BACKGROUND PAPER The Cooperation Triangle and Civilian Capacity

When the ‘New Horizon’ process was launched in 2008 (culminating in the publication 2009 of ‘A New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping’), peacekeeping was in an era of overstretch. The number of uniformed and civilian personnel in the field had reached a peak and the range of tasks they were asked to perform had grown substantially. Finding resources and capabilities to meet the demand was an enormous challenge. Today’s context is different.

The steady expansion in large-scale peacekeeping that occurred since the year 2000 seems to have leveled off and is likely to decline in the years ahead, due in part to the desire to find cost savings in contemporary operations. Alternatives to large multidimensional operations like the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the recently-approved UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), have become more popular. This may be an opportune moment for consolidating the various mechanisms that have been put in motion in recent years, but care must be taken not to allow money concerns to drive the process at the expense of realistic assessments of what effective peace operations require.

This paper begins with an overview of the context for the capacity debate, asking the question ‘capabilities for what?’. The following section considers military and police capacity through the lens of triangular cooperation among the Security Council, Secretariat and troop and police contributing countries (T/PCCs). The fourth section concerns the civilian capacity review and implementation process. While the focus is on civilian aspects of multidimensional peace operations, the civilian capacity review has implications for a range of UN prevention, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and good governance implicate the entire system. The paper concludes with some issues and recommendations for consideration at the Challenges Forum.