Karin Landgren is currently a non-resident Fellow at Center on International Cooperation and the former Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General for Liberia. She has also served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Burundi and as Representative of the Secretary-General to Nepal.
As this year’s Kofi Annan / Dag Hammarskjöld lecturer she brings a perspective shaped by many years of political, development, resource-mobilization, managerial and international law experience with the United Nations in places such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Eritrea, Singapore, India and the Philippines.
We asked Karin 5 short questions about her work ahead of the lecture on April 19 in Ghana.
1. What is the topic of your lecture on April 19?
I’ll be addressing some of the main points of last year’s three political and security reviews – on peace operations, sustaining peace, and on women, peace and security – and the opportunities they offer for the UN and partners to transform our work in conflict prevention.
2. What are some of the conflicts you are focusing on right now?
I stepped down as SRSG for Liberia last year, and have just taught a graduate course at CEU Budapest on Liberia’s conflict and transition, focusing on policy challenges such as security sector reform, economic and political governance and the management of natural resources.
3. Which was your most difficult task as SRSG for Liberia?
When Ebola hit Liberia, UNMIL became the first UN peacekeeping mission operating in an epidemic of deadly viral haemorrhagic fever. The health crisis quickly deepened in ways that risked threatening national security and the many gains Liberia has achieved since the war. Our task was threefold: keep all our personnel safe and operating confidently, continue to support the Liberian security agencies, and support the country’s Ebola response. UNMIL played an exemplary role.
4. What is distinct when working with peace-keeping missions in Africa compared to other regions?
Speaking from my own experience, I’m comparing heading a political mission in Nepal (UNMIN) with one political and one peacekeeping mission in Africa (BNUB and UNMIL). The most striking distinction has been the active engagement in Africa of regional and sub-regional organizations. BNUB and UNMIL benefited from the interest and engagement of the AU, the East African Community, ECOWAS and the Mano River Union.
5. What should be the main focus for peace missions in 2016?
One challenge will be maintaining the momentum of the 2015 reviews, which contain so many valuable recommendations. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that he’s leaving a number of those recommendations for consideration by his successor. They mustn’t get lost in the transition.