“Difficult But Not Impossible”:
Illustrating Prevention Work
It’s usually hard to showcase successful conflict prevention. There are no pictures of wars that didn’t break out, and few gripping tales of crises that didn’t worsen thanks to the quick and concerted efforts of the international community. But difficult does not mean impossible. As you’ll see from the examples below, countries from around the world value early action which contributes to lowering tensions and any potential violence.
In Madagascar, a Department of Political Affairs (DPA) mission engaged President Rajaonarimampianina and two former presidents to resolve mounting political tensions around the 2018 electoral process and help address the absence of trust and communication among the main political actors. This first-hand assessment of the situation in the country led to the appointment of a UN Special Adviser for Madagascar to lead a more robust and sustained political engagement and facilitate an understanding on the conduct of elections. On 27 April, the Secretary-General announced that he would dispatch his Special Adviser, Abdoulaye Bathily, to Madagascar immediately. Mr. Bathily is returning to Madagascar, where he assisted, together with regional and international partners, the Malagasy in addressing their political challenges through peaceful dialogue.
In the aftermath of contested elections in Honduras in November 2017, the Government asked the UN for technical support to implement a process to facilitate a national dialogue. DPA deployed an exploratory mission to Tegucigalpa in February 2018 to assess the conditions for such an exercise. The mission recommended to the Government a series of confidence-building measures that could help establish the basis for a future dialogue. In particular, it recommended steps that would contribute to the promotion of the necessary political reforms within the framework of the Honduran Constitution, respect for human rights and the rule of law. The report has now become a “road-map” for the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Honduras, who has engaged national stakeholders in pre-dialogue talks.
In Thailand, the United Nations continues to seek ways to contribute to a favorable environment for achieving sustainable peace in the southern provinces. In March 2018, DPA’s liaison presence in Bangkok coordinated the quarterly meeting of the Deep South Contact Group – a joint initiative of DPA, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, and the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator that brings together analysts, civil society representatives, and international non-governmental organizations to discuss developments related to the peace process, the overall human rights situation, and the opportunities to address conflict in the region. DPA’s nimble presence on the ground has helped facilitate the Group, enhance the United Nations system’s understanding of the political context and advocate for conflict-sensitive United Nations programming.
As these examples help demonstrate, demand for DPA’s expertise in conflict prevention and mediation, among other areas, has been growing steadily over the last decade. DPA is able to respond to this demand thanks largely to voluntary contributions. For more information on recent DPA activities in these and other countries, please see our latest quarterly progress report on the use of voluntary funding.