Our Work

Peacekeeping and Civilian Protection

A United Nations peacekeeper writes notes at a mass grave in Gatumba, Burundi, August 16, 2004. More than 160 Tutsi refugees hacked, shot and burned to death in a massacre, which the Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL), took responsibility for, were buried on Monday.
Peacekeepers are increasingly called upon to uphold the international community's Responsibility to Protect civilians from mass atrocity crimes, namely genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Nine out of fifteen current United Nations Security Council-authorized missions, constituting 96 percent of peacekeepers, have the protection of civilians at the core of their mandate. Despite the evolution of UN peacekeeping doctrine, the international community often continues to fall short in its efforts to prevent conflicts and atrocities, respond to early warning signs, and adequately protect vulnerable civilians.

During 2014 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established a High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations (HIPPO) to comprehensively assess the state of UN peace operations, including peacekeeping operations and special political missions, and the challenges they face in addressing the emerging needs of populations. The HIPPO submitted its assessment report, entitled "Uniting our strengths for peace: politics, partnerships and people," during June 2015. The report provides recommendations on how peace operations can "better support the Organization's work to prevent conflict, achieve durable political settlements, protect civilians and sustain peace."

Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians
Kigali Principles Graphic
The Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians are a non-binding set of eighteen pledges for the effective implementation of the protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping. The principles emanated from the High-level International Conference on the Protection of Civilians held in Rwanda on 28 and 29 May 2015. The Kigali Principles address the most relevant aspects of peacekeeping, including assessment and planning, force generation, training and equipping personnel, performance and accountability. While they are framed around the protection of civilians, the principles address broader deficiencies that undermine the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations conducted in volatile situations, including peacekeeper abuse.

Member States who have endorsed the Kigali Principles:
Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Ukraine, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Zambia.

Peacekeeping and Work of the Global Centre
The Global Centre continues to work with key partners to ensure that UN Peacekeepers effectively uphold the international community's responsibility to protect populations from mass atrocity crimes. Over the past few years, the Global Centre has strived to understand gaps that lead to failure in effectively protecting populations from mass atrocity crimes during peace operations. We have held several workshops and policy forums with civilian protection experts from around the world to identify strategies that enhance civilian protection.

Additionally, the Global Centre has partnered with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) and the government of Denmark to launch a course on R2P aimed at African practitioners from the security sector that has been held annually since 2014.

Since 2016 the Global Centre has also worked with member states to encourage governments to sign on to the Kigali Principles for the Protection of Civilians. To this end, during May 2016, the Global Centre organized a pledging event for the Kigali Principles in May 2016 entitled "The Future of Civilian Protection in Peace Operations: Endorsing and Implementing the Kigali Principles."

During 2017-2019 the Global Centre is honored to be working in partnership with the government of Canada on a project aimed at enhancing the capacity of peacekeepers to identify and respond to the warning signs of mass atrocity crimes. This project will be implemented across three main avenues of work: mainstreaming atrocity prevention lens within the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations' existing training on the Protection of Civilians; working with troop and police contributing countries to enhance the operational guidance given to their own forces prior to deployment in a UN mission; and developing a short, operational pre-deployment module on upholding R2P to be offered and developed in collaboration with various peacekeeping training centers.