In the context of rapidly changing context and the growing number of actors involved in the security sector, harmonising international responses will be paramount to stabilising countries facing security various and complex security threats. The end of the Cold War brought along a new set of challenges for peacekeeping. In this context, the Brahimi report (UN, 2000) advocated for wider peacekeeping mandates allowing missions to better address a large range of challenges on the ground. The different nature of conflicts now requires an understanding of a range of conflict drivers, including political, security and socio- economic ones. This poses serious challenges for peacekeeping missions in terms of information- gathering and necessitates structural reform.
In order to effectively contribute to stabilisation in the context of civil wars, terrorism and other complex security threats such as transnational organised crime and terrorism, UN peacekeeping operations should adopt an intelligence- led methodology. The need for such a capability is recognised and has been reflected in various structural changes implemented within a larger UN peacekeeping reform, including the establishment of a Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC) and a Joint Operations Centre (JOC) to conduct information gathering using military, police and civilian sources (UN, 2016).
While this has been an important step, various challenges remain. The objectives of intelligence activities should for example be more clearly defined. Contrary to purely military operations, intelligence in peacekeeping should aim at a political settlement conflicts, requiring information relating to a broad range of conflict drivers and thus necessitates a human resources capacity combining military and civilian competencies. Secondly, relevant and useful information can only be gathered when done in a structured manner and respecting ethical limitations. Standard operating procedures and organisational structures should therefore be established, allowing military, civilian and police components to contribute to intelligence gathering. Also in this regard, information systems should be implemented that can allow for secure storage and transmission of data as well as to improve their analysis. Once such a capacity is established operating procedures should be established to allow sharing of analysis with the relevant mission components and other decision makers (Abilova and Novosseloff, 2016).
In the framework of upcoming discussions with member states on the development of a policy framework it is recommended that existing initiatives such as the All Source Information Fusion Unit (ASIFU), established within the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), should be analysed in a detailed manner and a lessons learned document presented to the member states for further discussion. Such a discussion should serve a twofold purpose. First, it should contribute to raising awareness among reluctant member states to grant sufficiently strong mandates to peacekeeping missions in order to allow them to deploy an adequate intelligence capacity tailored to a changing security environment and second, it should contribute to capitalising on existing knowledge as well as to mobilise member states to provide human and financial resources as well as technical expertise to further develop such a system.
From the start the term “intelligence” has been controversial as it is essentially opposed to the open and transparent nature of the UN and its work, leading to a quasi- avoidance of the term by the organisation. The problem is thus in essence one of confidentiality, as the UN is supposed to act as a neutral actor in conflict resolution. In addition, the issue of multilateralism versus unilateralism and thus the existence of political interests of certain UN member states prevents and will continue to prevent the development of a robust intelligence and information- sharing capability for UN Peacekeeping Operations (Diaz, 2007). On the operational level, the reluctance of states to contribute troops has led to low levels of expertise on the ground. There have however been a few exceptions, such as the case of MINUSMA where European countries in particular are providing expertise to enhance the information collection capacity of the mission. This is however the result of the interest of those countries in stabilising the Sahel region as it poses an indirect security threat to Europe, rather than a willingness to strengthen UN intelligence capacity in general.
Abilova, O. and Novosseloff, A. (2016). Demystifying Intelligence in UN Peace Operations: Toward an Organizational Doctrine. Available at: https://www.ipinst.org/2016/07/demystifying-intelligence-in-un-peace-ops (Accessed on 15 September 2016).
Diaz, G. (2007). Intelligence at the United Nations for peace operations. UNISCI Discussion Papers, 13. Available at: https://www.ucm.es/data/cont/media/www/pag-72528/Gustavo13a.pdf (Accessed on 15 September 2016).
Karlsrud, J. and Smith, A. (2015). Europe’s Return to UN Peacekeeping in Africa? Lessons from Mali. Available at: http://www.ipinst.org/2015/07/europes-return-to-un-peacekeeping-in-africa-lessons-from-mali. (Accessed on 15 September 2016).
UN (2000). Report of the Panel on UN Peace operations (Brahimi report), A/55/305-S/2000/809. New York: United Nations.
UN (2016). Reform of peacekeeping. Available at: http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/reform.shtml (Accessed on 15 September 2016).