Discussion
3 May - 17 May 2021

Peace and Security (1st e-discussion)

SDG 16 Hub • 27 April 2021

This first e-discussion is now concluded, but contributions can still be made (without moderation) until the end of June. You can also use the main Southern Voice & UNDP group page to share new thoughts and ideas with all group members. We hope you will be able to contribute to the other e-discussions happening in this group – currently on accountability, rule of law and human rights (until 31 May). 

Final Summary


Peace and Security 

The past year witnessed an uptick in conflict and violence globally. More specifically, experts are cautioning against political violence during the pandemic. This is especially true in countries where health challenges intersect with wars or unstable political conditions that could lead to new conflicts or exacerbate existing ones.

Reports from those on the front lines have shown that all types of violence against women and children, and particularly domestic violence, have intensified. More dangerously, access to information and support services pertaining to violence has been further curtailed due to pandemic restrictions.  Resources have often been diverted to relief efforts.

There has also been an increase in challenges to democracy and democratic institutions. For example, the militarisation of the COVID-19 management and an increasing trend towards authoritarian governance can have long-lasting consequences. It can lead to abuses of power, the silencing of dissent and an undermining of systems of accountability.  Similarly, ongoing processes of peace and transition have been slowed down or halted. Here, too, the energy and focus of states and non-state actors have been diverted to the pandemic relief and recovery efforts.

In this discussion, we invite you to share your reflections on how the pandemic has impacted state-sponsored and community-level conflicts, household and gender-based violence, and the increasing online violence, and what is needed to recover and get back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. There might be multiple themes emerging from the discussion, and many different trends and counter-trends, depending on specific contexts and political realities. However, we hope this forum can help provide a space to articulate the range of experiences that people are facing and outline a way forward.

Below are a few questions to help frame the discussion:

  • What has been the impact of the pandemic in fragile and conflict-affected contexts? Have there been any gains because of the disruption caused by the pandemic? How has it impacted peace processes, for example? What needs to be done to prevent further backsliding in the progress towards more peaceful societies?
  • Widening inequalities, increasing poverty and limited access to public services have frayed social cohesion and fuelled political grievances and protests in many contexts. What is needed to rebuild trust and the social contract? How can social cohesion be strengthened?
  • The pandemic has led to an increase in the use of technology, which has brought both positive impacts in society but also boosted tools for political polarization, instigating violence and online abuse. What are some ways that technology and digitization can be harnessed to further peace and security? What are some of the risks of this process, and what safeguards need to be put in place?
  • What are the specific implications for gender, youth and the compromise to ‘leave no one behind’?

The moderators for the e-discussion will be:

We look forward to a fruitful e-discussion with you!


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Comments (47)

Natasha Palansuriya Moderator

We would like to conclude this engaging and enriching discussion by thanking all the contributors for bringing a range of insights and resources from your professional experiences, which has proven invaluable to the report that will be developed from this initiative. We will also acknowledge each one of your contributions in the report.

On that note we would like to thank the following contributors:

Bojan Francuz thank you for bringing attention to the growing mobilization of local leaders and youth in responding to issues of violence, crime, and insecurity.

Carlo Koos thank you for enriching the discussion by bringing in the issues related to social cohesion after armed conflict, post-conflict development aid, state-society relations, and civil wars, and women's empowerment. Thank you for also sharing the range of resources we can refer to in regards to this.

GREGORY A CONNOR thank you for sharing your insights regarding the impact of the pandemic on conflict-affected contexts. 

Jonas Mbabazi thank you for sharing your insights from Africa regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the socio-economic, political, and security spheres.

Priyanthi Fernando thank you for reframing the concepts of conflict, violence, and insecurity and bringing our attention to different perspectives regarding this. And for raising the debate in relation to state legitimacy and service delivery. We also appreciate your active engagement in the overall discussion, and for trying to encourage more contributions for the global south overall, and especially in relation to the WPS agenda. 

Thamindri Aluvihare, thank you for raising the important question regarding states response to the pandemic in relation to its implication on justice, and bringing in examples from Sri Lanka and India.  

Doruk Ergun thank you for also sharing your insights regarding how COVID-19 has impacted the work of infrastructures for peace (I4Ps) and sharing the findings from the regional consultations conducted with GPPAC. Ellie Cumberbatch thank you for adding to this conversation by sharing the priority areas that were identified in strengthening the role of I4Ps in sustaining peace. And also Inclusive Peace for highlighting the challenges caused by COVID-19 to peacebuilding/peacemaking.

Marina Kumskova thank you for sharing the work done by GPPAC on the linkages between human security and the WPS Agenda; the role of peacebuilders in protracted crisis, and the other work GPPAC does in relation to peace and security. Thank you for also engaging in the overall discussion and sharing the range of resources that we can refer to in formulating the report.

And thank you to Ulrika Jonsson and Monica Rijal  – it has been a pleasure moderating this discussion with you.

Although this moderated e-discussion is concluded, the forum will remain open for additional contributions until the end of June. We will post a full summary of the discussion by the end of this week.

Please also check the other e-discussion happening in this group – currently it is on accountability, rule of law and human rights

 

 

Bojan Francuz

Looking forward to the discussions in this group! With less than 10 years left to make progress on reducing all forms of violence, the time is right now to engage new actors and show results in violence reduction - it can be done!

Natasha Palansuriya Moderator

Hello Bojan. Thank you for contributing to the discussion. I agree, engaging with actors across the board, from policymakers, researchers and civil society actors is an effective way of getting closer to achieving the goal. We need to work with changemakers, especially those working on the ground. This is essential in order to see tangible results. Do you have any examples of this from your experience?

Bojan Francuz

Natasha Palansuriya This will be a bit of a plug for the work we are doing at Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, but hopefully will help in answering your questions. There is a growing mobilization of local leaders, Mayors specifically, in responding to issues of violence, crime, and insecurity more broadly. Many of them are keen to tap into the knowledge and best practices on how to deal with protracted effects of COVID-19, among the rising insecurity, in their cities and are quite keen to test out new approaches and interventions. It would be interesting to look into how we can use the COVID-19 pandemic to expand the 'tent' of usual suspects involved in peacebuilding and work on violence reduction more broadly.

 

Let me also add that engagement by youth and young people are also encouraging. Initiatives such as the recently launched SFCG fund on Youth, Peace and Security (see more info: https://www.sfcg.org/the-youth-peace-and-security-fund/) are attempts at supporting the work of informal and decentralized groups of young people working to build peace in their communities. 

Natasha Palansuriya Moderator

Bojan Francuz This sounds very encouraging. Thank you for sharing your insights and also the SFCG resource. The move towards focusing on your as key actors in peacebuilding/social cohesion is imperative.  

Marina Kumskova

Hey Bojan, 

It is great to be part of the conversation on behalf of GPPAC. 

I just wanted to drop in a quick point about the importance of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda and its link to human security, for reducing violence. 

At GPPAC, we draw on the linkages between human security and WPS Agenda. We rejected the idea that the WPS Agenda is the one that only serves to open political spaces for women’s participation and bring attention to women’s needs in conflict. While it is a critical resource to recognise and address the unique needs of women, we see and advance the WPS as a critical framework to transform security approaches towards the security of the people in all their diversity. This Agenda encourages looking at rootcauses of conflict from the perspective of power and how this power is divided to people. In the Pacific, we have been successfully advancing the WPS principles to integrate human security principles in the Boe Declaration on Regional Security. And we know that integrating human security in peacebuilding is a process and placing human security at the centre of analysis has its implications for the assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of peacebuilding initiatives. It has implications to understanding who is at the table and what evidence we pay attention to. 

Therefore, in order to advance SDGs, primarily SDG16+, we need to be looking at strengthening human security and using women's expertise to do so. 

 

Natasha Palansuriya Moderator

Hello! Welcome to this e-discussion. I'm honoured to moderate this e-discussion along with Monica Rijal and Ulrika Jonsson. And I look forward to engaging in an interesting discussion on what is seemingly an important topic at this juncture when we are not only grappling with issues relating to conflict, justice and security but also having to manage it alongside the challenges posed by an unprecedented pandemic. 

I'm a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Poverty Analysis based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. My work primarily focuses on post-war justice and reconciliation. Therefore, coming from that vantage point, we have seen a decline in the protection of human rights and also the rights of minorities. It is concerning that the pandemic has revealed undertones of racism, for example with the forced cremations that took place that especially impacted the Muslim community on the island. We have finally seen an end to this thanks to external pressure. This is just one example of the many challenges that we face, not only in Sri Lanka but also in the South Asian region, that I look forward to sharing with you in the coming weeks during our exchanges. 

Ulrika Jonsson Moderator

A warm welcome to this e-discussion on the topic of peace & security in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. My name is Ulrika Jonsson and I am an SDG 16 & Governance Analyst at UNDPs Oslo Governance Centre. It is with great pleasure to co-moderate this e-discussion with Natasha Palansuriya and Monica Rijal for the next coming 2 weeks. I am looking forward to being informed and inspired by your reflections, insights, and solutions to tackle the many unprecedented challenges emerged with the pandemic related to peace & security, as well as seen for the broader governance landscape.

With the emergence and global spread of the Covid-19 virus, peace and security has been challenged with worrying trends seen at global, national, as well as spiralling down to affecting the domestic and household levels. There are multiple challenges affecting this downward trend including a weakening of the social contract; deepened socio-political- and economic inequalities; and an increase in restraints and isolation, putting already vulnerable groups at further risk of conflict and violence. In the decade of action, we´re being challenged by an emerging ´crisis of governance´ which will call for even further and concerted efforts to ensure peace and security as the foundation in our recovery processes from Covid-19.

We look forward to your inputs to this discussion on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected progress towards establishing more ‘peaceful societies’ as envisioned by SDG 16, and hope to be inspired by your solutions and opportunities presented to move this agenda forward.

Carlo Koos

Hi everyone,

I think this is a great platform to initiate inclusive discussion during these times. I am  Senior Research at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen (Norway) and a Research Associate at University College London. My research interests focus on questions such as how civil wars affect social cohesion, trust in political institutions and gender relations at the individual and community level, and how diverse development interventions (agriculture, women's empowerment, health) can make a positive impact (or when they make things worse). 

I think there are some really interesting trends and emerging questions in the quantitative micro-level literature on peace and conflict, and development. Three of them I would like to highlight here.

Social cohesion after armed conflict

Armed conflict often aggravates group identities and boundaries. There is now a significant body of literature that shows that individuals who have been exposed to violence in armed conflicts become more prosocial and engage more actively in their local communities and politics than individuals unaffected by violence (my research has also shown that). This research has been pitched with a somewhat positive tone along the lines that communities are resilient. However, this research has largely focused on ingroup social cohesion and has not considered sufficiently that ingroup cohesion can have adverse consequences for developing intergroup trust and relationships with other ethnic or religious communities and by extension makes sustainable peace at scale potentially more challenging. Looking at these implications is I think an emerging topic that requires careful future investigation and will provide valuable insights for peacebuilding.

Post-conflict development aid, rumors, envy and state-society relations

Conflict-affected communities can benefit greatly from aid to (re)build basic services in health care, education, water supply, agriculture, etc. One assumption among many development practitioners and policy makers is that by improving access to basic services the state can improve its output legitimacy because people notice the state's willingness and capacity in responding to their basic needs. This may put in motion a virtuous cycle of state-society relations in which citizens accept the state as a legitimate actor in contrast to other non-state (armed) actors. I think there is much more research needed to better understand under which conditions, people attribute local development programs positively to the state. In my experience and reading of the relatively scarce literature on the subject, the local 'modes of delivery', i.e. how people are informed about why development projects (do not) take place in their community, who was responsible and involved in making these decisions, are extremely important to associate the state with basic service delivery (and not only international NGOs and donors), to reduce the risk of rumours and envy between beneficiary and non-beneficiary communities and ultimately to reduce the risk of mistrust and violence between communities.

Civil wars and women's empowerment

Last point ;) Another interesting and emerging body of research is associated with the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Several comparative studies have shown that countries affected by civil wars or armed conflict feature higher shares of women in parliament and score higher in women's empowerment indexes. These are encouraging findings. However, most of these studies focus on aggregate country-level indicators which are known to conceal important subnational variation. For instance, we could argue that women who get a seat in the parliament (e.g., Rwanda, Peru, Chile) or become head of state (e.g., Johnson in Liberia) after war belong to a country's political and economic elite and are typically not severely affected by civil war violence, which takes place in rural areas mostly. Hence, we don't know much about the social, political, and economic status and opportunities of women who have been affected by violence (different types of violence). It is possible that women who lost their spouse during war take over new responsibilities in the household, the community and even local politics. This would be local women's empowerment. However, it is also possible that violence-affected women (e.g. sexual violence) are marginalized and stigmatized and are unable to get access to land and property. That is to say, it would be important to better understand how differences in exposure to violence affect women's social, economic and political status and opportunities. At the end of the day, when we talk about women's empowerment in post-conflict settings, we ultimately think of women at large, not only female members of parliament.

Ulrika Jonsson Moderator

Hi Carlo, 

Thank you very much for your interesting reflections on some of the gaps in research and emerging trends. The points you raise on the ingroup social cohesion which could have adverse effects on intergroup trust and relationships bring new and insightful perspectives for peacebuilding at large, and which tends to be highly relevant to discuss in the context of Covid-19. It would be very interesting to learn more about this topic as well as on the other topics, such as how the socio-economic- and political status of women potentially could be affected by exposure to violence. Are there any available studies on these topics that you could share or direct us to? Thank you!

Natasha Palansuriya Moderator

Hi Carlo. Your research on ingroup social cohesion sounds extremely interesting. Specifically how it has revealed that 'ingroup cohesion can have adverse consequences for developing intergroup trust and relationships with other ethnic or religious communities'. This is an interesting angle compared to what I have been studying... which is the importance of justice (specifically transitional justice) after an armed conflict in preventing the recurrence of violence. In fact, in the Sri Lankan context (which I'm studying) we believe that although the war is over the conflict is not, because there are still unaddressed grievances, and the root of the conflict has not been addressed, therefore affecting social cohesion adversely. Concerningly we have seen the conflict spill over to other ethnic/religious communities, and we have observed obvious markers of the cycles of violence. So, it would be interesting to also look at this from the perspective you present in your research. Please do share any published material you may have.

This point on civil wars and women's empowerment is extremely valuable. As we have observed in Sri Lanka - and I think it can be extended to most countries in the Global South - that politics is viewed as "man's game" - where, like you said, to get into politics (and more so to win a seat in parliament) requires economic status and/or connections - so yes, the women we see in parliament are those who have this kind of social and economic backing. But we have seen an urgency in women on the ground to be changemakers - for example, those advocating for post-war justice and human rights, and community rights are women - those sitting on the streets in protest - sometimes for months at a time - demanding answers and change are women (mothers, wives, and sisters). Ultimately they know the pulse of their communities and they can bring about the changes that are direly needed. However, they rarely get a seat at the table. Most importantly, in relation to the WPS agenda - it has been proven through community-level peace-building interventions that not only were women directly affected by the conflict and have been victims of war-time violations and gender-based violence but also play an important role as peace advocates and bridges between communities. It is clear that women can be bridges where men cannot.

Carlo Koos

Ulrika Jonsson 

I agree, it's so relevant for peace and state-building but my impression is that in the past, attention has focused a lot on macro-level interventions like power sharing agreements, SSR, DDR, elections, institution building, constitutional reform. These are all extremely important, but the looking at the local level in a systematic manner offers really powerful insights to better understand the attitudes and behavior of the citizens.

The studies I am largely talking about look at the individual level and basically compare people who have been exposed to violence to those who haven't. As I mentioned, most of these studies look at the impact of conflict exposure on social trust, in-group cohesion measured as prosocial and cooperative behavior. Very little on intergroup relations and political trust as far as I know. Some exceptions look at these aspects:

There is one paper by De Juan/Pierskalla (2016) in post-conflict Nepal which shows that people exposed violence have lower trust in political institutions. Gates/Justensen (2020) also find a negative effect on political trust in Mali. There are some more studies which compare political trust at the country level between conflict and non-conflict countries, but I think they conceal too much since armed conflict is typically not evenly distributed within countries. 

I have been working on some papers to better understand how different forms of violence (rape, killings, mutilation) affect social engagement/cohesion in Sierra Leonean communities (Koos 2019). And there is a new working paper, where we compare the effects of sexual violence (and other forms of violence) by armed groups on civic engagement, interethnic trust and political trust in Liberia, DRC and Sri Lanka (Koos/Traunmüller 2021) in which we show that these effects differ across these dimensions: civic engagment (positive), interethnic trust (mixed), political trust (negative).

With regard to the micro-level effects of civil wars and armed conflict on women's social, economic and political empowerment, there are only handful of micro-level studies. Two from Bosnia (Hadzic/Tavits 2019, Hadzic/Tavits 2020) and one from my brilliant co-author Summer Lindsey on DR Congo on how gender norms are affected in conflict-affected communities (not yet published). On that subject, I have just submitted a research proposal to systematically explore the multi-dimensional impacts of civil wars on women in Colombia, DR Congo and Sri Lanka.

If you do not have access to any of these studies, I am happy to send them to you by email.

Carlo Koos

Natasha Palansuriya 

You make excellent points. You see, as a researcher it worries me slightly when studies are being published that promote the "general" idea that war promotes women's empowerment when in fact there is a lot of complex interactions going on and that some may benefit but others don't. It happens so quickly that such studies are taken out of context (especially when these are cross-country analyses). I have been reading on the impact of the civil war in Sri Lanka on women to prepare this research project I recently submitted. And it seemed quite evident that war-affected women (who lost their husband for instance) are socially very active but nevertheless live in poverty or don't have access to land. So, the effects can very significanlty across different dimensions of empowerment. If that project gets funded, it would be great to get in touch and perhaps cooperate because one part of it will be Sri Lanka.

Natasha Palansuriya Moderator

Carlo Koos yes definitely. Happy to talk further regarding this. Thank you again for your contribution to this discussion. 

Ulrika Jonsson Moderator

Carlo Koos 

Certainly, the comparative & micro-level analyses looking into the inter-group cohesion and political trust levels depending on exposure to violence (of all its forms) would be very interesting to explore further, and bringing forward a new important perspective. The research that you share indeed turns some attention to this and many thanks for listing the different available resources! 

It will be interesting to follow this new line of research and not the least when looking at the effects of Covid-19 as a potential exacerbator in these contexts of already weak inter-group trust and social cohesion. Are you aware of any upcoming research that will look into this linkage of Covid-19 and the micro-level comparative analyses on inter-group trust etc.?  Thanks a lot!

Monica Rijal Moderator

Thanks Carlo! As you mention ingroup cohesion and identities, I am reminded of mass trauma, group healing and conflict transformation. Mass traumas have a way to hardening group identities and leading to groups/communities to look inward- leading to greater ingroup cohesion. Peacebuilding practitioners have been working with mass and individual traumas for the past 2 decades or so. Development practitioners less so as a development intervention. Any research on mass and historical traumas on recovery and peacebuilding is much appreciated.

The idea that increase in state legitimacy through greater service delivery is indeed up for debate. The most recent study Peace and Authoritarianism (Peacebuilding and Authoritarianism: The Unintended Consequences of UN Engagement in Post-Conflict Settings - United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (unu.edu)) by UNU is interesting in the recognizing this un intended consequence of our engagement in post conflict recovery.

Carlo Koos

Ulrika Jonsson 

I am not aware of research that looks at the impact of Covid-19 on intergroup trust. While there could be a connections (via reduced economic activitiy, travel, social interaction) it appears to be quite a long chain with different, perhaps even competing causal processes.  

Nevertheless, the World Bank has collected high-frequency survey data in dozens of low-income countries around since March/April 2020 and among the main indicators (food security, education, health, income and coping), trust in the government is one of their indicators. So, you could look into that.

Here's the list of countries for which data (and sometimes country briefs) are available: https://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/lsms/brief/lsms-launches-high-fre…

Together with some colleagues we synthesized the data for several African countries till August 2020 on food security, education, health and the economy: https://www.cmi.no/publications/7391-household-wellbeing-and-coping-str…

 

 

 

Ulrika Jonsson Moderator

Carlo Koos 

Thanks very much for sharing the available and related resources on this topic. I will follow any upcoming research with a lot of interest!

Marina Kumskova

Thanks, Carlo for the post. 

My name is Marina Kumskova and I am a senior policy and advocacy advisor at GPPAC. 

I just wanted to complement your post by a few remarks from local peacebuilders from Eastern Europe during the consultations we have conducted with UNDP earlier this year. We should not be forgetting about the critical role of peacebuilders in the context of protracted crisis.

The protracted and unresolved conflicts in the region have become a part of life for peacebuilders. Peace, where it exists, is extremely fragile, and people suffer from great psychological pain. This situation created the entire generation of people suffering from conflict-related trauma that continues to be unaddressed. There is a great need for trauma healing through the provision of mental health and psychological support to those who have been both directly and indirectly affected by conflicts, especially refugees and displaced persons, but also all people within communities.

However, this is not the only area of concern. Imagine yourself trying to make the change in your community and the national governments do not have a buy-in. Local peacebuilders who can access funding are lucky; however, many of them are doing this work for free on a voluntary basis. When the conflict is protracted, how long can your enthusiasm last? 5 years, 6 years of commitment. Then, you accept the reality. A journey towards peace is work and a struggle. It takes emotional toll. It is hard to have this sense of struggle for a long time because everyone just wants a peaceful life. This leads to many peacebuilders simply adapting and working with what they have. 

This may be a small point; however, this point is hard to bring in the policy discussion as there is no policy "language" that supports this point; however, this is an important consideration of the extent to which protracted crisis can be resolved. 

Priyanthi Fernando

Dear all - thank you for the interesting insights so far.  I am a feminist and a women's rights activist, so I am afraid I will not be talking much about research outputs but will, with the permission of the moderators,  interject some questions/thoughts so that I can better understand and interrogate the issues being raised in this group around  "“Peace and Security” and specifically around  conflict, violence and insecurity, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected progress towards establishing more ‘peaceful societies’ as envisioned by SDG 16" . 

My first thought is that conflict, violence and insecurity or even 'fragility' should not be conceptualised in terms of armed conflict alone, because doing so completely isolates the issues of fostering peace and security from the historic and ongoing economic and political violence that global south people have been subjected to for hundreds of years and continue to experience today.   It is important that we begin by dissecting the causes of violence before we can build societies that are peaceful and secure for everyone.

Natasha Palansuriya Moderator

Priyanthi Fernando thank you for bringing in a different perspective. I completely agree with this view, and as many case studies have shown, 'conflicts' last even beyond the end of 'armed' conflict/war because the root causes have not been addressed. Even if sometimes the root causes are acknowledged, the complexity of the causes, including understanding the history in-depth, is not given as nearly enough attention that all the 'post-war'/transitional processes/mechanisms are given. But, as you said, this analysis should go beyond armed conflict and should be applied to every aspect of violence/conflict, and at every level.

Marina Kumskova

Dear Priyanthi, 

Thanks for your insights. 

I wanted to share some lessons from GPPAC members in Uganda - CECORE, who in the SDG16+ country report: https://gppac.net/files/2020-07/GPPAC%20SDG%20Report%20Uganda_Final_dig…, drew the connections between COVID-19 and violence. 

Land and domestic violence were cited as the most prevalent conflicts across all the sample districts. Those most affected by the lockdown have been women, due to gender socialised roles; youth in the informal sector; those differently abled (disabled); pregnant women, and those suffering from chronic illnesses. For example, the elderly and those living with disabilities have been arrested for failing to reach home before curfew time, and pregnant mothers have faced life-threatening challenges while being denied quick access to health facilities.13 Participants noted that this has a negative influence on peace. These dynamics partly influenced study findings. The research also indicated that COVID-19 will have a longer lasting impact on peace as the livelihoods of people who depend on informal businesses, such as women and youth, have been severely disrupted.

An increase in domestic violence was partly attributed to COVID-19 – mostly triggered by tensions created when individuals who used to be “bread winners” were no longer able to provide, as a result of the lockdown. In less than one month into the lockdown, the Ministry of Gender Labour, and Social Development already reported that over 3,000 cases of domestic violence were registered.

Although the government ordered the suspension of all land transactions, evictions, etc. as a way to manage violence during the COVID-19 lockdown, violent land-related conflicts continue to escalate. Research participants also saw the COVID-19 pandemic and related containment and prevention measures as leading to violent conflicts. While enforcing the government directives on COVID-19, violence has been meted out against citizens, including killings. 

Their key recommendation was that the international community and donors should prioritise funding towards SDG 16+ targets, and help ensure these funds will address the COVID-19 pandemic and its localised impact on human security.

Also, to add to the points already raised, I wanted to share a couple of principles that our members from Uganda have developed to support the localisation of SDG16+. 

1) Localisation needs to build on what is there. The entry point for localisation in Uganda is local planning and local governance structures at the district, sub-county, and parish levels. Especially Local Councils I, III, and V. There is also, at these local levels, little knowledge and awareness about the SDGs and how they can support their capacities and needs. Localisation should, therefore, be stipulated as one of the roles of the chief administrative officers, sub-county chiefs, and Local Council I leaders so that they integrate localisation into their day-to-day work. This should include facilitating local ownership of the goals, developing inclusive SDG 16+ strategies, and their inclusive implementation.

2) SDG 16+ needs to affect change at the community level. This is where peace and development issues such as violent conflicts and tensions; poverty; illiteracy; social, political, and economic inequalities, etc. have most direct impact. Those most affected are best placed to lead the process to transform themselves. This requires a holistic and inclusive approach, which means addressing all SDG 16+ related goals and targets with all actors, leaving no one behind.

3) Ownership is key—build outwards. Local councils and other local actors should be involved in a way that they have a stake in and jointly own SDG 16+, and its implementation. Ownership can be enhanced by building the capacity of local actors to actively participate.

4) SDG 16+ strategies and implementation should be taken forward in a holistic manner. The goals should be incorporated into all strategies of different structures, and integrated into all programmes and service delivery.

5) Build broad local support structures for SDG 16+. NGOs, community-based and faithbased organisations, as well as elected and traditional leaders at the community level, need to work collectively with interest groups and local communities towards common goals.

6) Invest in the process of local ownership of goals and solutions. This includes sensitisation, raising SDG awareness, as well as seeking and facilitating involvement and participation of local communities.

7) Ensure development, availability of, and access to localised SDG 16+ indicators and data at the local level.

Monica Rijal Moderator

 Colleagues, Very important conversations already ongoing. It is my pleasure to co-moderate this session with Natasha Palansuriya and Ulrika Jonsson.

I am Monica Rijal, Team leader for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding in UNDP, New York.

A few areas of research that would be useful to explore are:

  • The impact of COVID, social isolation, increasing online activity of young people and radicalization. Is there any research that shows a causal link? Has there been any studies to suggest otherwise?
  • Climate change and links with security- what are the nodes for prevention in this area- e.g conflict sensitivity of climate action
  • Impact of COVID on social cohesion- given the isolation and social distancing, but also as part of the response and recovery planning. Is COVID bringing communities together in an unprecedent way- despite social distancing and lockdowns?

Thank you!

 

GREGORY A CONNOR

Colleagues, friends, peers,

Congratulations on the launch of this timely and critical e-discussion! I thank the moderators for posing these highly relevant questions and to all contributors for sharing these already rich and complex insights.

I'm Gregory Connor, Policy Specialist at UNDP's Crisis Bureau in Geneva, Switzerland. Together with partners such as the g7+ I've been examining several of the questions raised in this e-discussion related to Covid-19's impact on peace and security.

Drawing on the socio-economic impact assessments conducted in the 57 OECD-defined fragile and conflict-affected contexts, our research findings reveal that beyond health, the impact of the pandemic on conflict-affected contexts has been severe, with many secondary impacts impeding pathways to peace and security. We found a correlation between infection and the burden of violence; rising levels of gender-based violence; increased protests and mob violence; and, among other trends, a rise in attacks against civilians by state actors in certain regions.

As part of the ongoing UNDP #Development Dialogues series, several of our findings were presented by the g7+ Deputy Chair /Deputy Minister of Finance of Afghanistan HE Abdul Hadran Zadran alongside UNDP at a high-level event recently as well as in a joint UNDP/g7+ paper, "The Nexus between COVID-19 and conflict: Assessing the impacts of the pandemic on peace and development".

You may also enjoy exploring these findings in a podcast, "Braving the secondary impacts of COVID-19," in which I and a fellow key author of the report discuss many of these issues. Lastly, in terms of solutions to overcoming these challenges, you may find the UNDP Development Futures brief Overcoming the Setbacks: Understanding the Impact and Implications of COVID-19 in Fragile and Conflict-affected Contexts to be helpful. You can access all three resources here:

https://g7plus.org/resource/detail/69

https://soundcloud.com/developmentdialogues/braving-the-secondary-effects-of-covid-19-development-dialogues    

https://www.undp.org/publications/overcoming-setbacks-understanding-impact-and-implications-covid-19-fragile-and

Best wishes,

Gregory Connor

UNDP

Monica Rijal Moderator

Reaching out to Doruk Ergun on the recent research with GPPAC on Impact of COVID on Peace infrastructures

Doruk Ergun

Thanks a lot Monica!

Hi colleagues,

It is great to join such an interesting discussion. I am Doruk Ergun, working with UNDP Crisis Bureau as a Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Consultant.

Over the past few months, we have conducted five regional consultations with the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), bringing together peacebuilding practitioners across the globe to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted the work of infrastructures for peace (I4Ps) and how the international community should further support peacebuilders on the ground.

The pandemic presented major barriers to peacebuilders, including through limiting the opportunities for in-person dialogue and consensus building which form the backbone of peacebuilding engagement or through shifting the already limited and unpredictable sources of funding away from peacebuilding work. With the heavy-handed government response across many contexts undermining civic space, peacebuilders have found their opportunity to engage in peacebuilding work under further stress. Through deepening inequalities and exclusion, eroding trust in social, national, regional, and global institutions, exacerbating insecurity, and deepening trends of social unrest and democratic backsliding, the pandemic has also significantly altered the conflict contexts and systems that I4Ps operate in.

Yet against all of these challenges, I4Ps have played critical roles as first responders to addressing pandemic-related needs, providing much needed early warning capacities, raising awareness on the pandemic, addressing gender-based violence, advancing peace education, and promoting resilience against the risks to social cohesion, peace and security that the pandemic has exacerbated.

Throughout our consultations, many peacebuilders have highlighted the need for prioritizing human security in COVID-19 response, improving the availability of predictable, long-term and sustainable funding and financing opportunities for peacebuilding, and supporting the development of better tools, indicators and capacities for measuring the impact of I4Ps on the ground. They have also raised the need for more space for I4Ps to operate, through supporting the recognition, status and protection of peacebuilders, expanding efforts to build national frameworks and policies on peacebuilding, strengthening regional peacebuilding partnerships, and improving the coordination and complementarity among peacebuilders across all levels.

We look forward to sharing with you the summary results of our consultation series over the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can read the results of the regional consultations prepared by GPPAC through this link. Hoping to hear more from our GPPAC partners in this discussion. Looking very much forward to your reactions.

Ellie Cumberbatch

Thanks so much Doruk.

Hello all, I’m Ellie Cumberbatch, a Consultant at the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). Thank you to the moderators for the invitation to reflect upon this topic, and for the insightful discussions that have taken place so far. 

As mentioned by Doruk, in recent months GPPAC partnered with the UNDP to host five regional consultations with the aim of unpacking how local peacebuilders have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting upon the lessons learned, and developing holistic and inclusive approaches to strengthen Infrastructures for Peace (I4Ps). These consultations highlighted that COVID-19 has placed considerable stress upon I4Ps, with strong implications for peace and development. The work of local peacebuilders has been particularly affected, with such actors becoming the first respondents to the crisis, and bearing the immediate impact of the social, economic, political and security consequences.

In light of these challenges, it is important to highlight that the COVID-19 pandemic is a launchpad that offers a unique opportunity to facilitate a transformative change of I4Ps in order to get back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. On the basis of GPPAC and UNDP’s shared learning, the following priority areas have been identified as being key to strengthening the role of I4Ps in sustaining peace when moving forward:

Priority 1: To improve the multi-stakeholder and inclusive nature of infrastructures for peace:

  • Infrastructures for peace should conduct adequate stakeholder mapping and seek relevant partnerships. Conducting stakeholder mapping increases understanding of the linkages between actors and the issues, and may bring to light previously unknown alliances, conflicts or more general insights.
  • Infrastructures for peace should engage and take into consideration local needs, expertise and realities. In order to appropriately determine peacebuilding and development priorities, I4Ps need to engage with local peacebuilders. This requires time and resources to engage with local peacebuilding actors in a systematic and intentional manner from an early stage with a guaranteed feedback loop.
  • Infrastructures for peace should be inclusive of and engage with women and young peacebuilding experts. I4Ps should be inclusive in their own structures, as well as take a deliberate effort to engage with a diverse range of peacebuilders, including women and young peacebuilders

Priority 2: To ensure coordination and complementarity among infrastructures for peace: 

  • Infrastructures for peace should coordinate and support ongoing peacebuilding work. All stakeholders need to ensure that any efforts to address crisis and violence are leveraged to support ongoing peacebuilding work. 
  • Infrastructures for peace should be strengthened at the regional level and engage regional and sub-regional arrangements. Since many conflicts spill over national borders, regional peacebuilding coordination needs to be strengthened and involve regional actors, including (sub-)regional organisations and development banks. 
  • Infrastructures for peace should integrate opportunities for remote engagement and coordination. The adoption of a common conceptual framework for digital inclusion is required to strengthen meaningful virtual engagement of women in all their diversity, young people, indigenous groups, people from rural and remote areas, to name a few, in the work of I4Ps. 

Priority 3: To provide and protect local infrastructures for peace:

  • Infrastructures for peace should support capacity building for local peacebuilders. This includes supporting the establishment and development of national and regional networks of local peacebuilders and independent women’s mediators networks to serve as platforms for facilitated peer learning and support, 
  • Infrastructures for peace should address the accountability deficit. The principles of international law must be updated to reflect the unique situation of local peacebuilders. I4Ps can work with national governments to create an enabling environment for local peacebuilders by putting in place appropriate legal and policy frameworks that clearly define the role, mandate and protections for local peacebuilders. 

Priority 4: To integrate human security principles into the work of infrastructures for peace:

  • Infrastructures for peace should promote a culture of peace. It is crucial to counter hate speech; help to overcome hostility and distrust between various actors; and build an environment of mutual support and trust. 
  • Infrastructures for peace should encourage local peacebuilders’ involvement in security processes. Support is required to raise the capacity of youth and women to track arms proliferation within communities and engage on disarmament and security matters. Normally, local peacebuilders do not engage on the questions of security and disarmament; however, this is an oversight that creates silos between traditional security and sustaining peace. 
  • Infrastructures for peace should support trauma healing. Provision of the necessary mental health and psychosocial support for all people directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19. There is an urgent need for trauma healing for everyone who has experienced conflict. 

Priority 5: To ensure adequate and quality financing for infrastructures for peace:

  • Infrastructures for peace should have sustainable and adequate funding. National governments can support peacebuilding through dedicated budgetary allocations for the implementation of national and sub-regional peacebuilding frameworks and policies. However, to support national peacebuilding capacities, considerable innovation is required if the mandates of I4Ps are to be strengthened. 
  • Funding for local infrastructures for peace needs to be prioritised. Funds should be deployed to support the strengthening of local peacebuilding work and local ownership. This includes shifting the current funding models in a way that encourages local decision-making on the priorities and approaches for achieving objectives determined through an inclusive process and that enables for simplified and less burdensome fundraising process. 
  • Infrastructures for peace should benefit from flexible financing. The donor community should establish more unrestricted and flexible funding. This will allow local peacebuilders to break the cycle of dependence on external grant funding and sustain local ownership.

Priority 6: To ensure that infrastructures for peace deliver impact at the local level:

  • Infrastructures for peace should be informed with locally-led and inclusive data collection methods. The development of representative community monitoring mechanisms, including in all regions, with the access to the most remote areas (i.e., early warning and early response mechanisms informed by community monitors) is a way to improve data sharing and ensure informed action. 
  • Infrastructures for peace should normalise the flexibility of data collection. The efforts to determine and define what impact means at the local level needs to be rooted in community-led determination of impact. Inclusive indicators need to be developed on the basis of context-specific drivers of instability and sources of resilience.

It would be interesting to look further into how to move forward with certain aspects of this learning- particularly with regards to how to gain political commitment to advance a human security approach, how to define quality financing for local peacebuilding, and how to measure impact in a manner which is people-centred. If there are any available studies on these topics that could be shared, it would be very much appreciated. Looking forward to hearing your responses.

Ulrika Jonsson Moderator

Thank you very much Doruk Ergun and Ellie Cumberbatch for sharing information on this very important initiative on infrastructures for peace (I4P). The findings from the consultations and the highlighted priorities that have emerged for peacebuilders in the context of the current pandemic are very useful. Many thanks for also sharing the link to the summaries of the regional consultations, which will be particularly useful for this ongoing initiative aiming to identify the SDG 16 trends (including on peace & security) during Covid-19. 

There are multiple challenges that have increased with the ongoing pandemic, and the priorities that have been surfaced through your consultations really show us the importance to align our peace & security efforts  with these new realities. What is interesting to note, from your post is also the importance of harnessing the opportunities that are presented with the pandemic encouraging us to get back on track on achieving the SDGs. Thanks a lot for highlighting this perspective and it would be interesting to hear any other reflections on this.  

Priyanthi Fernando

A quick word about "the idea that increase in state legitimacy through greater service delivery is up for debate" as Monica Rijal suggests.  The Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) did some extensive research on this as part of the ODI led Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium and Natasha Palansuriya should be able to say more about the research findings.  But let me share this

"State-citizen relations in the conflict-affected areas of Sri Lanka have always been somewhat ambiguous. It has been argued, for example, that the strong centralised and ethnocentric nature of multiple governments in previous decades resulted in the rise of sharp ethnic tensions, which in turn led to violent conflict. However, at the same time, the state maintained a presence in the north and east throughout the war, providing some level of basic service delivery. Meanwhile, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) also built a proto-state in areas under its control. In this sense, it would seem that the two main protagonists in the war competed for legitimacy via the provision of basic services." https://cdn.odi.org/media/documents/236.pdf

Natasha Palansuriya Moderator

Thank you for highlighting this Priyanthi Fernando. The research that was conducted by SLRC in Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Pakistan, Nepal, and Uganda, on the link between provision of services and state legitimacy, highlights the following research findings: (1) State legitimacy is co-constructed, not transactional – eg. contrary to the belief that citizens accept the state’s authority when they receive basic services from the state fairly, it is argued that state and social groups co-construct these expectations and beliefs about the state; (2) satisfaction with certain services has an impact on perceptions of state legitimacy, however, the types of services that was important in the construction of state legitimacy differed across the different countries studied; (3) Basic services may not necessarily break or make a state, but they provide moments when citizens learn the degree to which the state respects them as citizens. Similarly, a negative experience of the services can lead to wider delegitimating narratives about the state; (4) The state may not need to legitimate its power to all citizens in order to maintain its power, i.e. the degree to which the state legitimates its power varies depending on different societal groups. For example, the legitimation that a state directs at a group depends on how central that group is to the polity.

This is a very brief summary, but the full report ‘Reconstructing our understanding of the link between services and state legitimacy’ is available here.

Linking to the current context  - it would be interesting to understand how state legitimacy is impacted due to the (mis)management of the COVID-19 pandemic, and basic service delivery pertaining to this. 

Priyanthi Fernando

Natasha Palansuriya  thank you for that clear summary and the link.  I agree that it would be interesting to see how state legitimacy is negotiated/co-created during the pandemic. This also relates to the initial framing of this discussion where the moderators invited us to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted state-sponsored and community-level conflicts,  I see this as particularly relevant in contexts like  the Philippines or Sri Lanka or even India where the pandemic has provided the smokescreen for increased militarisation and unleashing of state violence.  

Ulrika Jonsson Moderator

Thanks everyone for contributing to the first week of the e-discussion! There has been a very interesting discussion on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security and we already have many interesting and new insights coming to light. We look forward to hearing more from you!

The first week brought some interesting reflections on the pandemic and SDG 16, such as the “correlation between infection and the burden of violence; rising levels of gender-based violence; increased protests and mob violence; and … a rise in attacks against civilians by state actors in certain regions”. Other effects of the pandemic include a decline in the protection of human rights and rights of minorities, adding up to the crisis of governance which will require further investments in peacebuilding in the recovery efforts.

The impact of the crisis on social cohesion has been an important and nuanced theme in the discussion. While social cohesion within groups might be strengthened during crises or conflicts (e.g. by pushing individuals towards participating in politics, engaging with the local community, and by the shared mass trauma), it could have adverse effects on inter-group trust and relationship, since conflicts aggravate group identities and boundaries, challenging the possibility of sustaining peace. Further reflection is needed on what a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic may mean in terms of in-group and inter-group social cohesion.

It was also emphasized that, while most studies tend to look at national levels, there is much divergence within a country on how people respond to conflicts. This points out to a need to look at the local level to better understand the attitudes and behaviours of citizens affected by conflict. At the same time, mobilization of local leaders such as mayors in responding to issues of violence, crime and insecurity, and the protracted effects of COVID-19, as well as initiatives by young people to build peace in their communities (SFCG fund on Youth, Peace and Security) are interesting examples of how to address major challenges posed by the crisis at the local level. This mobilization indicates a willingness to test new approaches and interventions, showing that the pandemic can be used to broaden the pool of stakeholders usually involved in peacebuilding and violence reduction.

The importance of looking at the historical and systemic causes of violence that continue to be reflected in ongoing economic and political violence suffered by many in the Global South was also noted. Conflicts, violence, insecurity and “fragility” go beyond the “armed” conflict and often carry unaddressed complex root causes. This emphasizes the need to better address access to justice and adopt inclusive transitional justice processes to deal with past grievances which can spill over unresolved conflicts.

The role of the state and non-state actors in the provision of services as a means to improve their legitimacy during conflicts was also explored.  Two interesting studies were highlighted on this topic: one showing how “the two main protagonists in the war in Sri Lanka competed for legitimacy via the provision of basic services"; the other, the United Nations University study on peacebuilding and authoritarianism, recognizing possible unintended adverse consequences of aid in post-conflict recovery.

Reflections from participants on the women, peace and security agenda emphasized the need to look beyond increasing numbers of women in parliament, which often focuses on political and economic elites. Instead, we must find ways to focus on those populations most adversely affected by conflicts, such as impoverished or marginalized rural women, especially those affected by sexual violence, who may be stigmatized and marginalized, or those who have lost their husbands or relatives in the conflict  and may be unable to access land or inheritance. A focus is needed on local women’s empowerment: on how their social, economic and political status causes them to be differently affected by violence; and on women’s important role as peace advocates due to their engagement on the ground and their understanding of their communities. 

This week, will continue to explore the different facets of the discussion, and we look forward to hearing additional perspectives on the pandemic’s effects on peace processes as well as how recent technology developments could contribute to (or hinder) peace and security.

Ulrika Jonsson Moderator

Hi all,

I would like to share information about an upcoming event, happening today on the topic of "DECADE OF ACCELERATION: Unlocking the SDGs in Crisis Settings"

It will be an interesting discussion to highlight lessons of relevance to VNR and national development processes that may relate to producing inclusive VNRs in crisis-affected-settings, data capacities, budgetary issues, learning and exchange, post VNR follow-up, and to demonstrate how UNDP supports countries in addressing these challenges.  

A video showcasing some national examples of implementing and achieving SDG 16 in crisis contexts will be launched. I will be happy to share further information on this and share the link to the video shortly.

I hope you can join us at the event. 

Priyanthi Fernando

 Hello everyone, including everyone lurking in the wings, as it were, and whose voices we have yet to hear... I  am puzzled to see that even though Southern Voice is a co-sponsor of this potentially fascinating discussion there is almost no contributions so far from global south institutions  with CEPA the exception.  We are a week into the conversation and some very important topics have already been raised by the contributors and captured in Ulrika Jonsson's excellent summary, but the silence from the global south is deafening and  begs the question - are these issues not important to global south researchers and practitioners? and if that is the case, what are the other issues that we should be discussing?  I cannot believe that the women, peace and security agenda is not crucial to some of us, and I had hoped to get some feedback about the issue of state sponsored violence.  .  I know this week many of us will be celebrating Eid and may have other priorities, and making written submissions can be time consuming and intimidating, but the legitimacy of the consolidated report to the HLPF Roundtable will be compromised, and the hierarchies of knowledge and agenda setting maintained, if we do not speak up.....so look forward to hear from you this week!!

 

thamindri aluvihare

Thank you for capturing an extremely pertinent nuance that often gets lost in conversation, Priyanthi. In the current context where the Global South is ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, I reckon the women, peace and security agenda have become that much more crucial topics of discussion. I would also like to pose the question if the concept of justice should be revisited in the current context. Given the recent trends in the region, should the State response to pandemic be explored in relation to its implication on justice? Instances such as the debate vis a vis burial of Muslim’s succumbing to COVID-19 in Sri Lanka raised particular challenges to justice. Further, the role of women in conflict was also highlighted during the pandemic in the Global South, in some instances raising questions regarding justice. This was seen in India with the arrest of activist Natasha Narwal under the controversial Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for her alleged role in the Delhi riots, 2020. 

Natasha Palansuriya Moderator

Thank you Priyanthi Fernando for prompting this crucial discussion. I hope that this thread will revive this conversation especially regarding the WPS agenda, and the importance of it given the current context. I would like to invite Carlo Koos to share his thoughts here too, as he brought up the topic in his previous comment. Thank you!

Ulrika Jonsson Moderator

Thanks a lot for highlighting this very important discussion and for encouraging a conversation on trends for peace & security in the global south. There are certainly many important findings to share, and we hope for further inputs, reflections, and research findings on this topics from participants in this e-discussion.

There are many interesting studies available that look into some of the early trends for peace & security in the context of Covid-19, such as a study from UN Women assessing WPS in Asia-Pacific ap-wps-covid-in-asia-pacific.pdf (unwomen.org) highlighting that "COVID-19 may also create additional constraints on conflict environments, including limitations on peacekeeping rotations, cessation of mediation and diplomatic efforts, and redirection of security-sector focus away from containing threats such as terrorism. These could have profound impacts on communities, leaving women and girls especially vulnerable to eruptions of violence and relapses of conflict".

Another important study issue-brief-covid-19-and-ending-violence-against-women-and-girls-en.pdf (unwomen.org) is looking at how violence against women and girls have drastically increased during the pandemic "as security, health and money worries heighten tensions and strains accentuated by cramped and confined living conditions". It also mentions the worrying trends of increased ICT-facilitated and online gender-based violence that have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Are there any specific studies and research on this topic that could be shared with this group?

From ACCORD, there is a very interesting Covid-19 conflict and resilience monitor in Africa COVID-19 Conflict & Resilience Monitor – 12 May 2021 – ACCORD that gives us a snapshot of the correlation between Covid-19 and levels of conflict on the continent. It would be interesting to learn more about this tool and what it can tell us on the recent trends. 

These are just a few interesting studies that are highlighting this important topic on Peace & Security in the context of Covid-19. Please share your thoughts, inputs and research. We look forward to hearing from you!

Marina Kumskova

Thanks, Priyanthi, for pointing this out. 

I just wanted to comment on this flagging that many peacebuilders now are currently busy with COVID-19 response as indicated by some of our members in the Pacific. Also, this format for dialogue perhaps hard for many peacebuilders to attend as the virtual dialogue could prove more action; however, virtual dialogue is hard to have given the current nature of conversations. 

Therefore, I am sharing some of the SDG16+ Country Reports from GPPAC members in

Cameroon (2019): https://gppac.net/resources/cameroon-sdg-16-cameroon-progress-towards-p…

Ghana (2019): https://gppac.net/resources/sdg-16-ghana-progress-towards-peaceful-just…

Uganda (2020): https://gppac.net/files/2020-07/GPPAC%20SDG%20Report%20Uganda_Final_dig…

I hope some of the recommendations are very useful for the outcome of this dialogue. 

Jonas Mbabazi

Greetings. The COVID-19 pandemic had demonstrated that it is just a health concern. Its effects have been far reaching on the socio-economic, political and security spheres.  Mostly, the African continent has experienced lockdowns and curfews  which have resulted into: loss of jobs and revenue streams especially for workers in the informal sector and who depend on daily wages increasing the risk of food insecurity and loss of livelihoods across the continent. There have been experiences of  human rights abuses  and a reported surge in crime and Gender Based Violence. The pandemic has been used by incumbents to clamp down on the political opposition a this has tilted election outcomes to the disadvantage of the opposition groups in in countries like Uganda. COVID-19 has also lead to a reported surge in food insecurity in SSA especially in the horn of Africa and East African Regions due to the disruptions of the food distribution value chain.  

While these effects of COVID- 19 may not necessary cause conflict, they reinforce the pre-existing conditions that cause conflict including struggle for natural  resources,  fueled by climatic shocks, structural governance deficits and the lack of institutionalized dispute resolution mechanisms. Thus, the COVID-19 environment is likely to exacerbate these tensions as communities grapple with government responses that directly affect their ability to feed their families. The most vulnerable will remain at-risk with more  approximately 30 million refugees and internally displaced people spread across our continent.

However this trend of events can be reversed if appropriate measures are undertaken: for instance;

  • There is a need for Peacebuilding approaches that are embedded into technical service delivery responses as well as broader socio-economic responses to COVID-19. This is key for mitigating potential broader conflict and ensuring security given that failure to integrate conflict sensitivity into an epidemic response will undermine the effectiveness of technical health intervention and increase violence.
  • Further, more localized and resilience oriented responses are needed more than necessary.  This implies we need to instill resilience approaches that can properly account for positive local capacities, skills, and attributes that enable those communities to not just ‘bounce back’ but ‘build back better’ as rapidly as possible.  
  • Finally, the present and coming challenge to the social contract in many countries presents a significant positive opportunity to transform conflict dynamics and patterns of structural violence in communities. The national and sub-national actors should bring peace responsive approaches into their work to mitigate risks and build more sustainable peace.
Marina Kumskova

Dear Jonas, 

Thanks for your input. 

I just wanted to add a quick point on financing for peacebuilding to the dialogue. 

Currently, GPPAC and Dag Hammarskjold Foundation are working to address the limitations faced by the donor community and to increase the efficacy of peacebuilding programming. 

Funders should prioritize modalities that enable local peacebuilders to set their own agenda on SDG16+, better generate, implement, and scale their own solutions and processes and sustain their work outside of the endless cycle of external grants and funders. 

In this, we have developed a number of principles:

Utilize the most flexible funding instruments available to support local peacebuilders, preferably providing unrestricted and not project-focused funding.
Invest in mechanism that generate sustainability for local organizations, so they can break the cycle of dependence on external grant funding.
Prioritize participatory funding approaches that cross thematic silos and are intersectional – many grassroots organizations don’t “categorize” their work into the boxes the international community assigns (e.g., women’s rights, access to justice, etc.).
One way to do this is through participatory grantmaking approaches in which local organizations make decisions about how resources are deployed.
Fund people, not projects. Focus on a mix of urgent needs, bold and innovative ideas to sustain local peacebuilding and helping to build long term infrastructure for the movement and ecosystem of peacebuilding organizations.

If funding through INGOs or intermediaries, create standards for authentic partnership with local organizations based on their needs and hold donors and funding recipients accountable to those standards.
Conceptualize resources beyond money. Support networks, convening and work that strengthens horizontal and vertical relationships and trust between and among activists, funders and experts (local and international) that enable the reciprocal sharing of information and non-financial resources.
Support community-led determination of impact and less administrative burden through flexible, qualitative or verbal monitoring and evaluation, and regular reflection on and assessment of learning and progress. Peacebuilding doesn’t often show rapid or
quantitative results and blueprint indicators often employed by the international community often fail to capture long-term and complex social change processes.
Considering realistic approaches to pooled risk. The security of local peacebuilders who work on the frontlines of dangerous situations should be paramount in funding approaches, as well as the reality that donors have concerns related to risk. Naming and dispelling potential assumptions related to these concerns is important.

We hope these principles would be useful not only in the context of peacebuilding but further build on good practices by the development donors.

Bojan Francuz

Marina Kumskova I will chime in quickly to highlight the point about funding people not projects. I think this point needs to be further underlined when dealing with young peacebuilders, many of whom organize through online and informal networks and not in NGOs. As a result, there is little funding available to support their work and ideas. Funders must address this gap, and become more comfortable investing in individuals and movements that spring up in response to conflict, repressive state responses, and/or violent incidents. 

Priyanthi Fernando

Dear Jonas Mbabazi  and Marina Kumskova  - thank you for some very grounded experience sharing and recommendations.  One  of the more depressing points was the observation by Jonas about the use of the pandemic response by some governments to subvert the democratic process.  I see this happening not just in Africa but in Asia as well.  It is possibly the biggest elephant in the room that will stymie all our efforts to build back better.

Thank you Marina your note on financing, especially for reminding us of the truth  that communities don't categorise their work in boxes. Reminded me of an unattributed quote that was framed above my desk in my first ever "development' job so many years ago that read "This maybe YOUR project but it is THEIR life!!"   Also appreciate the links to the country reports and for making us aware about the difficulties that community level actors have in engaging with  conversations like this.  I think we need to acknowledge the limitations of our privilege and the challenge of implementing the principle of "nothing about us without us" 

Inclusive Peace

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated and accelerated a number of existing trends in the peacemaking and peacebuilding field and highlighted the urgent need to address them. We see particular challenges that need thoughtful responses but, as with every crisis, there are also opportunities presented by the pandemic that the peacemaking and peacebuilding field can make the most of.

Well before the onset of the pandemic, it was clear that despite the international community’s deployment of considerable efforts and funding to tackle conflicts, recent success stories have been scarce. And even though most official high-level peace processes have been stalled or completely stuck over the past few years, there has been little to no sign of a change in approach to resolving ongoing conflicts or work to prevent new security threats. More than ever, the world needs innovative outside the box solutions to ensure sustainable political transitions and, ultimately, peaceful and inclusive societies.

The potential to use a moment of collective crisis to focus on collective solutions by heeding the UNSG’s COVID ceasefire call is a clear missed opportunity. Despite some encouraging first signs – the call initially received widespread support and was acknowledged by a number of conflict parties, and followed by a series of ceasefires, mainly unilateral, but some bi and multi-lateral, the call lost momentum. The UN Security Council’s failure to endorse the call because of the caveats that different permanent member states wanted to include in a resolution, highlighted the kind of dysfunctionality and paralysis that risks further marginalizing the UNSC, and by extension the UN peacemaking and peacebuilding apparatus more broadly speaking.

Those of us working on peacemaking and peacebuilding need to change the international narrative of peacemaking and peacebuilding from a Western-dominated outsider-driven one to one of home-grown and owned solutions to positively adapting the political and social contract of societies and polities at critical junctures. This especially involves getting beyond the debate about how to reconcile short-term stabilization with long-term peacebuilding, by ensuring that the preconditions and precedents for pathways to inclusive societies and polities are integrated at every stage of peacemaking and peacebuilding efforts.

In this regard, at Inclusive Peace we have been working on the conceptual development and practical implementation of Dr. Thania Paffenholz’s innovative “Perpetual Peacebuilding” approach, which advocates that peacebuilding must be conceptualized, undertaken, and supported as an ever-developing process manifested in a series of (re-)negotiations of the social and political contract; that notions of success and failure should be abandoned in favour of terms and language which capture the perpetual nature of peacebuilding; that traditional concepts such as “tracks”, “peace agreements” and even “peace processes” need to be re-thought; and that there is a need for greater courage and creativity within the peacebuilding practitioner community. We are in the process of developing research projects that take the perpetual peacebuilding paradigm as their conceptual basis. These include our Rethink project, centred on changing how peace processes are understood, conceptualised, and designed so that outcomes simultaneously create conditions for inclusive societies and reduce violence and depart from the Western liberal model to making home-grown solutions possible; and the related Critical Junctures, a research and in-country action project to strengthen the effectiveness of peace processes through a better understanding of how change happens at (historical) critical moments in these processes.

Before the pandemic there was growing recognition of the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on both conflict and peacemaking/peacebuilding, and a growing body of work examining how ICTs can be harnessed for conflict transformation, broaden inclusion in peacemaking processes, and peacebuilding activities more broadly, with organizations like Build Up leading the way. This is especially important given the pronounced impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way that peacemaking and peacebuilding organizations can go about their work, particularly hampering the conduct of activities, missions, and in-person events. The field has successfully shifted to a predominantly online working model over the past 12 months, with the added knock-on benefit of limiting the climate and environmental impacts of travel. However, as the experience of the global shift to online convening in our sector over the past year has shown, online safety and security remain significant concerns which need to be constantly monitored. And the same patterns of inequality also apply to access to technology, which is particularly the case for grassroots peacebuilders in sensitive locations.

The pandemic has underlined the importance of and heightened the need for innovative digital tools to advance peace. In partnership with the Political Settlements Research Programme, Monash University, and UN Women we have launched the PeaceFem App, which brings together available data on women and peacemaking, looking at the strategies women have used to influence peace agreements, the enabling and constraining factors that shaped the space for influence, and the gender provisions in the peace agreements that resulted and information as to how well they were implemented. These kinds of tools are additionally extremely important to ensure that information and knowledge are widely accessible. Information sharing can also be done more regularly through initiatives like social media campaigns. While being important marketing tools, social media platforms are also increasingly important for awareness raising among the general public and agenda setting among policymakers. The Peace and Security sector is currently only taking its first steps towards how this can be systematically achieved. Inclusive Peace is running on-going social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn testing out how these social media platforms can serve to share information, engage both policymakers and the general public, and positively contribute to building peaceful and inclusive societies.

Priyanthi Fernando

Dear Inclusive Peace - grateful for your very insightful and informative post.  As someone on the margins of the peacebuilding discourse despite having lived a large part of my life in a very conflict ridden and violent society in Sri Lanka, I was particularly interested in Thania Paffenholz's Perpetual Peacebuilding approach.  I cannot disagree with the notion that  " peacebuilding, in response to violence, must be viewed as entailing continuous negotiations, and re-negotiations, of the social and political contract of a society and polity, with pathways to peace marked by opportunities, setbacks, catalysts, friction and resistance." but am curious whether we see  this process of negotiation and renegotiation of the social and political contract of a society as a 'post-violence' phenomenon, or whether some elements of this approach can be applied to the prevention of violence.  One of the issues I have with the way we frame SDG16 (and many of the other SDGs I may add) is to deny the anthropogenic nature of the phenomenon of violence.  Violence is the result of human activity. There are perpetrators of violence. There are people and governments that are violent in the use of the power they have despite the many global norms that exist to curb that violence.  How do we call them out?

Priyanthi Fernando

@Moderators, is this discussion now concluded?

Ulrika Jonsson Moderator

Thanks Priyanthi Fernando!

Kindly note that the moderated discussion is now concluded, however, this forum/page will remain open until the end of June to allow for further discussions and inputs. So please, we encourage all participants to continue sharing your reflections on the topic of peace & security, and we will take into account and include all inputs in the final summary. 

Many thanks!


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