2020 Policy Forum

The Future of Peacekeeping in the Transition to a More Peaceful World:
Why UN peace operations are critical and need to be expanded

There will be a Keynote speaker, and five panels featuring, altogether, eleven speakers and five moderators. Following the Keynote Address, during the period ending Thursday 7 October, there will be four interlinked panels with the speakers and topics set out below. Since we have speakers on different continents, there may still be some small adjustments to the times. There will then be a one- week pause to consider and reflect, followed by a fifth panel on Conclusions and Recommendations.

Ticket options

Zoom links are distributed upon registration, and one day, as well as one hour, before the start time.

1) Full Conference Pass – suggested $30.00 (available by clicking on Select A Date, and then on any Event date). Participants signing up for the full series will be invited to a sixth session to discuss conclusions and recommendations that will form the basis of policy actions following the webinar series.

2) Individual Panel – suggested $10.00 (please review the full program below)

3) Free – please register individually for each panel; there is no free Full Conference Pass option.

Online Registration

Concept Note — The Group of 78 Virtual Policy Conference Webinar Series for 2020
The Future of Peacekeeping in the Transition to a More Peaceful World:
Why UN peace operations are critical and need to be expanded

United Nations Peacekeeping is central to conflict resolution, international stabilization and longer-term efforts to build a sustainable peace. With the support of the international community it has the potential to become a key enabler of a long-overdue global shift towards a more cooperative security environment. [i]

UNPK has evolved substantively since it began in 1948. Currently about 110,000 military, police and civilians are engaged in thirteen missions.[ii] The UN deploys more uniformed personnel on operations than any other international organization, alliance, or government, including the United States.

Most armed conflicts today are within states, not between states, and this means peacekeeping mission mandates are charged with many different tasks, including stopping the fighting, keeping combatants apart, disarmament, protection of civilians, building capacity for inclusive political processes, peacebuilding and election monitoring. This is all part of the overarching task of facilitating a peace process that addresses the myriad political underpinnings of conflicts. There are many indicators of success, too – from conflict prevention to reducing the level of violence, from stopping conflicts that have erupted, to enabling a secure environment in which building positive peace can function and thrive for decades.

While peacekeeping may be an imperfect response to seventy years of conflict, overall it has been a remarkably successful endeavor. Governments and civil society need to be clear about how effective peace operations have been; and if they failed, why they did so.
We face many challenges. Mandates have become increasingly complex and more robust; yet budgets have been trimmed for austerity and political reasons. The demand for peacekeepers has escalated, and missions are larger than ever before. But governments, including Canada’s, have not kept up. They need to be encouraged to significantly upgrade existing capacity, and to develop innovative approaches for both longstanding and future challenges.

Our virtual policy conference, The Future of Peacekeeping in the Transition to a More Peaceful World: Why UN peace operations are critical and need to be expanded, will outline what UN peace operations can and cannot do, and how they might be improved and expanded. We will assess what changes will help transition national defence establishments, and encourage UN options for a more peaceful world. We will explore Lessons Learned for conflict prevention and protection of civilians (POC) and what they mean for future UNPK/peace operations.

Therefore, questions we will address include:

1. What are the strengths and limits of UN Peacekeeping?
2. Can UN peacekeeping advance both rule of law and negotiated solutions to spoilers and groups designated as terrorists, and can mandates retain mission impartiality?
3. If UN peace operations cannot effectively address these challenges, what else may be needed when they increasingly encounter difficulty, as we have seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Haiti and South Sudan?
4. Can peacekeeping be adapted to respond more rapidly and effectively to crises before they escalate and become full-blown armed conflicts?

Outcomes of our 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.

[i] See: “A Shift to Sustainable Peace and Common Security”, a civil society statement endorsed by several leading Canadian NGOs.
[ii] Over a million men and women have participated in more than seventy missions.

Programme Sept 24th – Oct 4th, 2020

Thurs. Sept. 24, 2020, 7pm – 8pm EST

Keynote Address:

This will be a broad overview of the political and conflict environment in which UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) play an important role. The value-added of UN peacekeeping with the peace process as the “centre of gravity” of the overall mission will be highlighted.

Jean-Marie Guehenno, former USG for DPKO, former head of International Crisis Group (Speaking from New York City)


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


  • Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute (confirmed)


  • Lise Morjé Howard, Prof 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 – 8pm 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.


  • Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute (confirmed)


  • 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 Assoc 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.3rd 2020, 4 – 5pm EST

Panel 3: FUTURE Options for UN Peace Operations

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


  • Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute (confirmed)


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


Monday Oct.5th 2020, 7-8pm EST

Panel 4: Contributions by CANADA to UN Peace Operations

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



  • Peggy Mason, President of Rideau Institute, former Amb for Disarmament to the UN, former peacekeeping trainer (1995-2014), (Speaking from Ottawa) (confirmed)
  • Stephen Baranyi, Univ of Ottawa Assoc Prof 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.)

Online Registration