For peacekeeping missions to remain relevant in the future, they have to be overhauled or they will continue to fail to bring peace, official said on Friday, May 19. During the last discussion on the future of peacekeeping on the last day of the 10th National Security Symposium, panelists said multilateral operations are suffering from a declining public trust due to past failures, hence the need to rethink the current model. ALSO READ: Persistent foreign interference destabilises Africa, leaders say To plan for the future of peacekeeping, people need to think about the past and the present status of the missions, said Gen Jean Bosco Kazura, the Chief of Defence Staff of Rwanda Defence Force (RDF). Kazura spoke about the UN mission in Rwanda which abandoned people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the UN mission in Mali, which hasn’t achieved peace 10 years later, and then DR Congo, a country that has had peacekeeping missions since 1960. “But whether there is peace or no peace to be kept, we don’t have to lose hope,” he said. “The future of peacekeeping is in our hands.” Giving the example of Rwandan operations in the Central African Republic and Mozambique, which achieved success within months of deployment, Kazura said there has to be peace in the first place, before anyone talks of peacekeeping. “We need to think about having peacekeeping missions with the purpose of protecting the people. It is time to think about deploying dedicated soldiers, with dedicated equipment and in the right place. Otherwise, peacekeeping missions won’t succeed,” he said. “The peace we are talking about is not just a state of living peacefully; there is a lot of things associated to it.” ALSO READ: Security meeting stresses military role in socio-economic transformation Kazura reminded Africans that nobody from elsewhere will give them peace, if they cannot find it themselves. “Find your own peace first, and then, if necessary, let somebody help you keep you the peace.” The changing face of peace operations Due to the shortcomings of multilateral peace operations, African countries are forging “coalitions of the willing” or ad hoc arrangements that seek to solve security issues, observed Phillip Kasaija Apuuli, a professor in the department of political science at Makerere University, Uganda. “These ad hoc initiatives which we are now putting place,” he noted, “are supposed to be the alternative to the United Nations peacekeeping missions because they are very easy to mount and easy to finance.” Prof Apuuli noted that African countries are increasingly resorting to bilateral arrangements, which are very easy to negotiate and quick to deploy troops, such as those between Rwanda and Mozambique, Rwanda and the Central African Republic or Uganda and DR Congo. State’s role crucial For Lt Gen Birame Diop, the military advisor in the UN department of Peace Operations, peacekeeping missions are “at a crossroad.” Due to what Diop calls expectation gaps, “peacekeeping missions suffer from a lack of trust from our citizens, who are not always convinced that we are doing what they expect from us.” Though the UN as an organisation is not perfect, Diop said, “it cannot substitute the responsibilities states have vis-à-vis their populations,” because even the peacekeepers’ mandate “is too general and not always precise enough” to tackle the problems on the ground. Unlike the peacekeeping missions of the 20th century, modern ones face a complex environment, where they have to deal with terrorism, violent extremism and more regionalised conflicts, noted Lt Gen Shailesh Tinaikar, the former commander of the UN mission in South Sudan. “I understand that peacekeeping missions should exist for a short period of time, three or five years, Tinaikar said. “But if they exist for 10, 13 years, and people don’t see the dividends of peace, they get frustrated and say ‘You are here to perpetrate yourselves'.