This first issue of Investing in Peace examines current proposals to bring economic recovery to Northern Uganda. In so doing it seeks to inform policy-makers and practitioners from government, development partners and the private sector about the issues involved in ensuring that the most productive possible approaches and policies are adopted.
One of today’s saddest international statistics is that 40-50 percent of peace agreements collapse within 5-10 years of being signed and war returns. The lesson is simply that peace is not necessarily secured with the signing of an agreement. The reasons for the fragility of agreements are varied. It may be that some of those who signed the agreement were insincere at the time, or later saw reasons for going back to war, or couldn’t keep their most militant followers in check. It may be that the consequences of war are just too overwhelming for recovery to be possible at the first or even second or third attempt. And all too often the problem is that deeper issues that lie at the heart of a conflict remain unaddressed. All other things being equal, if the long-term causes of violent conflict are not dealt with, conflict will return.
The world community has begun to apply this lesson, which is why the statistics of collapsing agreements are in fact slowly getting better. What has been learned is, first and foremost, that peace is a process. It is not delivered fully formed by an agreement and an end to the fighting. Rather, the end of hostilities and the signing of an agreement provide the opportunity to build a sustainable peace.
The second lesson learned is that peacebuilding is a process made up of inter-locking, interdependent elements, including looking after the security of ordinary people, ensuring stable and proficient governance, giving people access to justice in an increasingly fair society, healing the wounds of war and making it possible for people to enjoy an adequate and stable standard of living. Each of these elements is equally important—there is no single, magic key.
Investing in Peace Issue No. 1 looks at prospects for economic recovery in Northern Uganda within this larger peacebuilding context. The question of who has access to economic opportunities, and who does not, has profound implications for longer-term prospects for peace. It must be factored into efforts to build a ‘peace economy’. But there is a tendency to regard development projects and programmes as essentially technical exercises. These technocratic approaches overlook power relationships and the political dynamics which are especially important when the context is shaped by long-run violent conflict. To get a perspective on these issues as seen in Northern Uganda, this Investing in Peace briefing draws substantially on a survey of local people’s hopes and fears regarding economic recovery. The survey was commissioned by International Alert for this report and provides new insights into programming priorities, risks and opportunities.
This report is the first in the Investing in Peace briefing paper series to be published by International Alert. This series will promote greater understanding of the economic dimensions of peacebuilding across different issue areas and regions of Uganda. The research and the reports are intended as part of a process of discussion and dialogue. For International Alert, this work is also part of a broader range of dialogue and research on the economic dimensions of peacebuilding that we are carrying out in Colombia, the Caucasus region, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal and Sri Lanka. We look forward to feedback and to being part of the discussion in Uganda about how the country can build a better future.