The University of Essex has a large number of expertise on which it is relevant for this work. This project is currently organizing a series of consultations, including at the United Nations in New York, with experienced actors in United Nations peacekeeping. The project is led by Scott Sheeran, with the support of Sufyan El Droubi, St├ęphanie A Case, Catherine Bevilacqua and Abigail K Sloan. The Secretary-General currently has some 120,000 United Nations peacekeepers, at a cost of nearly $8 billion per year. The demand for UN peacekeeping continues to grow and the Security Council is entrusting UN peacekeepers with increasingly robust and complex tasks. However, with these higher demands, considerable and growing challenges have arisen in the management of UN peacekeeping. The project currently focuses on the work of two major studies and consultations for the UN peace community on the 1990 UN Model Agreement on the Status of Armed Forces and human rights standards for UN peacekeeping operations. In 1999, Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a “Bulletin on Respect for International Humanitarian Law by UN Forces” (HVR), following considerable support from the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC). This bulletin, an internal UN document that binds all UN forces, has essentially established a set of minimum standards for the HVR, which apply without prejudice to the broader situation of international law. Although there were difficult problems to solve during the preparation of the Bulletin, its conclusion was an important success.

The Bulletin provided certainty about the standards that the United Nations and its peacekeepers had to meet, thus helping to clarify the situation for those affected by United Nations peacekeeping. Information on both studies will remain accessible and publicly accessible on the project website (see section “Documents”). Preliminary reports are distributed to outline key issues and areas for observation. Preliminary reports are expected to facilitate the flow of information, views and feedback among a wide range of interested parties. The project will target a number of stakeholders from around the world to gather further views and input on the final reports. The final outcome of the consultation process will be two detailed study reports to be finalized in 2011. The reports will be substantive and comprehensive and will present the impact of these two issues on the effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping and all practical opportunities for positive change. The final reports will be made available to the UN peacekeeping community in New York. In comparison, human rights standards that are relevant to UN peacekeeping are lacking.

While human rights standards may be of limited importance for “traditional” UN peacekeeping, the enormous growth of UN peacekeeping in the areas of police, justice, corrections and the rule of law has changed the situation considerably. The UN Charter states that the UN “encourages. universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all”. The problems and challenges faced by those working in this field are real, not hypothetical. This would help UN peacekeepers if the legal situation could be clarified and if UN peacekeepers could have more security in carrying out their tasks. The second study will therefore focus on examining the opportunities, benefits and challenges of describing human rights standards by UN peacekeepers. More detailed information and preliminary reports are published in the Documents section of this site. While UN peacekeeping reform has been at the centre of intense discussions since 1990, reflection on ways to work on legal issues could contribute to the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping. . . .