In a UN peace operation, police and military components play key roles in creating a secure and stable environment until the host government can maintain security on its own.

The mission should project strength and credibility, prevent spoilers from undermining peace processes, and partner with the government to reform the security sector. This may involve the legitimate use of force.

Operational Outputs

Warring Factions Separated and Violent Conflict Contained

Separating parties to a conflict allows peacekeeping force to monitor their actions. Establishing areas of ...

Civilians Protected

Civilians are often targeted during armed conflict. Women, children, refugees, IDPs, minorities and the elderly ...

Freedom of Movement Regained and Exercised

The free flow of people and goods leads to the normalisation of daily life and ...

Threats from Spoilers Managed

Threats to the peace process come from many sources. This output focuses on the challenges ...

Public Order Established

Public disorder is destabilizing. It undercuts efforts to strengthen state security institutions. It is often ...

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Programmes Implemented

Dealing with combatants is a crucial first step towards peace and reconciliation. DDR contributes to ...


In a secure and stable environment, the civilian population can pursue its daily activities in relative safety, free from large-scale hostilities and violence.

In such an environment, there is a reasonable level of public order, the state holds a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence, and the population enjoys physical security and freedom of movement.

In addition, the country’s borders are managed to mitigate the effects of transnational organised crime and to protect against invasion or infiltration.

The use of force

If the MLT determines that force must be used to fulfil its mandated tasks, such use of force must be linked to the desired political outcomes.

The mission should demonstrate a credible, flexible force posture and presence which does not yield to the unlawful use of force by non-state actors.

The use of force should be part of the political strategy of the mission; legal; consistent with the ROE (military) or the Directive on the Use of Force (police); proportionate; critically necessary; and capable of achieving the desired outcome.

Reliable intelligence is essential for the effective, proportionate and judicious use of force.

Preconditions for Success

An agreement forms the basis of the peace process, the implementation of which leads to a sustained settlement of the conflict.

All major parties to the conflict are committed to the peace process.

International/regional partners support the peace process.

TCCs/PCCs remain committed to pledges, which include training, preparation, equipment and willingness to act robustly when needed.

National authorities develop the capacity to address security and stability issues.



  • Large-scale armed conflict has ended
  • Police institutional structures are in place
  • Fair popular access to justice has improved
  • Public order prevails
  • National security services operate lawfully
  • The population’s physical safety is assured
  • Freedom of movement exists for all



A critical question for the leadership of a UN peace operation is how far a mission can go in using force, and when it is right to do so. While the grounds for the use of force are likely to be fairly well defined in the mandate (usually in terms of the need to protect civilians, probably also to protect the mission and humanitarian actors, and to defend the mandate) and reflected in the military Concept of Operations and Rules of Engagement, much will depend on the interpretation of, for example, what constitutes a threat to civilians, or when it is justifiable for a mission to defend its mandate by force.

For example, in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), when certain ex-Seleka groups were threatening to march on Bambari (the second biggest city in the country), the mission decided that its protection of civilians (POC) mandate meant that it could set “red lines”, beyond which armed groups would face the use of force. When some rebels breached these red lines, the mission justified air strikes in terms of protecting civilians.

UN peace operation must not be a party to the conflict, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which acts as the guardian of international humanitarian law, was clear that the airstrikes would have compromised the mission’s status were it not for the specific warnings given that this was how we would interpret our POC mandate.

It was important for MINUSCA to have thought through the implications and consequences of the airstrikes. These questions of interpretation are likely to arise during a crisis situation and a mission leader may have little time to decide what they can do. So, having a sound understanding of the limits, and indeed of how far those limits can be stretched, is essential.

Diane Corner, DSRSG, MINUSCA, 2014–17

See Also

1.2 Who performs key mission leadership roles?

The mission leadership team (MLT) will reflect numerous concepts and cultures of leadership. Correctly approached ...

2.4 Crisis Management

In peacekeeping, crisis management has become a key aspect of an MLT’s role. Crises are ...

4.4 Threats from Spoilers Managed

Threats to the peace process come from many sources. This output focuses on the challenges ...

Separating parties to a conflict allows peacekeeping force to monitor their actions. Establishing areas of control in the short term helps limit civilian suffering. It also asserts control over armed forces in support of ceasefires. This helps build confidence in a fragile peace process.

What does it mean to separate warring parties?

Separating forces involves creating distinct areas of control. It can also involve observation and monitoring of a ceasefire. This reduces tensions and allows other aspects of a peace process to proceed.

Preventing large-scale fighting demonstrates the authority and forcefulness of the mission. It also generates credibility. This sets the tone for future actions and compliance by the parties.

The nature of the conflict will determine the type of separation required. In interstate or secessionist intra-state conflicts, buffer zones may be used. Conflicts where combatants and civilians mix may call for zones of separation. These create a neutral space or “no-man’s land”.

Whatever the type of separation, the parties need to agree on boundaries and entry points. They must be well marked, and identifiable on a map or formal record.

Separation of warring parties usually involves military action. But in the final analysis one thing is important to remember. Ending armed conflict and securing peace depends on political – not military – solutions.

The HoM must play a key role in keeping all belligerents engaged in the peace process. The FC monitors compliance with security arrangements under the mission’s mandate.


Key Operational Activities

  • Deploying troops and UN police to zones of separation.
  • Deploying UN police and FPUs in population centres.
  • Establishing joint confidence- and security-building measures to monitor ceasfire compliance
  • Improving coordination through liaison officers or joint commissions.
  • Establishing control measures for separation of forces
  • Establishing control measures for weapons and ammunition, equipment, and movement of personnel.




  • Mechanisms for implementing security arrangements established and functioning.
  • Strategic communications strategy implemented.
  • Control measures in place.
  • Monitoring in place and functioning.
  • DDR programmes planned and implementation begun.
  • Support provided for SSR discussions among key national stakeholders
  • Preparations made for initiation of a SSR process, if applicable
  • Priority mine action tasks completed, if applicable.


  • Implementation of DDR continued.
  • National SSR programme implemented.
  • All factions separated and complying with control measures.
  • All designated weapons cantoned under relevant agreements and DDR programme.
  • Factions complying with security provisions of peace agreement.
  • Major reduction in incidents of violence involving former combatants.


  • Factions integrated and part of the government process.
  • Factions refrain from using violence to settle grievances or gain political power.
  • Security situation conducive to the return of IDPs and refugees.
  • Final phases of DDR implemented.
  • SSR programmes consolidated and yielding long-term results with support of all key stakeholders.


Challenges and Risks

  • Compliance is not universal.
  • Fragmented/renegade/spoiler groups continue fighting.
  • Conflict spreads beyond the borders of the mission area.
  • Regional or other transnational actors subvert the peace process.
  • Impartiality of the mission is compromised.
  • The peacekeeping force is unable to achieve its mandate.
  • Lack of political ownership for the necessary reforms.



While assertive action ensures credibility, too much force could affect the mission’s legitimacy. It could also enable spoilers to rally the population against the intervention. Finding a way to balance this trade-off is essential. One option might be to involve the engagement of the police component. For example, FPUs could deploy less-lethal force against non-military threats.

Should the mission concentrate on defending points and bases or providing wide-area security? This decision involves a balance of judgement. Spreading forces too thinly could make them less effective. But concentrating them in a few key areas could leave parts of the country unprotected. In practice, a mission must do both. Mission leaders need intelligence and flexibility to redeploy to counter new threats.


Civilians are often targeted during armed conflict. Women, children, refugees, IDPs, minorities and the elderly are most vulnerable. Mission leaders must protect these groups using integrated and holistic mission responses. This prevents suffering and strengthens confidence in the peace process.

What is the protection of civilians?

Most contemporary peace operations include a protection of civilians (POC) mandate. POC refers to “all necessary action” to prevent or respond to threats of physical violence against civilians. This can even involve the use of deadly force. A mission’s actions should not undermine a host government’s responsibility to protect civilians.

“All necessary action” can also include political, developmental, humanitarian or other non-violent means. These may be necessary to ensure civilian protection in the long term. Countering threats thus requires an all-of-mission approach.

Mission leaders should frame protection activities within a sound political process. This goes well beyond physical security. It calls for a comprehensive approach involving all mission components and external actors.

Protection efforts should include multiple components of the peace operation besides uniformed personnel (e.g. Political Affairs, Human Rights, Public Information and Civil Affairs). Coordination mechanisms such as the JOC and JMAC may also play a role.

If a peace operation has a POC mandate, it should have the training and capacity required to carry out the task. If the mission faces gaps in these resources, the MLT should inform UNHQ and the Security Council.

The three tiers of protection of civilians

Missions should support the three tiers of POC. This requires a regular assessment of the operating environment, its actors and dynamics.


Key Operational Activities

  • Developing a POC strategy.
  • Identifying vulnerable groups (e.g women, children, minorities and IDPs).
  • Identifying the protection needs of vulnerable groups (e.g. SGBV and CRSV).
  • Establishing a presence in key areas of potential volatility.
  • Establishing joint protection teams using Military, Police and Civilian components.
  • Responding to or preventing the forced displacement of civilians.




  • Vulnerable sectors of the population identified.
  • Presence established in key areas to deter major outbreaks of violence, including CRSV.
  • Mechanisms created for interaction with other actors and the local population.
  • Security zones and areas established as needed.
  • Effective monitoring prevents or reduces acts of violence.
  • Main roads and volatile areas cleared of ERW (if applicable) and patrolled.
  • Public information strategy planned and implemented.
  • Key IDP camps secured.
  • Protection issues incorporated into SSR and DDR programmes.
  • Comprehensive plan for mine action in place.


  • Incidents investigated and documented, and national authorities take appropriate action, including on CRSV.
  • Number of incidents (including of all forms of sexual violence) decreased.
  • Advocacy programmes working and effective.
  • Government policy exists on POC, including CRSV.
  • Legitimate and capable host state security forces developed.
  • People have access to legal recourse.
  • Property issues addressed by national authorities.
  • Information campaigns and education on human rights under way.
  • Civilians move with safety on key thoroughfares.
  • Forced displacement of civilians is not occurring.
  • Relief and medical treatment provided to vulnerable groups and survivors of sexual violence.


  • Vulnerable sectors of the population identified.
  • Presence established in key areas to deter major outbreaks of violence, including CRSV.
  • Mechanisms created for interaction with other actors and the local population.
  • Security zones and areas established as needed.
  • Effective monitoring prevents or reduces acts of violence.
  • Main roads and volatile areas cleared of ERW (if applicable) and patrolled.
  • Public information strategy planned and implemented.
  • Key IDP camps secured.
  • Protection issues incorporated into SSR and DDR programmes.
  • Comprehensive plan for mine action in place.


• Host government protects civilians and counters CRSV using police forces.
• Justice, governance and reconciliation efforts established at national, regional and local levels.
• Women and girls’ sustained access to basic services and opportunities improved.
Challenges and risks
• National security forces are complicit in preying on elements of the civilian population.
• Threats against civilians come from other civilians rather than armed groups.
• The mission does not have the capacity or capability to carry out its POC mandate.
• Local expectations exceed the ability and capability of the mission to protect civilians.
• Some parts of the population are beyond the reach of national authorities or the mission.
• UNSC and Member States fail to pressure host governments to fulfil POC responsibilities.



The mission must act on its POC mandate. But it also needs to develop the host government’s ability to take on this responsibility. With limited resources, it may be difficult to balance short- and long-term needs. Demonstrating quick wins can build credibility but may jeopardize deeper SSR reform. Personal will almost always be one of the first and most important public tasks. Citizens may even view unaccountable security providers as the only immediate option.

The MLT must deal with expectations about security and POC. The peace process may suffer if these expectations are not managed. Consider using strategic communications to help people understand the mission’s mandate and capabilities.

POC may involve a mix of short-term activities in civilian centres and security zones. The mission should adapt its resources to the actual needs on the ground. Temporary patterns help support fluid operations and clearance activities. In contrast, permanent patterns help support peacebuilding activities.

The mission may need to balance its POC mandate against its responsibility to protect UN personnel. This is true both within the mission and in the wider UN system. Again, mission leaders need to manage expectations, given the limited resources.

The mission may face a dilemma if host-government forces commit violence against civilians. The MLT will have to find ways to end the violence while maintaining consent for the mission. This is especially true if the mission provides support to local security forces. The MLT must discuss human rights principles and the HRDDP with the host government. It should vet supported units and commanders (which may include armed groups). Dialogue with the host-government is a sensitive process requiring political finesse.


See Also

3.2 Peace Process Supported

A peace operation can only succeed if the conflict parties commit to resolving the conflict ...

3.4 National Reconciliation Promoted

Sustainable peace depends on leaders and the population desiring reconciliation more than conflict. Reconciliation, however, ...

6.1 Secure and Effective Humanitarian Relief Supported

There are important linkages and similarities between humanitarian relief efforts and the SDGs. Many peace ...

The free flow of people and goods leads to the normalisation of daily life and economic growth. But various factors can affect a mission’s freedom of movement. Examples include hostilities, opposing factions and natural disasters. It is up to the various mission components to manage these factors.

What is freedom of movement?

Freedom of movement is the free flow of people and goods without fear of physical harm or disruption. But it can also mean cutting off illicit commodity flows. Free movement encourages normal daily life, such as access to schools and markets. In addition, it increases the social integration of isolated communities.

Hostilities between warring factions can reduce freedom of movement of the civilian population and the mission.

Other factors may influence the free flow of people and goods. One example is when one or more parties uses IEDs. Responding to threats of explosive ordnance and IEDs is a military–technical issue. It is therefore a key focus of EOD activities. A natural disaster could also end up restricting freedom of movement.

Even a host state conscious of asserting its sovereignty can influence free movement. Although casualties would be unlikely, an uncooperative host state could make movement difficult. This goes for both civilians and the mission.

The MLT and the host government must therefore set the rules on where to enable, limit or deny access.

The Military component oversees operational and tactical mobility. This means making sure that all personnel across the mission area have free movement. The host government guarantees freedom of movement for the population and the mission.

The SRSG will need to urge and remind all parties to adhere to their agreements. The mission needs to track the state of freedom of movement through the JOC and the Force HQ. Meanwhile, the FC and the Police Commissioner need to ensure compliance on the ground.

Other components have important roles to play regarding freedom of movement. One example is military and civilian components involved in mine action. Another is UNHCR and other UN agencies dealing with the movement of refugees and IDPs. Coordination is thus essential, as is close political engagement with the parties.

Creating a Secure and Stable Environment

Key Operational Activities

  • Studying the vulnerabilities of key routes.
  • Tracking the viability of all routes via the JOC.
  • Establishing an EOD/IED threat-mitigation working group.
  • Developing EOD capabilities.
  • Removing ERW from abandoned storage sites.
  • Promoting safe ammunition management.
  • Implementing and sustaining the SOFA or SOMA.
  • Exploiting IED events through technical and tactical analysis.
  • Degrading IED networks by implementing recording and recovery of EO components.




  • Routes and air heads secure, and alternate routes established.
  • Humanitarian supplies moving.
  • Spoilers and their areas of operation identified.
  • Mines and IEDs identified and priorities for clearing established.


  • Population can move on key routes without violence.
  • Key strategic resources protected
  • Police has restored law and order in critical areas.
  • Status of routes updated.


  • National authorities ensure full freedom of movement for people and goods throughout territory.
  • Customs and border procedures re-established, consistent with international standards.
  • Mine action continues.


Challenges and Risks

  • Host government evolves towards non-compliance with terms of SOFA.
  • Host government cannot ensure freedom of movement.
  • Lack of credible information on mine and ERW contamination.
  • Peace process falters and fighting resumes.
  • Factions/spoilers restrict the movement and/or access of peace operations personnel.
  • Factions/spoilers use freedom of movement to exert political leverage.
  • Territorial integrity is lacking, enabling influx of external spoilers.
  • Regional actors are not supportive.



The mission may need to control people and resources for security reasons. In such cases, it should explain these controls to the population. This helps maintain transparency and manage expectations.

Counter-IED/mine intelligence requires bringing together many information sources. This provides a detailed understanding of spoiler-IED tactics, techniques and procedures. Every unit must maintain a current and clear understanding of the status of each route. For example, ISR assets enable the identification of IEDs and mines. Electronic counter-IED assets can mitigate threats against vehicles or personnel. Force generation is a politicized process. It requires a good relationship between the MLT, TCCs and the DPO.

Immediate and gradual movement controls each have their pros and cons. Experience shows that gradual controls are more viable and pragmatic. But humanitarian considerations may well determine the appropriate type of controls.

Protection and prevention of illegitimate movement of resources can be of great significance. This is especially true in a resource-based conflict. In the initial stages, the mission should therefore prioritise movement control efforts.

A host government may maintain (or regain) control of its territory. In this situation, interruptions, restrictions or even denial of mission movement may occur. Such restrictions can inhibit the mission’s ability to perform mandated tasks. Besides, accepting limitations imposed by the parties undermines the credibility of the mission. It also suggests that it is possible to manipulate a mission without consequences.


UNMIS: Maximizing operational
effect of the military component

With increased threats in peacekeeping environments and attacks on UN bases and personnel, there has been a growing demand for more troops for force protection. An emerging dilemma for mission leadership is ensuring a balanced military deployment that secures static installations while retaining sufficient mobility to respond to developing critical situations.

UNMIS had a mandated strength of approximately 10,000 troops to support the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. While South Sudan supported UNMIS operations, looking forward to the 2011 Independence Referendum, operational consent was selective in the north, especially in Darfur and Abyei. Many UNMIS troops were thus hesitant to maneuver.

Since surface mobility was confined to mine-cleared roads, cross-country movement was being conducted by daytime aviation effort. The mission had limited access to outer reaches, mostly being provided by military observer long-range patrols with limited staying power.

There was a necessity to infuse maneuver culture in the mission to sustain control of far-flung areas, which was crucial for effective monitoring of the 1956 border Trans Line redeployment of the Sudanese Armed Forces and South Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

Thus, UNMIS pioneered the concept of a temporary operating base (TOB) – a light footprint deployment for conducting need-based tasks. There was initial resistance from troop-contributing countries as well as the Director of Mission Support, as this required effort.

TOBs were provided with field scale accommodation, rations and medical support. They became additional pivots for gaining access to the entire geographical space. Initially two TOBs were deployed, one each in Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal.

Later each sector developed the capability to deploy one TOB. TOBs can be an effective way for the mission to establish freedom of movement and dominate space economically.

Lt. Gen. Jasbir Lidder, Force Commander (2006–08) and DSRSG (2011–12), UNMIS


Threats to the peace process come from many sources. This output focuses on the challenges posed by spoilers. A mission should base its management of spoilers on a peace and conflict analysis. It may also be important to integrate intelligence and law-enforcement resources.

Defining spoilers

Spoilers work against the peace process and threaten the success of a UN mission. They may be agents, organizations or factions. Spoilers can use both non-violent and violent means to achieve their objectives. A peace process may threaten their world view, power or financial interests.

Spoilers can be domestic or international. They might also be violent extremists, organized and unorganized criminals, or warring factions.

Mission leaders must identify spoilers’ intentions, motivations, levels of commitment and interactions. They also need to understand spoilers’ political, social and financial strategies. Their networks, and their leadership and organizational structures, are also relevant. SSR and DDR are central elements in dealing with spoiler challenges.

It is the responsibility of the host government to address spoilers. But it may need to do so with the mission’s support, in the early stages at least. OROLSI will be a key player in providing support to the mission. Relevant UN agencies and international stakeholders may also play a role.

Mission leaders should encourage close cooperation between the various mission components. This is especially true of components with situational-awareness and analytical capabilities. Examples include the JOC, JMAC, UNPOL’s criminal intelligence cell, and U2 branch. Where appropriate, the MLT should also share information with regional partners.

Distinguishing between spoilers

We can define spoilers according to three factors. First, their relationship to the peace process. Second, their willingness to negotiate. And third, their willingness to use violence.

Relationship to the peace process

Relationship to the peace process

Spoilers can be inside or outside of the peace process. Inside spoilers can be part of the host government. They may also be a party to an agreement that has failed to abide by that agreement. Outside spoilers have not signed up or agreed to the peace process. They might use any means to prevent the process from succeeding.

Willingness to negotiate

Other spoilers may have limited goals. For example, they may seek power sharing, or to redress grievances. Such spoilers are willing to negotiate to achieve these goals in the context of a peace process. A peace process may thus need adjustments to accommodate their goals.

Willingness to use violence

Some spoilers may not be willing to negotiate. For example, their goals may be ideological or religious. They may also have had their criminal enterprises put at risk. This type of spoiler is more likely to use force than other types. Mission leaders should consider this when designing operational approaches (including counter-terrorism activities). UN missions need to be able to protect themselves and their staff from terrorist activity.

Operational approaches

The mission’s operational approach must address each type of spoiler. It should reflect the context in which spoilers operate. The connections that empower them are also worth considering.

MLTs, through the JMAC, must find ‘nodes’ where criminality, extremism and politics intersect. This requires integrating intelligence, law-enforcement, political, diplomatic and development resources. They will also need to support credible local institutions.

The basic concept is to combine proactive, reactive and consequence-management measures.

  • Proactive measures are positive actions to engage with spoilers and address their goals.
  • Reactive measures use mission assets and national structures to weaken spoilers.
  • Consequence-management measures address the consequences of extreme spoiler acts.

Taken together, these measures undermine incentives for violence while promoting alternative paths.

Mitigating the impact of transnational organized crime

Transnational organized crime (TOC) is more than a law-enforcement problem. It can threaten general security and state legitimacy (through corruption). TOC groups acting in the mission area risk derailing the mission and the peace process. Actors engaged in TOC may even be part of the host government.

In the past, many mission leaders chose to ignore TOC, at least in the initial stages of the mission. But delayed action sometimes made it difficult to counter the negative impact of TOC. The MLT should consider preventive measures early on to mitigate TOC’s effects.

Key Operational Activities

The mission’s operational activities to support this output include:

  • Identifying the different spoilers and understanding connections between them.
  • Engaging civil society, media, religious leaders and communities with a focus on women and youth.
  • Using strategic communications to address mis- or disinformation, deconstruct spoiler narratives, and develop supportive narratives.
  • Reaching out to spoilers who are ready for negotiation and reconciliation.
  • Helping the host state to develop mitigation strategies on Transnational Organized Crime.




  • Intelligence and warning systems in place.
  • Presence established in key areas of potential volatility.
  • Prevalence of transnational organised crime identified.
  • Local partners (e.g. civil society, religious or ethnic groups) identified and approached.
  • Community outreach and de-radicalization programmes initiated.
  • Strategic communications with positive narratives to reduce support for spoilers in place.


  • Expanded space for dialogue among all factions preserved.
  • Impunity for criminal acts addressed.
  • Recruitment by spoilers disrupted.
  • Local leaders implicated in transnational organised crime replaced.
  • Former spoilers reintegrated.


  • All relevant government bodies and institutions held accountable.
  • Host government capacity to deliver services to the population developed.
  • Expectations of general population, factions and elites met.
  • Spoiler groups (especially violent extremists and terrorists) rejected, isolated and neutralized.
  • Education campaigns rejecting extremism implemented in formal programmes and the mass media.
  • Civil society institutions’ capacity to mobilize without fear of undue interference increased.


Challenges and Risks

  • Spoiler networks continue to receive external support that the mission cannot cut off.
  • A deep culture of corruption affects the mission’s most senior interlocutors.
  • TOC, including black markets, persists in a symbiotic relationship with spoiler networks.
  • TOC represents a large and accepted part of the local economy that is difficult to replace.
  • Legal systems are corrupt and politicized, institutionalising crime and illicit revenue sources.
  • Radical narratives have a stronger appeal than counter-narratives.
  • Peacekeeper misconduct and other actions undermine efforts to reduce spoiler recruitment.



The mission must “do no harm”. At the same time, mission actions can have serious effects. Think of kinetic military operations, ISR, border control and policing. All have the potential to push individuals towards violent extremism. Well-designed DDR, SSR and rule-of-law programmes will assist efforts to discredit radical narratives.

The mission may need to deal with terrorists and TOC groups for the sake of the peace process. But ignoring political violence preserves cultures of impunity and threatens sustainable peace. Common ground and space for negotiations should be sought that includes civil society.

The mission should consider the purpose of existing rules and behaviour. While they which might not be easy to change, they may also have been effective. The same may be true of patterns of operation of previous security forces. Successful SSR reflects an understanding of existing institutions and historical patterns. Good governance only happens when local actors rethink how public security operates.

Going too hard or too fast after TOC could create tensions with the host government. The mission may even discover the involvement of political leaders in TOC networks. In this case, activities to counter TOC may compromise police legitimacy. The MLT must consider the trade-off between security needs and redefining the economy.

People-centred Approaches and Strategic Communication


See Also

2.2 Promoting Integrated Planning and Operations

An MLT needs to understand how UN integrated planning works. This includes how planning interacts ...

3.2 Peace Process Supported

A peace operation can only succeed if the conflict parties commit to resolving the conflict ...

Public disorder is destabilizing. It undercuts efforts to strengthen state security institutions. It is often accompanied by widespread violations of human rights. Public order is thus a prerequisite for confidence in the public security system. Without it, the population may seek security from illegitimate entities such as militias and warlords.

What is public order?

In a state of public disorder, the judicial system tends to be weak. Confidence in its ability to adjudicate cases is low, and prisons are overflowing.

In contrast, public order usually involves low levels of criminal and political violence. This means fewer kidnappings, murders, riots and intimidation of targeted groups or individuals.

The host government must develop its own capacity to maintain public order. Maintaining public order is then the domain of the police and the criminal justice system. The latter includes courts, prosecution service and prisons.

UN peace operations are sometimes asked to support a transition to legitimate government. In some cases, this requires the mission to maintain public order. But in most cases, UNPOL (through the FPU) assists the host-state police. OROLSI at UNHQ is another key player in providing support to the mission.

In extreme cases, UN military units may play a public-order-management role. For instance, UN military may operate in remote areas where UNPOL is not available. Or an armed group may cause a public disturbance, and the level of violence exceeds the capacity of the police.

Supporting the host government in restoring public order is a whole-of-mission task. However, the police component takes the tactical lead.

The mission should have enough training, capacity and capability to address public-order challenges. This is particularly relevant for its Military and Police components. They will also need appropriate rules of engagement.

Key Operational Activities

The operational activities of a mission supporting the establishment of public order include:

  • Establishing a presence in key areas of potential volatility.
  • Managing civil disturbances and facilitating peaceful demonstrations.
  • Supporting development of the capacities of local police and other law-enforcement entities.
  • Re-establishing the justice system.
  • Protecting key governmental and UN installations, cultural sites and infrastructure.




  • Assessment on capacity and capability of security and justice providers initiated.
  • Coordination mechanisms for Police and Military components established.
  • Police and Military components prepared to manage civil disturbances.
  • Quick-response elements formed.


  • Violence in volatile areas eliminated and civil disturbances contained in a timely fashion.
  • Most of the country has returned to normal patterns of daily activity.
  • National police and other law-enforcement authorities present nationwide and held accountable.
  • Population expresses confidence in public order.
  • Actions by security forces follow international human rights laws.


  • Rule of law established.
  • Evidence of a robust civil society.
  • Relevant government bodies and institutions held accountable.
  • Normal civil and political patterns reappear.


Challenges and Risks

  • Local security elements might oppose the peace process.
  • Spoiler networks subvert the rule of law and undermine public order.
  • National and transnational organized crime groups persist or continue to expand.
  • Security and legal systems are corrupt and politicized, undermining public order.



Quick wins build credibility but can undermine deeper reform of the security sector. Addressing the immediate security situation may give legitimacy to less-than-democratic processes and actors. The alternative is to legitimise governance patterns and actors supporting accountability and transparency. With limited resources, balancing these short- and long-term requirements is a challenge.

Dealing with spoiler groups or individuals may be necessary. In fact, it may be crucial to securing factional engagement or reducing tensions. But ignoring political violence preserves a culture of impunity and threatens sustainable peace.

Maintaining public order is a responsibility of the host-state police. But in certain situations, UNPOL’s FPUs may need to take the lead. They might also need to support host-state police to carry out the mission’s mandate. If violence levels are too high, or FPU units are not available, the mission’s military component may need to act. Mission components will need to understand and rehearse their command and coordination procedures.


See Also

Dealing with combatants is a crucial first step towards peace and reconciliation. DDR contributes to security and stability in a post-conflict environment. Ex-combatants, local population and the host government will have their own expectations of DDR. They will expect peacekeeping missions to deliver more than time and capacity allow. The key is to balance what is possible against what stakeholders believe is possible in a given time.

What is DDR?

DDR supports armed forces and groups to lay down their weapons and return to civilian life. An integrated DDR process contributes to security and stability in post-conflict environments.

DDR processes provide space for ongoing peace processes. Political and social reconciliation, and access to livelihoods, can continue. In essence, DDR enables recovery and development towards sustaining peace.

Disarming and demobilizing ex-combatants is a very visible and political process. It can increase public confidence in the peace process.

All stakeholders will have their own expectations of DDR. This includes the local population, ex-combatants and the host government. The key is to balance what is possible against what stakeholders believe is possible in a given time. Appropriate public information and community-sensitization campaigns play an important role in this.

DDR programmes are most likely to work when:’

  • a peace agreement and/or a negotiated ceasefire provides a framework for DDR;
  • there is trust in the peace process;
  • conflict parties are willing to engage in DDR; and
  • there is a minimum guarantee of security.


But these conditions are not always present. In their absence, missions can support or pave the way for a DDR programme using DDR-related tools (see Box: Tools related to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration).

Political will among national parties is a prerequisite for successful DDR programmes. The SRSG should therefore foster political support for DDR among key stakeholders.

The SRSG and MLT should support DDR through established working mechanisms. This should happen in collaboration with relevant UN and external partners and donors.

Some partners may have limited mandates. Many humanitarian organizations, for instance, can only work with demobilized combatants.

Diversity of funding sources sometimes creates a gap between the three stages of DDR. Disarmament and demobilization are easier to put in place than reintegration. A mission could reduce this gap through, for example, community violence-reduction projects. It could also plan and resource long-term reintegration programmes with donors.

Tools related to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration

A local-level transitional stabilization measure. Used when a DDR programme faces delays.

Transitional weapons and ammunition management
This may include weapons collection in exchange for community development projects. It may also involve support for safer community management of weapons and ammunition.

Community violence reduction
A bottom-up approach that reduces the main drivers of violence in communities. It involves providing alternatives to recruitment into armed groups and building social cohesion.

DDR support to mediation
DDR practitioners can support drafting of DDR provisions in ceasefires and political agreements. They can also make proposals on the design and implementation of DDR programmes.

DDR support to transitional security arrangements
DDR practitioners can also support security-related confidence building measures. Examples include units made up of both state and non-state armed forces and groups.

Source: Integrated DDR Standards

Key Operational Activities

The operational activities undertaken by the mission to support this output include:

  • Establishing a strategic framework for UN engagement in DDR.
  • Developing an operational plan in coordination with UN agencies and national actors.
  • Identifying categories of persons (e.g. women associated with armed groups) for tailored support.
  • Securing funding, particularly for the reintegration phase.




  • Mechanisms under civilian lead to maximize national ownership established.
  • Key sites secured and/or constructed.
  • Public information and other outreach programmes conducted.
  • Security guarantees coordinated with the host government to provide adequate security.
  • Planning for reintegration undertaken.
  • Monitoring and evaluation tools developed.


  • Public order restored.
  • Most factions and communities support the programme.
  • Re-recruitment of ex-combatants prevented.
  • First-time recruitment of at-risk youth prevented.
  • Traffic and movement of weapons and related materiel controlled.
  • Border controls to prevent influx of new weapons and materiel in place.


  • Government has control of national security forces and they use of force.
  • Weapons controls enforced according to the rule of law.
  • Ex-combatants are largely/ mostly reintegrated.
  • State stockpiles of weapons secured to prevent leakage of weapons into society.


Challenges and Risks

  • Lack of political will and/or host government does not accept ownership of the programme.
  • Lack of comprehensive peace agreement/political settlement.
  • State security forces may include children, requiring diplomacy with host government.
  • Female recruits may be at risk of sexual violence or overlooked in DDR processes.
  • Mission components may not have guidance on what to do when child soldiers use lethal force.
  • Combatants do not sign up to DDR.
  • National actors/local communities have limited capacity to support reintegration.
  • Stakeholders may perceive DDR benefits as inequitable.
  • Disarmed and demobilized factions do not have the skills for reintegration.
  • There is inadequate funding for reintegration.
  • The mission and/or host government cannot control supplies of arms and materiel.
  • The mission and/or host government cannot guarantee security of demobilized belligerents and families.
  • Reinsertion programmes appear to reward ex-combatants in preference to their victims.



Combatants need security guarantees if they are to give up their weapons. The peacekeeping force should be able to provide security in all phases of DDR. This applies especially to cantonment sites and home communities of demobilized combatants. The mission should also pay close attention to the balance of power among factions. It also needs to weigh DDR needs against other demands on security resources, such as POC.

Complete disarmament may not be immediately acceptable to all parties. But warring parties may not always address this issue in a peace agreement. This means that a broad range of short- and long-term activities should go with the DDR process. Examples include community-based weapons collection and control programmes, weapons destruction, and so on.

Transitional justice and DDR programmes often go together. But do they always interact in a positive way in the short term? This depends on how a mission coordinates and sequences these activities. It will be important to balance their respective objectives of accountability and stability.

International actors and donors often show great enthusiasm for disarmament and demobilization. But their commitment to long and costly reintegration processes may be less certain. Shortages of resources have hampered reintegration efforts in the past. Successful reintegration requires sustained financial and technical assistance over many years.

Ex-combatants may need special attention to prevent them from becoming a destabilizing factor. But this also risks generating resentment in the broader population. Other groups (e.g. refugees, IDPs, women and children) also need social and economic support. The mission must integrate strategies for ex-combatants with broader goals (e.g resettlement). Balancing rapid disarmament and a long-term approach

DDR requires a long-term approach. But there is also a short-term imperative to disarm combatants posing a threat to peace. Rushed disarmament processes can have serious negative consequences at a later stage. This is especially true if reintegration is not well planned and resourced.

This may be a sensitive topic for the host government. In many contexts, national armed forces include child conscripts. Other armed groups are also likely to rely on children. The peacekeeping mission has a responsibility to report any grave violations. But it must also engage with state security sectors in which violations take place.