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Civilians are the main stakeholders of UN peace operations. They have the most to gain from their successes and the most to lose from their failures. Whilst community engagement was mentioned in the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) report and in the subsequent Secretary-General's Plan of Action, it has yet to go beyond mere rhetoric.
While engaging with communities has been a priority for peace operations since 2010, this significant gap between rhetoric and implementation must be addressed. A greater effort needs to be made to ensure engagement with civilians is actually happening on the ground. A number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work on protection of civilians, including Civilians in Conflict, FIDH, the Global Centre for R2P, IRC, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Oxfam, PAX, Refugees International and World Vision, would like to provide the following recommendations on how to operationalize community engagement, which is further elaborated in the linked document:
- community engagement should be front and center in all political and protection strategies and leadership Terms of reference (TORs);
- it needs to build further upon existing, locally-led initiatives;
- all peace operations should have Community Liaison Assistants (50% men - 50% women);
- the engagement needs to happen in a safe and respectful manner.
For more information, please contact Eveline Rooijmans, Oxfam Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor: firstname.lastname@example.org