UNA-UK is delighted to announce a new programme aimed at encouraging greater UK support for, and engagement with, UN peacekeeping.
Funded through a generous grant from the Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation, the programme will be launched in July 2014.
It will run for one year, with a view to making recommendations ahead of the UK's General Election and the new Strategic Defence and Security Review scheduled for autumn 2015.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and one of the top financial contributors to UN peacekeeping, the UK plays an important role in the approval and design of peacekeeping operations. However, over the last 20 years, there has been a marked reduction in practical engagement.
This is most visibly illustrated through the decline in UK troop contributions, from a peak of over 3,500 in 1993, to around 350 today, mostly based in Cyprus. The UK’s capacity to provide specialist support, from expertise to equipment, remains largely untapped. Just two UK police officers currently serve in missions, and the UK does not provide any military experts.
UN peacekeeping also plays a smaller role in national security strategies, despite clear recognition of its relative cost-effectiveness and value in helping to stabilise post-conflict situations, including those which could threaten UK interests.
The winding down of operations in Afghanistan gives the UK an opportunity to reassess its engagement with UN peacekeeping. UNA-UK believes that increased involvement would benefit not only the operations themselves, but also the UK's peacekeeping reform goals, as well as its own security priorities.
Greater engagement need not involve large increases in funding or boots on the ground. The UK could focus on smaller, more strategic contributions, such as rapid response teams, police officers or specialists on gender issues. It could also review its levels of logistical support. The use of RAF aircraft to transport French peacekeepers in Mali in 2013 is one example that the UK could replicate. And there is much the UK could contribute in terms of training, providing expertise and sharing lessons learned in the field.
Over the next 12 months, UNA-UK will seek to raise the profile of UN peacekeeping among UK policy-makers, and stimulate discussion on future UK engagement.
In addition to making the case for greater involvement, we will also call for peacekeeping to play a more prominent role in UK strategy, and for a review of the decision-making processes for deployment.
For more information on the programme, and to register your interest in working with us, please contact Alexandra Buskie on firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: UN troops on patrol from blog by Cpt Peter Singlehurst, serving with the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus: http://britisharmy.wordpress.com/tag/peacekeeping/