Since 2008, USIP’s Academy has trained more than five thousand peacekeepers in core conflict management skills of conflict analysis, negotiation, mediation, and the protection of civilians. Based on interviews with returned peacekeepers trained by USIP, community members in mission areas, and trainers, this report assesses the relevance and effectiveness of this training program—and offers key recommendations to improve the content, design, and delivery of conflict management training more broadly. 

Summary

  • USIP’s Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding has conducted conflict management training for peacekeepers since 2008. In 2014 the Academy began an assessment of this training to determine its relevance and effectiveness.
  • The assessment reveals that USIP’s training on communication, negotiation, and mediation is relevant to the needs of peacekeepers and helps them defuse conflicts in mission. In dealings with the civilian population, peacekeepers recognize the intersection between communication, respect, and cultural understanding.
  • Peacekeepers see negotiation skills as key to effective peacekeeping. They use these skills in a range of contexts, including with the local population, with parties to the conflict, and within their battalion; and they often continue to use negotiation skills in personal and professional contexts when they return home.
  • Community members seek a better understanding of peacekeepers’ mission and more constructive engagement with peacekeepers.
  • To engage with communities, peacekeepers must develop a mindset that is conducive to problem solving, as well as relevant knowledge, skills, and attitudes, during their pre-deployment training.
  • Peacekeepers’ performance in protecting civilians is inconsistent.
  • The UN’s ambiguous language around sexual exploitation and abuse creates confusion for peacekeepers and poses challenges to compliance.
  • Peacekeepers benefit from the practical exercises, role plays, and simulations included in their training, which give them plenty of opportunity to apply skills. In general, a participant-centered approach whose focus is not primarily military adds value to pre-deployment training.

About the Report

This report examines the role of conflict management training in preparing peacekeepers for United Nations/African Union missions through an assessment of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) Conflict Management Training for Peacekeepers program. The assessment relies on data collected through 137 semistructured interviews with returned peacekeepers trained by USIP, with community members in mission areas where peacekeepers were deployed, and with pre-deployment trainers. The report discusses findings, and offers recommendations for USIP’s training for peacekeepers as well as for broader peacekeeping policy and practice.

About the Authors

Alison Milofsky is Director of Curriculum and Training Design in USIP’s Center for Applied Conflict Transformation (ACT); she oversees USIP’s Conflict Management Training for Peacekeepers program. Joseph Sany is a consultant for USIP. Illana Lancaster is a Senior Program Officer in ACT. Jeff Krentel is a Program Officer in ACT.

Related Publications

The South Sudan Peace Process Archive: A Window into Mediation

The South Sudan Peace Process Archive: A Window into Mediation

Monday, March 29, 2021

By: Zach Vertin; Aly Verjee

As part of its commitment to learning from peace processes, the U.S. Institute of Peace is pleased to launch the South Sudan Peace Process Archive, which aims to provide South Sudanese citizens, mediators, policymakers, academics and other interested readers a window into the 2013-2015 negotiations that attempted to end the conflict that began in South Sudan in late 2013. Documents for this archive were first assembled and organized in 2016. Now, archive curators and former peace process advisers Zach Vertin and Aly Verjee discuss their motivations for assembling and organizing the documents and what they hope the archive can contribute to future peace processes.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Peace Processes

South Sudan: From 10 States to 32 States and Back Again

South Sudan: From 10 States to 32 States and Back Again

Monday, March 1, 2021

By: Matthew Pritchard; Aly Verjee

Last year, South Sudan reintroduced 10 subnational states in South Sudan, in place of the 32 states controversially created in 2017. Far from being an obscure matter of administrative organization, the initial, dramatic redivision of territory in the midst of protracted violence and large-scale displacement had a significant impact on representation, as well as social, economic, and political relations throughout the country. In 2018-19, researchers commissioned by USIP sought to better understand the decision-making process behind the creation of the 32 states in South Sudan. Researchers Matthew Pritchard and Aly Verjee discuss their findings in light of current developments.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

In South Sudan, the Hope and Pain of Nonviolence

In South Sudan, the Hope and Pain of Nonviolence

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

By: Yeng Lambo

After 3 a.m., my cellphone rang with the voices of relatives shouting that South Sudan’s spasms of violence had struck our family. In the night, armed youths of a rival community had ambushed a cattle camp of my clan, killing my cousins and other young cowherds as they slept, and stealing more than 400 cattle. Men from of my clan were gathering guns to race into the darkness to counterattack. If my country is ever to have peace, we must break such cycles of vengeance. So, I pleaded with my elder aunts and uncles to prevent that battle. I still do not know if we have truly succeeded.

Type: Blog

Nonviolent Action

In South Sudan, Civic Activists Take On COVID

In South Sudan, Civic Activists Take On COVID

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

By: Nelson Kwaje; Nicholas Zaremba

For South Sudan, COVID-19 is simply the newest plague. The world’s youngest country already faces civil war, repression, displacement, economic collapse, climate change, hunger—even swarming locusts. South Sudan’s people enter the fight against COVID under nearly the worst conditions of human development, and with 39 percent of them displaced by warfare. With a government that has been unable to provide even basic services, South Sudanese must rely on their emerging civil society, and international partnerships, to organize much of their response to the pandemic. Yet COVID now threatens vital international help for such grassroots campaigns.

Type: Blog

Nonviolent Action; Global Health

View All Publications