Civil Society plays an essential role in peacekeeping processes

Friday, 09 June 2017


A new study and guidelines on civil society engagement were launched earlier this month by the Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training of the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support (DPKO/DFS). 

Approved on 8 May 2017, the “DPKO/DFS Guidelines on Engagement with Civil Society” remedy a lack of operational guidance identified in the study conducted in May 2016.

The guidelines seek to help peacekeeping personnel engage more effectively with civil society and broaden the range of local actors they interact with to achieve mandated tasks and priorities. They explore the various phases of the engagement process starting with planning, identification, and mapping of civil society actors; interactions with civil society actors; and impact assessment.

The guidelines also consider critical issues such as expectation management and the protection of civil society throughout the engagement process.

Moreover, the study - titled "Understanding and Improving Engagement with Civil Society in UN Peacekeeping: From Policy to Practice" - analyses how peacekeepers currently engage with local actors and the challenges they face in conflict contexts. It provides concrete recommendations and tips to improve engagement with civil society.

A vibrant civil society is essential for long-term peace and stability. Yet, in most conflict-prone societies, the space required for civil society to operate and raise the voice of marginalized groups tends to dwindle. This, in turn exacerbates existing societal divisions.

In such contexts, peacekeeping operations have an important role to play in supporting the inclusion of civil society - particularly youth and women’s groups - in peace processes. This role, highlighted by the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, contributes to building and sustaining peace.

The “DPKO/DFS Guidelines”, the related study, and more, can be downloaded from the DPKO Policy and Practice Database and Peacekeeping Resource Hub.