4. All states shall develop a UN Emergency Peace Service to protect civilians and respond to crises

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Rapporteur: Dr. H. Peter Langille (hpl@globalcommonsecurity.org )

The objective of the proposed United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) is to develop a standing UN capacity that can respond rapidly and reliably to address four of the UN’s long-standing challenges. A UNEPS is designed to help prevent armed conflict and genocide/atrocity crimes; to protect civilians at risk; to ensure prompt start-up of demanding peace operations; and to address human needs in areas where others either cannot or will not.

In addition to the four primary roles identified, a UNEPS has emancipatory potential to help in the following areas: facilitating disarmament; freeing up enormous resources wasted on war; saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war; and as a step toward a more legitimate, effective, universal peace system.

A key lesson of previous experience is that favorable conditions for such a development tend to arise in the aftermath of tragic wars and genocides. Then, when the urgent need was evident, the prior preparation of a viable plan and a core constituency of support was not. This effort endeavors to ensure both are ready and sufficiently compelling to encourage development of a UNEPS before emergencies overwhelm.

A UNEPS will be a new UN formation. Thus, the UNEPS initiative is both a proposal and an advocacy campaign, coupled to an ongoing research project. Each aspect is a work in progress. To succeed, each aspect needs wider support.

Ten Core Principles of the proposed UNEPS:

  1. a permanent standing, integrated UN formation;
  2. highly trained and well-equipped;
  3. ready for immediate deployment upon authorization of the UN Security Council;
  4. multidimensional (civilians, police and military);
  5. multifunctional (capable of diverse assignments with specialized skills for security, humanitarian, health and environmental crises);
  6. composed of 13,500 dedicated personnel (recruited professionals who volunteer for service and are then screened, selected, trained and employed by the UN);
  7. developed to ensure regional and gender equitable representation;
  8. co-located at a designated UN base under an operational headquarters and two mobile mission headquarters;
  9. at sufficient strength to operate in high-threat environments; and,
  10. a service to complement existing UN and regional arrangements, with a first responder to cover the initial six months until Member States can deploy.(1)
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John Postman

If we had an emergency peace service, what would be the procedure for sending them into action? The ICJ just ruled that Myanmar had done wrong by the Rohingya, but that was three years ago. Would UNEPS be sent to intervene immediately, not delaying justice three years?

Frank Sterle Jr.

As heartening as it is to read of, for example, communing large multi-racial and -religious groups of people humanely allied against the common enemy of blind hatred, I nonetheless dread that it will sadly resettle to normal everyday life—and politics. What humankind may need to suffer in order to survive the long term—indeed, from ourselves!—is an even greater nemesis than our own politics of difference, against which we could all unite, attack and defeat; perhaps the multi-tentacled alien invaders offered up by a number of sci-fi movies. (Albeit, one or more human parties might attempt to forge an allegiance with… Read more »

Rene Wadlow

The idea of creating a League of Nations had been on the agenda at Versailles from its start in January 1919. President Woodrow Wilson was its chief champion. Then on 28 April, there was a unanimous decision to create it, with Geneva as its headquarters. Some of the League’s later failings were visible from the start. Defeated Germany and revolutionary USSR were not invited to join, and the US Senate turned down the invitation. Nevertheless, the first decade of the League’s life saw a good deal of international cooperation, including the settlement of a number of conflicts that could have led… Read more »

Ruth Needham

This plank calls for a UN Emergency Peace Service, but it does not say whether any (or all) of it would be unarmed. Would the people behind this say what they have in mind? Some of us have endorsed it without being clear about how much it will resemble a regular army.

Ann Murillo

Ruth, your question is valid but maybe should be put in reverse order. Maybe the better question is, how much weaponry will any UNEPS peacekeepers be allowed to carry and use? This proposal could be applied as an expansion of war-fighting units or the emphasis could be on foreseeing conflicts “upstream” before they become serious and sending in mediators and lawyers to solve the problems before they become real.

A U.N. Emergency Peace Service would probably include armed peacekeepers for the worst situations, as well as maybe “white helmet” peacekeepers (who are almost unarmed) and humanitarian workers, conflict resolution experts, and socio-legal experts.