Doctrine: The evolving body of institutional guidance that provides support and direction to personnel preparing for, planning and implementing UN peacekeeping operations.
One key document now provides the guiding principles and core objectives of United Nations peacekeeping operations. It identifies the primary factors that contribute to effective field operations and clarifies the responsibilities of peacekeepers at nearly every level, as well as the Organisations' expectations. Aside from codifying the key lessons learned from previous experience in UN peacekeeping, it is to remain a living document that will continue to be reviewed and updated.
In the words of the former Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, "it is intended to help practitioners better understand the basic principles and concepts underpinning the conduct of contemporary United Nations peacekeeping operations as well as their inherent strengths and limitations.1
As doctrine is the basis for the development of training materials and programs for military, police and civilian personnel preparing to serve in the field, it helps to ensure people are ready for their assigned tasks. While informing individuals of their roles, it builds confidence and clarifies objectives within the field. Within what are by necessity, integrated multinational operations, it also provides much-needed coherence and cohesiveness, building unity of purpose and effort. Combined, sound doctrine enhances effectiveness at most levels.
Cap-Stone doctrine stems partially from the ongoing reform efforts to improve peacekeeping. as it was influenced by seminal documents such as "An Agenda for Peace", "Supplement to an Agenda for Peace" and "the Brahimi Report", as well as internal lessons learned materials, external research and academic commentary. While completed in the DPKO and PBPS, this document was drafted in close consultation with field missions, troop and police contributing countries, UN system partners and other key stakeholders.
Notably, each section of the new doctrine is to remain alive and revised. It is a central to the institutional strengthening cycle of the PBPS and an ongoing process with policy and doctrine (led by the guidance team) being directed into training, then operations, followed by evaluation and lessons (led by knowledge sharing) before being adapted into revised policy and doctrine. Rather than an array of related documents ranging from manuals, instructions, handbooks, SOPs, bulletins, orders, procedures, rules and plans, 'UN Peacekeeping Standing Guidance' is within a simplified, coherent system of 1. Policy Directives, 2. SOPs, 3. Guidelines, and 4. Manuals.
As a recent work in progress, it is encouraging that peacekeepers have responded with high praise for this new system and the new doctrine. The PBPS has solicited feedback by arranging both internal and independent external evaluations, which demonstrate strong, widespread support.
However promising, it should be understood that no doctrine for peacekeeping works in isolation from other influential aspects of the UN system. While it may inspire stronger political and financial support from member states, this doctrine is not directed at the political level. Nor is it directed at the tactical level as the majority of peacekeepers already receive prior preparation and training through national doctrine. While Cap-Stone doctrine should complement efforts at the tactical level, those within the PBPS do not view it appropriate to tell contingents how to perform basic, routine tasks.
In short, the new doctrine deals primarily with the strategic and operational aspects of UN peacekeeping. It also deals with these aspects within the context of an institutional definition of peacekeeping that emphasises 'what is manageable' given existing limits of political will and support.
Although the latter may be temporally understandable, it should be noted that there is little, if any, consideration of the more ambitious and agreed objectives associated with prevention of armed conflict, preventive deployments or rapid deployment to stem violent conflicts from escalating to the point where late responses necessitate larger, longer, costlier operations.
1 USG, Jean Marie Guehenno, "Foreword" to UN Peacekeeping Operations: Principles and Guidelines, p1.