Year in Review: Top International Peace Institute Reports of 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February came on top of a list of existing strains on the multilateral system, including the inequitable response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the escalating climate crisis.

Multilateral cooperation was the theme found in all of IPI’s most-read reports of 2022, including one of IPI’s most read —and notable—reports of the year, on a “multilateralism index” pilot project examining the state of multilateral cooperation. The index quantifiably assesses the resilience of the multilateral system to these strains.

In the wake of the secretary-general’s 2020 call for an “agenda for protection,” several reports focused on the protection of civilians (POC), including protection from sexual and gender-based violence and the protection of former combatants during reintegration. Two of the most-read reports focused on threats to UN peacekeepers presented by disinformation and sexual abuse. Gender is a cross-cutting theme across IPI’s research and was the focus of several of the most-read reports, including a report on masculinities and violent extremism. Finally, IPI’s paper on carving out space for humanitarian action in the UN counterterrorism regime was not only one of IPI’s most-read reports but also helped pave the way for a landmark UN Security Council resolution establishing a standing humanitarian exemption across all UN sanctions regimes.

Masculinities and Violent Extremism

While only a small percentage of men become involved in violent extremism, the majority of violent extremists are men. Violent extremist and terrorist groups exploit male sentiments of loss of power and appeal to ideas of manhood in their recruitment efforts. Yet policymakers rarely focus on gender to help them understand why some men engage in violence or what role peaceful notions of masculinity play in preventing radicalization and terrorism. Similarly, male-dominated counterterrorism institutions rarely question how masculinities shape these institutions and their approaches to counterterrorism and countering violent extremism. This report discusses masculinities—the socially constructed ideas of what it means to be a man—as they are constructed and used by violent extremist groups, as they exist in and interact with society, and as they interplay with the state.

Disinformation against UN Peacekeeping Operations

Over the past few years, a growing barrage of disinformation has targeted UN peacekeeping operations, particularly the missions in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), Mali (MINUSMA), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). This includes false allegations that UN peacekeepers are trafficking weapons to armed groups, supporting terrorists, and exploiting natural resources. This disinformation makes it harder for peacekeeping operations to implement their mandates and has put the safety of peacekeepers at risk. This paper explores the recent rise in disinformation against MINUSCA, MINUSMA, and MONUSCO, and the challenges for peace operations in addressing disinformation.

Multilateralism Index: Pilot Report

In the past several years, there has been a much-discussed rise in strain on multilateralism. However, there have been few efforts to quantifiably assess the state of the multilateral system. This Multilateralism Index report is a first attempt to do so. It focuses on developments in the multilateral system over the past decade, providing a snapshot of its relative strength in 2020 compared to 2010. It seeks to answer questions including: What is the state of the multilateral system? What is working? What is not? And how has the multilateral system changed over time? The report analyzes sixty-five indicators across multiple domains and dimensions to reveal trends in multilateral cooperation over the past decade.

Blue on Blue: Investigating Sexual Abuse of Peacekeepers

It is commonly assumed that the main threats to uniformed peacekeepers originate from outside of peacekeeping missions. However, many women, and some men, deployed as military or police peacekeepers are subjected to sexual abuse by other members of the organizations they serve. Until now, there has been little research specifically focused on this sexual abuse by uniformed peacekeepers against their peacekeeping colleagues. The findings of this paper reveal that while sexual abuse is a major threat to uniformed peacekeepers, especially women, the UN and troop- and police-contributing countries have not adequately responded to the issue.

UN, EU, and NATO Approaches to the Protection of Civilians: Policies, Implementation, and Comparative Advantages

The protection of civilians in armed conflict has become a core strategic objective for the UN, particularly UN peace operations, and the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), among other regional actors, have been developing their own policies and approaches to POC. An understanding of the differences and similarities between these three organizations’ approaches to POC could lay the foundation for more informed and effective interorganizational cooperation on POC. Toward this end, this paper examines the conceptualization of POC in the UN, the EU, and NATO, lays out the core POC policies and approaches of the three organizations, and examines their approaches to implementing these policies in the field.

Protection Dilemmas Arising from the Reintegration of Former Combatants and the Impact of the Terrorist Designation

Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) activities have increasingly occurred in environments where armed conflict is ongoing, no peace agreement has been signed, and armed groups designated as terrorist organizations (AGDTOs) are operating. In parallel, reintegration has increasingly been discussed in the UN counterterrorism architecture through the concept of prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration. This changing context has raised challenges related to reintegration, especially for former members of AGDTOs. This policy paper analyzes the risks faced by individuals taking part in reintegration processes and by the communities they are reintegrating into, and how the designation of an armed group as a terrorist organization impacts these risks.

UN Peacekeeping and Protection of Civilians from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

While all UN multidimensional peacekeeping operations are mandated to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), the missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, as well as in the Central African Republic, are also mandated to protect civilians from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), which is broader in scope as it encompasses nonsexual forms of gender-based violence and need not be connected to armed conflict. This report examines how missions are implementing their mandates to protect civilians from SGBV, including CRSV, and assesses good practices, gaps, and opportunities for improvement.

Gender-Responsive Leadership in UN Peace Operations: The Path to a Transformative Approach?

Initiatives to increase gender equality or implement the women, peace, and security agenda in peace operations routinely fail when they lack support from leadership. Gender-responsive leadership is thus essential to the UN’s efforts to promote gender equality in UN missions and the countries where they are deployed. While the fundamental principles of “gender-responsive leadership” have been integrated across several peacekeeping priority areas and policy frameworks, significant shortcomings remain. This issue brief examines the concept and practice of gender-responsive leadership and assesses its potential to contribute to UN peace operations.

The UN Agenda for Protection: Policy, Strategic, and Operational Priorities

The UN secretary-general’s “agenda for protection” provides an opportunity for the UN to reaffirm that the protection of crisis-affected populations is fundamental to its purpose and values. To be effective it should address the lessons learned from previous efforts to bring about a system-wide approach to protection as well as the UN’s systemic and structural shortcomings in responding to protection crises. This policy paper analyzes the policy, strategic, and operational priorities for the agenda for protection.

An Unfinished Agenda: Carving Out Space for Humanitarian Action in the UN Security Council’s Counterterrorism Resolutions and Related Sanctions

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the UN Security Council has developed two main streams of work related to counterterrorism: the sanctions regime established by Resolution 1267 and measures under Resolution 1373. However, these resolutions and related sanctions regimes have been criticized for failing to safeguard and facilitate impartial humanitarian action. This policy paper considers how the Security Council’s counterterrorism resolutions and related sanctions regimes can better protect humanitarian action.