Former Military Advisor to the Secretary General, United Nations
Senior Advisor, International Peace Institute
As civilians increasingly are targeted in armed conflict, more peace operations have been mandated to protect civilians from violence, including sexual violence. Peacekeeping forces around the world have struggled to meet these responsibilities. In one recent example, peacekeepers in South Sudan failed to respond when civilians in a refugee camp were subjected to gross human rights violations and aid workers at a hotel compound were raped. The independent special investigation led by Cammaert found that the peace operation failed to “respond effectively to the violence due to an overall lack of leadership, preparedness, and integration among the various components of the mission.” Drawing on lessons from South Sudan and beyond, Cammaert and Mahmoud reflect on what’s needed to ensure that peace operations around the world are better able to protect civilians from violence, including sexual violence.
Transcript By Superior Transcriptions LLC, www.superiortranscriptions.com.
BIGIO: So welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations. My name is Jamille Bigio. I’m a senior fellow with the Council’s Women and Foreign Policy Program. Our program has worked for over a decade to advance the conversation on how elevating the status of women and girls around the world contributes to advancing our goals around security and prosperity. We are very pleased to co-host today’s conversation with CFR’s Center for Preventive Action. Before we begin, I do want to remind everyone that the presentation, discussion, and question and answer period will be on the record.
Civilians are increasingly targeted in armed conflict. And currently, in fact, 98 percent of military and police personnel deployed in peace operations have a mandate to protect civilians. Yet, peacekeepers around the world have struggled have meet these responsibilities. In one recent example that we’ll discuss more today, peacekeepers in South Sudan failed to respond when civilians in a refugee camp were subjected to gross human rights violations and aid workers at a hotel compound were raped. There is agreement that peace operations need to be reformed to better serve and protect the people of conflict-affected countries, but the debate continues over what’s needed. How should peacekeepers protect civilians, what are their means and strategies, how can they do so in a way that simultaneously contributes to lasting peace?
And this debate takes place against the backdrop of commitments made by the U.N., including those to invest more in prevention and mediation, in political solutions, as well as to make peace operations faster, more responsive, and more accountable to countries and people in conflict. There’s also a simultaneous effort to increase the participation of women in peace operations, as well as in broader peace and security efforts, and to ensure that peace operations can better protect women and girls from sexual violence. We’ve seen how female peacekeepers contribute in unique ways to peace operations, how female civil society leaders partner with and make peacekeepers more effective. And we’ve seen how peacekeepers have grappled with what is required to protect civilians from sexual violence. Today our speakers will reflect on what’s needed to ensure that peace operations around the world are better able to protect civilians, while contributing to sustainable peace and security.
So we now welcome our speakers. We’re lucky to be joined by two experts who have dealt with these issues while leading peace operations on the ground, and while navigating the senior-most levels—decision-making levels at headquarters in New York. Retired Major General Patrick Cammaert has had a distinguished military career. Including as serving as commander of U.N. peacekeeping missions in the DRC and in Ethiopia-Eritrea. He’s led numerous fact-finding missions and evaluation missions and currently mentors and trains peacekeeping commanders and officers, and has had a leading role in developing scenario-based training for military peacekeepers on conflict-related sexual violence.
Dr. Youssef Mahmoud is a senior advisor at the International Peace Institution. Prior to which, he was the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic in Chad, and before that head of the U.N. integrated peacebuilding office in Burundi. He contributed to the U.N.’s 2015 high-level review of the current state of U.N. peace operations. And both of our speakers participated in the 2015 high-level review of progress in advancing women’s participation in peace and security, and their protection from violence. They bring a wealth of experience to the—to the question of what is the future of peace operations in better protecting civilians.
So let me start off our conversation with Patrick. I’m going to start with a question on South Sudan. So, Patrick, you recently led the U.N.’s investigation into the July 2016 attacks in Juba, during which U.N. peacekeepers failed to protect civilians and in which a total of 73 people were killed. Civilians at a refugee camp one kilometer from the Juba headquarters of UNMISS were subjected to gross human rights violations and aid workers were raped. Peacekeeping forces in South Sudan are mandated to protect civilians from these atrocities. So what went wrong? Yes.
CAMMAERT: First of all, thank you very much for inviting us here this afternoon, in this beautiful building, beautiful room, to talk about the subject of how can we do better to protect civilians of the imminent threat of physical violence, including sexual violence. And before I give an answer on your question, very much related to Juba, I was in—last year in April in Malakal, where I led a board of inquiry in what happened in February last year in Malakal. And we made a number of recommendations. After we submitted the report—(inaudible)—best. And then I was called back, this time by the secretary-general, to lead an independent special investigation into what happened at Juba in July.
And the investigation in Juba rested on two pillars. One was what happened in a place called Terrain Camp, in a kind of—(inaudible)—park type of area, where international staff and local staff have their residencies, which is approximately 1,500 meters away from what they call U.N. House. U.N. House is the headquarters of UNMISS. And we had to investigate what happened in July during the hostilities between the SPLA and the SPLA-IO, where a lot of people were being killed, raped, et cetera, and where a drama happened in this Terrain Camp.
We have to mention, for people who have never been there, in 2013 the SRG, Hilde Johnson, was faced with a situation also when there were hostilities where thousands and thousands and thousands of people, you know, entered the various U.N. premises in various areas in South Sudan, and also in Malakal, and also Juba. So you have a situation where on the U.N. premises you have 40,000 IDPs, internally displaced people, living in very difficult circumstances. And when in July the U.N. House was in crossfire between the SPLA and the SPLA-IO, the mission and in particular the military part, the security part, did not respond accordingly in what should have been expected—could have been expected from that.
And why? Because, you know, we did—the public summary—we mentioned it, but I will read it again. The first reason is that although there was—it was not coming out of the—out of the blue, there were efficient writings on the wall that things were—the situation was deteriorating, culminating in a report—a—(inaudible)—cable from the mission to New York, where the SRG described the situation on the first of July quite accurately, and where people could see this is not going well. Still, the mission was not fully prepared for this kind of situation.
And I say the mission—the mission as a whole. Not only the military, police, but also the civilian part of the mission did not really—were not really up in their planning for escape. They were not planning for a worst-case scenario in a non-permissive environment. The non-permissive environment is that the government of the South Sudan did not allow UNMISS to freely run around, so to speak, in Juba itself—not even talking about the rest of the country.
Second point is that there was a very ineffective command and control in—during the crisis at the mission. Well, there’s a meme that during a crisis you need a firm person on the helm of the ship. It’s easy to be on the helm during the calm water, but when it’s starting to—the wind, you know, is getting stronger, you need a firm hand on the helm. And that didn’t happen, it looked, from the military point of view, because there were more than one captain on board with the ship.
There was not only a leader in the U.N. House but there was also interference from Tomping. And Tomping is the bases where sector south, and sector south was the command who was in charge of everybody. But because they were cut off, as I said because of—(inaudible)—you had an ineffective command and control, there were more captains on board—(inaudible). And that was certainly not what we call leadership from the front. And that’s required in these kinds of circumstances.
Third point is that the troops that were deployed in Juba were very risk averse, very much inward looking. What does that mean, inward looking? They are very much looking inside those POC camps, those protection of civilian camps, where all the thousands of IDPs were located instead of looking outward where the threat was coming from, or where people were running around with weapons, you know, burying the weapons, coming into POC sites, and coming back again during the night and picking them up. So risk averse means that people are not going out, but staying in the camp. And that is not what is required, and certainly not a deterrence who are doing and trying to do harm.
So foot patrols, to say it in very military terms, is something that is very much required, instead of sitting in your vehicle where you cannot communicate with the local population, where you cannot see what is coming. On top of that, there was a kind of standing order that there were no operations during the night. Most of the unpleasant things happened during the dark hour. But if you’re not there during the dark hours, you have no grip on that.
And finally, why did—why did they not prevent this to happen was that there was insufficient equipment on two points: defense stores and night-vision equipment. Night-vision equipment, you all know, those goggles that you can see just as clear during the night as during the day. Interestingly, the recommendation from the Malakal BOI were mentioning the issue of the lack of defense (tools ?). So if you have a watchtower, and the watchtower is not properly defended, then the moment that you are sitting in the watchtower and people start shooting, you know, that is asking for trouble, so you leave the watchtower and then you leave also (active duty ?).
So these were the main issues of why the mission did not prevent that, in a nutshell.
BIGIO: Thank you for that. I think it touches on a number of the points that are on the table in terms of what kind of leadership’s required, what kind of investments are required, what kind of broader strategy-building is required to actually ensure that the whole mission, as you said both the military and civilian side, are able to deliver on their responsibilities to protect civilians.
So I wonder, looking now, kind of taking into account these lessons from the attacks in South Sudan that you mentioned, the Kigali Principles of Protection of Civilians that were launched in 2015, and the recent recommendations on protection of civilians from U.N. high-level panel and peace operations—so taking these together, what needs to be done to ensure that peace operations around the world are better able to protect civilians? What reforms are needed to make sure that they actually are—peace operations actually are more responsive and more accountable? Youssef, I wonder if we can start with you on this question.
MAHMOUD: Thank you. Thank you for inviting us, giving us this opportunity to talk about this very important subject. And perhaps before I answer this important question, I’d like to demystify what we call protection of civilian. The first one, it is—while it is a core responsibility of the United Nations, the primary responsibility rests with governments. And when governments are unable, unwilling, or the state is predatory and therefore does not create a permissive environment for the U.N. to do its job, it is very easy to put everything on the United Nations on POC. POC is not a magic bullet without a peace process, without peace.
Second, protection of civilians, as it evolved, has given a cover for all kind of internal, external, interest that are easily put under that overall cover. And one of the concerns we have had as members of the high-level panel on peace operation is the securitization of peacekeeping under the umbrella of peace, of protection of civilian, with more and more mandates becoming more and more robust, but not an equal emphasis on government responsibility, government reforms, and not equal emphasis on peace processes that should lead. So that’s just as a way of introduction.
I think, as you have mentioned, a lot of technical and practical and management decisions have been taken by the DPKO, by member states. I think the Kigali Principle are very much strong in terms of the TCC/PCC responsibility and accountability. I think there is a need, however, to work harder to have a compact and agreement with the host government as to its responsibility and responsibility of the United Nations, and that there is a shared and understanding of these two responsibilities. And what do we mean by protection and protection strategies?
So deep, honest conversation with the host nation is very important, particularly if you are undertaking POC functions under the same peacekeeping principles, one of which is the consent of the host government. I think the other area that requires and is being implemented is all kind of POC guidance, notes, training taking place. But it’s still not percolating to the lower-level decision making, as General Cammaert just mentioned. And so the accountability is still diffuse. So that effort is undergoing—ongoing, but requires some consolidation.
I think one area, because of the emphasis on militarized physical security be provided by peacekeepers, we have neglected unarmed civilian protection. And we also have neglected the development of strategies for protection that are devised and developed from the point of view of those who are supposed to be protected—the community, the community leaders, the populations. I am happy to see that in the last resolution renewing UNMISS mandate, this was clearly mentioned in the preamble part of that resolution, that there needs to be a greater effort to investigate and unleash the protection potential of unarmed civilians, both local and international NGOs working on the ground.
Last point. Physical protection is very important, obviously. But I think the creation of an enabling environment for protection goes through so many other aspects. When I was head of this mission, whose only function was protection of civilian, we spent more time on the non-military aspects of protection than on the protection because that particular country had its own means of protecting when there were emergencies.
Just to give you one example and I’ll stop here, women in particular, and children, leave the refugee camps in order to go to look for water. So we have agreed with the contingent who has the engineering capability to investigate whether there were a possibility to dig wells close to the area where the refugees are located. And sure enough, there were. And wells were dug, sometimes quickly, sometimes because of the depth much longer. And that sort of enabled, you know, to shorten the distance between the needs for water by refugees.
And similarly we struck a deal with the local cellphone company to provide women and men leaders with some kind of 9-1-1 number that they can call free of charge should there be a threat to civilian within the camp and in the vicinity of the camp. Obviously there was a business proposition involved, because some of these people wanted to get some more minutes so they can call family and so on and so forth. But the initial investment was for protection. So there needs to be a greater investigation of unarmed protection of civilian.
I think the—I don’t want to tell you thinks you already know, you can read by yourselves—but if you look at the HIPPO report, there are 79 mentions of protection of civilian in that report. And you can look at the very substantive recommendations we have done, and in addition to the need to look at the unarmed protection of civilian, but there’s one I’d like to read. And basically said that because there was usually a discrepancy between capability and expectations, that heads of mission must be very frank with the Security Council when that is the case, and provide a clear assessment of that gap and what needs to be done, and particularly following the initial deployment of a peacekeeping operation, and that that assessment needs to be constantly updated, but also, assessment of the relative freedom they have to act and the relative cooperation they have with the host government.
So that frankness of assessment of dialogue and conversation with the Council was very much highlighted in the—what is now called the HIPPO report. I’ll stop.
BIGIO: So Youssef has really touched on a whole range of issues, from country responsibility and compact between the peace operation and the country through to assessment of capability of the operation, and other strategies like unarmed civilian protection. I wonder if coming back to this question, Patrick, from your perspective, what do you see as what are the most urgent needs of how peace operations should be reformed to be able to better protect civilians?
CAMMAERT: Thank you. Yeah. Let me—let me continue where Youssef stopped. And he mentioned the HIPPO report and the word Kigali Principles have been mentioned. And there is a lot of excellent policy papers from U.N. headquarters on what to do, where to go. It is not that there are not any policies or guidance. So we can write HIPPO reports and we can, you know, write more principles from Kigali. But if those principles and those recommendations from the HIPPO report are not implemented, then we have—(inaudible). So something has to change when—(inaudible)—down to—(inaudible).
When the military component or the police are employed, then they must be in a state of mind that you are proactive and not only reacting. You have to prevent things to happen, prevent that women are being raped. Because if you are a day later they have been raped and you are too late. You have to find the hot spots, indicators where things might happen. And that needs training and experience. But the state of mind of troops, particularly their commanders—the force commander onwards—that one has to be proactive. If you have an indication that something is cooking somewhere, so to speak, you have to move in and prevent things to happen. That is—many missions, and not only in this—(inaudible)—is it—many missions, when I go to many peacekeeping—(inaudible)—that state of mind is simply not there.
So that has to change. There must be a will and skill to fight if necessary to protect civilians. If that will and the skill is not there, then we have a serious, serious problem. But the state of mind has to be reformed somehow.
There’s also a reform of the state of mind in the capitals of the (places ?) because that’s where the policy is formed, not coming from the—(inaudible)—(mission ?) here, capital. If you want, for instance, let’s say, the Indian contingents to do—be more proactive, et cetera, then you have to deal at Delhi with the policymakers there, because many times you hear from a commander in the field that the first commander is saying this thing in this year, and then the capital is whispering in that ear, and then you have a problem.
And a contingent commander doesn’t know how to handle that problem, doesn’t know that he has to talk to the first commander, the first commander talk to the—(inaudible)—talk to capital. Don’t whisper in their ear contrary orders than what the United Nations commander say. And you have given the troops to the operational control of the United Nations. So unless you are operating out of your mandate, different story. So the mindset of decision makers in the capital.
And reform in thinking of the senior leadership of the mission, and in U.N. headquarters. Encourage people to be more active, proactive, et cetera, in reform of really giving hand and feet to accountability, not letting people get away. Accountability of performance. A lot of debate on that. I’ve seen in the recommendations of our report that we are also underlining that something should be done about that, and also come up with sort of mechanisms now to deal with that. It’s not only for the military, but it’s also for the police and the civilian leaders, because it’s not—you might think that it is easy to remove a force commander who is not performing to the standard. But, you know, that is more difficult when you have civilian senior leaders in missions who we replace because they are underperforming.
Same thing for, you know, all the visitors to missions, you know, should also look around and see, you know, how that mission functions, and then report back to these headquarters and to mission leadership. You know, we observe that things are not going well. But there have been a lot of visitors to South Sudan, to Juba as well. Why is it that a special investigation team will have to do this? You see where there are a number of problem from the people who have been there. Why didn’t they see the problem?
Then reform in how do we deal with or address the various mission? Every mission nowadays needs a tailor-made force. The Congo is different from Mali. Mali is different from Central African Republic and from South Sudan especially. Different threats. Different opponent. Different host government, et cetera. You can ask yourself a question, why are there attack helicopters in the plan for South Sudan? What are you going to do? I mean, you might use them in the Congo. I used them in the Congo. But that’s a different threat. Are you using the attack helicopters against the South Sudanese government? So tailor-made forces, really thought about and thought through on what kind of threat and what kind of, you know, relation to you have with the host government.
Reform on very important procedures on aviation. You know, you can talk about, at the end of the day, to the protection of civilians. But if you have aviation that cannot fly because the host government is now allowing it, that’s one, or they are flying according to the rules and regulations that are now in place in the United Nations. By the way, when I was operating in the Congo we had very clear waivers from these headquarters how to deal with the aviation rules and regulations. And that was way back in 2003. Now every force commander is crying out: I cannot operate properly and do my work, protection of civilian, because, you know, you need aviation to move to areas where you cannot, you know, arrive other than by helicopter, airplane. That has to change. It’s not that difficult, but it has to change.
The whole issue of pre-deployment training has to change. I’ve said it many times. In pre-deployment training you have mandatory scenario training in conflict-related sexual violence, because the experience on the ground is if you are not as troops and leaders prepared for what you see on sexual violence, people tend to walk away or pretend to not see it, et cetera. But they don’t take any action. We have insufficient female military officers in the field. Fortunately, U.N. Women is now (six times ?) organizing a female military officer course, in particular for female officers. How to reach out to the local population about the subject of violence, sexual violence in particular, because female victims prefer to talk to females not to males. You have to encourage that. So the whole attitude of peacekeepers versus conflict-related sexual violence and sexual exploitation.
And finally, I think that if you talk about reform, the relation between U.N. Women and the DPKO and DPA and the Council, you know, it could be more strengthened so that that influence of U.N. Women more heard in, you know, development of new missions and mediation and all that.
BIGIO: So building on this last point, Patrick, in terms of looking at the kinds of commitments that have been made around women’s participation in peace operations, and the idea that both the research and the evidence suggesting that women’s participation will help advance peace operations to be more effective in achieving their mandates and contributing to peace and security. So against this backdrop, in September of 2016, governments around the world participated in the U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial, and committed there to double the number of women in military and police contingents of U.N. peace operations by 2020. This is—the idea that more women should participate has been out there for years now. And here’s an attempt at trying to set a harder target.
So I wonder kind of from your perspectives, what do you see as the benefit of women’s participation in peace operations? And what do you think countries, the U.N., other actors need to do to actually reach this target so that in 2020 they have successfully doubled the number of women in various contingents?
CAMMAERT: Well, I mean, I think it’s a very ambitious goal, to be honest, a truly ambitious goal. If you look around at the various countries’ armies, the percentage of women is, you know, quite stable and quite low. And it has a reason, because many of the women officers, soldiers leave the armed forces at a certain age because of family problems, you cannot move with your—(inaudible)—et cetera, et cetera. So they simply leave the armed forces. That is a fact. So it’s a fantastic goal. And I wish the accomplishment. I’m a bit skeptical about it because of the figures in the countries.
And no doubt—and I’ve seen it also in my division in Congo—no doubt that it is extremely helpful if you have female officers and soldiers. The more women you have in your armed forces, the better, because women have a capacity that the boys have not. They can bring the tension down when the boys are (showing muscle quicker ?), and it is extremely helpful. And female police officers are very effective in bringing tensions down—(inaudible). So that means that DPKO, the Office of Military Affairs, and the—(inaudible)—should be in constant pressure on countries to do whatever they can. And there are all sorts of incentives, plans. (Inaudible)—can going to say something about it when we talk about incentives for countries who get extra reimbursement if they bring in more female contingents, et cetera. So there are all sorts of measures.
But from—I’m the mentor of the female military officer course. I can assure you it’s incredible what you see on talent around the table in the course—(inaudible)—and how incredible effective they are when they go in the field. We have even officers who have been deployed after the course and come back and explained to us what they could achieve, which is immense. So let me—let me stop there and let Youssef finish it off.
MAHMOUD: I think a great deal has been written, and research, it has established the positive impact of women inclusion in peace operations, particularly if peace is what we are after in addition to the protection of civilian. You, yourself, have written a great deal about benefits of women participation in peace operations. I think this is common knowledge. In the global study on 1325 we have recommended financial incentives to contributing countries to send more women soldiers and police. This has not really been taken seriously, essentially because of a longstanding aversion to privileges for specific categories of personnel, at least what we hear from certain countries.
But I think I want to spend the couple minutes on, again, putting this in perspective. It troubles me that in promoting women peace and security, we jump from women to security and we forget peace. Second, we have treated this issue as if it is a women’s-only issue. I think the argument that is often brought up that we should have more women in peacekeeping simply because they are inherently more peaceful, more nurturing, they will pick up on signals that may not be evident to men, that they will be far more trusted, that they will have the capacity to build or to repair broken relationships between the population security forces—all of that is important.
But that shifts the burden onto women. It shifts the burden onto women to justify their presence in the security forces rather than giving them access simply because, like anyone else, they have the right to be involved. They have the right to be there. And somehow we only worry about the importance of women when there is a problem or when there is something that needs to be corrected. And all of a sudden, we marshal all the normative actions you can possibly imagine to justify that.
So I think we need—when I was director in the Department of Political Affairs, I was appointed—I don’t know what sins I’ve committed—I was appointed as the gender focal point for the department. I’ve learned a great deal. But what I have learned is it is about leadership. It is systematically seeking the worldview and the perspective of diverse population, diverse people, particularly women. So we need to be balanced in this approach. I know of certain missions where they have kept vacant positions unfilled because they couldn’t find the right women—dealing with protection, dealing with—why should it be a woman’s burden? So there is a lot of work that needs to be—to be done so this issue is looked from a holistic point of view.
Last point, gender equality and women empowerment, and particular women’s participation is a very complex, societal issue. And you expect troop-contributing country and police-contributing countries to make advances in this area when they’re inner laws, inner tradition are inimical to this integration, to this equality. And yet, we don’t mention—we all of a sudden become enthusiastic when it comes to security or women. And it troubles me that we might use the POC to securitize women’s participation in peace operations. And it didn’t fall on deaf ears that these calls, either by the defense ministerial meeting or the Kigali Principle, or by military, or by uniformed people. How many women have they consulted to set up the policy for protection of civilian? And yet, we do desperately need women when it comes to implementation. So I think there is some—we need to recalibrate our approach here.
BIGIO: Yeah. I think we have a rich set of issues on the table now. And I want to open it up for questions. So please just raise your placard. And when I call on you, please state your name and affiliation. Please.
Q: (Off mic.)
CAMMAERT: I totally agree with you. The mandates are given with—(inaudible)—protection of civilians, et cetera, in combination with the rules of engagement. Or, you can say, well, the mandates are very—how many pages—(inaudible)—concentrate on that sentence. I’m a military commander. Look at my mandate—(inaudible)—and I have my rules of engagement.
Then, if you want to be proactive, and you are faced with nasty people harassing, killing, raping, abducting civilian—(inaudible)—and you have to take action. If you feel that something is coming, then you have to take preventive action. Then you are with the use of force on the edges of, as you say, becoming part of the conflict. One has to be very careful. And in my time as a division commander in Congo, we had at the peak of the problems 15 operations per day, ordered by attack helicopter. That’s 15 operations in the eastern part of the Congo.
There’s so many armed groups that every time that you warn the armed groups—you stop it or otherwise I’ll make you stop—if you have to come to this point, I make you stop, the moment that they stop you stop. And we talk peace. So that avoids that you are becoming part of the problem. You can do it with verbal warning or you have to punch them on the nose. It hurts. If it hurts not enough, I’ll punch you twice. Am I clear? Then you talk, talk. Bring it back to a peace process, or whatever it is. That mandate and those rules of engagement are quite clear. There’s no—you know, theoretically, there’s nothing wrong with it.
The only problem is that the commander on the ground must be trained in that. And I can assure you, and I’ve seen it now so many times in all the missions ongoing in our eastern training centers, the explanation and lecturing on rules of engagement and the mandate, it’s as thin as this piece of paper. It’s 45 minutes, if you’re lucky. And then we expect people, when they are in those kinds of circumstances, to take proper action and preventive action and proaction. So there is also what I said today, in the recommendations, that there is a lot of work to be done.
But it has to come from DPKO. That guidance has to come from DPKO. As I said, all the peacekeeping training centers should in their pre-deployment training mandatory scenario training on rules of engagement, mandate use of force, conflict-related sexual violence, et cetera—mandatory, not a lecture of 35 minutes or 45 minutes, these are your rules of engagement. That’s nothing. It’s complicated. You have to explain it. And we have done it so many times. So then you see the result that after a day of training they get it. And you see the result in the field.
The issue of the force intervention brigade is, in my view—and I wrote a paper for—(inaudible)—is in my view a step over the line, because there you become part of the problem. Neutralizing armed groups. You go after people. That’s a different—(inaudible). And then you have the international law in a different situation. And therefore—and it’s a whole debate and (we don’t have to go into that ?), but that is simply—that is over the edge—(inaudible).
So is that an answer to your question?
Q: Ed Luck from Columbia University. It’s good to see you both again.
Youssef, you mentioned that force commanders and others should be more candid and explicit with members of the Council about the inadequacies of the force compared to the mandate. That sounds very reasonable, but isn’t this something that’s always been that way? I think of crisis after crisis after crisis, where the Council members know very well that the forces are inadequate, and they know very well that the mandates are too grand. What’s going to change those politics?
And particularly looking at political trends today, and for the next couple of years, to me they don’t look very promising for a more robust commitment and more peacekeeping commitments. Is the alternative going to be that we’re simply going to have fewer missions in fewer places, and no protection whatsoever in a lot of places? Or can we really expect to have these sort of robust, well-trained, well-disciplined forces in lots of places, taking these mandates very seriously? I just have a sense that this conversation, as logical as it is, maybe doesn’t quite fit the politics of the time.
MAHMOUD: I think the recommendations go further, I just didn’t want to read them all. It basically says that the Security Council wants to become aware of the discrepancy between what is required and what is being provided, must first of all involve the TCC and the PCC in that conversation. And this is what they call triangular conversational dialogue. And so they are not just brought after the fact and the mandate has been already sealed, and that they understand the implication for that type of—both in terms of needs. But even then, between what there is agreed and the commitment that comes afterwards. I’ve lived it back in 2010. Because of some of the risks that he was talking about, they’ve agreed. And they were hoping that the equipment would come from somewhere. And that somewhere did not materialize. And even if materialized, they didn’t have goggles, for example—night goggles. Or they didn’t have this. Or the promise that had been made for a level-two hospital did not materialized. So they’re not going to commit to what they.
There is also another aspect to this, that there are some—at least in my experience—TCC, troop-contributing countries, when they feel that the governors, the local governance and the government is not the best partner in the world, when there is a sense that peace is elusive and stabilization becomes the objective rather than implementation of some politics, then they get cold feet. And it is likely that as we go strengthening peacekeeping—I don’t know why we keep it—call it peace, anyway—something-keeping, then it will be a different type of ballgame, different type of discussions. And that help us if we ever one day think of peacekeeping for places like Syria or Yemen. That would be another—that’s a new chapter.
BIGIO: I think we have time to take a very, very quick question, quick answer. And then I’m afraid we’ll have to close. Yes.
Q: The Council—the Council—Craig Charney.
The Council published a recent report calling essentially for the reestablishment of an international administration in South Sudan. What kind of role would this then call for U.N. forces—be it peacekeeping, stabilization or another? And do you think that would be realistic in the current circumstances?
MAHMOUD: (Off mic)—national administration, yeah. I served in Cambodia, where there was such a setup. But that was during the triumphalist heydays of post-Cold War. There was all kind of convergence of ideas. Can you imagine that’s possible?
Q: That’s what I’m asking. (Laughter.)
MAHMOUD: In a fractious world order? In a Council whose decision not always followed? So I don’t see it. I think it was not part of the peace agreement. It’s even under the best circumstances in 1992, 1993, we had a hell of a hard time. I was there. So I don’t see it. I don’t see the political and other commitment, certainly the financial commitment. There were 22,000 troops in Cambodia at one point, plus 3,000 personnel, for a tiny country.
BIGIO: Well, please join me in thanking Patrick and Youssef for joining us today for this conversation. I’m sorry we didn’t have time to get to all of the questions, but we really enjoyed having the depth of the insights that both of you bring to this issue. So thank you all for joining. (Applause.)
This is an uncorrected transcript.