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Research Report

Waging Peace:: UN Peace Operations Confronting Terrorism and Violent Extremism

Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2016
Pages: 44

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. i-ii)
  3. (pp. iii-iv)
  4. (pp. 1-2)
  5. (pp. 3-5)

    The deployment of UN peace operations in countries where there is not only little or no peace to keep, but where terrorism and violent extremism are part of the threat landscape, presents complex challenges to the UN system, member states, and national and local partners. Of the eleven countries most affected by terrorism globally, seven currently host UN peace operations. These UN operations range from small political missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen to larger peacekeeping operations in Lebanon and Mali.¹ Some of these field missions operate in parallel to national or regional forces with a counterterrorism...

  6. (pp. 5-9)

    The terms counterterrorism (CT) and countering violent extremism (CVE) have often been used interchangeably, resulting in a lack of distinction between the two approaches. Consequently, discourse on the positive and negative aspects of each has been convoluted and largely unproductive.

    The term counterterrorism is associated with traditional law enforcement or military responses that focus on reactive measures intended to contain, suppress, or neutralize the threat. Comparatively, the term countering violent extremism (CVE) is associated with a broader spectrum of policies, programs, and interventions designed to prevent individuals, communities, or armed groups from engaging in violence related to radical political, social,...

  7. (pp. 9-10)

    Over the past fifteen years, a dense institutional architecture on counterterrorism has evolved at the United Nations, and both the Security Council and General Assembly have established entities to further the norms and mandates developed.25 The first wave of efforts (exemplified by the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1373 in 2001) emphasized law enforcement and legislative responses and imposed sweeping counterterrorism obligations under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. A second wave emerged in 2006 when the General Assembly adopted the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which called for a balanced approach that included addressing the conditions conducive to terrorism ("Pillar...

  8. (pp. 10-24)

    Several UN peace operations operate in environments where terrorist groups are present or recruit and find support, but these operations differ in terms of their mandate, their resources, the size of their in-country field presence, and their civilian and uniformed capacities. These differences may lead them to approach CT and P/CVE differently. For the purposes of this study, UN peace operations currently operating in complex security environments and discussed in this report can be put into four broad categories:

    1. Small special political missions: These include special envoys and small in-country political offices, such as those in Libya, Syria, and Yemen....

  9. (pp. 24-34)

    The high-level debate on peace and security hosted by the president of the General Assembly in May 2016 underscored the need for the UN and member states to adopt a more comprehensive and strategic approach to complex security challenges. A number of statements during the debate focused on the need for more cohesive strategic approaches that foster connectivity, political solutions, and a more responsive system adapted to interconnected threats. The conclusion of the high-level debate highlighted the need “to further reflect on tools and means” for UN peace operations to respond to terrorism and violent extremism.93 To that end, this...

  10. (pp. 34-37)

    The three major UN peace and security reviews in 2015 all highlighted the need for UN peace operations to be more flexible and to adapt to the changing nature of conflict. They also reemphasized the importance of political solutions for preventing and ending conflicts and sustaining peace. This emphasis on prevention was echoed in the secretary-general’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and the fifth biennial review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.134 Not only do ongoing conflicts provide an enabling environment for the emergence and appeal of terrorist groups and for the spread of violent extremism; terrorism and...

  11. (pp. 38-38)