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The Concept of Developmental Peace Missions: Implications for the military and civilians

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Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, once remarked, "we have [UN] peacekeeping operations that succeed, only to lapse back into conflict. Successful operations, as it were, in which the patient dies." These comments are particularly true in Africa where ceasefires are fragile, peace efforts often fail to disarm and demobilise combatants or reintegrate former ones, and post-conflict societies often relapse into conflict in the face of continued poverty, famine and disease. Evidently, an alternative approach to the planning and implementing of UN missions and responses to violent conflict is needed. Because the underlying causes of conflict are so complex, this alternative approach should, in theory, achieve sustainable human development through the integrated application of security and developmental efforts.

The principle behind bringing peacekeeping closer to peacebuilding is hardly new, there is still much to learn institutionally and operationally about how the two activities can best be applied in practice. In this regard, in 2004 Madlala-Roudledge, together with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), pioneered the concept of developmental peace missions, a concept based on the premise that security can only achieve permanent benefits if vital peacebuilding activities are rolled out within a reasonable time. Reasonable, in this sense, means the provision of critical humanitarian assistance and reconstruction capabilities immediately after - and preferably in concert with - military operations so that security can dynamically reinforce and influence the effectiveness of development (i.e. the one activity must be applied without losing sight of the other). Certainly, the precise time frame for immediate reconstruction will depend on many factors. Even so, experience has shown that the window between the end of military action and the start of development is very narrow: the first few months - if not weeks - following an intervention are perhaps the more critical period for laying the groundwork for peace and establishing the credibility of foreign intervention forces.

This paper wishes to explore the concept of developmental peace missions, a concept wich was formulated in reaction to UN troops struggling to establish a safe and secure environment for peacebuilding.