POLICY BRIEF 2015:1 Strategic Communications for the New Era of Peace Operations

A Challenges Forum Workshop on ‘Strategic Communications for the New Era of Peace Operations’ was co-hosted by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), in close consultation with the US Department of State, US Department of Defense, US Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute and the United Nations Departments of Peacekeeping Operations/Department of Field Support, in Washington DC on 23 June 2015.

UN peace operations are increasingly deployed into volatile and inhospitable environments, faced with and targeted by non-traditional and asymmetrical threats that require a range of creative and innovative responses. In order to manage evolving expectations and build lasting support among central constituencies in this environment, a broad-based, well-resourced and accurately evaluated strategic communications plan is required. While this has been accepted in principle by the UN system, UN peace operations have not been able to keep pace with operational demands.

Although there has been a shift from crisis communications and traditional public information capacities to more modern strategic communications, a decisively more strategic and innovative approach is urgently required if UN peace operations are to succeed in the implementation of their mandates. Building on the findings of the Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation, as well as the Report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, a Challenges Forum workshop set out to focus on what is required to ensure that a modern communications approach is fully supported by Member States and embraced by all UN Peace Operations.

Based on Panel Discussions on the current challenges, lessons learned and best practices and innovation, recommendations on how to move forward were developed in parallel working groups and further fine-tuned by a smaller expert group the next day.