OIOS: civilian-military interaction in peacekeeping operations

Thursday, 24 August 2017

“Whether interviewing minors who may have been victims of sexual exploitation and abuse or exhuming a mass grave for evidence of war crimes, international investigators depend on strategies for collaborating with a range of military and civilian authorities to get the job done,” explained an OIOS investigator at a recent presentation in New York.

The Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was invited to talk about our investigation experience as part of U.S.-led initiative to improve understanding of defence support for civil authorities.

Approximately 35 military officers from 24 different countries assembled to reflect on the democratic rule of law, protection of human rights, and reasonable use of force in the context of peacekeeping.

OIOS investigators spoke about civilian-military interaction in the investigation and prosecution of misconduct.

“You need support from local communities, security from the military, and information from local government, all while navigating the complex bureaucracies’ stakeholder organizations that ensure the rule of law in post-conflict situations.”

The OIOS presentation covered examples from investigating sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations and a drew upon individual experience with war crimes investigations in the Balkans to illustrate how complex collaborative efforts can be in conflict and post-conflict situations.

A highly participatory audience engaged with OIOS investigators to gain insight on how to develop collaboration strategies from a military perspective and implement them in multi-stakeholder operations where authority and rule of law are complex and sometimes uncertain.

“The UN experience really shows the need for collaboration across the entire range of possible stakeholders,” offered a participant. 

“Military-civilian interaction is a challenge even under the best conditions. Collaboration strategies are critical where communities and the host country authorities must work alongside the UN and military contingents to ensure appropriate use of force.”