As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power recently said, “Today’s UN peacekeeping is not your mother’s peacekeeping. We are asking peacekeepers to do more, in more places, and in more complex conflicts that at any time in history.” In recent decades, UN peacekeeping operations, once called upon to separate armies in the aftermath of combat and to monitor ceasefires, are now asked to create the conditions for delivering humanitarian aid, to help restore civil order, to support public services, protect civilians from atrocities, and enforce the peace by taking action against those who refuse to abide by ceasefire agreements. The international community needs peacekeepers to face the tough challenges of helping torn nations and communities find lasting peace. Through the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), the United States helps meet the ever-growing global demand for trained peacekeeping personnel who are prepared for the dangerous and dynamic world of peace operations.
GPOI’s commitment to evolving to respond to the increasingly complex nature of today’s peacekeeping is evident through events such as the Global Peace Operations Initiative Worldwide Consultations (GWWC) which took place just last month. This annual meeting provides a venue for stakeholders from the Department of State, Department of Defense, other key U.S. government organizations, and the UN to work collaboratively to achieve and sustain operational effectiveness in peace operations and promote international peace and security. The GWWC was co-hosted by Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and the Department of Defense’s Office of the Secretary of Defense at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.
During the GWWC, guest speakers from the UN, Department of State, and academic community gave insightful presentations on the current and future trends of peace operations. Lieutenant General Luiz Paul Cruz of the Brazilian Army, currently the Director for Peacekeeping Strategic Partnership in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations/Department of Field Support (UN DPKO/DFS), gave the keynote speech, focusing on improving the operational effectiveness of UN peacekeeping missions. Colonel Prit Pal Singh and Mr. Oliver Ulich, the co-directors of the UN’s new Strategic Force Generation and Planning Cell, spoke about the current challenges and gaps of force generation. Ms. Victoria Holt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, spoke about the September 2015 summit on peace operations that President Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban, and several heads of state and government will co-host. Dr. Paul Williams of George Washington University gave an informative presentation on enhancing U.S. support for peace operations in Africa and ways to broaden the base of troop contributing countries. Each year, the GWWC plays an important role in giving the GPOI community the knowledge they need to most efficiently and effectively allocate resources and is an outstanding example of multiple U.S. government organizations coordinating for the benefit of international security.
GPOI is managed by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which works in close coordination with other government organizations and bureaus. This coordination is integral to developing regional program plans and implementing training and equipping activities with partner countries. Established in 2005 as part of the U.S. contribution to the G8 Action Plan for Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations, GPOI focuses on increasing partner countries’ capacity to train and deploy national peacekeeping forces that are capable of meeting the ever-increasing demands of UN and regional peacekeeping missions.
Since its establishment, GPOI has worked with partner countries around the world to build peacekeeping capacity, including Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chile, Malaysia, Serbia, and Vietnam. In addition, GPOI has helped 30 partner countries to build their own capacity for training, through train-the-trainer activities, and has facilitated the deployment of more than 197,000 personnel to peace operations around the world. In order to more effectively prevent and respond to gender-based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse, the program has trained over 5,300 female peacekeepers and trained both male and female peacekeepers on these important issues.
Now, more than ever, there is a global demand for trained peacekeeping personnel. International stability requires peace operations, and peace operations require well-trained, effective peacekeepers. GPOI provides the knowledge, wisdom, and technical expertise to train and make ready those personnel by uniting countries in the fight to establish peace and security. The commitment of this organization to promote international peace is evident through the success that this young program has seen in its 10 years in existence.
About the Author: Luisa Holland serves in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and is a 2/C Midshipman studying at the U.S. Naval Academy. The opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the naval service or Naval Academy.