C. Crosscutting concepts and themes
1. Mentoring and advising
Mentoring and advising have become key skills not only in civilian crisis management, but in all kinds of international cooperation activities. In peace operations, these skills are very much related to the overall principle of local ownership, which enables national partners to build their capacities and to prepare local authorities to take over responsibilities or tasks from internationals. Most international civilian experts deployed will be tasked with mentoring either an individual national counterpart or a national administrative body. Thus, the ability to interact in a culturally sensitive manner while establishing a respectful relationship to promote national/international cooperation is crucial to implementing one’s own tasks as well as the mandate of the mission as a whole.
Recently, a variety of different terms have been used interchangeably by missions to describe this interaction: monitoring, mentoring, advising, partnering or coaching are just a few examples. While partnering has been used mostly for bilateral military cooperation such as with ISAF and the Afghan military in Afghanistan, the term coaching is more often found in business-related activities. In your area of work, you will mostly encounter monitoring, mentoring and advising, often abbreviated to MMA. Be sure to check with your mission for the correct terminology. Be aware that in some missions, mentors do the same type of work as advisers in other missions. This can lead to confusion, so refer to your terms of reference and do not get too hung up on titles. Roles in MMA break down as follows:
Monitors collect information, observe, assess and report on the performance of relevant homecountry institutions (e.g. police, military, justice and administration) and their personnel. In addition, the compliance with agreements or political processes can be monitored, such as respect for human rights, peace or ceasefire agreements or elections. An important part of monitoring involves increasing international visibility on the ground and observing the performance, efficiency and work methods of local counterparts. This knowledge is then used to analyse how performance can be improved through mentoring and advising.
Mentors are experienced professionals who foster and support the personal skills and professional performance of another person (mentee). Mentoring takes place in a long-term one-to-one learning relationship that should be based on mutual trust and respect.
Advisers provide expertise on operational issues in institutions or organisations to develop their performance or strengthen their capacity to fulfil specialised tasks. Advisers usually do not work in a one-to-one relationship with an individual. Advising can concentrate either on a solution to an individual problem (usually short-term) or on a long-term relationship with an organisation.
How can you be a good mentor?
- Take your job seriously. This means that you have to commit yourself to the personal and professional growth of the person you are mentoring by being easily available, fostering open communication and investing as much time, effort and patience as necessary. You need to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, which can take some time at the beginning of your deployment. Be patient and get to know your mentee.
- Follow up. This means that you need to keep track of your mentee’s progress and be prepared to follow up on and deal with any problems that might arise.
- Facilitate the mentee’s learning. You should allow your mentee to learn and discover by being inquisitive, critical and resourceful. You should by no means transfer all that you know to them, but rather facilitate the acquisition of that knowledge. Be flexible to adapt your goals to their needs and provide the space for the mentee to resolve their own problems first, before jointly working out additional solutions.
- Be ready to learn from your mentee. Mentoring is never a one-way relationship. If you work together with your mentee and value their experience and skills, they will also take your experience and skills seriously. You should learn and benefit from the mentoring experience as well as reflect on your own practice and come up with a method that works for both of you.
What is gender?
Gender replaces ‘biological’ and ‘natural’ explanations of masculinity and femininity with a social dimension. The social structures organising women and men into different roles and responsibilities are often perceived to be ‘natural’ and we often tend to take the different roles assigned to girls and boys or women and men for granted. However, while all societies have conceptions about femininity and masculinity and display some division of roles between women and men, not all societies have the same conceptions of femininity and masculinity or the same division of roles. Also, the rigidity of the structures differs greatly.
Gender should be understood as describing not only the differences between men and women, but also the relationship between them, and gender roles should be viewed as flexible both within and across cultures and over time.
Nonetheless, it is crucial to remember that the concept of gender does not affect the ‘realness’ of these stereotypes, identities and roles nor reduces their value. On the contrary, gender roles and identities are very real in that they affect what we do and how we act, feel, think and behave.
What is gender equality?
Gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women, men, boys and girls. It is a human rights issue and a precondition for and indicator of sustainable people-centred development.
Equality is not, however, sameness. The objective is not to deny and erase differences between men and women or between people in general, but to take advantage of those differences and put them to use constructively in a way that benefits the whole society. Equal opportunities should exist in the visibility, empowerment, responsibility and participation of both sexes in all areas of public and private life.
What is gender mainstreaming?
Gender mainstreaming adopts the theory of gender equality and tries to put it into practice. It is a tool for achieving equality between men and women and therefore incorporates the basic principles of equality and cooperation in all processes and activities. It is important to note that gender mainstreaming does not focus solely on women, although women usually are the targets and beneficiaries of mainstreaming practices due to their disadvantaged position in many societies.
Gender perspectives in crisis management missions
|Adopting a gender perspective|
|Adopting a gender perspective DOES NOT INVOLVE:|
|Looking at inequalities and differences between and among women and men.||Focusing exclusively on women.|
|Recognising that both women and men are actors.||Treating women only as a ‘vulnerable group’.|
|Designing interventions that take inequalities and differences between women and men into account.||Treating women and men the same.|
|Moving beyond counting the number of participants to looking at impacts of initiatives.||Striving for equal or 50/50 (men/women) participation.|
|Understanding the differences between different groups of women (and men).||Assuming that all women (or all men) will have the same interests.|
|Recognising that equal opportunities for women within organisations is only one aspect of a concern for gender equality.||Focusing only on employment equity issues within organisations.|
|Understanding the specific situation and documenting actual conditions and priorities.||Assuming who does what work and who has which responsibilities.|
All CSDP missions and UN peace operations have adopted policies to mainstream gender throughout their operational work in the field. In addition, both the EU and the UN have set up structures to guarantee the implementation of gender mainstreaming, including gender advisers and focal points in every mission. Such advisers are your first point of contact in the mission on issues related to gender mainstreaming.
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. It provides the basis for realising equality between women and men by ensuring women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life – including the right to vote and to stand for election – as well as education, health and employment. In ratifying the convention, governments agree to take all appropriate measures to ensure that women are able to fulfil their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
CEDAW is the only human rights treaty that affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. It also affirms women’s right to acquire, change or retain their nationality and the nationality of their children and makes it obligatory for signatories to take appropriate measures in tackling trafficking and many other forms of exploitation.
3. Human rights
Adopted in 1948 by the UN General Assembly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) provides the basis for all international human rights treaties developed in the last decades and serves as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.
Human rights are commonly understood as fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being. Human rights are universal: they are the same for everyone everywhere, although the ways in which they are implemented varies between regions and countries. These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national and international law.
While you are deployed, even if you do not work specifically on human rights within the mission, it is very helpful to know which international human rights treaties have been ratified by the host country government and what the level of compliance with these treaties is. This information can be found on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (www.ohchr.org). The information on a host country’s compliance with international human rights treaties provides valuable insights on issues such as governance and security, and on the performance of national actors that might be your counterparts, such as national security forces and relevant ministries.
Activities that are instrumental in the protection and promotion of human rights include monitoring, fact-finding and reporting, human rights education and measures designed to enhance protection within the legal system. International civilian personnel may work in areas such as ensuring the protection of minority rights or property rights, combating war crimes, crimes against humanity and human trafficking, and improving the criminal justice and penal system.
International organisations such as the EU have developed mission structures that include human rights advisers in order to mainstream human rights into the daily operational work of missions on the ground.
4. Child protection
All children have the right to be protected from violence, exploitation and abuse. Yet millions of children worldwide are at risk and many are particularly vulnerable as a result of their gender, race, ethnic origin, socio-economic status or because they are used as child soldiers by armed groups. Child soldiers are particularly vulnerable in a context of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and require the attention of specialised staff. Higher levels of vulnerability are often associated with children who suffer from disabilities and those who are orphaned or from ethnic minorities and marginalised groups. Other risks for children are associated with living and working on the streets, living in institutions and detention, and living in communities where inequality, unemployment and poverty are highly concentrated.
Violence may occur in everyday contexts, including in the home, in schooling, care and justice systems, within communities and in workplaces. It is important to be aware that crisis situations such as natural disasters, armed conflict and displacement may expose children to additional risks. Child refugees, internally displaced children and unaccompanied migrant children require additional protection.
While working, you might come across violations of children’s rights or child abuse, such as the employment of children as household or office cleaners, or the prostitution and sexual abuse of children. You should report your observation immediately to competent staff in the mission. Guidance on how to proceed when you witness child abuse should be provided in your mission’s code of conduct.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
The UNCRC is a legally binding international convention that not only recognises the particular vulnerability of people under the age of 18, but also the fact that their human rights are equal to those of adults. The convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989, based on the four core principles of non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. The convention also recognises that children everywhere have the right to develop to the fullest the right to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and the right to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. It aims to protect these rights by setting standards in health care, education and legal, civil and social services.
By agreeing to undertake the obligations of the convention (i.e. by ratifying or acceding to it), governments commit to protect and ensure children’s rights and agree to hold themselves accountable before the international community.
5. Refugee rights
Both refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are people who have been forced to flee their homes as individuals or groups. According to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (approved at a UN conference in 1951 and completed by a protocol adopted in 1967), a refugee is defined as a person who, as a result of well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable to, or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.
States that have ratified the Refugee Convention are obliged to protect refugees that are on their territory. According to the general principle of international law, the treaties in force are binding upon the parties to them and must be performed in good faith. The convention declares that penalties shall not be imposed on refugees on account of their illegal entry or presence in a state, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence. Furthermore, the convention protects refugees against forced return by demanding that no contracting state shall expel or return a refugee in any manner to the frontiers of territories where their life or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The signatories also agree to cooperate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the exercise of its functions and to help UNHCR supervise the implementation of the provisions in the convention.
IDPs, on the other hand, are described by the 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as persons or groups of persons who have been forced to flee or leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalised violence, violations of human rights, or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognised state border.
Massive and systematic human rights violations are often the cause and consequence of flight and displacement, which is why the main priority is to offer protection. Their search for a new refuge might have meant walking long distances, losing family members, leaving their sick and elderly behind, and undergoing attacks and exploitation. This experience together with the necessity to adapt to a new home, language and culture can be severely traumatic.