Synergies in peacebuilding at the country and local level

The Foundation recently hosted diverse peacebuilding practitioners and UN stakeholders from around the world to discuss inclusivity, dialogue, and sustaining peace during the Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development.

Inclusion should be by design, not as a concession,

answered one of the participants to the question about how peace talks or crisis interventions in the short-term contribute to long-term efforts to build sustainable peace.

The gap between policies and reality

Although there is a strong recognition of the importance of inclusivity in international normative frameworks, there is still an enormous gap between policies and reality. Similarly, sustaining peace is an open concept endorsed by UN Member States which needs to be adapted and defined at the country level and in dialogue with national actors.

With this in mind, the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation partnered for a fifth year on the Stockholm Forum on Peace & Development, inviting a diversity of peacebuilders, civil society and UN experts to participate in three days of interactive exchange. ‘From crisis response to peacebuilding: Achieving synergies’ was the theme of this year’s Forum hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Swedish Foreign Ministry. In three sessions the Foundation facilitated discussions on inclusivity, dialogue, and the UN’s engagement in Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace on the Forum’s Focus Days.

This is not about connecting bureaucracies but breaking them down and recognising who should do what, as well as linking steps together toward sustaining peace.

Who should do what?

The Sustaining Peace framework aims to bring coherence and tools in an increasingly complex world, where peace agendas are no longer isolated processes. One participant shared that in their perspective ‘collaboration in the field has never been as close as today.’ In that session UN, World Bank, and civil society members talked about recent positive developments with the UN’s country teams and their collaboration with other national and international actors. Examples from Cameroon and Liberia were shared as well as overall reflections on how partnerships at the country-level is promoting greater cooperation. To learn more read the report for this session on ‘Sustaining Peace in Practice: Reflections from implementation at country level’ co-organised with the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict and the International Peace Institute.

Who should be included?

In the Foundation’s session on ‘Inclusivity: the long and short of it’ the group discussed experiences in Sri Lanka, Columbia, Jordan and the Middle East and North African region more generally. The group recommended that the local context rather than international frameworks or standards on inclusion should be used as the starting point for both short and long-term work. This needs to be based on a clear understanding of marginalisation and exclusion with a recognition of people’s multiple, intersectional identities. For example, youth in Jordan need to be invited to conversations that impact them such as new public transportation systems and if they are also young people who have some form of disability, it is even more important that their inclusion is prioritised from the beginning. Overall a main recommendation is that efforts are taken to strengthen existing networks that already work to promote inclusion, linking local and international efforts. This point was reinforced in the Foundation’s session on dialogue described below.

How to connect the right people

In the Foundation’s session on ‘It Takes Dialogue: Promoting Sustaining Peace’. Participants called for dialogue and mediation processes to be built on partnerships between diverse actors and across different levels – local, regional, national and international. With examples from Somalia, Pakistan, Israel-Palestine, Sweden and the Central African Republic, the discussants emphasised the importance of storytelling, listening with empathy, and creating space for dialogue. Echoing recommendations made in the other session, a participant underlined that dialogue must be built on inclusivity, ensuring that intra- and inter-group dialogue is held at the local level with room for marginalised voices to be heard and that these initiatives ought to have linkages to policy processes at the national level.

For more on all of these sessions and many others held throughout the Forum see the session reports.

What next?

Photo by Sipri

Later this year, Foundation will publish case studies that share examples and perspectives on how the UN is working at the country level in Sri Lanka, the Gambia, Colombia and Jordan to support national governments and local civil society in strengthening inclusivity. It will also look at how applying relevant international frameworks such as the Sustaining Peace resolutions are useful in that regard.

In addition, the 64th issue of the Foundation’s Development Dialogue series will focus on dialogue with diverse case studies about processes around the world – for example, dialogues around transboundary water use in the Jordan River Basin or the engagement of Colombia’s population in the implementation of the peace agreement through inclusive and sustained dialogues facilitated by a neutral actor.

Finally, the Foundation continues to hold roundtables in New York on the operationalisation of the parallel resolutions on Sustaining Peace. The Foundation facilitates discussions on how to advance the changes at the country level which are called for in the resolutions’ conceptual framework and to identify concrete steps that need to be taken for effective and locally driven implementation.