The United Nations regular budget is perennially under strain. This year, the situation is worse than usual, with the UN Secretary-General warning of the “worst cash crisis facing the United Nations in nearly a decade.” For the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), the constant shortfalls often mean that new, unforeseen or urgent initiatives to prevent conflict or support peacebuilding have to be funded with voluntary contributions. A growing number of countries has consistently responded to DPPA’s appeals for such donations, and they expect the Department to account for how their money is being used. In its latest quarterly report on voluntary contributions, DPPA indicates it has received just over half of the sum it appealed for 2019 - $17.7 out of $30 million. Below we list some of the important initiatives this funding has allowed the Department to carry out up to 30 September.
On 23 September, the Secretary-General announced a UN-facilitated agreement between the Syrian Government and the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission to establish a credible, balanced and inclusive Constitutional Committee. This is the first concrete Syrian-Syrian political agreement to implement an element of Security Council resolution 2254. It commits the Government and opposition to sit face-to-face for the first time — with civil society and women at the table. The UN’s commitment to achieving gender parity among the civil society nominees to the Committee contributed to reaching almost 30 per cent women’s representation in the 150-member body. The agreement between the parties regarding the Committee, as well as supporting the establishment of a secretariat for the Committee, will serve as confidence-building measures that will hopefully open the door to broader progress on the political process.
Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths was able to continue supporting the Yemeni Women’s Technical Advisory Group, thanks to voluntary funds. This inclusion mechanism, comprised of eight Yemeni professionals and developed by the Office of the Special Envoy for Yemen in mid-2018, aims to bring women to the negotiations table. It also helps the Special Envoy identify – through the advice of women – spaces for negotiation and elements of compromise that the parties may agree to.
Ahead of the referendum on the political future of Bougainville, scheduled for November 2019, DPPA, through a liaison officer in Papua New Guinea, continued to support various dialogue activities between the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government. Such discussions have been essential to develop a shared understanding regarding the referendum process and the format of post-referendum consultations. DPPA and its Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers also continued to support the Post-Referendum Planning Taskforce – responsible for ensuring that the period after the referendum is peaceful and that the two Governments are adequately prepared for the consultation process after the announcement of the outcome. The Standby Team deployed its constitutional expert to help facilitate the work of the Taskforce and hold consultations with the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville and with the UN Country Team (UNCT). DPPA will continue to work with the two Governments to support a peaceful and credible referendum and an inclusive post-referendum consultation process, with meaningful participation of women and youth.
In Burkina Faso, a dedicated senior political expert was deployed to provide systematic and coordinated political analysis on the ground and inform the UN decision-making process for the implementation of the revamped sustaining peace approach. The senior adviser, in close collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinator and the Peace and Development Adviser (PDA), is supporting the establishment of an infrastructure for peace (I4P) in Burkina Faso. The I4P will help defuse inter-communal tensions in the short term and sustain peace in the long-term by linking up and enhancing local capacities to prevent and address conflicts across the country.
In 2019 the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia (UNRCCA) piloted the first UNRCCA Preventive Diplomacy Academy to strengthen a culture of prevention among young people in the region, who form more than 50 per cent of the population in Central Asia. In collaboration with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNRCCA organized the first workshop in Taraz, Kazakhstan, bringing together 15 young people from Taraz and 15 from Talas in Kyrgyzstan, just across the border. Participants developed projects to encourage people-to-people contacts across borders and agree on conflict prevention strategies for their daily lives and in their communities. Two more workshops are planned, for Tajik and Afghan youth, and for Turkmen and Uzbek young people. UNRCCA is working on organizing the first regional consultation between young people and political leaders in Central Asia.
Pacific Islands countries are on the frontline of climate change. The three low-lying Pacific atoll nations – Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu – are particularly at risk. Making use of voluntary funding, DPPA supported a workshop to develop a shared understanding of climate security risks and potential responses to mitigate conflict drivers in Fiji from 9 to 11 September. The workshop brought together policy makers from these three Governments, experts and regional organizations, including the Pacific Islands Forum. DPPA facilitated coordination between experts from the UN Climate Security Mechanism and regional stakeholders to help the region develop a framework that considers the impact of climate-security risks. The workshop led to the development of a draft Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) project for 2020-2021 targeted at supporting these Governments, as well as the Pacific Islands Forum, with their climate security challenges through increased capacity, improved analysis and better international advocacy.
See more examples of the work voluntary contributions made possible in 2019 here.