posted on Tue 16 Apr 2019 8:12 PM
Human Rights in Peace Operations: Arria-formula Meeting

Tomorrow (17 April), there will be a closed Arria-formula meeting on human rights in peace operations. Côte d’Ivoire, France, Germany, Kuwait, and Peru are sponsoring the meeting, which is expected to be co-chaired by Niels Annen, Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office, and Ambassador François Delattre (France). The scheduled briefers are the heads of human rights components of three UN peace operations: Danielle Bell of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI); Guillaume Ngefa of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); and Abdoul Aziz Thioye of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). During their statements, Council members are encouraged to ask questions of the briefers to foster an interactive discussion. Aditi Gorur, a Senior Fellow and Director of the Protecting Civilians in Conflict Program at the Stimson Center, will moderate the session.

This will be the fifth closed Arria-formula meeting with heads of human rights components of different operations since 2012. Previous such meetings were organised by Portugal and Togo in February 2012, by Lithuania in January 2015, by New Zealand and Uruguay in March 2016, and by Senegal, Sweden and Uruguay in February 2017.

There are currently 622 human rights personnel participating in 12 UN peace operations, who carry out human rights monitoring, investigating and reporting; integrate human rights into mission activities; and support capacity-building and institutional reforms.

A concept note prepared for the meeting says that it is intended to provide Council members with the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the heads of human rights components regarding the “human rights aspects of peacekeeping,…new developments and innovative approaches to implementing mandates from a field perspective…and how human rights components deliver on core mandate objectives.”

It outlines a series of issues that the briefers will focus on:

  • the work of human rights components, including in cases where peace operations confront a terrorist threat;
  • the challenges and best practices with regard to compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law;
  • the ways that human rights components support the political objectives of peace operations;
  • the role of human rights components, cooperating with troop- and police-contributing countries, in protecting civilians;
  • the work of human rights components in integrating human rights into other components of peace operations.

Bell will describe the human rights work of UNAMI following the extreme oppression carried out by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). She may highlight the importance of protecting human rights during the administration of justice in Iraq—particularly in light of allegations of torture and other maltreatment of defendants—and express concern that people are being tried for mere interaction with ISIL members, rather than for a specific crime. She may frame the fair administration of justice as an important tool of social cohesion and conflict prevention. She may further describe her office’s role in promoting women’s rights in Iraq, including its support for efforts to enact a national anti-domestic violence law.

Ngefa may emphasise the need to address impunity for human rights violations committed in Mali. He may also discuss how social media and unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles have helped the mission collect information on the human rights situation in the country. Ngefa might describe how MINUSMA investigates human rights violations; Council members may be interested in the recent investigations into the upsurge in inter-communal violence in central Mali. In light of recent violations, he may also note the importance of oversight and discipline in respect of the Malian defence and security forces.

Thioye may describe the importance of the human rights component of MONUSCO in helping the mission to protect civilians and stabilise institutions in the country. In this regard, he might speak about the component’s support for judicial processes that lead to convictions of violators, its collaboration with networks of human rights defenders to develop early warning processes, and its efforts to curtail sexual violence in the DRC.

This is one of the rare occasions in which Council members interact informally with heads of mission components. Members may want to know what the Council can do to support the human rights work of peace operations more effectively. They may have questions about how human rights-related mandates are translated into action; in this regard, some may want to discuss how human rights components contribute to the protection of civilians and to conflict prevention in the context of mandate implementation. Some members may further emphasise the need for adequate funding to support the human rights work of peace operations.