This issue of Conflict Trends promotes a multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach to international conflict management. It highlights that it is not constructive to employ overly rigid and one-dimensional approaches, as reflected in traditional military peacekeeping, since conflicts require more than a military solution only, and traditional military peacekeeping operations are not substitutes for political processes. This multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach to international conflict management is linked to the strategic goal of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) TfP Programme, to contribute towards ensuring an integrated approach to peace operations by addressing the lack of police and civilian capacity in multidimensional peacekeeping operations. Ultimately, the aim is to ensure that peacekeeping is an effective conflict management mechanism and process on the continent.

Vasu Gounden
Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD.


Modern United Nations Peacekeeping: Towards a Holistic Approach to Addressing Conflict
by Seun Abiola and John Otte

Transnational Security Threats and Challenges to Peacekeeping in Mali
by Kwesi Aning

The Shift to Stabilisation Operations: Considerations for African Peace Support Operations
by Yvonne Akpasom and Walter Lotze

Enhancing the Efficiency of the African Standby Force: The Case for a Shift to a Just-in-time Rapid Response Model?
by Cedric de Coning

The Evolving Role of International Policing in Peacebuilding Processes
by Gustavo de Carvalho

How Can the African Standby Force Support Humanitarian Action?
by Barbara Mohale

Fact Files

SADC Standby Force: Preparation of Peacekeeping Personnel
by Olivia Victoria Davies

The Impact of Peacekeeping Operations: Successful United Nations Initiatives in Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
by Seun Abiola and Nkateko Jannet Chauke