The principal task of the MLT is to interpret the mandate and develop mission plans that implement the direction given by the mandate in the specific phase of the conflict or peace process. Mandates contain many tasks and directions, which are often added to or adjusted by the UN Security Council over time. Some of these tasks and directions may well be in tension with each other. Mandates often reflect the political concerns of UN Member States as much as realistic assessments of the practicality of implementing them. The MLT must also operationalize its complex and sometimes ambiguous mandate.

This module gives an overview of the main management issues that mission leaders need to be aware of in running a United Nations peace operation.

Integrated Missions

The United Nations system has the ability to employ a mix of civilian, military and ...

Promoting Integrated Planning and Operations

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

Mainstreaming Strategic Communication

Communications is as much about explanation as information dissemination. In today's context, UN peace operations ...

Crisis Management

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

Maintaining the Safety and Security of UN Personnel

The host government is primarily responsible for the security of UN staff, dependents and UN ...

Working with UN Headquarters and Partner Organizations

Implementing the mission mandate is an interactive process. It involves constant dialogue between the mission ...

Mission Resources & Conduct of Personnel

The UN Secretary-General’s management reforms grant an HoM greater delegation of authority (DoA). In principle, ...

Maintaining a Green Footprint

Large and complex peace operations are now deployed to some of the world’s most insecure ...


The primary nature of any strategy – whether in the context of peace operations, humanitarian relief or development cooperation – is the relationship between ends, ways and means. In peace operations:

The MLT will have to determine the priorities of the mission and consider what can practically be achieved within certain timelines; and be prepared to adjust these priorities and timelines as circumstances change – which they will.

The MLT will need to balance its plans against the available human and financial resources, and should clearly define strategic goals, develop coordinated work plans and prioritize activities to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of support and proper resource allocation.

Depending on the mission’s leaders, mandates can be viewed either as a limitation on action or as an opportunity for engagement and proactive thinking.

The United Nations system has the ability to employ a mix of civilian, military and police capabilities (under a unified leadership) in support of a fragile peace process. Integrated missions are designed to facilitate a coherent system-wide approach to assisting countries experiencing or emerging from conflict on their path to peace and post-conflict recovery.

A UN peace operation becomes an Integrated Mission when the RC/HC functions are part of the mission. A shared vision of the UN’s strategic objectives underpins its presence. This vision reflects a common understanding of the operating environment. It also reflects agreement on maximizing (and measuring) the UN response.

In complex environments, the MLT should meet often to agree on aims, build trust and enhance teamwork. It must develop a shared understanding of the political strategy and a “theory of change”. This outlines how to achieve expected mission objectives and carry out a mandate.

Experience shows that integration increases when key elements of a mission are co-located. Dispersed headquarters and reduced contact can undermine effectiveness, security and levels of cooperation.

The MLT can also improve its effectiveness by establishing integrated structures. Examples include JOCs, JMACs and Mission Support Centres.

Functionality (rather than bureaucratic considerations) should determine the mission’s structure. Expertise placed where it is most needed will improve integration and communication. This will not always be within its parent component.

These principles also apply at the regional or sector levels. Here, Civilian, Military and Police components should be co-located wherever possible and appropriate.

Humanitarian agencies often prefer separate facilities to preserve impartiality, neutrality and independence. UN police may need to position themselves near host-state police facilities.

Various UN agencies, funds and programmes will be present in a country or conflict zone. MLT members need to understand their roles and responsibilities, and the IAP framework. The MLT should promote good working relations between these UN entities. This is often the responsibility of the DSRSG-RC/HC.

The HoM, together with the DSRSG-RC/HC, will need to strike a delicate balance. On the one hand, they must create a secure and stable environment through the mission. On the other, they must respect the “humanitarian space” for UN agencies and partners. These are not conflicting priorities but rather a polarity to manage. Ensuring effective civil–military cooperation and coordination among elements of the wider UN and with international partners is one of the most difficult challenges that the MLT will face.

A mission will also need to coordinate with international, regional and host-country actors. This requires sensitivity towards their respective mandates, interests and operating cultures. Results-oriented partnerships are the key to success. The level of mutual interdependence will be high.

Integrated UN missions often work alongside international, regional and UN Member-State actors. Each has its own mandates, agendas and time horizons. Developing fruitful and dynamic partnerships is of the utmost importance. Aligning overall efforts is a strategic imperative.

An MLT needs to understand how UN integrated planning works. This includes how planning interacts with the process of designing a mandate. It also touches on relations between UNHQ and the field.

There will be different approaches to planning within any integrated mission. The most obvious may be between the military/police and civilian components. The MLT should encourage flexible planning processes via close interaction and information sharing.

Each UN field presence should also have standing coordination arrangements. The aim of these arrangements is to bring together the UN system. This makes strategic direction and oversight possible. And it focuses the joint efforts of the Organization to build peace in the host country.

Integrated or joint planning structures will vary from one mission to another. This reflects the fact that UN operations call for varying levels of coordination. It is also in line with the principle that “form follows function”.

"At Work Together" - Experiences from an Integrated Mission

When the MLT does not drive planning, the unity of purpose of the mission becomes incoherent. Its mission support component (budgetary and logistical resources) struggles to provide timely support. This is why the MLT’s buy-in and active engagement is essential. At the very least, the MLT must give overarching planning direction. This enables a mission to cascade its planning process down through all components. This then forms the basis of a mission plan.

Coordination should fulfil key strategic and operational functions. Strategic planners in UN entities must have a shared understanding on this point. This understanding relates to their purposes, core tasks, and team composition. The Joint or Integrated Planning Unit helps ensure a mission-wide planning structure. Figure 2.2 explains this structure.

Effective and creative use of assessment and planning tools

The UN makes use of an integrated assessment planning (IAP) framework. An IAP is any UN analytical process that has implications for more than one UN entity. There are nine guiding principles of IAP:

  1. Inclusivity. Planning must involve the mission, the UNCT, and UNHQ.
  2. Form follows function. A UN presence reflects specific requirements, circumstances and mandates. It can thus take different forms.
  3. Comparative advantage. The UN should assign tasks to the entities best equipped to carry them out.
  4. Flexibility based on context. The mission should adapt assessment and planning exercises to each situation. This calls for analysis of the drivers of peace and conflict.
  5. National ownership. This is an essential precondition for the sustainability of peace.
  6. A clear UN role in relation to other actors.
  7. Recognition of the diversity of UN mandates and
  8. Upfront analysis of risks and benefits.
  9. Mainstreaming. Processes should reflect UN policies (eg on human rights, gender, child protection).

To ensure UN coherence, each mission should develop an Integrated Strategic Framework (ISF). The ISF should reflect a shared vision of the UN’s strategic objectives. It should set out agreed results and timelines. It should also specify how to ensure efficiency in tasks that consolidate peace. Other UN planning frameworks (e.g. an UNSDCF) can serve as the ISF.

The purpose of an ISF is to:

  • bring together the UN system around a common set of agreed peacebuilding priorities;
  • identify common priorities, and prioritize agreed activities;
  • facilitate a shift in priorities and/or resources, as required; and
  • allow for regular stocktaking by senior managers.

The ISF should focus on peace consolidation priorities unique to the mission area. A mission may involve political and sequenced activities by many UN actors. This means that many typical mandated tasks are challenging and time-consuming. Examples include DDR, SSR, the rule of law, and return and reintegration of IDPs and refugees. An ISF helps create clarity and establish priorities and an accountability framework.

Mission planners should be aware of other assessment and planning processes. They should also create substantive linkages with the ISF wherever possible. Such processes may include a Humanitarian Response Plan.

Comprehensive Performance Assessment System

The UN launched its CPAS for Peacekeeping Operations in 2018. The aim was to provide peacekeeping missions with a tool to measure their impact. The system forms part of the Integrated Performance Assessment Framework.

CPAS is a context and mission-specific planning, monitoring and evaluation tool. It helps translate mission objectives into components and work plans. It enables the MLT to pursue activities that have a meaningful impact and reduce those that do not.

CPAS is also an iterative and adaptive cycle. The cycle starts with a planning process and ends with adjustments made to future plans. Figure 2.3 explains the process.


1) Define priority objectives, 2) Map the context, and 3) Build results framework. In the first step, all components of a mission come together to form a joint understanding of the priority objectives based on the mandate, to map the context, and to build a results-based framework.


4) Implement plan and capture data. As the mission implements the plan, they capture data on the impact of their work.


5) Analyse data to assess impact and effectiveness of mission outputs, and 6) Generate dashboard. The collected data is analysed to assess the impact and effectiveness of the mission outputs. A dashboard is then generated and the performance assessment is presented to senior mission leadership, along with recommendations.


7) Inform strategic decision-making and planning. Based on the data presented in the dashboard, informed strategic decisions and adjustments are made to improve or maintain the missions’ performance.

In large multidimensional missions, the system will generate quarterly performance assessments. This allows a mission to adapt with more agility to fast-changing circumstances. Over time, it helps inform the Secretary-General’s reports to the Security Council. It also feeds into mission reports to the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly.

Context analysis: Drivers of peace and conflict

In recent years, there has been an increased push for data-driven peacekeeping. There are several reasons for this. An analysis of conflict systems allows for integrated planning and operations. It helps identify drivers of peace and conflict. It also helps identify areas where interventions will contribute to peace and security.

Such analysis might include the internal UN Common Country Analysis or external research. For example, an expert workshop may help identify drivers of peace and conflict. At the other end of the scale, the mission might develop a full peace and conflict monitoring system.

The mission should integrate the analysis throughout its planning, implementation and follow-up processes. It is thus based on intelligence, dialogue with stakeholders and continuous reassessment. Done well, it can become a key part of developing a political strategy and mission concept. It also provides a method for ensuring the mission applies a “Do No Harm” approach.

Any peace and conflict analysis should include the following four elements:

  1. A situation, context or profile analysis.
  2. An analysis of the causal factors of peace and conflict.
  3. A stakeholder or actor analysis.
  4. A peace and conflict dynamics analysis.

Prioritization and sequencing

In the early post-conflict period, urgent peacebuilding objectives must be a priority. The challenge is to identify which activities best serve these objectives. This should reflect the context analysis rather than what specific actors can supply. It is unlikely that a mission can carry out all the required activities at the same time. Prioritization will ensure the optimal use of available resources.

There are clear differences between prioritization and sequencing. Prioritization is a function of the importance of an activity. This does not mean that other activities must wait until a prioritized activity ends. In contrast, sequencing means that one activity should not start until another ends.

Combining the two approaches, an output can have a high priority. But it might be sequenced at a later stage when the context is more conducive to change. For example, a reconciliation process might best begin later, when conditions are favourable.

During the planning stage, the mission should both prioritize and sequence activities. The MLT should give direction on its priorities, while planners provide sequencing options. Legitimate representatives of the host country should take part in these efforts.

The unpredictability of activities on the ground will almost always disrupt planned sequencing. Prioritization and sequencing must remain flexible to adapt to the changing situation. But in their absence, the mission will not know where to put its limited resources. And the influence of external factors will be even more significant and disruptive.

Integrating a gender perspective at every stage

Any analysis, including planning and actions, must consider the whole population. This means acknowledging variations in living conditions, economic and political life and needs. Thus, a gender perspective must be an integral part of all analysis and planning. A UN peace operation is a critical mechanism for gender equality. If women’s role in peace and security is not progressed, sustainable peace is unlikely.

An active gender perspective is essential across the work of UN peace operations. Without it, missions will only see part of the whole picture. This includes drivers of peace and conflict, threats and opportunities for sustainable peace. Gender expertise within the mission is thus essential. It helps ensure that peacekeeping activities respond to the needs of women and men. It also ensures allocation of resources to support the WPS Agenda within the mission.

Integrating a gender perspective is a mission-wide commitment. It has to start with the MLT.

A gender-responsive analysis considers power dynamics in society. It identifies indicators that serve as early-warning signs of threats to the mission. This is particularly important for missions that have POC as part of their mandate. Such an analysis can enhance the mission’s ability to assess threats and respond to them.

Failure to undertake a gender analysis can have a detrimental long-term impact. It could set back peace processes and future peacebuilding efforts.

Intelligence-based decision making

In UN peace operations, intelligence refers to information related to implementing a mandate. Intelligence data can also inform a peace and conflict analysis, and decision making. Intelligence enables missions to take decisions and enhance the security of all staff.

Peacekeeping intelligence supports a common and coherent operational picture. It provides early warning of imminent threats through good tactical intelligence.

The precise intelligence structure will vary between missions. It depends on the mandate and the resources made available by TCCs.

Using emerging technology

Missions make use of new technologies to varying degree. One example is monitoring and surveillance technologies. New technology can facilitate the implementation of the mission’s mandate. But the MLT should seek advice from experts from all three components on this issue.

A mission primarily uses technology to support decision making and enhanced security. Examples include situational awareness, unmanned aerial vehicles, ground radar and closed-circuit television.

The MLT should coordinate technical issues (e.g. radio frequency) with the host country. But monitoring and surveillance technologies requires careful political management. The MLT must ensure that it remains impartial under international and national laws. A mission must not engage in illegal activity to collect information.

Communications is as much about explanation as information dissemination. In today’s context, UN peace operations need to explain their strategic intentions. This helps promote changes in the behaviour of key stakeholders.

A successful strategic communications campaign shapes a narrative that resonates with an audience.  It should influence behaviour and perceptions in line with the mission’s mandate. This entails a shift away from top-down “one-way” messaging.

A dialogue-driven approach (e.g. through social media) builds engagement and partnerships. It creates conversations and allows the mission to communicate distinct but harmonized viewpoints. But such an approach requires commitment and resources.

Strategic and well-executed public communications are critical to a mission’s success. They increase its ability to achieve the mandate and contribute to mission security.

A strategic communication plan is thus a key element of its political strategy. It can alter perceptions and dispel misconceptions. It can also deter spoilers, increase situational awareness and solidify support. It helps create partnerships, promote dialogue and generate buy-in to a peace process.

Communications also assist with maintaining consent, legitimacy and credibility. Further, they help a mission manage local and international expectations.

Information outreach (e.g. radio broadcasts) must reach as many people as possible. Women, youth and marginalized groups are crucial target audiences. But seeking to communicate with people can create logistical and political challenges. To take one example, a host government may obstruct the granting of a broadcast licence.

Effective internal communication is necessary. This applies to relations with UN mission personnel and with the wider UN system. This aspect of mandate implementation is often underutilized or ignored by mission leadership. Staff at all levels use social media and have wide influence and outreach. They thus need to understand what they are there to do. A vision for implementing complex tasks is as vital as external outreach.

The role of the Chief of Strategic Communications and Public Information is vital. They must be part of the MLT’s decision-making processes. They are there to advise on communications strategies and outreach mechanisms for any decisions taken.

MLT members will need to represent the mission and the UN when engaging with the media. In the spirit of “One UN”, the mission should coordinate its information and messages with UNCT.


Misinformation and Disinformation

Today, UN peace operations face growing challenges related to misinformation, disinformation and hate speech which can have long-term effects on missions’ credibility and perceptions of efficacy and legitimacy across a range of key audiences at the local, regional and international levels.

Rumor and manipulated falsehoods are a longstanding feature of conflict environments, but in an age of digital social media, can have real operational consequences by impacting mandate implementation and undoing careful and deliberate political work. The frequently polarized environments in which peacekeeping operations work, combined with the current information revolution, has meant that perceived failures of missions to support inclusive political processes in an impartial manner or protect civilians are immediately widely known, echoed, sometimes opportunistically, and may have lasting strategic consequences.

Political entrepreneurs at all levels can now easily instrumentalize incidents, real or perceived, to undermine the credibility of missions at the national level, incite violence against peacekeepers, put local populations at greater risk, and fracture complex and sensitive relationships with local communities. In the context of today’s peace operations, perceptions matter as much as any other single factor.

The deliberate manipulation of the media, whether through disinformation or the fomenting of hate speech, often has political motivations and objectives by local, national or international actors, and attempts to exploit or deepen existing identity-based cleavages in society. Misinformation is also significant in peacekeeping environments.  The causal link between disinformation and hate speech and physical violence in conflict environments is not yet well understood, but these phenomena create a fog of uncertainty and mistrust which in turn negatively impact efforts to support peace. Addressing disinformation and hate speech requires a nuanced, and multidisciplinary approach that is led by conflict analysis and a good understanding of the political landscape, followed by tactics and techniques to manage and respond to them.

Efforts to address misinformation and disinformation are being prioritized by strategic communications and human rights components and are an emerging key focus of missions’ political peacekeeping-intelligence structures and political analysis and engagement. Thinking at UN headquarters is also developing around definitional, policy, guidance and support for missions’ efforts.

In peacekeeping, crisis management has become a key aspect of an MLT’s role. Crises are a regular feature of mission life. Good analysis and intelligence can help avoid some crises, but they will still happen. A peace operation may even operate on an almost-permanent crisis footing.

Sound crisis-management procedures are part of the normative framework for good mission leadership. Thus, good routine management is critical to successful mission crisis management.

Informed and effective leaders are the critical success factor in good crisis management. Leadership skills come from training and practice drills in secure environments. Such training requires resources and must focus on crisis preparedness. Preparedness requires clear policies and structures, and clear roles and responsibilities. Mechanisms for the fast flow of information and direction are also vital.

The MLT cannot assume that any of these will be present during the mission. It is usually too late to discover their absence in a crisis. The MLT thus has a central role in anticipating and preparing for crises. It must ensure all components know the crisis-management structures and conduct regular exercises on the procedures. All MLT members must also be well versed in these procedures.

In moments of crisis for UN peace operations, reliable reserve capacities may not be available. Even the best-prepared plans are ineffective in the absence of a credible response. When a political crisis erupts or serious violence breaks out, the UN reaction must be rapid and effective. It is critical that mission HQ forges a unified political approach through the Crisis Management Team. While multiple initiatives will be essential, they should be mutually reinforcing.

The mission will also need to to increase its preparedness for handling crises. It can do this by developing contingency plans and holding regular scenario-based exercises. Reduced margins for error mean that crisis responses depend on unity of information flow and command.


There are instances when mission leadership must weigh the credibility of the mission in delivering its mandated task to protect civilians against the security of UN personnel. A critical question for mission leadership is negotiating undeclared national caveats by troop-contributing countries (TCCs) and police-contributing countries (PCCs) that come up during an operation or crisis.

For example, at one point during the mandate of the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), fighting between rebel groups and Sudanese security forces led to approximately 50,000 people fleeing towards the UNAMID Saraf Umra Team Site. The Team Site had a Military Company, 32 Individual Police Officers and several Military Observers and civilian staff. There was a risk that the displaced persons could force their way into the camp, and a threat of further attacks on the civilians. There was also a need for inner perimeter protection to identify the actual number of people and humanitarian needs.

During MLT deliberations on how to address the situation, several tensions arose. The MLT decided to deploy an additional Military Company to the Team Site as well as a platoon of formed police unit (FPU) personnel to assist with inner perimeter protection, and crowd management.

The FPUs had not previously deployed in such situations and when the decision was made to send a detached platoon, the PCC resisted and indicated that FPU platoons could not be detached from their unit. The political implications of potentially failing to protect civilians in Saraf Umra were significant and the mission would lose trust and any credibility with the local population it was mandated to serve.

Taking into consideration the protection needs on the ground and the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the PCC, the MLT decided that the FPU platoon could be deployed after all for detached duties within a specific timeframe. As part of the security arrangements the FPU personnel moved together with the Military Company to provide inner perimeter protection and crowd management, while the military focused on outer perimeter protection and the gradual return of the displaced persons.

It was important for UNAMID to have considered the implications and consequences of the situation. Several questions arose, for example regarding the interpretation of detached duties of an FPU and the MOU between the UN and the PCC, while credibly implementing the mission mandate. All this was when time for MLT decision-making was short. It was therefore important for the MLT to have a deep understanding of the competing issues and in the face of such polarities to make appropriate and timely decisions.


Brig. Gen. Hester Paneras, Police Commissioner, UNAMID, 2013–15

The host government is primarily responsible for the security of UN staff, dependents and UN resources. But host-state capacity is often weak. Many UN field missions operate in high-risk environments. Ensuring acceptable levels of staff safety and security calls for a system-wide and multidimensional approach.

The MLT cannot view security in isolation. It must make decisions in collaboration with other UN actors and the responsible host government.

Striking a balance between programmatic activities and security is a major challenge. The UN operates an organization-wide Security Management System (SMS). This means that there could be tensions between the mission and the UNCT. Tensions usually relate to the differing focus of their mandates. While the mission’s focus is political and security-based, the UNCT’s is primarily humanitarian.

The UN Security Policy Manual guides all actors within the UN SMS, including the USG UNDSS. There are four essential policies for any security decision maker in the UN system:

  1. The Framework of Accountability
  2. The Applicability Policy
  3. The Policy on Security Risk Management (SRM)
  4. The Programme Criticality Framework

The HoM is personally responsible for the security arrangements of the mission. They are also often appointed the Designated Official for all UN agencies operating in the mission area through the UN SMS.

The DO chairs the Security Management Team. In a peace operation, the SMT includes heads of mission components as well as members of the UNCT. The DO is accountable to the Secretary-General, through the USG UNDSS. The DO is also responsible for the safety and security of all designated UN personnel. This includes premises and assets throughout the country or mission area. Even so, the host government and other actors in the region also have duties. Under international law they must ensure the safety and security of UN personnel.

The PSA/CSA advises the DO and is the secretary to the SMT. They have authority over the UNDSS staff in the mission area. The UN’s SMS structure works in parallel with that of the mission. But there will be many areas of overlap. The SMT analyses and responds to safety and security issues. It provides training and advice through the Chief Security Officer and Area Security Officers.

The PSA/CSA needs to work very closely with the mission’s FC and Police Commissioner. All three act as key advisors to the HoM on all security-related matters and command the Security component. Each remains accountable for the command and control of their respective entities.

When joint operations are conducted, they represent a complex planning and command system that requires joint planning and coordination. This requires specific and well-practised standard operating procedures.

The SRM process is a structured and risk-based decision-making tool. It guides the process for identifying and assessing threats to a mission in a Designated Area. It then identifies measures and procedures to reduce the level of associated risk. SRM measures should include both passive and active security. Examples include:

  • security risk assessments
  • appropriate physical protection of facilities
  • observance of agreed minimum operating safety standards
  • an active warden system
  • preparatory exercises and contingency planning
  • adequate medical facilities and personnel.

SMS safety and security requirements may be in tension with the mission’s activities. It may thus involve difficult decisions on mission priorities. Mission leaders need to be clear on their and their components’ responsibilities.

This is important when the SMS overlaps the mission’s command and control structures. Such overlaps occur when civilian staff, police and military co-exist in high-risk environments. In this situation, frequent rotation of uniformed personnel also occurs. This makes constant crisis drills and exercises necessary. Actions such as these ensure security procedures function and are well understood.

The Programme Criticality Framework assesses programmatic priorities in changing or volatile security situations. The responsibility for Programme Criticality lies with the SRSG or the RC. The framework determines acceptable security risks for activities implemented by UN personnel. Such assessments are vital, especially in high-risk environments.

Programme Criticality assessments are also recommended in unpredictable or rapidly changing security environments. Such proactive assessments can assist rapid decision making when security risks increase.

Implementing the mission mandate is an interactive process. It involves constant dialogue between the mission and UNHQ. Dialogue with key partners on the ground will also shape a mandate. This is why the MLT needs to maintain a close relationship with the UN Secretariat. Prior to deployment, mission leaders hould have frank discussions with the leadership of the UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO), the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), the UN Department of Operational Support (DOS) and other relevant departments and offices to arrive at a common understanding of the mandate and its intentions.

Following the adoption of the 2017 UN reforms, the principal departments at UNHQ are DPO, DPPA and DOS. Other relevant entities within the UN Secretariat are UNDSS, OHCHR and OCHA.

The HoM should establish personal relationships with the Secretary-General and the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations. They should also get to know other senior officials in DPO and relevant departments. Other members of the MLT should establish relationships with their UN Secretariat counterparts.

Messages conveyed through functional contacts must be consistent with those of the mission. They must not bypass the appropriate chain of authority and command. And the HoM should always remain informed.

The Integrated Operational Team system remains a main point of entry for the MLT to UNHQ. It handles day-to-day support as well as integrated operational and political guidance to the mission.

Through DPO, the MLT will also need to remain mindful of the views and dynamics of the wider UN system. Examples include the UN Security Council, budgetary committees, TCCs/PCCs and other UN Member States.

The HoM will need to brief and engage with the Security Council. Other MLT members may also need to perform this role. The same applies to other intergovernmental bodies. Examples include the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the Fifth Committee.

This reporting often occurs in relation to the periodic renewal of the mission’s mandate. Visits to UNHQ for briefings need to be well prepared. They provide an important opportunity to consult with UN counterparts and Member States.

Maintaining partnerships in the country

The mission operates in a political landscape. Partner organizations play a vital and even indispensable role. The MLT should manage relations with partners and enable constructive outcomes.

The MLT will also need to create working relationships with international and regional actors. Examples include:

  • Diplomatic missions and bilateral donors (e.g. World Bank, IMF, EU);
  • Countries providing non-UN military and police contingents under separate arrangements;
  • International organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross; and
  • NGOs.

The MLT should invest in these relations on a long-term basis. This will allow it to align efforts and draw on external competencies. The MLT and the HoM can play the coordinating role in a number of ways.

For instance, the mission may support political negotiations led by regional organizations. In the context of the UN Sustainable Cooperation Development Framework (UNSCDF), the SRSG or DSRSG-RC/HC co-chairs the Joint Steering Committee with the relevant host-state minister.

The UN Secretary-General’s management reforms grant an HoM greater delegation of authority (DoA).

In principle, the Secretary-General delegates more authorities to the “Head of Entity”. In a peacekeeping operation, this means the HoM/SRSG. These authorities include human resources, finance and budget, procurement, and property management.

Further delegation is possible, but the HoM still retains overall authority and accountability. The HoM will receive advise on their delegations and the implications of these delegations. But the new system of DoA places a greater focus on the field and measurable results. It will thus have a significant impact on the business of the HoM/SRSG and the MLT.

The MLT must assess its proposals and plans against the resources available. This includes resources from the UN peacekeeping budget and other sources.

Peacekeeping operations are funded through assessed contributions. But programmatic aspects of the mandate (e.g. DDR or elections) depend on voluntary funding. Such funding often falls short of the pledges made. The MLT may wish to seek advice from the World Bank in areas where it has a clear comparative advantage.

The MLT should oversee the mission’s budget to support successful mandate implementation. Even with direct DoA, the mission will still have to follow the UN rules and regulations. The Director of Mission Support remains the key advisor to the MLT in this regard.

The goals, objectives, priorities and sequencing of mission activities may compete. This is why the MLT needs to factor in budgetary considerations when deciding on these issues. Otherwise, they can become a major source of friction within a mission.

Within the MLT, close working relations will go a long way towards reducing competition for resources. This calls for good coordination, cooperation, consensus and effective communication.



The most important resource of a mission is its personnel. Qualified, competent and dedicated personnel can make or break a mission.

The recruitment of mission leadership functions is the responsibility of UNHQ. However the MLT and the HoM have authority to recruit mission staff. Managers should fill vacancies on time. They should also make sure staff receive training and opportunities for advancement. Maintaining high morale is also an important factor in retaining competent staff members.

Ensuring gender parity within the mission contributes to the effectiveness of peace operations. Ambitious targets for gender parity in missions have been set by the Secretary-General. Women in peacekeeping give missions greater scope to engage in community outreach. Their presence also helps ‘decrease incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse’.

Increasing women’s participation requires willingness on the part of the senior leadership. The MLT must commit to increasing the number of women serving in key positions. It also needs to ensure female interlocutors are present in all stages of the peace process.


Conduct of Personnel

The success or failure of a mission can rest on the performance and good conduct of its personnel. All cases of misconduct have a negative impact on the image and legitimacy of a mission, which in turn can erode consent and have concomitant security implications for mission personnel.

The MLT should set the tone and exhibit the highest standards of personal conduct and behaviour at all times. It must seek to ensure that UN policy is enforced and that all complaints are investigated thoroughly. Most missions have conduct and discipline teams that provide policy guidance and technical advice to the mission leadership on conduct and disciplinary issues and organize training for mission staff. Efforts should also be made to promote the welfare of and recreation for personnel, as this will help to strengthen morale and discipline.

The MLT has a command responsibility to ensure that specific and proactive measures are taken to prevent cases of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), and that the UN’s policy of zero tolerance in this area is enforced. Preventing SEA is about upholding the human rights of individuals that missions serve. The MLT needs to be proactive in promoting a transparent system that sets and maintains the highest standards of discipline and conduct by all mission components. While the MLT plays a key role in this regard, close cooperation with the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) as well as troop- and police-contributing countries (TCCs/PCCs) is central to ensuring good conduct and discipline and addressing violations of relevant UN policies.



Integrated missions are designed to facilitate a coherent system-wide approach to assisting countries in – or emerging from – conflict on their path to peace and post-conflict recovery. However, the financial rules and regulations that govern the use of assessed resources sometimes appear to be in conflict with achieving the desired level of integration. Leadership, creativity and innovation are needed to effectively achieve mandates within the regulatory framework.

The UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) completed its peacekeeping mandate in October 2019. The UN Security Council mandated a follow-on special political mission, the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), to “work in an advisory capacity with Haitian authorities and the UN Country Team (UNCT) to further the consolidation of the stability, security, governance, rule of law, and human rights gains achieved since 2004”. The Security Council noted that the UNCT would assume MINUJUSTH programmatic and technical assistance roles and encouraged MINUJUSTH to collaborate with the UNCT for a seamless transition.

To achieve the UNCT mandate, the World Food Programme (WFP) as lead agency in Haiti proposed establishing a “One UN” facility and requested MINUJUSTH to gift several million dollars of assets and materials to WFP in Haiti. According to the UN’s financial rules, MINUJUSTH could sell its assets to WFP at a “nominal price” if it determined that the “interests of the United Nations will be served” and if the equipment was “not required for current or future peacekeeping operations or other United Nations activities funded from assessed contributions”.

Since it was unclear that gifting the specific equipment requested would serve the interests of the UN, the ensuing discussion focused on balancing the seemingly conflicting principles of complying with the Financial Rules and facilitating UN integration in Haiti.

The wrong decision could either deprive UN Member States of their appropriate financial credit or reduce the collective resources available for furthering overall UN objectives in Haiti. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) had delegated authorities for the disposal of UN property while complying with UN Financial Rules and Regulations. After considerable discussions between and among the WFP team in Haiti, MINUJUSTH, the UN Department of Operational Support, and WFP headquarters, a servicelevel agreement was negotiated for WFP to provide certain services to BINUH on a cost-recovery basis. It was agreed that this arrangement provided significant benefits to the UN and thus justified the gifting or sale at nominal cost of a subset of equipment originally requested by WFP. This seemingly mundane administrative question became the catalyst for a broader discussion about responsibilities related to delegation of authorities and backstopping by UN Headquarters. It was important for the entire Mission Leadership Team to engage in discussions regarding the contrast between the mission’s obligation to recoup as much of the assessed funding provided by Member States as possible with the operational imperatives of meaningful integration. The MINUJUSTH SRSG, the Deputy SRSG (Resident Coordinator/ Humanitarian Coordinator), the Chief of Mission Support, the Chief of Staff and the Police Commissioner were all engaged in these discussions, and in lively discussions with their respective counterparts in UNHQ and the UNCT.

Stephen Liebermen, former Special Adviser to the SRSG, MINUJUSTH, 2019

Large and complex peace operations are now deployed to some of the world’s most insecure areas. A lack of infrastructure can create challenges in ensuring good environmental stewardship. The short- and long-term implications of under-performance are serious.

Part of the MLT’s responsibility is to maintain the host state’s long-term trust in the mission. How the mission treats the environment is symbolic of its level of respect for the host state.

The MLT must also ensure that “responsible missions achieve maximum efficiency in their use of natural resources and operate at minimum risk to people, societies and ecosystems”.

UN field missions must dispose of their waste in a safe and proper manner. This protects the health, safety and security of mission personnel and local populations. It also reduces the risk of accidents and environmental degradation.

Host-country or local laws or regulations on waste management may not exist. Even so, field missions must follow international best practices and standards. There is ample support and guidance available to meet these standards.

The mission should procure local goods and services to increase the peace dividend. But it must be mindful of the effects of its own purchases. If mission actions lead to water contamination, for example, this may also have an impact elsewhere.

The mission should be aware of and pay attention to possible local rivalries. An imbalanced use of resources may suggest bias or damage the mission’s credibility.