Independent strategic reviews
The Secretariat initiated a series of independent strategic reviews of peacekeeping operations beginning in 2017. The broad vision for these reviews was presented as follows by the Secretary-General during a March 2018 Security Council thematic debate:
we are conducting independent reviews of peacekeeping missions aimed at refining their priorities and configuration, while assessing the viability of their mandates and political processes. The reviews are aimed at ensuring that we have well-trained and -equipped peacekeepers who are mobile and agile and can be proactive in dealing with challenges and threats. Too often in the past our troops have been reduced to waiting in a defensive position, giving hostile forces the time and space to plan attacks.
Similar independent reviews have also been requested by the Security Council of a number of special political missions.
Strategic assessments have largely supplanted the strategic assessments required under the 2013 integrated planning and assessment policy, despite the fact that the two have different purposes and compositions.
Independent strategic reviews can either be initiated by the Secretary-General or requested by the Security Council. Each review is led by an independent team leader with prior experience with United Nations peace operations, with support from the relevant departments at Headquarters. To improve the rigour and credibility of the reviews, data analytics have been used to inform the conclusions, which are further tested through the use of a "red team" process.
The reports of the independent review are submitted to the Secretary-General, who then submits his own report to the Security Council conveying findings of the review and the his associated observations and proposals.
A red team consists of up to six individuals with diverse skills and expertise relevant to the subject under review, and its role is to challenge the review’s assumptions, conclusions, and recommendations to ensure that they are comprehensive, practical, and evidence-based. Its members, which are usually identified by the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, serve in their personal capacities and can be drawn from both inside and outside the United Nations.
The introduction of red teams as part of the independent reviews reflected a growing discussion within the Secretariat on the utility of the concept to the United Nations in 2017.
List of independent reviews
|Mission||Initiated by||Team leader||Notes|
|UNSMIL||Security Council resolution 2542 (2020)||Abdoulaye Bathily||Report transmitted as annex to S/2021/716|
|Somalia/AMISOM||Security Council resolution 2520 (2020)||Lt. Gen. Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz||Report submitted on 8 January 2021 but not released publicly (link)|
|UNMISS||Security Council resolution 2514 (2020)||El-Ghassim Wane||Report transmitted as annex to S/2020/1224|
|UNOAU||Security Council resolution 2320 (2016)||Said Djinnit||Findings summarized in S/2020/1020|
|UNOWAS||Secretary-General||Abdoulaye Bathily||Findings summarized in S/2019/890|
|MONUSCO||Security Council resolution 2463 (2019)||Youssef Mahmoud||Report transmitted as annex to S/2019/842|
|UNOCA||Security Council presidential statement 2018/17||Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah||Findings summarized in S/2019/625|
|UNSOS||Secretary-General||Stephen Cutts||Review referenced in S/2018/1149 and A/73/762, but findings not made public|
|UNDOF||Secretary-General||Lt. Gen. Paolo Serra||Findings summarized in S/2018/1088|
|UNIOGBIS||Security Council resolution 2404 (2018)||João Honwana||Findings summarized in S/2018/1086|
|MINUSCA||Secretary-General||Juan Gabriel Valdés||Findings summarized in S/2018/922|
|MINURSO||Secretary-General||Diane Corner||Findings summarized in S/2018/889|
|UNISFA||Secretary-General||Gen. Martin Luther Agwai||Review referenced in S/2018/778, but findings not made public|
|MINUSMA||Secretary-General||Ellen Løj||Findings summarized in S/2018/541|
|UNMISS||Secretary-General||Kevin Kennedy||Findings summarized in S/2018/143|
|UNFICYP||Security Council resolution 2369 (2017)||Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber||Findings summarized in S/2017/1008|
|UNAMI||Security Council resolution 2367 (2017)||Anthony Banbury and Phillip Rawkins||Executive summary and recommendations transmitted as annex to S/2017/966|
|UNSMIL||Secretary-General||Jean-Marie Guéhenno||Findings summarized in S/2017/726|
|UNAMA||Security Council resolution 2344 (2017)||Ján Kubiś||Findings summarized in S/2017/696|
Related thematic reviews
In addition to reviews of individual peace operations (and related entities such as UNOAU), several thematic reviews that have also included similar elements, such as independent team leaders and red teams, have also been launched in recent years.
|Subject||Initiated by||Team leader||Notes|
|Peacekeeping operations' response to improvised explosive devices||Security Council presidential statement 2021/11||Maj Gen (ret) Hugh van Roosen||Ongoing|
|Integration in the United Nations||Secretary-General||Jordan Ryan||Report submitted to the Executive Committee in January 2021|
|Improving the safety and security of peacekeepers||Secretary-General||General (ret) Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz||Report (link) issued in December 2017, but not as official document|
- Forti, Daniel. Independent Reviews of UN Peace Operations: A Study of Politics and Practice IPI, 27 October 2021
- Forti, Daniel. "Learning From Recent Independent Reviews of UN Peace Operations". IPI Global Observatory, 22 April 2021
- S/PV.8218 Security Council 8218th meeting, Wednesday, 28 March 2018, 10 a.m.: United Nations peacekeeping operations: Collective action to improve United Nations peacekeeping operations
- Trenkov-Wermuth, Calin. "The UN Needs a 'Red Team': Breaking the Bureaucratic Mindset to Jumpstart Reform". Foreign Affairs, 3 July 2017.
- What's In Blue: AU Mission in Somalia Reauthorisation (12 March 2021)