High-level Virtual Roundtable Discussion on Peacekeeping

The Auschwitz Institute joined with the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations on May 29, the International Day for United Nations Peacekeepers, to hold a high-level virtual roundtable discussion entitled “Making the Moral Case for Peacekeeping,” which featured Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations. AIPG’s Director of Academic Programs and Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College, Dr. James Waller, represented AIPG on the panel. The event also served as an opportunity to announce AIPG’s new training course on the prevention of conflict-related atrocities, which was supported by Ireland.

Together, Ambassador Byrne Nason and Dr. Waller examined the moral case for peacekeeping and reflected on the various ways that it intersects with other human rights and atrocity prevention issues today. Ambassador Byrne Nason also spoke about Ireland’s enduring commitment to peacekeeping, explaining that the history of Ireland serves as a constant reminder of how valuable peace is and has motivated the country’s participation in international efforts. She explains:

There was a very fervent belief in the global preservation of peace and that this could only be achieved through combined efforts. And, for us, peacekeeping is a really concrete expression of that belief.

Dr. Waller then spoke about the recent collaboration between Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and AIPG to develop a curriculum for a conflict-related atrocity crimes prevention training course for security sector officials. He explained that the development of the course was inspired by a desire from armed forces personnel to receive more in-depth training on the prevention of conflict-related atrocity crimes that goes beyond legal frameworks and delves into the manner by which atrocity crimes occur, including questions of identity and issues of sexual and gender-based violence.

Ambassador Byrne Nason and Dr. Waller’s discussion covered a range of topics, including collective responsibility within the context of the United Nations, the importance of atrocity prevention to peacekeeping, and lessons learned from past peacekeeping mistakes. The pair then responded to audience questions and comments. These covered themes such as peacekeeping in the context of a post-conflict transition, UN Security Council dynamics, Ireland’s Security Council candidacy, Indonesia’s community engagement-based approach to peacekeeping, and the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on peacekeeping operations.

A recording of the discussion can be accessed via the Irish Permanent Mission’s YouTube account here.