On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, the Stimson Center, along with the Alliance for Peacebuilding and United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, co-hosted a “preview conversation” with leading policy-makers, practitioners, and scholars in advance of the April 24-25, 2018 U.N. General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace. A fundamental question explored by the group was the extent to which this important diplomatic gathering in New York would help to reduce violence in fragile and conflict-affected countries, while building more just, inclusive, and resilient societies.

From North Africa and the Middle East to South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ukraine, and Afghanistan, the past several years have witnessed a marked uptick in political violence within states, reversing the trend recorded since the end of the Cold War. In 2016 alone, more countries experienced violent conflict than at any time in nearly 30 years, including the continued sharp rise in terrorist attacks.

With this backdrop, the experts gathered (including Ambassador Tariq Al-Ansari, Director of the Department of International Cooperation in Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Professor Charles Call, American University; Eric Gaudiosi, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary (Acting) of State for International Organization Affairs; Elizabeth Hume, Senior Director for Programs and Strategy, Alliance for Peacebuilding; and Yesim Oruc, Deputy Director, UNDP Washington, D.C. Office) considered various ways to advance the United Nations’ work in the areas of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, and post-conflict peacebuilding, in collaboration with a range of regional organizations, civil society groups, and business partners.

The program gave special attending to ensuring “predictable and sustainable financing” for peacebuilding and the metrics required to assess progress at the country level. One general conclusion was that through proper investments, modernization, and political support for the United Nations—and learning the right lessons from the failed League of Nations experiment, initiated one hundred years ago at the conclusion of World War I—the continued high levels of political violence experienced in recent years is far from inevitable.

Major recommendations proposed by the experts convened for consideration at this month’s high-level gathering in New York are:

  1. Beyond a “re-arranging of the deck chairs”, adopting systems and adaptive management lenses to empower U.N. Resident Coordinators in operationalizing practical conflict prevention and sustaining peace approaches in country-level programming.
  2. Better training and equipping rapidly deployable U.N. Blue Berets, police, and civilian-led peacebuilders for joint assessments, planning, and field-based operations designed, first and foremost, to prepare host national/regional actors with the tools and political conditions for sustainable peacebuilding.
  3. Convening a “Global Conference on Preventive Diplomacy” in Doha in support of United Nations Secretary-General Antóno Guterres’ reform agenda to empower the UN system to better prevent conflict and sustain peace.

Earlier this year, Secretary-General Guterres released his Report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace to inform the High-Level Meeting in New York. The panel discussion closely examined the Secretary-General’s proposals, as well as highlights and recommendations from the recent Doha Regional Dialogue on Sustaining PeaceD.C. Experts Dialogue on the Emerging UN Sustaining Peace Effort, and the new World Bank-UN Pathways for Peace report.

For a further critique of the Secretary-General’s Sustaining Peace Report, please click here, and for a related featured article for the Academic Council on the UN System on “One Hundred Years Since the Great War’s End: Time to Transform the United Nations through Just Security”, please click here.

On Tuesday, April 24 (1:15 pm – 2:45 pm), on the sidelines of the High-Level Meeting at UN Headquarters, Stimson will co-sponsor, along with the Nigerian Mission to the United Nations, the Instituto Igarapé (Rio de Janeiro), Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (The Hague), the UN 2020 Initiative (Ottawa), and the Savannah Center for Diplomacy, Democracy, and Development (Abuja), a panel discussion on “Ideas and Platforms for Preventing Violent Conflict and Sustaining Peace on the Road to 2020.”

Finally, stay tuned for two upcoming events at Stimson: “Aiding Fragile States, Preventing Violent Extremism, and Sustaining Peace: A Chairman’s Forum with UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner” and the launch of the companion volume to the Albright-Gambari Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance Report, entitled: Just Security in an Undergoverned World (published in 2018 by Oxford University Press).