Bringing peace into the post-2015 development framework

TransConflict has endorsed the following statement, entitled “Bringing peace into the post-2015 development framework”, which sets forth key recommendations for how to most effectively integrate peacebuilding and violence prevention into the post-Millennium Development Goals.

Analysis

Background

Supporting change in conflict affected and fragile states is now the central challenge in international development. Given the need to link conflict prevention and peacebuilding with development in conflict affected areas – and to prevent violent conflict in all societies – the endorsing organisations jointly urge UN member states, the High-Level Panel, System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda and all other stakeholders involved to include conflict prevention and peacebuilding commitments in the post-2015 development framework.

To do so the post-2015 framework should:

  • Include commitments to address key drivers of conflict – not only its symptoms;
  • Go beyond including a single ‘peace’ goal defined solely in terms of the absence of violence;
  • Build on the framework for addressing drivers of conflict articulated in the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) and other credible peacebuilding frameworks;
  • Define peace and development as best upheld by states that are inclusive, responsive, fair and accountable to all their people;
  • Include commitments to address regional and global factors that fuel conflict;
  • Ensure the indicators used to measure progress are disaggregated, so that unequal levels of progress between different social groups can be recognised and tackled;
  • Draw on the indicators being developed under the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS) for establishing post-2015 indicators;
  • Be based on a consultation process that actively includes people and civil society from conflict-affected states and seeks out robust evidence of how to address drivers of conflict;
  • Avoid making commitments to peace optional – establish global commitments to pursue sustainable peace.

We call on all stakeholders to develop a holistic post-2015 framework that will require development stakeholders to help fulfil the right of billions of people around the world to enjoy peace, security and human rights as part of sustainable development.

The great value of the existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been to focus attention on and motivate progress toward global targets. The MDGs expressed global commitments in a clear, highly accessible way. This clarity and accessibility have been key to the success of the MDGs in motivating governments, aid agencies and civil society toward joint efforts for development around the world.

Nonetheless, no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet achieved a single MDG, and 32 of the 46 countries at the bottom of the UNDP’s human development index are conflict-affected or fragile. The UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda (UN Task Team)has rightly affirmed that ‘Violent conflict has become the largest obstacle to the MDGs’. We support its assertion that ‘peace and security, development and human rights’ are ‘interlinked and mutually reinforcing’, and that ‘This applies not only in areas affected by armed conflict… but in all societies’. We call for a post-2015 framework that builds on the vision of the Millennium Declaration and upholds the right of all people to enjoy peace, security and human rights as essential elements of sustainable development.

1. Include commitments to address key drivers of conflict – not only its symptoms

When making the case for the post-2015 framework to include peace and security as one of four dimensions, the UN Task Team asserts that, ‘Addressing the sources of conflicts requires a multidimensional approach where development, human rights, peace, security and the rule of law are interrelated dimensions of well-being.’ This paves the way to the right approach: to be effective in advancing peace, the new framework should address a diverse range of key drivers of conflict.

The UN Task Team also makes the case that ‘protection against the specific manifestations’ of violence and abuse should be placed at the heart of the new agenda. Many of the manifestations listed are grave and tragic: ‘trafficking in human beings, torture, organized crime, the press-ganging of children, drug-related criminality, sexual abuse and labour exploitation’. It is critical to address these manifestations of violence, and global norms of protection need to be upheld. At the same time, protection frameworks alone cannot bring about the kind of holistic stability and development needed to prevent conflict and achieve lasting transitions out of fragility. Accordingly, during their further consultations, the designers of the post-2015 framework must prioritise addressing the drivers of conflict in order to stop violence at its source.

2. Go beyond including a single ‘peace’ goal defined solely in terms of the absence of violence

The absence of violence does not equate to just and sustainable peace. A single goal related to peace, a clear, concise and measurable target on violence, and indicators on battle-related deaths and intentional homicide, as considered by the UN Task Team, would not be sufficient to foster just and sustainable peace. Peace-related elements of the new framework must be based on evidence-based dialogues asking ‘what are the elements of just and sustainable peace?’ As there are not one but many mutually supporting elements, targets for addressing them need to be woven through the post-2015 framework rather than brought together under a single peace goal.

3. Build on the framework for addressing drivers of conflict articulated in the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) and other credible peacebuilding frameworks

To help define appropriate peace-related elements of the post-2015 framework that address core, globally applicable peacebuilding priorities, the High Level panel and member states can draw on a range of evidence and policy frameworks. A particularly valuable starting point for the debate has been provided by the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS) – in particular, its three major outputs: the ‘Dili Declaration’, ‘Monrovia Roadmap’ and ‘New Deal for International Engagement in Fragile States’.

The IDPS has endorsed five PSGs:

  • Legitimate Politics – Foster inclusive political settlements and conflict resolution;
  • Security – Establish and strengthen people’s security;
  • Justice – Address injustices and increase people’s access to justice;
  • Economic Foundations – Generate employment and improve livelihoods;
  • Revenues & Services – Manage revenue and build capacity for accountable and fair service delivery.

These goals enjoy the support of 37 governments around the world and several multilateral institutions including the UNDG, the World Bank and the European Commission. The endorsing civil society organisations welcome the PSGs, and ask member states, the High-Level Panel and all other stakeholders involved to include commitments in these five issue areas in the post-2015 framework.

Although the PSGs are progressive, in order to be accepted by UN member governments, the framing of issues such as ‘legitimate politics’ and ‘security’ could be modified in favour of more widely acceptable terminology, such as ‘inclusive dialogue processes and accountable decision-making’. Likewise, measures to address important drivers of conflict that are not addressed within the PSG framework, such as how land resources are regulated and shared, should also be considered for inclusion in the post-2015 framework. Consensus on such issues may take time to build, but it is vital if a holistic framework is to be achieved that commits to progress in all of the areas that are vital for upholding peace.

4. Define peace and development as best upheld by states that are inclusive, responsive, fair and accountable to all their people

The substantive vision that underpins the PSGs is that of healthy state-society relations, based on a functioning social contract between people and the state. In all aspects of public life – from selection of leaders, peace processes and policing, to promoting opportunity, providing justice, schooling, water and healthcare –peace and development can be upheld by states that are inclusive, responsive, fair and accountable to all of their people (two major studies substantiating this point were published in 2011: World Bank, ‘World development report 2011: Conflict, security and development’ and Institute for Economics and Peace, ‘Structures of peace: identifying what leads to peaceful societies). This is the vision for better state-society relations that the post-2015 development framework should articulate, incentivise and measure.

5. Include commitments to address regional and global factors that fuel conflict

Whereas the PSGs focus on tackling drivers of conflict at the national level, the post-2015 framework should recognise that many of the challenges that shape conflicts are transnational. The post-2015 framework should add commitments to address the regional and global factors that can trap countries and regions in vicious circles of violence. The World Development Report 2011 and current work by the OECD-INCAF network on global factors offer useful reference points for identifying the key issues at stake. These should include measures to tackle illicit trafficking in drugs, conflict diamonds and arms, illicit financial flows, unfair trade barriers, irresponsible arms transfers and irresponsible commercial practices such as infringement of indigenous/customary land rights. Although some initiatives exist in these areas – such as the Kimberley process to stem the flow of conflict diamonds, the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) to end safe havens for corrupt funds and the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons – they have not been nearly conclusive enough.

6. Ensure the indicators used to measure progress are disaggregated, so that unequal levels of progress between different social groups can be recognised and tackled

The way the new framework is monitored offers an important opportunity to address the drivers of conflict. The UN Task Team suggests that new targets “should be tracked with data disaggregated by sex, age and geography (including rural-urban location)”. Disaggregation of data – by sex, age, geography, ethnicity, religion, caste and income group – is indeed important for looking across the new goals to analyse the fairness of access to resources, services and benefits. Doing so is crucial, because fairness, and the perception of it between different social groups, is very often a key driver of enmities that fuel conflict.

7. Draw on the indicators being developed under the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS) for post-2015 indicators

The work underway in the IDPS to develop indicators to measure progress towards the PSGs will be a valuable contribution to the post-2015 debate. The group of CSOs engaged in the IDPS indicator development process will continue to share independent views on the strength of the indicators emerging from the IDPS. These views and the indicators produced by the IDPS should be considered by the UN Task Team, High Level Panel, member states and any future working group established on post-2015 indicators.

8. Base the new framework on a consultation process that actively includes people and civil society from conflict-affected states and seeks out robust evidence of how to address drivers of conflict

The 2012 UN General Assembly will set the parameters for negotiating and finalising the post-2015 framework. It should stipulate a process that upholds the ‘democratic ownership’ of development processes, as agreed in The Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. The process for negotiating consensus on a new framework needs to include civil society representatives, who should have status in the negotiations concordant with the commitment to “implement fully our respective commitments to enable CSOs to exercise their roles as independent development actors” – as agreed by 158 countries in Busan.

It is also vital that the intergovernmental negotiations on the new framework that will begin in 2013, and any new working group on indicators for the post-2015 framework, are indeed open and inclusive, as the UN Task Team has recommended. Civil society from conflict-affected and fragile contexts – where there is often a very challenging enabling environment for civil society engagement, and weak civil society capacity to engage in national, let alone international, policy processes – must be able to take full part in the second step of negotiations.

To integrate the right set of peacebuilding commitments into the post-2015 framework, an open-minded review of evidence from around the world will be required. Among other things, this review of evidence should:

Illustrate the common factors that drive conflict across the broadest possible range of contexts;

  • Articulate what combination of priorities has successfully addressed drivers of conflict in different contexts;
  • Explain which factors shape success in some contexts and failure in others; and
  • Examine the different peacebuilding and development experiences of governments that have not yet endorsed the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, in order to support policy dialogue on the links between peace and development with these stakeholders on their own terms.

Given the very limited development results in conflict-affected and fragile states, this dialogue and review of evidence must be truly open – not restricted to conventional thinking and approaches. All actors in conflict-affected contexts have vested interests and specific perspectives – but an open dialogue bringing in fresh ideas, generating new evidence, and listening to people’s perspectives, can help us all to see beyond our particular interests.

9. Avoid making commitments to peace optional – establish global commitments to pursue sustainable peace

We believe in flexibility – to allow each country to address unique challenges with tailored solutions – as a cornerstone of conflict sensitivity. At the same time, the motivational power of the post-2015 framework depends on its clarity. This must not be undermined by its form and content. Global goals, targets and indicators are needed, because they allow the scale of the challenge to be compared across contexts. Where challenges are greatest, this would also pave the way for increased and better-focused international support.

By contrast, allowing each country to tailor its own targets after 2015 would jeopardise the success of the framework in two key ways: first, it would undermine the crucial clarity of the shared global vision for progress; second, it would provide scope in some cases for the bar of success to be set too low. This is a particular risk in contexts where unwillingness to tackle sensitive issues has led to poor development progress in the past. Global standards could be most valuable for contexts where participation in decision-making and access to security and justice have been the key issues sustaining conflict and holding back development progress.

Flexibility for each country to plan how it will progress towards common standards of sustainable peace and development is crucial. Country-level benchmarking would enable countries to identify where they stand in relation to shared global standards and indicators; country level planning processes that integrate conflict analysis could then help articulate a context-specific strategy for achieving progress, including on peacebuilding issues where relevant. The new global development framework should not interfere with context-specific approaches, but it must set out clearly a new consensus on what common factors lead to and sustain peace. Commitments to pursue peace by addressing these factors should not be optional but for all to uphold.

To download the statement, “Bringing peace into the post-2015 development framework”, in pdf format, please click here.

The purpose of this document is to encourage an effective integrated approach to peacebuilding, human rights and sustainable development in the post-2015 development framework.

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