Human Rights Due Diligence Policy - a challenge for UN-Peacekeeping

UN Photo / Clara Padovan

UN Photo / Myriam Asmani

UN Photo / Sylvain Liechti


In recent years, in deploying UN peacekeeping operations in support of peace-building mandates in unstable states (DR Congo, South Sudan, Mali), the Security Council has authorized United Nations peacekeeping missions to carry out operations with local forces and, in so doing, to provide limited logistic support to them.

These mandates recognize the challenges faced by fragile and post-conflict states in fulfilling their sovereign responsibility to provide security for their citizens. These mandates also recognize the responsibility of the Security Council, through peacekeeping operations, to support but not supplement the responsibility of a state. They are fraught with challenges for peacekeeping operations on the ground where the United Nations has had little influence over the respect of these forces for international humanitarian law. These challenges became particularly clear in the case of MONUSCO, one of the first UN peacekeeping missions to be provided a mandate to work in coordination with, and to provide logistic support to national forces.

The Secretary-General promulgated a policy on Human Rights Due Diligence which includes steps to be taken by UN entities providing support to non-UN security forces with the view to ensuring that such support is consistent with the UN Charter and international humanitarian and human rights law. This policy also applies to United Nations support to regional peacekeeping forces such as AMISOM and AFISMA. The application of this policy is not without challenges for UN peacekeeping operations, particularly in balancing the political, human rights, military and administrative support concerns in the implementation of this policy.

To foster the discussion of strategic and operational challenges in implementing such mandates, in particular with regard to the HRDD policy, ZIF together with the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO) invited senior UN practitioners from headquarters and missions to Berlin beginning of the week. During the seminar, insights from previous lessons learned processes as well as key issues and requirements for further review have been shared and discussed.