The UN operation in South Sudan (UNMISS) is amongst the UN's most challenging contemporary peacekeeping missions. Although UNMISS was mandated in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter to protect civilians, things did not go as planned. The mandate evolved to deal with the unfolding situation and it appeared to herald a more robust approach. This did not translate into an effective protection strategy. Faced with a crisis the UN opened its gates to admit fleeing civilians and, in so doing, created protection of civilian (PoC) sites. Although an unprecedented and courageous decision, these sites created a range of problems and did not deal with the majority of civilians under threat outside these camps. Such a situation is likely to arise in the future and this makes it imperative to learn from mistakes made. UNMISS was criticized for failing to do its job. There is a need for a strengthened but fair review of cases of non-performance by those in command, particularly in the context of civilian protection. UNMISS demonstrates the need for a tactical and strategic review of how to deal with such crises, especially when a government is one of the perpetrators. While no one factor or element of the peacekeeping architecture has caused the mission failure, it is imperative to learn from the mistakes and ensure a more planned response that addresses the flaws evident in the UNMISS mission.