C. How are missions established?

Crisis management missions and peace operations often come into existence following complex multilateral deliberation. They are usually based on a wide array of motivations and can assume very sophisticated structures and forms, depending on the nature of the crisis as well as underlying institutional and organisational mechanisms. However, some common principles and foundations can generally be used to describe the evolution of a mission. The following section will  outline how two main actors in crisis management, the UN and the EU, establish their missions using different  institutional mechanisms.

1. Mission mandates

A mission mandate is the legal basis on which each mission rests. It is normally agreed upon before deployment by countries or bodies that are interested in solving the dispute. The UN authorises its peace operations through Security Council resolutions. These resolutions are adopted on the basis of consensus and compromise and in some cases the divergent political interests of Member States impair decision-making processes. Not only UN missions, but nearly all peace operations by regional organisations are implemented under a UN mandate.

While most mission mandates have been non-executive, some missions have held an executive remit that allowed them to undertake sovereign responsibilities in the country of deployment, including political and administrative duties or even establishing an interim or transitional administration with authority over the legislative, executive and judicial structures of the territory. So far, only three missions of the UN have been executive; in the case of the EU, EULEX Kosovo exercises some executive powers in certain areas of its mandate.

2. Mission setup: The European Union way

Phase 1: Framing options for engagement

Once a crisis has been identified, the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and/or the High Representative (HR) of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will initiate the EU’s response. Platforms for coordination and information sharing – including the Conflict Prevention Group, Crisis Platform and Crisis Management Board (CMB) – will get involved at this stage. The CMB provides internal guidance for further action and planning, and initiates the development of a Political Framework for Crisis Approach (PFCA), in coordination with the Commission.

The PFCA sets the political context, clearly articulating what the crisis is, why the EU should act and which instruments are available and best suited for the EU’s response. Suitable instruments include: economic sanctions, diplomatic actions, mediation, humanitarian aid, development aid or CSDP. In line with the ‘comprehensive approach’, the PFCA offers a wide range of options available to the EU.

If there is merit and scope for a CSDP engagement, the PSC or the Council may task the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) to further develop possible CSDP options or frame a Crisis Management Concept (CMC).

Phase 2: Defining the mission’s goals and scope

The Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) will prepare the Crisis Management Concept (CMC) in consultation with all the relevant EEAS services, in particular the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), EU Military Staff (EUMS) and other relevant Directorates, EU Delegations and Commission services. For military operations, the Athena financial mechanism will be activated. International organisations, third states, international NGOs and representatives of civil society will be consulted as appropriate.

The CMPD will send a Fact Finding Mission (FFM) into the crisis zone to verify the will of the local authorities and to research and develop the CMC. The purpose of the CMC is to analyse and propose CSDP options, describe their aims and objectives, and frame the possible goals and scope of an EU mission. Based on advice from the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) and the Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM), the CMC is endorsed by the PSC and then approved by the Council.

Depending on the complexity of the crisis, the EUMS or the CMPD may be tasked to develop Military or Civilian Strategic Options (MSOs/CSOs). The EUMC and CIVCOM will evaluate respectively the MSOs and CSOs and advise the PSC accordingly. 

The PSC then agrees to the MSOs/CSOs and tasks the director of CPCC, as the Civilian Operations Commander (CivOpsCdr), to initiate operational planning and the recruitment of the Head of Mission (HoM) and the core team. The PSC also identifies the future military Operational Headquarters (OHQ) and future military Operation Commander (mil OpCdr), taking the recommendation of the EUMC into consideration.

The Council then adopts a Decision establishing the mission/operation. This is the moment where the objectives and mandate of a mission/operation are set out, the mil OpCdr becomes active, an OHQ is designated (for a military operation), third states may be invited to participate and to offer contributions, a Status of Forces Agreement/Status of Mission Agreement (SOFA/SOMA) is commissioned, and a Budget Impact Statement (BIS) for a civilian CSDP operation or a draft reference amount for a budget for a military CSDP operation is adopted as an integral part of the Council decision.

Both the mil OpCdr and CivOpsCdr start the Force Generation Process involving Member States and invited third states where applicable. In case contributions of staff from invited third states are accepted by the PSC, a Committee of Contributors (CoC) will be established.

Phase 3: Detailed planning

For a military operation, the EUMS develops an Initiating Military Directive (IMD) (to be approved by the EUMC) to ensure that the CMC is well translated into military direction and guidance with the appropriate level of detail. Based on the CMC, the Council decision and the IMD, the mil OpCdr drafts a Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and a Statement of Requirements (SOR).

For a civilian mission, the CivOpsCdr drafts the CONOPS, based on the CMC. The planning team directly involves the HoM and the core team as well as relevant EEAS services. To inform the development of the CONOPS, the CPCC/CivOpsCdr planning team will normally undertake a Technical Assessment Mission (TAM).

Based on advice from the EUMC and CIVCOM, the PSC endorses the draft CONOPS and the Council approves it. The CivOpsCdr and mil OpCdr then prepare their respective Operational Plans (OPLAN) and draft Rules for the Use of Force (RUoF) and Rules of Engagement (ROE) where applicable. The HoM and the core team will be fully involved in the civilian planning process.

If more rapid decision-making is required, a ‘fast track’ process can be followed, in which the CONOPS is skipped. The minimum requirement for civilian planning is the OPLAN, while the military still has to develop an IMD in addition to the OPLAN.

On the basis of advice from CIVCOM and/or the EUMC, the PSC endorses the OPLAN and forwards it to the Council for approval. The Council then adopts a
decision to launch the CSDP mission or operation, as soon as initial operational capability (IOC) is achieved (i.e. minimum requirements to start operations).

Phase 4: Implementation

The fourth phase is implementation of the mission, including the further deployment of mission staff to attain full operational capability (FOC).

In a civilian mission, the CivOpsCdr exercises command and control at the strategic level, while the HoM takes command at the operational level. In a military operation, the mil OpCdr exercises command and control at the strategic level and the military Force Commander takes command at the operational level. 

When the strategic context of the CSDP mission or operation changes, at mid-term of the mandate, and/or when the mandate approaches the end date, a strategic review will be conducted by CMPD, supported by CPCC, EUMS and other relevant Directorates. The strategic review may result in an extension of the existing mandate, a refocusing of the CSDP engagement or termination of the mission. The last option requires the input of relevant EEAS and Commission services to suggest possible ways to ensure the sustainability of achievements by non-CSDP means.

3. Mission setup: The United Nations way

Phase 1: Initial consultation

As a conflict develops, worsens or approaches resolution, the UN is frequently involved in a number of consultations to determine the best response by the international community. These consultations would likely involve all relevant UN actors (mentioned in the previous section), potential host governments, parties on the ground, Member States (that might contribute troops and police) as well as regional and other intergovernmental organisations.

Phase 2: Technical field assessment

As soon as security conditions permit, the Secretariat usually deploys a technical assessment mission to the country or territory where the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation is envisaged. The assessment mission analyses and assesses the overall security, political, military, humanitarian and human rights situation on the ground and its implications for a possible operation. Based on the findings and recommendations of the assessment mission, the UN Secretary-General will issue a report to the Security Council. This report will present options for the establishment of a peacekeeping operation as appropriate, including its size and resources. The report will also include financial implications and a statement of preliminary estimated costs.

Phase 3: Security Council resolution

When a dispute or situation is deemed a danger to international peace and security, the UN Security Council may choose to pass a resolution authorising sanctions or the deployment of a peace operation. Informed by a range of technical assessments, the Security Council must settle on the specific mandate and size of the operation with at least nine out of 15 votes in favour of each decision. Throughout the duration of the operation, the UN Secretary-General regularly reports its progress to the Security Council, which reviews, renews and adjusts the mission’s mandate as required until the mission is terminated.

Phase 4: Appointment of senior officials

The Secretary-General appoints a Head of Mission and Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) to direct the peace operation. The SRSG reports to the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations at the UN Headquarters. The Secretary-General also appoints a peacekeeping operation Force Commander and Police Commissioner as well as senior civilian staff. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support (DFS) are then responsible for staffing the peace operation.

Phase 5: Planning

The SRSG and DPKO/DFS lead the planning for the political, military, operational and support (i.e. logistics and administration) aspects of the operation. The planning phase usually involves the establishment of a Headquarters-based joint working group or integrated mission task force with the participation of relevant UN departments, funds and programmes.