G78 hosts upcoming webinar series on Future of UN Peace Ops

Today’s blog will focus on an exciting series of 6 interlinked webinars on the Future of UN Peace Operations, beginning with a keynote presentation on 24 September and continuing with four individual panels during the period ending 7 October. There will then be a one-week pause to consider and reflect, followed by a fifth panel on Conclusions and Policy Recommendations.

These webinars replace the 2020 Annual Policy Conference of the Group of 78 and their full title is: The Future of Peacekeeping in the Transition to a More Peaceful World: Why UN peace operations are critical and need to be expanded.

The webinar series planning committee, co-chaired by RI President Peggy Mason and World Federalist Movement – Canada Board member Robin Collins, write:

Our perspective is overwhelmingly supportive of the potential of UN peace operations in the transition from war to sustainable peace.

While we are keen to identify the clear limits of UN peacekeeping, we are also convinced that, with substantive innovations and the support of the international community, UN peacekeeping can begin to fulfill its potential as a key enabler in the long-overdue, and urgently-needed, global shift toward a more cooperative security environment.

Click here for the Webinar Series Concept Note and here for the Programme and Registration information.

The series will be launched by keynote speaker, Ambassador Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Guéhenno dedicates his 2017 memoir, The Fog of Peace: A Memoir of International Peacekeeping in the 21st Century, as follows:

To the millions of desperate people whose lives have been shattered by war and to the peacekeepers who, against all odds, risk their lives to help them escape from hell

In his September 24th presentation, beginning at 7 pm EST, and followed by an open question time, Jean-Marie Guéhenno will draw on his UN experience, his role as a career diplomat in the French Foreign Service, his Presidency of the International Crisis Group and his current work with the Carnegie Council, the Brookings Institution and as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation.

Guéhenno is an expert in peacekeeping, transnational security threats, and global governance and will bring all this to bear in his presentation, which will provide a broad overview of the political and conflict environment in which UN Peacekeeping Operations can and must play a vital role.  Turning again to his memoir, he wrote:

… I found that an enterprise becomes moral … because it has to consider conflicting goods, and lesser evils, and make choices… the dilemmas that make peacekeeping an ethical exercise.

Following the opening session, which will be moderated by RI President Peggy Mason, here is the rest of the webinar panel line-up, chock full of leaders in the policy and practice of modern UN peacekeeping:

 Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, 11 am – 12 pm EST (5 – 6 pm CEST)

Panel 1: Successes and Failures and Lessons Learned

The overall theme is the evolution of UN Peacekeeping and how that informs our approach to current challenges.

Moderator: Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute, webinar series co-chair.

Speakers: Lise Morjé Howard, Professor of Government at Georgetown University, author of Power in Peacekeeping and UN Peacekeeping in Civil wars. (Speaking from Paris, France.) (confirmed)

Richard Gowan, UN Director, International Crisis Group, broad expertise and hands-on experience with UN. (Speaking from New York City.) (confirmed)

Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, 7 – 8 pm EST

Panel 2: CONTROVERSIES: Impartiality, Consent, Use of Force

What UNPKOs cannot or should not do in the military dimension, especially in relation to the use of force. UN Peacekeeping partnerships in Africa.

Moderator: Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute, webinar series co-chair

Speakers: Jane Boulden, Professor, Department of Politics and Economics at the Royal Military College of Canada, with a particular focus on UN efforts to manage conflict. (Speaking from Kingston, Ontario.) (confirmed)

Paul Williams, Professor and Associate Director of the Security Policy Studies program in the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. Co-editor of Oxford Handbook on UN Peacekeeping. (Speaking from Washington, D.C.) (confirmed)

Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, 4 – 5 pm EST

Panel 3: FUTURE Options for UN Peace Operations

Revisiting UN Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS), primacy of peace process, operationalizing prevention of conflict.

Moderator: Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute. (confirmed)

Speakers: Victoria K. Holt, Vice President of the Stimson Centre, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security (U.S. Dept of State). (Speaking from Washington, D.C.)

Peter Langille, Author and lead expert on UN Emergency Peace Service and “sustainable common security”. (Speaking from Ottawa.) (confirmed)

Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, 7-8:30 pm EST

Panel 4: Contributions by CANADA to UN Peace Operations

What might Canada do in terms of advocacy, funding, institution building, training and technology to strengthen UN peace operations and contribute to a global shift toward sustainable peace and common security?

Speakers: Peggy Mason, President of Rideau Institute, former Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN, former peacekeeping trainer (1995–2014). (Speaking from Ottawa.) (confirmed)

Stephen Baranyi, University of Ottawa Associate Professor in International Development and Global Studies, researching peacebuilding in fragile and conflict-affected states. (Speaking from Ottawa.) (confirmed)

Walter Dorn, RMC and Canadian Forces College professor, author, and a leading Canadian expert on UN peacekeeping, including new technologies. (Speaking from Toronto.) (confirmed)

Panel 5: Conclusions and Recommendations

Following the Thanksgiving long weekend (10-12 October 2020), there will be a one-week pause to consider and reflect, followed by a fifth panel on overall conclusions and policy recommendations. (This session is only available to Full Conference Pass holders.)


Outcomes of this virtual policy conference will include a report outlining how UN peace operations have evolved, why they are largely successful, and what enhancements or shifts are required to improve capacity, responsiveness and function.

These conclusions are expected to help strengthen civil society’s understanding of these issues and to hone policy options for government decision makers. We hope to raise awareness of the potential of, and urgent need for, substantive innovations and new approaches, such as the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) initiative, to further the Canadian government’s engagement in the central role peacekeeping plays in building sustainable peace.

Postcript from Planning committee

The coup in Mali and the terrible forest fires in Oregon required late adjustments to some of our panels and we are tremendously grateful, therefore, to those busy experts who rose to the challenge, a testament to their dedication to our subject matter, UN peace operations and the potential they have to play an even greater  role in the quest for sustainable peace.


Photo credit: Ceasefire.ca and Group of 78

Tags: Dr. Walter Dorn, Group of 78, International Crisis Group, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Lise Morje Howard, Peter Langille, Prof Jane Boulden, Professor Paul Williams, Richard Gowan, UN peace operations, UN Peacekeeping Operations, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS)