Last month, International Alert and the UK Department for International Development co-hosted a roundtable at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to discuss how to take forward recommendations from the recently published review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture.
Published in June, the review, written by an independent expert panel, including International Alert Trustee Dr ‘Funmi Olonisakin, outlines an extensive set of recommendations for reforming the peacebuilding approaches of the UN.
The report emphasises the need to harness efforts across the UN system towards peace and security, recognising that the UN can and should be doing more on conflict prevention, and that sustaining peace requires much longer term strategies to succeed. It also coincides with other major reviews at the UN, including the Report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, which focuses on peacekeeping, and the High-level Review and Global Study to mark the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
At the roundtable on 5 November, Dr Olonisakin, alongside three representatives from the UN – the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Oscar Fernandez Taranco, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa Mohammed Ibn Chambas, and Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Assistant Administrator of the UN Development Programme Izumi Nakamitsu – discussed the report with representatives from a range of donor governments and UK NGOs working on peace and conflict issues.
The discussion focused on the possibilities for operationalising two of the review’s key recommendations: how to ensure politics is central to the UN’s peacebuilding approaches and peacebuilding becomes a strong thread that runs through the complete cycle of UN engagement; and how the UN can build strategic partnerships to achieve peacebuilding goals with other multilateral agencies and with civil society.
A rich discussion with questions from the peacebuilding community and passionate responses from those representing the UN, the event highlighted a cautious optimism that there is a real chance to make some of the report’s recommendations a reality.
As the intergovernmental process to discuss the recommendations of the review gets underway in New York, and with a new Sustainable Development Goal on peace, justice and strong institutions and inclusive societies (Goal 16), there appears to be the momentum and political will for the UN to institutionalise the ‘sustaining peace’ agenda.