The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to promote and develop constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society organizations.
In accordance with the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is dedicated to assisting Member States and the Secretary-General in their efforts to maintain international peace and security. The Department plans, prepares, manages and directs UN peacekeeping operations so that they can effectively fulfill their mandates under the overall authority of the Security Council and General Assembly, and under the command vested in the Secretary-General. DPKO is currently headed by Mr. Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
DPKO provides political and executive direction to UN peacekeeping operations, and maintains contact with the Security Council, troop, police and financial contributors, and parties to the conflict in the implementation of Security Council mandates. DPKO strives to provide the best possible and most cost-efficient administrative and logistical support to missions in the field through the timely deployment of quality equipment and services, adequate financial resources and well-trained personnel. The Department works to integrate the efforts of UN, governmental and non-governmental entities in the context of peacekeeping operations. DPKO also provides guidance and support on military, police, mine action, and logistical and administrative issues to other UN political and peace-building missions.
Each peacekeeping operation has a specific set of mandated tasks, but all share certain common aims—to alleviate human suffering, as well as create the conditions and build institutions for self-sustaining peace. The substantial presence of a peacekeeping operation on the ground contributes to this aim by introducing the UN as a third party with a direct impact on the political process. In the exercise of its tasks, DPKO works to minimize the many risks to which peacekeepers may be exposed in the field.
Peacekeeping operations may consist of several aspects, including a military component, which may or may not be armed, and various civilian components encompassing a broad range of disciplines. Depending on their mandate, peacekeeping missions may be deployed to:
* Prevent the outbreak of conflict or the spill-over of conflict across borders;
* Stabilize conflict situations after a cease fire, to create an environment for the parties to reach a lasting peace agreement;
* Assist in implementing comprehensive peace agreements; and
* Lead States or territories through a transition to stable government, based on democratic principles, good governance and economic development.
DPKO often actively engages with civil society organizations in order to effectively implement its mandate. Civil society groups and organizations have a key role to play in promoting peace, stability, democracy and socio-economic development in post-conflict situations where peacekeeping missions operate. The work of CSOs (local and international) can often complement that of a peacekeeping operation and in the case of the local organizations, it is often to the peacekeeping operation’s advantage to strengthen the capacity of civil society to enable it to play its role to the fullest extent and engage effectively in governance and socio-economic development. These relationships are premised on mutual objectives, if not overlapping mandates, and are therefore seen to be mutually beneficial.
External actors have played a particularly important role in the multi-dimensional missions of the past decade, which include thematic components such as gender; HIV/AIDS; Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR); judicial affairs; corrections; elections and human rights. The successful execution of these thematic programmes is to a large extent dependant on close collaboration with a broad spectrum of civil society entities. A few examples include:
* In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) works closely with both international and local NGOs, who are sub-contracted to run reception centres and transit camps for ex-combatants within MONUC’s Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Resettlement and Reintegration (DDRRR) programme. Representatives from civil society, such as church leaders, businessmen, and local associations, work with MONUC in the gathering of information on foreign and Congolose armed groups in the DRC;
* In Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, DPKO’s correction officers engage with local NGOs who provide a range of assistance, including the delivery of medical assistance or food to prison inmates or who aim to improve prison conditions;
* The Civil Affairs Section of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) works with various non-state actors involved in the national reconciliation process to support the participation of civil society in the promotion of sustainable peace and a just implementation of the peace agreements;
* In Eritrea, the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) HIV/AIDS programme, which ended in July 2008, provided HIV/AIDS awareness training to schools and women’s groups, amongst other civil society groups. It further works with local NGOs supporting people living with HIV/AIDS; and
* In several missions, Quick Impact Projects are executed by local implementing partners.
In addition to collaboration on the implementation of missions’ mandates in these thematic areas, DPKO missions, as well as its Headquarters, involve civil society in policy-developing processes. Examples of such collaboration are:
* In Haiti, the UN Inter-Agency National Plan on Violence Against Women, which included national women’s organizations, held a workshop to define a national strategy on preventing violence against women;
* At Headquarters, DPKO collaborates closely with the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security through information sharing, meetings and events to enhance implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325;
* Judicial and Corrections officers work with a range of international NGOs to develop training programmes for DPKO judicial/corrections staff, policy dialogue on rule of law issues and the development of model codes for postconflict settings; and
* In Sudan, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General has invited CSOs, including academic institutions, to contribute to the development of an implementation plan for the mission’s mandated activities.
Focal points for non-state actors in peacekeeping operations tend to vary, depending on the type of work in which the organization in question is involved. Individual missions may have focal points for this purpose—for example, for those working with the media may liaise with the Public Information section, while those in development or relief efforts may work with the relief and reconstruction sections of the mission. The Office of Operations at DPKO Headquarters in New York also has focal points for regional peacekeeping capacity building, primarily in Africa, as well as for regional organizations such as the EU, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
DPKO does not have a civil society focal point. Questions related to DPKO’s engagement with civil society can be addressed to the Advisors covering specific thematic areas. Currently, most of these (gender, HIV/AIDS, corrections, judicial affairs and DDR) are part of the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit: (http://pbpu.unlb.org).