To Prevent Conflict, Sustain Peace
The best way to prevent conflict is to nurture peace in all societies.
That’s, very broadly speaking, the idea behind “sustaining peace”, the term that formally entered the international policy makers’ lexicon in 2016 with the near-simultaneous adoption by the General Assembly and the Security Council of almost identical resolutions on how the UN could more effectively “do” peacebuilding and prevention.
In a way, sustaining peace has always been the UN system’s mission. After all, the world body was created to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” But following the recent reviews of the global peace and security architecture, the global community is now -- arguably for the first time -- very consciously looking at fostering peace in a more holistic manner, as more than just discrete interventions to avert or settle specific conflicts. This means, for example, asking how to best equip societies so that they live in peace (by promoting equitable and environmentally sound development, human rights, rule of law, for example), or overcome violent conflict in a durable way if they have fallen victim to it. As such, “sustaining peace” is relevant to all countries, not just those that could be seen as “fragile”.
The Department of Political Affairs (DPA) is also guided in its work by sustaining peace. We list below projects, where DPA is putting the Sustaining Peace agenda into practice around the world:
In Colombia, the process of laying down of arms by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) combatants in Colombia concluded successfully in 2017. Collected weapons and ammunition were transported from various locations in the country to a central warehouse in Bogotá, in a complex and sensitive operation conducted with FARC-EP and Colombian security forces. The UN Mission in Colombia accompanied this process from the start, and by bringing in expertise for weapons disposal, was able ensure an efficient, coordinated and secure completion of the task. In addition, as the mandate of the Special Political Mission in Colombia shifted from assisting in ceasefire monitoring and laying down of arms to supporting the next stages in peace implementation, DPA was able to support planning arrangements to set up the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia.
In Burkina Faso, DPA supported the development of the country’s roadmap for national reconciliation, including through a series of informal consultations with political representatives, civil society organizations, defense and security forces, religious leaders and representatives of the business community. These consultations also provided the opportunity to advocate for the creation of political spaces for women to participate in the design and implementation of the national reconciliation agenda.
In Comoros, the decision to hold an Assise Nationales to assess the situation in the country since independence and make recommendations on the way forward polarized political opinion. To address these tensions, SRSG to the African Union Haile Menkerios conducted a high-level preventive diplomacy mission in October 2017. DPA also deployed an expert to provide technical advice on the process. Additionally, another expert was deployed to the country to carry out extensive consultations with 130 different authorities, political parties, civil society organizations, women’s groups and other activists, covering all three islands of the Union of Comoros, preliminary work for the establishment of a National Peace Architecture in Comoros.
In Sri Lanka, DPA supported the implementation of a Peacebuilding Priority Plan, with the delivery of innovative surveys to gather, interpret and visualize data on key conflict prevention issues, including economic security, ethnic and religious tensions, perceptions on reconciliation and conflict hotspots. The surveys were designed in close partnerships with the Government and helped develop common messages within the United Nations Country Team and a coherent programming across the three pillars of the UN – Peace and Security, Human Rights and Development. The data has also deepened understanding of conflict triggers.
In Solomon Islands, DPA assisted in preparations to undertake a perception survey. Together with the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), DPA supported the Government of Solomon Islands and national stakeholders during a transitional period to create an inclusive space for dialogue and reconciliation, and to strengthen national capacity for implementing the Solomon Islands national peacebuilding policy and ensuring youth and women’s engagement in the process.
Title picture: Extraction of containers in Santa Lucia - Ituango, Antioquia, Colombia. Photo: UN Mission in Colombia