Over the past couple of years, conversations around and within the United Nations have reinforced the urgent need to unify the organisation around a long-term vision of peace. A vision that does not follow the common sequential approach to conflict response, which begins with humanitarian action and peacemaking, then shifts to peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and finally transitions to development.
Striving to break this mould, the ‘sustaining peace’ resolutions adopted in the UN General Assembly and the Security Council in April 2016 underscore that prevention lies at the heart of the UN’s work on peace and security. They emphasise that sustaining peace is as an inherently political process that spans prevention, mediation, conflict management and resolution, necessitating integrated approaches to peacebuilding. But what mechanisms will ensure implementation of these resolutions? How should the UN system work differently, and what specific actions are needed to improve financing?
These questions were the focus of a workshop organised by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, together with the International Peace Institute and the NYU Center on International Cooperation last month titled Sustaining peace and the financing puzzle: Opportunities, challenges and dilemmas. It was the second workshop under the organisations’ Applying Sustaining Peace series, which brings together UN member states, experts from across the UN system and civil society in New York to examine various themes of the sustaining peace resolutions, with a focus on practically applying the vision of sustaining peace.
Positive lessons on financing
During the discussions, Stephan Massing of the World Bank highlighted critical shifts within the replenishment of the Bank’s International Development Association, which provides loans and grants to the world’s poorest countries and is funded largely by contributions from the World Bank’s member countries. In the last replenishment, Stephan Massing explained there were significant shifts including greater volumes, geographic distribution and operational changes, and these will open up unprecedented opportunities for leveraging the UN’s work on peacebuilding.
Some positive lessons on financing for sustaining peace were also drawn from the Somalia context with Marc Jacquand from the Resident Coordinator’s Office in Somalia highlighting the importance of a joint-up and coherent approach, risk-taking, national ownership and strong leadership from within the international community. While Somalia is considered a unique context in which “many stars have aligned” to enable positive collaboration on peacebuilding including on financing, there are relevant lessons that can be applied to other countries and regions. More details about the discussion can be found in the workshop outcome document.
The first workshop in the series was held in December 2016 on the topic of sustaining peace in countries with peace operations mandates and an examination of the implications for the Liberia transition. Four more workshop are envisioned for the months ahead, exploring themes of inclusivity, prevention, the role of regional actors and structural changes to the Peacebuilding Architecture. The series will result in a policy paper that will analyse how the UN can work more coherently and effectively, applying the vision of sustaining peace and living up to its Charter obligations to save future generations from the scourge of war.