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Promoting the prevention and settlement of conflicts
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The Importance of Inclusion, Human Rights and Women’s Participation in Building Sustainable Peace

Thu, 21/11/2019 - 21:00
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On November 21st, IPI and the Normandy Region co-hosted a policy forum on the importance of inclusion and human rights in building lasting, durable, and sustained peace, with a particular emphasis on the importance of women’s participation in peace processes and international mediation.

The Normandy Region launched the Normandy for Peace Initiative in 2017, and it organizes a forum for peace in Normandy, France, each year. Last year’s second annual forum attracted 250 speakers from 50 different countries, and organizers are planning the third for June 3rd, 4th and 5th of this year just before the celebrations of the 76th  anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy.

François-Xavier Priollaud, Vice-President of the Normandy Region, said that the best way to honor the generation that liberated Europe from the Nazis 75 years ago was to build a durable, inclusive peace that enshrined human rights. “Sustainable peace is not just peace through peace treaties,” he said. “It’s the concept of democracy, it’s the vision of multilateralism, and we need to make sure that the sustainable solutions are always coming out of dialogue.”

He said that Normandy for Peace was based on “four pillars. We have a campus for youth learning to solve and diffuse conflict. We have an annual award for liberty. There is also the Normandy for Peace Library, which is a resources center online. The fourth area is dedicated to art, science, and culture. These pillars of peace put men and women at the heart of the solution.”

Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy Region and former French Defense Minister, singled out climate change and inequality as drivers of conflict. “When you talk about sustainable peace, there is one topic we only talk about in part, which is inequality—in nations, within mankind, firstly between nations.” He argued that the current large migrations from the global south were prompted by inequality, “but tomorrow they will be triggered by the issue of climate change. The hope is that one day we’ll stop with nice statements, declarations, and statements of principles and give official development aid.” As for the persisting inequality of women, he declared, “Whenever women play a key role in society, societies are wealthier and healthier. Whenever women play a real role, peace wins and war loses.”

Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations, acknowledged the gains that Mr. Morin cited but lamented, “With all these potential benefits, one wonders why the situation is as it is today, being that there are fewer women mediators, there are fewer women in peacekeeping or in negotiating peace agreements. Peace agreements fail to make reference to women or address concerns such as gender balance.”

She referenced her own involvement in the African Women Leaders Network and said there needed to be many more such networks, all communicating with one another and building partnerships with local groups acting to prevent conflict and otherwise promote the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. “Meaningful participation of women in peace is not just about increasing their numbers in processes,” she said. “We must deal with real qualitative representation. This is to ensure that their rights, needs, and experiences are properly reflected in reconstruction processes. Studies have shown that inclusion of women in peace processes is critical.”

IPI Senior Fellow Sarah Taylor cited instances around the world in places like Yemen, Syria, Libya, Mali, and Sudan where women were actively involved in advocating for political change and negotiating for life-saving humanitarian access yet not included in the peacemaking process.  “In the Central African Republic, despite sexual violence being fundamental to the violence that country continues to experience, and despite the mobilization of women leaders at every level, women were virtually excluded from recent peace talks and were—as in so many other cases—brought into the discussion only at the tail end,” she said.  In other examples, Libyan women were let into peace talks only “through sheer resistance and at the last minute,” and women from Mali flew themselves to peace talks in 2012. In Afghanistan, she noted, “women have been called ‘pet rocks’ for which the rucksack of peace does not have space.”

She said there was no one solution but suggested some “creative mechanisms” to increase women’s participation like the “the ecosystem approach. Let’s not place all of women’s participation in one basket. Let’s deploy resources across the board so that ‘participation’ is not one woman who has all the expectations upon her.” She also advised setting quotas and strengthening accountability to the commitments of the WPS agenda.

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, critiqued what he called a “narrow perspective of making peace,” where mediators feel that human rights concerns can complicate reaching peace settlements and should therefore be put off until after the peace is struck. To the contrary, he said, “we know that justice at least sometimes is a deterrent for the kinds of atrocities that fuel and perpetuate conflict. We’ve seen this in many cases where leaders go out of their way to avoid the possibility of justice and fight tooth and nail to prevent this from happening. Even though I would never say that international justice will always work as a deterrent, if you nonetheless can stop an occasional genocide, mass atrocity, that’s worth doing in and of itself.”

On the need for including women in peace processes, he warned against tokenism or, as he put it, taking “the Margaret Thatcher approach. I don’t believe having a woman in the room magically makes things better, but in Afghanistan where a key issue is will the Taliban re-impose gender discriminatory policies, how you can decide the future without women in the room is just crazy.”

Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, moderated the discussion.

Live coverage of the event in French can be found on the IPI Francophone page.

Toward a More Effective UN-AU Partnership

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 21:00
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IPI held a policy forum on November 7th on the evolution of the strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, with a specific focus on how they undertake conflict prevention and crisis management efforts. Organized with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the African Union Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, and the Training for Peace Programme, the forum also served to launch a research report on the subject produced jointly by IPI and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

Co-authored by IPI Policy Analyst Daniel Forti and ISS Researcher Priyal Singh, the report looks at the partnership at the member state level in the UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council, as well as at the operational level between various UN and AU entities. It also assesses the partnership across several thematic issues, including the AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative;  mediation; women, peace, and security; electoral support; peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction and development, and youth, peace, and security. The report offers six recommendations for the UN, the AU and their member states to strengthen the partnership.

Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, UN Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, identified the reasons why conflict keeps reemerging across Africa as “exclusion, marginalization, and discrimination” and said the most effective response was through partnerships. She noted approvingly that at the political and policy making level, the word that most recurred was “joint” as in “joint visit, joint communiques that is becoming more common.”

Jerry Matthews Matjila, the Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN, and Odd-Inge Kvalheim, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway, made opening remarks, with Ambassador Kvalheim praising the report as “a valuable tool for understanding the relationship between the UN and AU to guide their efforts and also to point out where support from others is needed” and Ambassador Matjila talking about the October 2019 South African presidency of the Security Council during which the three African members of the Council (A3)—South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, and the Côte d’ Ivoire—acted in concert and coordination. “The A3 in 10 months had 13 common statements, you never had that before,” he said. “The A3 became like something you have to cross on African issues. Why? Because they were united.” Reflecting this assertiveness, South Africa hosted the 13th Joint Annual Consultative visit between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council during its Council presidency.

Underscoring the need for effective partnership between the UN and the AU, Mr. Forti noted that the report’s focus comes at a time “when conflict prevention is a priority for both organizations, but neither has the political, financial, and operational tools to prevent conflicts or manage crises on their own.” He said while the two councils are increasingly interdependent, they are defined by “an overriding tension” because their relationship is “fundamentally unequal in terms of powers, authority, resources, and political status.”

Describing the complementary strengths of the UN and AU in conflict prevention and crisis management, he said, “The AU often has more legitimacy to engage national actors, including governments, and can therefore access more political entry points to engage on a crisis before or when it emerges. With its global mandate for international peace and security and its diverse field presences, the UN has more operational and logistical capabilities and a larger, more predictable budget. These comparative advantages can color how day-to-day interactions unfold.”

Mr. Forti said these dynamics can also force the two institutions into what he called “a difficult balancing act. On the one hand, the UN may defer to the AU because of its push for political ownership and leadership while on the other hand, the AU may defer to the UN due to its greater resources, capacities, and in-country presences.”

Like the relationship between the two councils, the partnership between the UN Secretariat and AU Commission remains a “work in progress, but has grown considerably in recent years” Mr. Forti said. There are important formal mechanisms for engagements, but “in reality, the UN and AU depends just as much on day-to-day collaboration, both in headquarters and in the field.”

Mr. Singh highlighted three of the thematic areas that are priorities for the partnership. The AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative aims to end all wars by 2020, and has become a beacon for the two organizations in guiding their conflict prevention efforts. The two organizations work closely on the varied mediation efforts in Africa through a range of political and policy instruments. However, “the UN-AU partnership must account for the heterogeneous nature of the various political institutions involved in mediation, as well as these various mandates, capacities, and comparative advantages,” he said.

The women, peace and security (WPS) agenda is potentially another fruitful entry point for joint UN-AU action, but Mr. Singh counseled care in applying it properly.  “While opportunities for more impactful UN-AU engagements on the WPS agenda are plentiful, the challenge again, however, is how well these engagements are coordinated and managed to ensure collective, coherent, strategies and responses to advance this critical agenda,” he said.

Fatima Kyari Mohammed, the AU’s Permanent Observer to the UN, commended the increasing UN-AU collaboration and the growing institutionalization of the partnership, but said there was still more to be done to put it into action effectively. “Implementation is what really matters,” she said. “Post-adoption is where the work starts.”

Elaborating on key points in the report, Ms. Mohammed said it was critical to ensure that cooperation proceeds in a “systematic, protocoled, predictable” manner, that council-to-council cooperation go beyond the annual meeting of the two bodies, and that joint analysis is followed up by joint action.

Citing the UN Charter’s Chapter VIII governing regional arrangements, she asked, “How can we strike a balance between the role of the Security Council in the maintenance of peace and security and the ability of the AU to develop its own capacity and take its own action? We have yet to find a clear answer.”

In closing remarks, Gustavo de Carvalho, Senior Researcher at the ISS, highlighted the importance to the African continent of multilateral institutions like the AU and the UN. “We are in a moment in which it is almost a cliché to say that multilateralism is at stake,” he said. “Many countries mention the idea of being small countries because together they can have more impact. This is why it is important to strengthen these two multilateral institutions.”

IPI Senior Fellow Sarah Taylor moderated the discussion.

The Prestige of Peace: The Nobel Prize in Context

Wed, 06/11/2019 - 20:40
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Just weeks after the committee named Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as the 2019 laureate IPI hosted Asle Toje, a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, for a conversation about the prize.

Introducing Dr. Toje at the November 6th event, IPI Vice President Adam Lupel recalled that when he spoke at IPI for the first time last year, he said that “it is no exaggeration to say that the Nobel Peace Prize is the most prestigious prize in the world.” Mr. Lupel remarked, “It must also be added that to be on the committee is itself quite a prestigious honor.” Dr. Toje is the youngest member of the five person Norwegian Nobel Committee, which is chosen by the Norwegian parliament.

Dr. Toje began his remarks with a brief background of Alfred Nobel’s life and how he earned the considerable fortune that led him to write what Dr. Toje called “one of the world’s most famous wills and testaments,” therein instituting prizes in physics, physiology, chemistry, literature, and peace.

According to Dr. Nobel’s will, which both Dr. Lupel and Dr. Toje cited in their discussion, the prize for peace is to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

Dr. Toje explained that since the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901, there has been an ongoing debate about how to interpret the relatively brief and broadly general language in the criteria for the peace prize. While Alfred Nobel could not have conceived of the relevance of climate change or human rights in his lifetime, Dr. Toje explained that the Nobel Committee has adopted a “dynamic interpretation” to account for the importance of modern day issues.

The committee’s interpretation and application of Dr. Nobel’s will and testament is evident in the way that the selection of laureates has reflected contemporary priorities over the past century. Dr. Toje pointed out that after the first World War, the selection of winners centered around the League of Nations. Then, after World War II, “no issue was given more focus than nuclear disarmament.” More recently, the committee has focused on such issues as women’s rights, human rights, and climate change.

Regarding those who claim to have been nominated for the prize, Dr. Toje said that while the committee “will not speak against” such claims, the list of nominees remains confidential for 50 years, and the committee is bound to secrecy until lists are released. Still, he explained that every year, the committee receives questions from people claiming to have been nominated, asking if there is a diploma or a consolation prize. “Sadly,” Dr. Toje explained, “ we don’t we don’t give any runner-up medals.”

When asked about the relevance and diversity of the prize winners, Dr. Toje explained that the committee tries not to judge “different actors by different standards.” He elaborated, saying, “There is a tendency, at least in Europe, to be a bit cavalier about developments in Africa.” To Dr. Toje, this indicates that “we need to check development in Africa and in the Middle East,” where many of the world’s conflicts exist, and “if that means that we just have to really read up on the politics and the religious affairs of countries that we know little about before we start the process, so be it.”

Dr. Toje also addressed the relevance of international institutions in the future of promoting peace, admitting, “We’re facing a global challenge unlike anything we have seen in the past.” He believes that there is still a great deal of work to be done, and stated “I do believe that the United Nations will have a core role to play in this.” Though power balances and dynamics are shifting around the world, Dr. Toje pointed out that the UN has successfully overcome such challenges in the past and will continue to do so in the future. “I do believe that international institutions and multilateral cooperation is the path forward.”

Though much of the discussion focused on the history of the prize, Dr. Lupel asked Dr. Toje to place himself in the future, posing the question “When you look back on the Nobel Peace Prizes of this period, what do you hope to see?” Dr. Toje said he would hope that the Nobel Committee continues to “take its job seriously.” He continued, “We have this opportunity, once a year, to shine the light of global attention at one single issue, so we must choose carefully.”

In answering questions about the impact of the prize, Dr. Toje said the Nobel Peace Prize is always controversial. “There are always some people who feel that this laureate was the wrong one,” he admitted, highlighting that when Kailash Satyarthi was named a laureate in 2014, his award was not well-received within his own Brahmin community. Sharing further examples of controversial laureates, Dr. Toje remarked that Barack Obama’s award remains “deeply controversial,” and that while the selections of Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa received criticism at the time, they are looked back on as “among sort of the stellar moments of the Nobel Peace Prize.”

However, Dr. Toje added, “Once the announcement has been made, we realize it lives its own life,” alluding to the intensity of public reactions. “If the Nobel Peace Prize didn’t spark outrage and strong emotions, well, we wouldn’t be living up to our reputation.”

Women Police in UN Peacekeeping

Tue, 05/11/2019 - 19:50
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Diverse police forces that reflect the populations they serve are better prepared to carry out mandates for the prevention, detection and investigation of crime, the protection of persons and property, and the maintenance of public order and safety. As an illustration of that, in United Nations peace operations, women police have been challenging traditional gender roles and embodying a new model for independence, equality, and economic success.

On November 5th, IPI, in partnership with the Government of Canada, Peace Is Loud, and the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the UN Department of Peace Operations, hosted a discussion on experiences of women UN police (UNPOL) officers and how they contribute to implementing the women, peace, and security agenda.

The event began with a clip from the 2015 film A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, which follows three women UNPOL officers in an all-female police unit deployed from Bangladesh to Haiti as UN peacekeepers for one year.

Geeta Gandbhir, the film’s director, showcased the experience of being on patrol with women, and the civilian response to seeing female police in place of male officers. Where people would often “hide” in their camps from the male troops, women and children came outside and followed the women through the camp, sometimes reaching to hold their hands. The women had “immediate rapport” with the community, she said. “This showed us how critical it was to have women on the ground.”

And the experience also had a positive effect on the women officers, she said, adding that it was a “powerful moment” seeing the women “transform.” The women in this unit came from patriarchal and fairly traditional families and had never enjoyed the independence and freedom of movement they suddenly encountered. Ms. Gandbhir said that one of the Bangladeshi police women told her, “We women go from our father’s house to our husband’s house.” In addition, women had mostly been assigned to desk jobs, and there was no opportunity for them to get field experience. “Some had never been on a plane,” emphasized Ms. Gandbhir, so “for them to travel to Haiti on this mission, alone, was an incredible act of bravery.”

These women also earned new financial security, Ms. Gandbhir explained, making on mission three times what women made in Bangladesh. And because they were able to pay for their children’s education, many women were willing to do additional tours, to be able to support their extended families as well.

Once the women returned home, they became a symbol of hope and emulation. One woman’s five-year-old son “told us that he wanted to be a big shot police officer, like his mother,” said Ms. Gandbhir. “To hear that statement alone told me that what the women were doing was smashing patriarchy and bringing equity and equality in both places where they existed—at home and abroad.”

Currently, of the 9,353 police personnel serving in 23 UN peace operations, 1,420 are women police officers. Luis Carrilho, a UN Police Adviser in Haiti who was featured in the documentary, told the IPI audience that gender parity was a “top priority” for UNPOL, and spoke about the UN’s efforts to make the police recruitment process more accessible. “Our strategy has goals in a very measured way,” said Mr. Carrilho. Regardless of whether the police troops were men or women, he reported, “The priority is always for us to fulfill the mission on the ground.”

Mr. Carrilho enumerated four initiatives that aimed to increase women’s participation in UN policing. The first, he said, was putting in place female role models, and gave the example of the female police peacekeeper of the year award. The next was creating a female senior police leadership roster which countries could draw on to place women in key positions. Third, he said, was developing a senior female police commanders course to better prepare female police to hold positions at the highest level. Finally, he added, was increasing the number of women involved in the selection process for peacekeeping.

Paula Dionne, Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, emphasized how “it is not enough to simply increase the number of females deployed. Rather, it is crucial to place them in key positions where the true value of what they do in conflict-torn states and countries can be realized.”

Policing and gender considerations have significantly changed in the past few decades, Ms. Dionne continued, citing her 33 years of experience. When she started, Ms. Dionne said, she had to wear a different uniform from the men and was “expected to take on pink jobs, as opposed to the tougher jobs.” Women, she said, had to “break down the barrier to our right to be part of specialized teams which were usually filled by males.”

Ms. Dionne concluded that “we have certainly come a long way in recognizing the value female police officers bring to peace and security, but there is more that can be done.” Necessary, for example, were “including a feminine voice in recruitment posters, a ‘she’ alongside the ‘he,’” attitude, which would entail adding photos of female officers to the material, and including female presenters at training sessions, which, “while seemingly small, goes a long way in encouraging female participation.”

Nirupam Dev Nath, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN, said that the film “speaks volumes of the rewarding experiences” that, he said, “have long-term impact, not only in the host countries our women police officers serve in, but also globally, and back to their own country.”

Mr. Dev Nath pointed to the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, and how that was the first year that individual police officers from Bangladesh were sent to East Timor. Ten years later in 2010, the all-female police unit was sent to Haiti. Right now, he added, out of 700 police officers who are serving under the UN umbrella, almost 24 percent of them are women, which he hailed as a significant accomplishment.

The biggest challenges to deploying women peacekeepers, Mr. Dev Nath said, ranged from pre-deployment training down to including the family members in the decision making. In fact, he added, women’s participation in peacekeeping was felt deeply by the community; he called it an “inclusive journey” that bore “real fruit.”

Unaisi Vuniwaqa, Police Commissioner for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), spoke on challenges to recruiting women for peacekeeping police, from her own experience. Access to opportunity, Ms. Vuniwaqa said, is “very key.” Prior experience, she argued, “will greatly help them when they come into the mission to be able to deliver at the highest level, whether it’s police commissioner or deputy police commissioner.” Without such exposure, said Ms. Vuniwaqa, it would limit being able to come into the mission and getting the opportunity to serve at a higher level. Additionally, she said, what was needed was more confidence in leaders who recruit and deploy police women, so that women are able to take on equal responsibility before they embark on the mission.

Ms. Vuniwaqa shared her personal experience of persisting in finding a place. “I had to try about three or four times to be able to get into the professional position in the police division,” she said. “I continued to look at myself in every attempt that I made and how best I could be able to package my CV and my experiences.”

Ms. Vuniwaqa attributed her ultimate success to a course benefiting female officers for UNPOL. This course, she said, helped her to prepare for further interviews that she was able to get through. As a result, she tried to replicate this course for recruitment in the South Sudan mission, “to assist our female officers to prepare the forms that they’re supposed to submit to a police division before they can then be listed for the interview.”

One of the telling stories from women police in her mission, concluded Ms. Vuniwaqa, was how they recently appointed two female officers for the position of POC coordinators. They are in charge of this protection of a civilian site in South Sudan that has about 30,000+ IDPs. “And since we put in these two female officers, they have been doing a great job,” she said. And “of course,” she added, “they can do just as well as their male counterparts.”

Two Expert Panels Debate Forces Operating in Parallel to the United Nations

Mon, 04/11/2019 - 18:34
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United Nations peace operations often operate in complex theaters where a wide array of actors are also deployed by specific member states or regional organizations to effectively address peace and security challenges, and on November 4th, IPI and the French Ministry of Armed Forces held a policy forum to explore peacekeeping partnerships.

The event featured two panel discussions and launched two IPI publications, Partners and Competitors: Forces Operating in Parallel to UN Peace Operations by IPI Senior Fellow Alexandra Novosseloff and Lisa Sharland, Head of the International Program  of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), and Lessons for “Partnership Peacekeeping” from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by Paul D. Williams, Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, opened the morning-long discussion by noting that six UN operations are now fielded in partnerships with regional, subregional, and other non-UN forces, and he suggested this pattern presaged upcoming deployments. “Regional and subregional bodies are increasingly authorized by the UN Security Council to take on roles for which the UN peacekeeping forces are ill-suited,” he said. “Parallel forces will be an essential aspect of planning and deploying all UN peacekeeping in the future.”

Laure Bansept of France’s Ministry of the Armies said there had been around 40 such coalition deployments since the end of the Cold War and that they were “helpful in situations where the UN lacks the capacity or skills to work in certain sensitive contexts” and allowed the UN to “focus on its mandates.” Referencing France’s support for African-led peace operations, she said these partnerships proved essential “when humanitarian situations rapidly deteriorate and threaten the stability of a region, and no other organization can address it as immediately.”

IPI Research Fellow Namie Di Razza said that regional organizations “offer what UN peace operations don’t have—they have different entry points and different resources and capacities.” Citing her experience researching the case of Mali, she warned, however, that while all actors pursue the same objective in different ways, they also risk “confusion, conflation with peacekeeping operations, and duplication.” She suggested there should be “a clear division between forces.”

Ms. Sharland listed three “rationales” for deploying parallel forces:

  • Where there is a humanitarian imperative, and immediate action is necessary, they can respond more rapidly and robustly than a UN force.
  • Since parallel forces can be more advanced militarily, they can overcome reservations about the capability of UN peace operations.
  • They can serve national interests and intervene to protect their own nationals.

She also listed four “classifications” of parallel forces:  military stabilization, crisis response, insurance or deterrence, and capacity building, and three different types of actors: bilateral, multinational, and regional organizations.  “No two parallel forces are the same,” she said, “so while we can draw some broad lessons, we must be conscious of each unique context.”

Her co-author, Dr. Novosseloff, addressed some of the challenges these parallel force partnerships pose. “UN and parallel forces may have different motivations and goals, and this impacts the way they work on the ground and also their effectiveness,” she said. “The lack of mutual understanding and communication at the strategic level can be more damaging than we think. The divisions of labor that should be at the heart of the deployments are not clear enough.”

She said that central to these concerns was “the impartiality of UN peace operations and how partners can work with non-UN forces that may have different objectives. It impacts the perception of local populations so the impartiality of the UN will be at stake.” Such a lack of distinction, she said, could be exploited by “those seeking to undermine the peace or the process by going after the UN.” And potential mission overlap raised the danger of UN forces being “dragged into situations for which they are not equipped.” Airing these objections, Dr. Novosseloff said, should not be seen as minimizing the positive elements of parallel deployments, “such as additional niche capacities, military robustness, and political support. But the various stakeholders have to make stronger efforts to make them less of competitors and more genuine partners.”

The report makes a series of specific recommendations, but in general, Dr. Nosovoleff concluded, it represented a “plea for a stronger cooperation between all stakeholders involved in crisis management because all the money spent comes from the same pockets, and there needs to be a greater accountability.”

Col. Richard Decombe, Defense Mission of the Permanent Mission of France to the UN, said that while there remained room for improvement in how parallel forces operate, “it’s already an achievement.” Detailing the work of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), he explained how a coordinating forum involving five different partners (MINUSMA, Barkhane, G5 Sahel Joint Force, Malian Armed Forces, and EU training mission) met every two months. “What is in place is quite good, in terms of coordination and communication so the partners are at least informed on what the others are doing,” he said. What they can do better, he said, was having a stronger focus on building up the capacity of local security forces.

Naomi Miyashita, Senior Political Affairs Officer, UN Department of Peace Operations, said that parallel forces were of great value to the UN, which typically confronts situations with a dense web of competing regional and international interests and no clear path to a comprehensive political solution. “Parallel operations shape the space that others have for alternative approaches,” she said.

Self-criticism was essential, she added. “We must be constantly asking ourselves what the progression of the conflict has been and be constantly critically evaluating whether our interventions are having the desired effect and whether stability in itself is a good enough long term objective. We need to be clear about where we add value and where we have strength and comparative advantage. For the UN, it’s its political role, support for political processes and ability to protect civilians.”

The second panel of the morning provided an opportunity to discuss Paul D. William’s IPI report on Lessons for “Partnership Peacekeeping” from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The report describes AMISOM as the AU’s “longest, largest, most expensive and deadliest” peace operation and says that for the UN it is “the most profound experiment not only with providing logistical support in a war zone, but also with partnering on the political front.” Dr. Williams described AMISOM as “probably the most complicated model for any modern peace operation we’ve ever seen,” a model, he said, that “evolved in response to a series of crises and in an ad hoc manner.” As a consequence, he said, the AMISOM model is “not one that screams out for replication, but there are a lot positive things we can draw from it.”

Since AMISOM reflected “the primacy of politics”, the fraught state of politics in Somalia, a country with no state authority for decades, has prevented the mission from becoming effective, he said. “AMISOM has been unable to deliver a peace dividend because the Somali government did not come in behind it and support it.”

In Dr. Williams’ account, AMISOM was less nimble than its principle adversary, the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, and the conflict became “cat and mouse”, with the government regularly “displacing” al-Shabab but “not destroying its capabilities.” The result was starkly counter-productive, he said. “Extending state authority and consolidating it in a place where the central government is not universally accepted as legitimate is not peacebuilding, it’s actually conflict-provoking.”

AMISOM has also failed to stabilize the polarized society, attract local support, shape an exit strategy, or design what kind of government structure it should leave behind, he said. “At a fundamental level, there are real limits to what a peace operation can achieve when the local actors do not want to see the issue reconciled and resolved. Until the parties in Somalia reconcile, AMISOM will be stuck holding the line and not generating the means for its successful exit.”

Rick Martin, Director of the Division for Special Activities in the UN Department of Operational Support, acknowledged that the situation in which AMISOM is working is “very complex.” But he said there were lessons to be learned, principally that “a partnership of the sort we have in Somalia needs to start at the strategic level—it has to be built on planning, as a contingency for further cooperation, and focus on building capacities between the two organizations. ”He agreed with Dr. Williams that the AMISOM model should not be replicated but conceded that “something similar is likely to evolve again in the future.”

Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, Chief Advisor on Peace, Security, and Governance, AU Permanent Mission to the UN, said that the UN mission in Somalia compared favorably to the UN mission in Afghanistan. It illustrated, he said, the particular challenges that Africa presented. “The AU talks about peace operations, not peacekeeping. Peacekeeping is driven by consent, impartiality, but our peace operations range from peacekeeping to open warfare and counter insurgency. When we went into Somalia, there was a clearly identifiable enemy, so in the views of al-Shabab, we were ‘legitimate targets.’ We haven’t been deterred by the absence of peace to keep. We have gone in, created peace, and then maintained the peace, as in Somalia and Liberia.”

Among the lessons he said were learned from the mission in Somalia were that from the outset, there has to be a “political strategy” and “planning” for a subsequent “multi-dimensional phase,” and neighboring states must be “involved and committed.”

Chloé Marnay-Baszanger, Chief of the Peace Mission Section of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), said that “we are witnessing a reconfiguration of how the international community responds to conflict, and Somalia has been a good example of how to think through our processes. If the UN is not the primary vehicle for leading international intervention, then how can we make sure that human rights are still a priority in crisis response?”

She said that Somalia presented a distinct problem because there was no Protection of Civilians (POC) mandate to AMISOM. In its absence, she said, “what we managed to do through the human rights due diligence policy, we managed to strike a conversation about how we reduce the likeliness of violence against civilians in the context of complex violence.” She said that the most important lesson that the Somalia and the G5 Sahel experiences taught was “going forward, we put mechanisms in place so that from the beginning, we don’t have to course-correct.”

Dr. Di Razza moderated the first discussion on parallel forces, and Mr. Sherman the second on lessons from AMISOM.

Partners and Competitors: Forces Operating in Parallel to UN Peace Operations

Mon, 04/11/2019 - 06:00

Figure 1. Past and current parallel forces around the world (Click for full graphic)

Figure 2. Timeline of parallel force and their type (Click for full graphic)

Since the end of the Cold War, the UN Security Council has authorized or recognized the deployment of more than forty parallel forces that operate alongside UN peace operations. As the Security Council has deployed peace operations in increasingly non-permissive environments, the division of labor between UN missions and these parallel forces has blurred, and their goals have sometimes come into conflict. This raises the question of whether they are partners or competitors.

This report examines the missions that have operated in parallel to UN peace operations to identify how to strengthen these partnerships in the future. It analyzes and categorizes the types of parallel forces that have been deployed and examines the rationales for deploying them. It also looks at strategic and operational challenges, including the challenges unique to peace operations operating alongside a counterterrorism force. Finally, drawing on lessons from past and current parallel deployments, it offers recommendations for member states, the Security Council, and the UN Secretariat. These include:

  • Strengthening coordination of assessments, planning, and application of UN standards: The UN and actors deploying parallel forces should conduct joint assessments and planning when deploying or reconfiguring missions. The UN Security Council should also engage more regularly with parallel forces and encourage the continued development of human rights compliance frameworks for them.
  • Clarifying roles, responsibilities, and areas of operation: Peace operations and parallel forces should clearly delineate their responsibilities and areas of operation, assess the risks of collocating, and improve strategic communications with the local population. The Security Council should also continue to put in place mechanisms to strengthen the accountability of parallel forces, especially when peace operations are providing support that could contribute to counterterrorism operations.


Gender and Protection of Civilians

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 20:13

The United Nations agendas for Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and for Protection of Civilians (POC) both deal with protecting vulnerable populations. The comparison of these two agendas and opportunities to enhance protection were the focus of a November 1st IPI-Canada roundtable discussion, held under the Chatham House rule of non-attribution.

Discussants expressed concern that protection of women from sexual violence has been prioritized over other forms of gendered violence, such as female genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual violence against men and LGBTQ communities, trafficking, and domestic violence. One reason, agreed participants, is that gender-based violence is chronically underfunded. In addition, women are often appointed as gender experts solely because of their sex.

The experts lamented the fact that women tend to be seen only as victims of violence and not as agents of protection from violence. To overcome this barrier, speakers highlighted the need for more female uniformed and civilian personnel on the ground in peacekeeping missions with POC mandates and involved in developing POC strategy. Even so, they noted, women’s participation is often treated with a tokenistic, “tick the box” approach.

In order to insure that peacekeeping missions better and more safely engage communities, especially with women, participants agreed that accountability measures in peacekeeping should be strengthened, and that it was necessary to embrace a wider understanding of “protection.” One way to do this, they said, was to frame accountability around the UN Sustainable Development Goals, since UN member state governments have made public commitments to concrete goals and indicators and to carry out certain gender-sensitive measures of protection.

To truly mainstream these concepts, discussants suggested it would be useful to conduct local analysis in conflict communities and examine intercommunal conflicts. Speakers said that the strategic integration points of the WPS and POC agendas were climate change, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The second session of the workshop focused on research questions. Participants pointed out that gender considerations are often an afterthought in peace operations, and explored ways to implement POC that do not reinforce the stereotype of women as victims. They pointed out programs that have been working well and recommended monitoring and scaling up these efforts.

One question that arose was whether domestic violence should be addressed in POC mandates. Discussants argued that intimate partner violence is not unrelated to conflict, and that it must be included in gender-based violence analysis and action. However, doubts were raised as to whether military and police personnel, who are the primary actors in peacekeeping, were the right people to address this intimate type of violence.

Finally, participants discussed how best to incorporate male victims in protection peacekeeping mandates and pointed out that because of patriarchal systems of power, the threats men and boys face are under-reported and protection of men and boys receives less attention. Discussants highlighted the fact that “gender” is not specific to women and that to say, “we need more women in peace operations to carry out the WPS agenda” takes the onus off of men to implement the WPS agenda and reinforces the stereotype of women as victims and men as perpetrators of violence.

Making Women’s Rights and Inclusion a Priority in Afghanistan Peacemaking

Wed, 30/10/2019 - 19:49
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The international community’s role in supporting women as vital stakeholders in an inclusive and enduring peace in Afghanistan was the subject of an October 30th IPI policy forum cosponsored by Cordaid, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and the NYU Center for Global Affairs.

Rina Amiri, Senior Fellow at the NYU center and longtime expert on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, said that while the world’s weariness with the ongoing Afghan war was speeding up people’s eagerness to come up with a way to end it, it was also resulting in concessions being made on earlier promises of inclusion. “Women’s rights and inclusion has moved from an absolute priority of the international community to something that is relegated just to inter-Afghan talks,” she said.

In light of this, she asked, “What are the arguments that we need to make that we’re not making, how can we move from lip service to genuine commitment, what are the ways that we should be thinking about inclusion and process design?”

IPI Senior Fellow Sarah Taylor spoke of a disturbing discordance between the pledges of UN member states to the women, peace and security agenda that she heard voiced in the Security Council debate on the subject the day before and the reality that women are still being kept from positions of power and influence 19 years after the passage of the landmark resolution 1325. She alluded to the example of the work done in Sudan by women “putting their bodies on the line, breaking curfews, braving tear gas yet still excluded from the discussions that determine the future of their communities.”

Storai Tapesh, Deputy Executive Director, Afghan Women’s Network, said that recent peace negotiations between the Taliban and the United States in the Qatari capital Doha allowed for more women’s participation than in past talks but still did not attract the necessary support from the international community. “We saw the added value of women during the recent dialogues in Doha,” she said. “It was us, the women of Afghanistan, who were putting important issues on the table. As opposed to the men, we were not negotiating out of a position of self-interest but pushing the real issues such as human rights, the red lines of the constitution and the need for an immediate ceasefire.”

Though those talks have now stalled, Ms. Tapesh said the women of Afghanistan are still “very much committed” to them and want to see them resumed and “facilitated” by the international community. Clarifying the kind of support they needed, she said, “Afghan women do not want you to fight our battles; we need support for our voices and space to advocate for peace.”

Testifying to the importance of women’s inclusion to the sustainability of peace processes, Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, said, “You cannot actually build a truly prosperous society that enables any country to realize its full potential if you exclude some 50% of the population from the economic and legal life of the country, never mind the social. More than half of all peace processes collapse within five years if they don’t have sustainable provisions, and those sustainable provisions have been shown in well-documented evidence to include gender and women’s provisions.”

Ambassador Pierce was asked by the discussion moderator, Jake Sherman, director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, about how to balance the push for women’s rights with the overall push for a peace accord without one jeopardizing the other. “You must have some very robust clauses about human rights and women’s rights, but I don’t know if in a negotiation with an informal organization such as the Taliban, it is good to go in loudly with your red lines,” she said. Instead, she explained, “the point at which you ask for the things you really need is at the end when peace is in sight.” Signaling the critical nature of this sequencing, she warned, “When we sacrifice the long term goal for short term expediency, we end up regretting that quickly and find ourselves back at the table negotiating peace again.”

Ms. Pierce acknowledged that it was particularly difficult to introduce the subject of women’s rights into conversations with the Taliban, a group notorious for its overt sexism and violence against women. “But the fact that is a difficult argument isn’t an argument for not making it,” she said. She added that those who counsel taking up the subject only “at the pace that the Taliban want” are ignoring evidence of women’s rights having been brought into the process successfully with tact, good timing and persistence. “You do it incrementally, you do it gradually, but above all, you do it steadily, don’t go backward.”

Mahbouba Seraj, a member of the Afghan Women’s Network, urged the international community to adopt a principled position on Afghanistan without regard to pleasing one side or the other. “Do not worry about the Taliban or Trump, but take a stance because if you don’t do that and stay on the basis of being wishy washy with the Taliban, then they are going to take advantage of that.”

Teresa Whitfield, Director, Policy and Mediation Division, UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that actions to include women in peace processes had to go beyond the numbers. “We need to normalize the process that women have substantive contributions in peace processes and not just that there are two women at the table,” she said. She asserted that obtaining respect for Afghan women’s rights would require a “creative” approach, given the nature of the Taliban. “The Taliban doesn’t include women in leadership so we cannot recruit and include them through their political or military power,” she said. Among the alternatives from her office’s experience that she suggested were advisory boards, gender subcommittees, women lawyers, broad consultations with civil society, online platforms, and social media information sharing.

In conclusion, Ms. Whitfield stressed, “The absolutely fundamental need for those of us who represent the international community and are on the outside of conflicts is to put in the legwork, the analysis, the research, the knowledge, and always focus on harnessing international forces. The demand for Afghan women’s rights comes from Afghan women, and that’s what needs to be represented in some shape or form at the table in the peace process.”

Turning Women, Peace and Security Commitments to Implementation

Tue, 29/10/2019 - 20:05

The UN Security Council adopted the landmark resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security (WPS) in 2000 and since then, the international community has made notable strides toward implementing the WPS agenda through member state commitments. However, in recent years, the world has witnessed backsliding on these commitments and a backlash against robust attempts at women’s inclusion and gender parity.

On October 29th, experts on WPS gathered at an IPI roundtable to launch and discuss the findings of a new report from Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS), “The 10 Steps: Turning Women, Peace and Security Commitments to Implementation.” The report includes recommendations for action on women, peace, and security as the 20th anniversary of resolution 1325 approaches.

The “10 Steps” report is the product of consultations with over 200 organizations in conflict-affected states. It recommends precise and actionable steps for realizing the WPS agenda, with a particular focus on the role of civil society. GAPS and its partners found that commitments on Women, Peace and Security are “vast and comprehensive,” but that “in practice this has not translated into the inclusion of gender perspectives and women and girls’ rights in policy and programming.”

Participants began the discussion by addressing the current state of the WPS agenda, especially noting the regression on gender parity and women’s inclusion in formal peace processes. Despite considerable progress on women’s inclusion in peacekeeping, discussants lamented that “it has been easier to get women into military, police, and peacekeeping forces on the ground than to get women into negotiating rooms.”

When women are excluded from peace processes, it was noted, the resulting peace agreements include few or no gender provisions. Accordingly, the WPS agenda has aimed to improve gender inclusion in peace negotiations in order to strengthen the outcomes of such processes. Initially, some progress was made. Before resolution 1325, only 11% of peace agreements made any references to women and gender, but in the following 14 years, this number went up to 27%. However, since 2014, the number has dramatically decreased.

Some participants called for women’s increased “meaningful participation” in the face of such discouraging statistics, but others stressed that the term “meaningful participation” is itself far too vague. Suggestions included making calls for “consequential participation,” or even “feminist participation.” Irrespective of the terminology they chose to employ, many agreed that greater women’s participation is greatly needed.

The roundtable then shifted its focus toward ways to engage civil society in implementing the WPS agenda, as the GAPS “10 Steps” report stressed. Participants acknowledged that governments are not the only drivers of the agenda, and civil society continues to play a vital and integrated role in its actualization. Civil society provides insight that guides state action, and it helps governments stay in touch with challenges to implementation on the ground. Moreover, where state action is often slowed by bureaucratic processes and political tensions, civil society helps to push the agenda along and accelerate progress.

When considering what the next steps member states should take on WPS, participants called for action on an array of issues, including the need for gender-conflict analysis, addressing violence against women, and changing social norms around gender.

The work remaining for the international community, participants argued, is ensuring accountability to the commitments outlined in the nine WPS resolutions that have been adopted by the Security Council. Though the agenda is often thought of as a “gender issue” or “security challenge,” it has much broader implications than these characterizations suggest.

“We are all guardians of this incredible WPS agenda,” agreed participants, and its realization will require creativity and widespread action.

Toward a More Effective UN-AU Partnership on Conflict Prevention and Crisis Management

Sun, 20/10/2019 - 16:00

(Click to jump to interactive map below)

Download Peace Operations by Country

Organizational diagram of the UN-AU partnership (Click for full graphic)

The United Nations and the African Union (AU) have worked in tandem since the AU’s establishment in 2002. During this time, their partnership has evolved to focus increasingly on conflict prevention and crisis management, culminating in the 2017 Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. But while the organizations’ collaboration on peacekeeping has been extensively studied, other dimensions of the partnership warrant a closer look to understand how to foster political coherence and operational coordination.

This report, done in partnership with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), therefore considers the evolution of the strategic partnership between the UN and the AU, with a focus on their approach to conflict prevention and crisis management. It looks at this partnership at the member-state level in the UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council, as well as at the operational level between various UN and AU entities. It also assesses the partnership across several thematic issues, including the AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative; mediation; women, peace, and security; electoral support; peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction and development; and youth, peace, and security.

Based on this analysis, the paper offers several recommendations to guide UN and AU stakeholders in improving cooperation. These include strengthening council-to-council engagement, working toward a collective approach to conflict prevention and crisis management, creating a dedicated team within the AU Peace and Security Department to support the partnership, better aligning work on peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction and development, building momentum on the AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative, and expanding diplomatic capacities to support the partnership.

UN, AU, and REC/RM peace operations, liaison offices, and peace and development advisers (as of July 2019) (Click on each country for operations’ details. Best viewed on desktops.) a img {/**remove hover border**/ display:block; Margin: 0 auto; } a[href$="pdf"]:last-of-type:after { /* don't display "PDF" after the links in the margin */ display: none!important; }


Helen Clark, Irina Bokova Discuss Importance of Multilateralism and Women’s Rights

Thu, 26/09/2019 - 20:30
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Women’s rights are increasingly facing pushback with global trends towards populism and shifting centers of power. This pushback is also occurring at a time when preparations are being made to mark the anniversaries of key international commitments to women’s rights in 2020, including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.

A September 26th discussion at IPI between Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and former United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, and Irina Bokova, former Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), focused on these challenges and possibilities for a way forward. Speakers drew upon their experience to discuss women’s rights amid the current geopolitical context, the deeply gendered nature of current threats to multilateralism, what these geopolitical trends mean for building peace, and how to ground the multilateral system in respect for women’s rights and equal status.

In opening remarks, IPI Vice President Adam Lupel declared that “It should go without saying, I would think, that ensuring a robust and effective multilateral system requires the equal status and participation of what amounts to 52% of the population.” But, he said, “somehow it doesn’t.”

Sarah Taylor, IPI Senior Fellow, cited the Open Letter of the Group of Women Leaders for Change and Inclusion that addressed this problem. This group, whose leaders include Ms. Clark, Ms. Bukova, and Susana Malcorra, former Foreign Minister of Argentina and Chef de Cabinet for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, came together earlier this year to “collectively call attention to the need to achieve full gender equality and empowerment of women across all ambits of society and the critical importance of multilateralism as a vehicle in support of that.”

Ms. Clark highlighted the fact that since the March 8th formation of the women’s group, people singled out attacks of populist nationalist leaders on the international system, noting also that the same people tend to be attacking women’s rights at home.

“We, as a group, believe that the multilateral system has been incredibly important for establishing women’s rights as a huge priority,” Ms. Clark continued. “Therefore anything that undermines the multilateral system is bad for women, because we look to the multilateral system through its treaties, conventions, declarations, commissions, organizations, to uphold and promote women’s rights.”

Ms. Clark cited the UN’s long history of multilateralism and women’s rights, but noted that the debate on women’s sexual health and gender identity is undergoing great change. “Frankly there’s a much broader conversation that’s being had,” she said, about how “it is a right of anybody to express their gender identity however they want to express it, and to have their dignity upheld as an individual.”

Ms. Bokova, described how as a young diplomat, she encountered debates as to whether discrimination against women was considered a human rights violation. Despite progress towards gender equality, she said, “we are [also] seeing a lot of setbacks.”

Ms. Bokova added that we must “go broader,” when it comes to issues such as women’s health. “It’s not just an issue of women’s equality, it’s an issue for community engagement, it’s an issue of health.” Her recommendation for a broader approach was to “present the agenda not just as an ethical framework for women, but as a societal problem that is linked with the overall well being of communities of countries.”

Ms. Bokova emphasized the urgency of addressing women’s rights and multilateralism. “We are really at a critical point,” she warned, “Either we do something, raise our voices, mobilize, in order to move forward and to once again bring the agenda to the multilateral system as a priority, as unfinished business, as an accelerator to peace and sustainable development, or we just will not live up to the expectations of so many women in the world.”

María Elena Agüero, Secretary-General of the Club de Madrid, noted the effectiveness of “multilateralism that delivers.” She said her organization aimed to bring together democratic former heads of state and government from all over the world, and that she had tried to have as fair representation and distribution as possible.

However, Ms. Agüero said, creating a gender balance had been held back because there have been too few women heads of state. Equality, though, is not only a task for the Club de Madrid, she added, but society writ large. Ms. Agüero pointed out that the numbers of women leaders are increasing, so “let’s make this happen.”

Dr. Taylor moderated the discussion, and in concluding remarks said, “Gender is implicated in the political movements that reject multilateralism and strive towards isolation, including through efforts to control women’s bodies; violations of women’s rights are part of the ways in which conflicts are justified and fought; and gender equality and robust adherence to women’s rights standards—including women’s full participation in decision-making—are fundamental to strengthening the multilateral system.”

Advancing Women’s Roles and Rights amid Global Challenges

Wed, 25/09/2019 - 16:36
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The United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) almost two decades ago, and over 80 countries have implemented national action plans to carry out the WPS agenda, yet despite these commitments, the status of women’s roles and rights globally are under threat. In conflict resolution processes, for instance, mediators and negotiators are rarely women, and women’s rights are insufficiently reflected in agreements.

IPI’s inaugural Women, Peace, and Leadership Symposium on September 25th focused on the challenges of implementing the WPS agenda in an increasingly restrictive political context, and especially given the upcoming 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325. The event at IPI was cohosted by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and provided a forum for leaders to draw upon the experience of their countries and institutions to lay out an ambitious agenda for this anniversary.

Adam Lupel, IPI Vice President, stressed that the global pushback against women’s rights is a “critical, truly timely topic.” He highlighted Sweden’s pioneering role as the first country in the world to adopt a feminist foreign policy. Pointing to challenges to the multilateral system that pose a direct threat to women’s rights, he framed the discussion around how to build long-term institutional support for women’s rights and roles in all efforts to build peace, asking the panelists: What are the components of a robust women, peace, and security agenda; what are the biggest barriers to achieving them; and what are the key messages to overcome these challenges?

Ann Linde, Sweden’s new Minister for Foreign Affairs, referenced the launch of a feminst trade policy during her time as Minister for Foreign Trade, but said that even with ample support of the WPS agenda in policy discussions, implementing the agenda had proven to be an ongoing challenge.

“We are now working to make sure that attention to these issues is maintained on the ground,” she stated. The international community, she said, is “still failing to fully implement the commitments we have made. We are still failing the women who suffer from the consequences of war, including victims of conflict-related sexual violence.”

Ms. Linde added that because women are always the first to suffer in conflicts, “We cannot rest until women are on the top of the agenda in all the prevention and peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected countries.” Even when women are at the forefront of change, she pointed out, “they do not get to sit in the room where the future is decided.”

Grace Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said that in her country, “What we have found is that although this crop of women now have these very, very important skills, whenever there is a conflict, they are never included in a peacebuilding process.”

Dr. Pandor said, “We also hold the view that the participation of women should not just be in getting to a point of settlement or peace. We believe that women must get training in constitution-making, in formation of public institutions, and in the maintenance of democracy so that they don’t become marginal after conflict is resolved.”

To address the dearth of women’s voices on peace processes, she said, “We want to encourage the secretary-general and various structures of peace and security in multilateral bodies to have a database of women with these skills and ensure that whenever there are processes to resolve conflict and arrive at peace, that these women are utilized.”

Asmaa Abdalla was recently appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sudan, and is the first woman to hold the position. She said that this was in keeping with the history of women’s political participation in Sudan, where during the early Nubian kingdoms the queen took part in peacemaking. Now, in West Sudan, she added, “We have women poets calling for peace.”

Ms. Abdalla spoke on her country’s progress toward implementing resolution 1325. “We have a comprehensive plan, and national institutions with civil society participation, and strong campaigns against female genital mutilation,” she said, but added that the political atmosphere was not encouraging for 1325. A mark of the change in focus for the government of Sudan, the minister noted their intent to ratify CEDAW, the international binding instrument on women’s rights.

Contributing to this atmosphere, she said, was the lack of engagement by men to implement the resolution, and limited awareness in the country of the WPS agenda. “We need to enhance… the role of the media in raising awareness about 1325 and its positive effects,” she said.

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that being the first woman to lead the UN political department was “sort of like being the first man on the moon.” But, she said, the women, peace, and security agenda had grown progressively over almost 20 years, and has had a profound cultural change on the UN. “Gender equality is mainstreamed into our peace missions,” said Ms. DiCarlo. Still, “this work hasn’t been easy, and it is nowhere near complete.”

What’s needed, argued Ms. DiCarlo, is effective implementation. “We have many resolutions, we’ve had many discussions—we need to walk the talk, focus truly on the implementation of what we have already committed to.” She also called out the pushback to WPS measures. “Global backlash against women’s rights threatens the gains we have already made and it certainly threatens our work going forward.”

Kaavya Asoka, Executive Director of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security, agreed that backlash was a threat, saying that there has been more suppression of women human rights defenders than ever before. “Women are facing retaliation for engaging in political life, for peacefully protesting and advocating,” she said. “Given the global rise of misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, it is critical that all of you in this room speak out publicly against any attempts at undermining international human rights standards.”

Ms. Asoka pointed out that one barrier to realizing a robust agenda is selective implementation of its different components. “You can’t advance the parts of the agenda that are easiest to implement, or that align with your national interests,” she argued. “You can’t pick and choose. It’s all or it’s nothing. True commitment to WPS requires going beyond symbolic gestures and technocratic solutions. It requires measurable impact on the ground, and the only credible benchmark of meaningful implementation is positive change in the lives of conflict-affected communities.”

Ms. Asoka singled out the example of women’s lack of political participation in Yemen, where both warring parties refused the presence of women’s advisory groups in peace talks. The resulting agreement has no mention of gender, she said. “We saw a 66% child marriage increase, and a 70% increase in gender-based violence.”

Dr. Panor called for a more universal and inclusive approach to women’s rights. “The fact that we discuss women as distinct from every other person is a peculiarity that needs to end. We are part of humanity, and everything that happens in every society must include us because we’re not marginal, we’re not an instance, we are part of society.”

Terje Rød-Larsen, IPI President, gave opening remarks and Dr. Lupel moderated.

Read IPI’s latest Issue Brief on the status of the WPS agenda here>>

Inside the Engine Room: Enabling the Delivery of UN Mandates in Complex Environments

Wed, 24/07/2019 - 16:49

Particularly in the complex environments where it increasingly deploys, the UN depends on a range of functions to implement its mandate. These include but are not limited to provision of security, facilitation of access, medical support, support to staff welfare, logistics, coordination, and risk management. Compared to substantive tasks implemented as part of mandates, these enabling functions, or enablers, have received less scrutiny. As a result, enablers—and their financial costs—are often unknown or misunderstood by member states, donors, and even UN staff.

This paper explores these enablers by explaining what they are, why they are needed, how much they cost, and how they are—or should be—funded. It then investigates the challenges the UN needs to tackle to put enablers on a path to sustainable funding, including:

  • Reporting and consolidating data: While data is not the end point, it is a necessary starting point for the UN to engage in dialogue with those who use enablers and those who pay for them.
  • Dedicating the necessary capacity: More spending on enablers is required now if lives and resources are to be saved later.
  • Managing trade-offs: The UN needs to set and articulate clear priorities to guide the difficult trade-offs between different enablers and their associated risks.
  • Integrating operations into planning: Operational planning is critical to avoid retroactive, ad hoc arrangements, especially during mission transitions.
  • Communicating the importance of enablers: Effective communication on the need for enablers is necessary to convince member states and donors to fund them.

Ultimately, there must be greater coherence between those who define UN mandates, those who fund them, and those who implement them.


OSCE High Commissioner Zannier: Invest in Diversity

Thu, 18/07/2019 - 21:32
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Rising nationalist discourse and ethnic tensions have reinforced the need to prevent conflict grown from societal division. Such was the topic of a July 18th discussion on “conflict prevention through societal integration” at IPI, featuring OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Ambassador Lamberto Zannier.

To address the inadequate response to the minority-based ethnic conflicts of the Yugoslav Wars, the post of High Commissioner on National Minorities was established in 1992 at the Helsinki Summit of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, now the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The High Commissioner is mandated to alert the OSCE to risks, providing early warning and action where there is a potential for minority and ethnic-based tension. “My mandate is a conflict prevention mandate,” Mr. Zannier explained. “If you look around, interstate conflicts are increasingly rare, and conflicts tend to come from within split societies.”

Mr. Zannier said he views his mandate as “an old but new conflict prevention tool,” and identified two sides to his work. The first, “quiet diplomacy,” involves watching for instances of ethnic conflict and deciding which ones could develop in a dangerous direction, and then engaging with actors and constituencies that could help accordingly. The second centers on better informing the public on best practices and lessons learned, “communicating what are things that have worked in other places, and discouraging governments from making policy calls that would create friction,” he said.

In striving to make societies more peaceful and inclusive, Mr. Zannier stressed the centrality of integration. “If there are groups not well integrated, there is a high likelihood of seeing marginalization and radicalization and potentially violent extremism,” he explained. “One of our most effective tools is working on strengthening the resilience of society itself to crisis and conflict.”

Mr. Zannier admitted that working on integration within societies is not easy, as it touches on politically sensitive issues and is often seen as a departure from the “established order.”

“What we see today are extremely complex conflicts where it is difficult for the international community to intervene, but which are also very difficult to prevent,” he said. “Very rarely is there one thing that you can solve; there is always a gap between tensions and what you manage to do.”

In his work, the High Commissioner highlighted youth engagement and education as essential. “Equal opportunities for all starts from a balanced process of education, which does not cancel the identity of those who are different,” he said. Mr. Zannier further advocated for engaging “youth as an interested party… with long-term perspectives, interested in living in a society that is stable and prosperous where they have contribution.” He described various education- and inclusion-oriented programs for youth in minority communities under his tenure that “encourage them to be part of larger political discourse in this country.” “Young people understand that they need to overcome division of the past,” he said, “and take a future-oriented approach to address issues.”

The event was preceded by a showing of a video about the 2018 Max Van der Stoel Award given by Mr. Zannier and the Government of the Netherlands, highlighting a positive example of young people working for societal integration. The discussion was moderated by Adam Lupel, IPI’s Vice President.

Preventing Violent Extremism While Promoting Human Rights: Toward a Clarified UN Approach

Thu, 18/07/2019 - 18:15

In response to the threat of violent extremism, the UN has adopted a comprehensive approach that involves both aligning ongoing interventions with the goals of preventing violent extremism (PVE) and implementing PVE-specific programming. These initiatives aspire to use human rights-based approaches as opposed to hard-security counterterrorism responses. To date, however, there has been inadequate research on how the UN and other international organizations can promote human rights as part of their PVE programming.

This issue brief introduces findings on the strategic shift of UN peacebuilding interventions toward PVE and the barriers these interventions face to protecting human rights, drawing on research conducted in Kyrgyzstan. It concludes that PVE approaches to peacebuilding are fundamentally ambiguous, which may be hindering promotion of human rights. These ambiguities lie both in the terminology and strategies of intervention and in the drivers of radicalization and violent extremism. By clarifying its approach to PVE, the UN can dilute the inherent contradiction in its dual role as a critic and supporter of host states and reduce the odds that its interventions legitimize human rights violations.


Financing the 2030 Agenda: How Financial Institutions are Integrating the SDGs into Their Core Business

Wed, 17/07/2019 - 17:22
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The public and private sectors are often seen as having incompatible objectives, but the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have become a point of intersection as the UN and its partners create new avenues to finance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs have attracted diverse types of investments in a number of areas that support their achievement. In particular, the financial services sector has pioneered a number of innovations in both financing and promoting sustainable development.

A July 17th IPI policy forum addressed the contributions of the financial sector to the 2030 Agenda and how financial institutions are integrating the SDGs into their core business. This side-event to the UN High-Level Political Forum was organized in partnership with the UN Bahrain Office and the Al Baraka Banking Group, and it brought together several of the world’s leading financial institutions to discuss how to fund sustainable development.

In welcoming remarks, IPI Vice President Adam Lupel emphasized that in order to advance a shared and practical understanding of how to accelerate Agenda 2030, financing and financial institutions are a “critical piece of the puzzle.” Building upon his remarks, Amin El Sharkawi, UN Resident Coordinator in Bahrain, added, “The private sector is becoming an increasingly important actor in the global developmental landscape.”

“We can no longer afford to conceive of social responsibility as a specialized dimension of the private sector,” Mr. Sharkawi conceded. “We must find ways to integrate social responsibility into the very DNA of how core business is conducted.” In order to do so, he said, “We must advocate for approaches such as blended finance and green investment, both of which are becoming increasingly popular avenues for private sector support to the 2030 Agenda.”

Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President and Chief Executive of Albaraka Banking Group, said, “One of our objectives for this event is to highlight these SDGs stories from the banking and the financial services sectors.” He explained that his organization was able to focus on “seven SDGs that align with four of Albaraka goals. These are namely job creation, financing, healthcare, education and clean energy.”

“None of us expected that this agenda would resonate as strongly as it has with the private financial industry,” Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), commented. But, in fact, for the private financial industry, the SDGs are becoming increasingly a “good business opportunity,” as environmental concerns are also a “risk to the balance sheets of financial institutions… making unsustainable investment increasingly unattractive.”

Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice President of The World Bank Group, argued that the finance sector’s investment in sustainable development was not simply a “PR function” of a bank or company to say that “we do what we can,” but that it was, in fact, a “good line of business.” He told the audience that most people have not yet realized the potential of private sector participation. “The opportunities are there, there could be some good examples here and there, and we see some interest in infrastructure projects, revival of PPPs, some good interest in renewable energy, there are some bits and pieces, but so far… we do not have an SDG consensus yet,” he said.

Shaikh Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain, said, “I believe that without a public-private partnership many of the goals would be almost impossible to achieve.” Asked what was lacking in public-private partnerships, Mr. Mohieldin replied, “Different tracks are not speaking to each other… Now we talk about implementation, but very few VNRs submitted by governments are providing any kind of costing, or any kind of suggestion of budget any kind of signaling to the private sector.” Development, he said, required an “integrated approach.”

Muna AbuSulayman, a global SDG philanthropist, spoke on why achieving SDGs requires immediate action and how these goals differ, for businesses, from corporate social responsibility (CSR) aims. “We are finding that it is very easy to articulate the things you are already doing and put them in the SDG framework, which speaks to the differentiation between SDG funding and CSR funding,” she said. However, “We’re not playing a more active role, a more serious role in collective work to deliver on all the SDGs. We don’t want to just capture, we want to also add, otherwise we will fail to make significant changes needed for 2030.” What was necessary was deeper involvement from the financial sector as “partners, rather than merely funders,” she said. “We need to sit at the table.” She concluded, “I don’t think we’re going to reach the 2030 SDG goals if a sense of urgency is not conveyed to the major financial institutions around the world.”

Zubaida Bai is the founder and President of, ayzh Inc and Happy Woman Fund, where she has brought the perspectives of entrepreneurship and sustainable development together to invest in women entrepreneurs. “We are missing the fact that we need to be having half the population of the world leading SDG conversations,” she said. She suggested that another entry point to achieve the SDGs would be funding education for young people, since, “Per child/per annum we are investing about 300 dollars per child in the developing world. If we look at it from the developed world we are investing about 8000 dollars per child.” But, she concluded, “There is a lot of money that is going in. In our own fund that we are setting up, we are looking at the SDGs… our core is the company needs to be led by women, or the company needs to have the intention to let us come in and allow the organization to be gender neutral.”

“How do you measure success?” asked Bruno Bastit, Senior Corporate Governance and  Sustainable Finance Specialist at S&P Global Ratings. He said that he had seen some “positive signs,” of qualitative change as a result of the SDGs. “There is something to be applauded,” he remarked, in that “two years ago, investors didn’t know what climate change was.” In reporting this progress, “people are looking for actual measurable results, measurable impact to judge whether or not things are moving in the right direction and whether indeed investors and corporates are doing their best to address the SDGs,” he continued. Annual reporting on sustainable development has to contain more content than “trees and flowers and saving the world,” he said.

Ali Adnan Ibrahim, First VP and Head of Sustainability and Social Responsibility at the Al Baraka Banking Group pointed out that the SDG funding gap is about three trillion US dollars. But, he added, there are 317 trillion dollars already in the global financial system.” “If you look at the asset management industry, it is already 79 trillion dollars. So there is enough money in the system, but somehow we need to bridge that gap, that’s the magic recipe, to make that money flow into the sectors.” He said that to develop a funding strategy, “portfolio alignment is something very important, very easy to do, at the same time it has to be a gradual bottom-up process and there has to be a buy-in from all teams and subsidiaries to make it happen.”

Amit Puri, Global Head of Environmental and Social Risk Management at Standard Chartered, highlighted how his bank chose to prioritize where to invest. “We are a UK headquartered bank, but we make over 90% of our revenue and profits in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Our footprint is in emerging markets… Financing the SDGs is inherent in our strategy,” he said, and “We believe we are doing it where it matters most… We feel it is more impactful to meet the SDGs if we do this in places like Botswana, Bangladesh, Taiwan etc.”

Rebecca Self, the CFO of Sustainable Finance at HSBC, concluded the event, saying in her experience, “it’s becoming quite clear not all of the SDGs, and particularly not all of the indicators are necessarily relevant to banks… Some or others might be more relevant for us.” But where the SDGs did apply, she argued that progress toward the SDGs isn’t necessarily clear cut. Progress can be “saying no to short-term revenue in order to achieve some of these longer term sustainability goals,” she said. “There has been progress… but there is a lot more to do.”

Jimena Leiva Roesch, IPI Senior Fellow, moderated.

Pivoting from Crisis to Development: Preparing for the Next Wave of UN Peace Operations Transitions

Tue, 16/07/2019 - 21:28

UN peace operations are going through an accelerated period of reconfiguration and drawdown. Between June 2017 and March 2018, long-standing peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia closed, while the mission in Haiti was reconfigured into a transitional peacekeeping mission. Looking ahead, the Security Council has mandated the closure of the peacekeeping mission in Darfur and the initial drawdown of the peacebuilding mission in Guinea-Bissau, and its attention is starting to shift to other missions.

With these upcoming transitions in mind, this issue brief explores experiences and lessons from recent UN transitions in Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, and Liberia. Each of these transitions has been the subject of a detailed IPI policy report published as part of IPI’s project on “Planning for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations Transitions.” Drawing on this research, this issue brief recommends how to manage politics and recalibrate policies to better shape future transitions. Its recommendations include to:

  • Adopt shared and long-term political strategies, particularly in Security Council mandates and benchmarks, as well as through regular sharing of assessments from the field.
  • Ensure integration in field-level planning strategies well before the Security Council sets transition timelines, with senior leadership from the mission shaping the vision, driving planning, and providing concrete recommendations for the future UN presence in the country.
  • Strategically engage the host society to align peacebuilding priorities and to communicate the core message that the mission is leaving but the UN is remaining in the country.
  • Engage early to secure adequate financing, capitalizing on debates surrounding the transition while it is still on the Security Council’s agenda.
  • Institutionalize dedicated transition support capacity within the UN system, including policy and programmatic guidance, operational support, planning expertise, and surge capacities.
  • Sustain long-term peacebuilding through partnerships, ensuring that residual peacebuilding challenges are mainstreamed into national development plans and international and regional development frameworks.


Civil Society Voices Speak in New York on Implementing SDG16+

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 22:48
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The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is enabling a range of innovative, grassroots-led work around its goal on peace, justice, and inclusive societies (known as SDG16+). However, these actions and commitments of civil society at the national level are often overlooked in global-level discussions.

This uniquely collaborative event, Voices of SDG16+: Stories for Global Action, held during this year’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), had at its core a campaign that collected almost 200 video submissions of activists and changemakers working to put peace, justice, and inclusion into action. The creators of thirteen of the submissions were invited to speak at a July 11th event in New York, hailing from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Canada, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Somaliland, and Uganda.

The event was launched by Saferworld, TAP Network, and IPI along with campaign partners: Conciliation Resources, Article 19, Peace Direct, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS), World Vision, Justice for All, Pax Christi, Life and Peace Institute, and Namati, with thanks to the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development through the UN Development Programme’s Global Alliance for additional funding assistance.

In opening remarks, IPI Vice President Adam Lupel explained that this event “started as a vision among Saferworld, TAP Network, and IPI about the need to bring civil society leaders from around the world to New York to expand access for civil society at a time when we all recognize this space is shrinking.”

The first panel’s opening presentation featured Rudrani Dasgupta and Ramsha Baluch, both from Chai Ki Dukkaan in India and Pakistan. Growing up, the women were influenced by conflict narratives in school textbooks and in their communities. “Society and media told me to hate Pakistan, but the problem was, I just couldn’t,” said Ms. Dasgupta. It was when Ms. Dasgupta travelled to Pakistan for the first time that she saw for herself, “Pakistani people are not the enemy.”

During this trip, Ms. Dasgupta met Ms. Baluch, who was also questioning the hateful narrative towards India that she had been taught in class. “From our friendship was born… a democratic digital peacebuilding platform for Indians and Pakistanis to dialogue across borders,” Ms. Dasgupta continued. They asked the audience to send in messages about why India and Pakistan should reconcile by using #ChaiKiDukkaan. “We intend to bring peace to over a billion people, and for that we need collective action.”

Kate Flatley of the Women’s Justice Initiative in Guatemala said that the aim of her organization’s work was to increase access to justice for indigenous women. In order to do so, they trained community advocates to serve as first defense and support women in communities, in particular survivors of violence. She told the story of a survivor of domestic violence who participated in the women’s rights education program. As she grew more comfortable with the community, she began to speak up and to seek legal aid, said Ms. Flately, and was ultimately able to obtain a restraining order against her husband and title the land in her name.

“We can build safe homes and communities for women and girls,” Ms. Flatley asserted. “Access to justice can’t just mean providing legal services. You need to know the law to be able to use the law,” she said. “We have to ensure that we’re educating individuals on how they can begin to use the system to exercise those rights.”

Chhatra Amatya, a peacebuilder at Nagarik Aawaz in Nepal, explained that “Nagarik means citizen, and Aawaz means voice. I am in New York to bring the voice of the voiceless.” She told the audience that her organization was established in 2001, after the Nepalese royal massacre and the Maoist Insurgency (also known as the Nepalese Civil War). At this time, she said, “a lot of youth and women were displaced from their homes, they were homeless, they were suffering.” She reported that women on both sides of the conflict had been raped, and that the situation was “utter misery.”

She said four or five like-minded people felt that they must do something in a small way. “We tried to give them shelter by sponsorship,” she said. She sponsored two young people at the time and gave them a platform for monthly interaction where they would listen to stories from both sides of the civil war. “They realized after listening to the stories that they are [all], in fact, ‘the victim.’ It has nothing to do with the government side or the Maoist side,” she revealed. “That’s how we started a peace kitchen, where we feed them every week. It has been going on for 17 years.” She said she believed that “this can be replicated all over Nepal, and I can confidently say that it can be replicated all over the world.”

Asked how people in conflict-affected environments can transition “from revenge to reconciliation,” Narcisio Bangirana, Alternatives to Violence Project, Uganda, said that for him, the secret to accessing alternatives to violence is action on an individual level. Individuals, he said, “have the potential to address the conflicts around them using the natural resources within them.” His current work focused on the process of reconciling two rival ethnic groups in South Sudan: the Nuer and the Dinka. “We make them realize that actually they face the same challenges,” he said.

Tola Winjobi, of the Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development in Nigeria, gave background on his organization’s work to prevent human trafficking, smuggling of persons, violence against children, and gender-based violence. “We are especially concerned about those who have to travel through the frontiers of the West African communities. We are much more concerned for the young people that have to travel by road,” he said. “There’s a need [for our government] to do something about this situation in the country… Let us campaign vigorously against human trafficking, because it is an ill wind that does no one any good.”

Some of us have been working to build peace without even knowing it, according to Arlyssa Bianca Pabotoy from the Center for Peace Education in the Philippines. Her message for peace centered on the achievements of some Filipino women as inadvertent peacebuilders in their communities. She told the story of a night when she stood before two families who were ready to kill each other in the name of justice, until a crying mother held her ground and asked the others to think of the children before committing such an act.

“Her story is only one of the many stories of women, of mothers, who are at the forefront of peace and conflict,” Ms. Pabotoy said. “Without even knowing it, these women have put themselves at the frontlines of peace… leadership, decision making, peace processes, and negotiations.”

The event’s second panel was entitled “Next steps on SDG16+: how to bring the agenda forward and how civil society can be supported.” Ismail Farjar, from the Center for Policy Analysis, Somaliland, stressed the need to hold decision makers to account in his country to achieve Agenda 2030. He described the process of establishing an SDG16+ coalition, and said that in doing so, they were able to localize the SDGs, in part by translating the 17 goals into Somali. “The platforms we created help citizens to engage leaders and hold them accountable. For example, if politicians didn’t see people approaching them and asking, ‘why didn’t you do this?’ they wouldn’t do this.”

“The good thing,” he said, is that because of including the SDGs in Somaliland’s national development plan, it is “one of the few countries in Africa directly aligning with SDGs.” The next step, he continued, is to get “support so we can solve the access to justice issues and data issues.”

Justine Kumche, Women in Alternative Action NGO, Cameroon, underlined in her presentation that, “The WPS agenda and SDG16 enable each other.” The work of her organization was dedicated to women at the forefront of peacebuilding in Cameroon. “We have created the women’s peace initiative, which is an initiative that brings together wives of traditional leaders as community peacebuilders, and also princesses and female traditional leaders, to be able to drive the peace agenda at the level of the communities,” she explained

Although, she said, “we focus more on the prevention rather than reaction to violent or armed conflict… based on this, we carry out peace education programs at different levels.” These education programs, in part, consisted of summer classes for children that centered on peacebuilding solutions and coexistence. “We organize youth think tank clubs for peace,” she said. “We empower the youth to become youth champions for peace,” with focus on the language divisions of the country. She concluded by saying she was “sure that Cameroon cannot achieve SDG16 successfully if the issue of the Anglophone crisis is not resolved.”

Umulkheir Mohamed, Kesho Alliance, Kenya, addressed the “long periods of marginalization” in her region, and pointed out that idleness had proven to be a risk in her society. Youth, she said, were unemployed, stemming from a lack of education. Keeping youth informed ensured that they “understand their civic roles to fight the small challenges we have in our country—top of the list being corruption,” she said. “Our work has always been about sustainable development. I advocate for education and peace in my community,” she explained, “because when it comes to understanding leadership and government, even our educated youth are not equipped.”

Kasha Slavner founded the Global Sunrise Project in Canada “out of the need for an alternative narrative to the mainstream media,” she said. She described this initiative as a “media hub for social good.” She had felt that “what’s missing from the [mainstream media] narrative is the solutions, the fearless grassroots activists.” Through media, she said her aim was to fill the “awareness gap for young people. They know about issues… they know they want to do something, but they don’t have these languages or tools to act as a framework… Knowing about the SDGs they then have this information that they can take and personalize and act upon.”

Sophia Dianne Garcia took action in response to the dearth of young women’s perspectives in peacemaking decisions by coordinating a network of 38 young leaders in the Philippines. These women from vastly different backgrounds formed Young Women for Peace and Leadership to “advance principles of human rights, gender equality, and even youth participation.” The SDGs are inextricably linked, she said. “We believe SDG 16 can be achieved by giving so much importance to SDG 5, which is gender equality, that it should be at the center—it has synergies between all the SDGs.”

Ms. Garcia saw an opportunity to raise awareness among youth in the context of her country’s midterm elections. She said youth should know that “you have the right to make your voices count by voting. But it does not stop there, your civic duty is even beyond voting… You have to make your leaders accountable at the end of the day.” She concluded, “Through our activities, our initiatives, we hope to challenge the violent misogynist and indecent narratives present in Philippine politics,” and turn these into constructive narratives so youth can be active participants.

“[Being] affected by war stirred a passion in me to work for my community and bring a change,” said Sofia Ramyar, Afghans for Progressive Thinking, of her home country, Afghanistan. She emphasized that “if children are better at critical thinking, they will challenge the status quo, and they will reform arguments that are more peaceful… That’s how we built friendships and increase understanding.” Amid the country’s conflict environment, she said that she created programs that have “impacted over 20,000 youths in Afghanistan.”

Ms. Ramyar said that last year was the first time an Afghan representative to UN spoke on the role of youth. Asked how we could bring about change, Ms. Ramyar, concluded, “I believe the only way we can bring change is by providing a safe space for youth to come together, to talk with each other, decrease prejudices, and increase understanding. The only way we can do that is by promoting and advancing SDG16 for peace for Afghanistan.”

Jimena Leiva Roesch, IPI Senior Fellow and SDGs team lead, and Jordan Street, Policy and Advocacy Adviser, Saferworld moderated. John Romano, Coordinator of Transparency, Accountability, and Participation Network gave closing remarks, thanking Imagethink for providing a visual synthesis of the discussions

To watch the winning video submissions and to read more about the campaign visit its website at:

Organized Crime, Arms Trafficking, and Illicit Financial Flows: Exploring SDG Target 16.4

Wed, 10/07/2019 - 21:15
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Organized crime, arms trafficking, and illicit financial flows are a chronic and ubiquitous problem among many developing countries. In 2015, the adoption of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 16.4 decisively placed organized crime and illicit financial flows on the development agenda. While the focus of SDG 16 is on peace, justice, and strong institutions, this goal has clear links to other SDGs, such as those on gender, reducing inequality, decent work, and sustainable cities. This intersection was the topic of conversation at an IPI policy forum on July 10th.

This IPI side-event to the UN High-Level Political Forum brought together experts working on the components of Target 16.4 to share their knowledge of the interplay among organized crime, illicit financial flows, arms flows, and development efforts. The event was organized in partnership with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, and co-hosted with Small Arms Survey, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, and Global Financial Integrity.

Gerardo Isaac Morales Tenorio, Deputy Director General for Multidimensional Security in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said that SDG Target 16.4 was relevant to his country in particular, where 20,005 murders were committed with firearms last year. He highlighted the link between weapons and ammunition as catalysts of violence and homicide rates. The target “obligates us to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows,” he said. He then shared three ideas that could contribute to its achievement.

The first, he said, was implementation. “It is not only needed to address arms flows but ammunitions, and it’s not only about money laundering, but we need to address all new kinds of forms of illicit financial flows,” he explained. The second consideration for achieving these goals was sharing examples of advancement from different countries to link their “concrete experiences at the local and national levels to share and maybe promote its replication,” he said. The third was acknowledging the different ways in which governments, academia, civil society, and the private sector contribute to achieving Agenda 2030.

Anna Alvazzi del Frate, Vice President of Small Arms Survey, called out the problem that despite linkages in the SDGs, “It’s not a surprise that when you go into implementation you still see the siloes approach, because this is what organizations are used to, it’s what sustainable development goals should try to change.”

She said that to measure a reduction of illicit arms flows, “You can’t count guns one by one, but you have to measure a reduction in the negative impacts—the reduction of the armed violence.” She also highlighted the inclusion of women in legal conversations on preventing violence as a key factor to look at when discussing the implementation of Target 16.4. “Working on gender in this area represents an opportunity to bring around the table those who haven’t had the opportunity to contribute to the discussion, some of the people may have been affected, to give some important meaning to a discussion that is happening around for example the arms treaty where you have a very clear formulation about preventing gender based violence amongst experts.”

Martin Borgeaud, Chief Technical Advisor for Justice, Security, and Human Rights at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Lebanon, spoke on reducing arms trafficking. “We need to work on both the demand and supply side: arms ammunition control but also arms violence reduction,” he said. The “best chances of success come from comprehensive public safety and community security programs that connect the local to the national.” In order to do this, he said that he saw the need to have more approaches to prevention, and that a “good entry point” to prevent violence would be engaging youth at risk.

Mr. Borgeaud also made the link between violence and gender, saying that the 2030 Agenda informed preventative approaches that are “more transformative, not only in identifying how women and men are affected differently by armed violence, but also in addressing underlying causes such as gender roles and social norms.”

He said that the SDGs are a “good framework to start collecting data and nurture and inform debate in small arms issues. We have seen a number of countries starting to collect, systematically, data on small arms and on violence the past fifteen years with interesting results… including through the establishment of national crime observatories but also in the region of the Western Balkans.” But he emphasized that the majority of countries still don’t have usable data, and “this absence of data is an obstacle to develop efficient strategies but also to encourage debates.”

Tuesday Reitano, Deputy Director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, highlighted the interlinkages of organized crime, illicit financial flows, and arms trafficking. “From our perspective as analysts of organized crime and criminal economies around the world, these two things are intimately connected into an ecosystem that might have two stratas… While we have a growing economy for the one percent… the bottom fifty percent of the globe is feeling the consequences of these in levels of violence that are just unparalleled and unprecedented.”

She spoke on how large percentages of certain countries’ wealth was held offshore, that somewhere between eight and thirty percent of the global GDP “is held in secrecy jurisdictions and places where its ownership and its profits cannot be followed, traced, or understood.” This “extraordinary amount of money” has had “an extraordinary impact,” she continued, “on the kinds of economies that often are often… at the bottom of the system.”

On the topic of arms, Ms. Reitano highlighted that the “legacy” of arms is “very long,” in that “arms stay, they’re not easily destroyed, they circulate out of the hands of legitimate conflict actors, they circulate out of the hands of state institutions and policing and into the hands of criminal groups and gangs into violent conflict actors, terrorist groups and those with other agendas, and they stay for a very long time.”

The current global consensus is that the money needed to achieve all SDGs is estimated at 1.4 trillion dollars a year, added Tom Cardamone, President of Global Financial Integrity. Reducing illicit financial flows is “critically important not only in and of itself,” he continued, “but because if it is addressed by governments, it will enable them to achieve the other targets and other goals because of the money it generates. There’s a huge amount of money that is siphoned out of developing economies each year because of illicit flows.” So, he asked, “how do you get from where they are now to 1.4 trillion a year? Well, you have to claw back the money that has been lost to illicit flows.”

Illicit flows are a “massive,” ongoing issue faced worldwide, he said, costing about a trillion dollars a year. “There is nothing in the data that we’ve seen over the last ten years or so that gives us any indication they are being curtailed.” And since there is “no emerging country that doesn’t have a problem with illicit financial flows, it is something that should be of paramount importance to governments going forward,” he asserted. But progress is lacking, he said. “Four years into the SDG period we’re not seeing many countries really attacking this problem as we think they should. There are many tools, mechanisms, policies, rules, regulations, laws that could be used to get really on top of this, we’re not seeing too many countries doing that, they’re a bit behind schedule.”

The good news, Mr. Cardamone added, is that many things have been done to help governments obtain information related to illicit flows. However, this has not reached the level of complete transparency because countries are only required to report to their home tax authority. “All these areas are, I think, reason for optimism going forward, with the understanding that we are four years into this process,” he said. “Governments really have to begin to step up their efforts to address this critically important problem.”

Adam Lupel, IPI Vice President, moderated.

Safeguarding Humanitarian Action in Sanctions Regimes

Mon, 24/06/2019 - 18:46

There are currently fourteen UN sanctions regimes, which member states are legally required to implement. Many of these are implemented in the context of armed conflict, where international humanitarian law outlines obligations to protect the provision of and access to principled humanitarian action. But despite efforts to make sanctions regimes more targeted, they continue to have unintended consequences, including impeding or preventing the provision of humanitarian assistance and protection—particularly when they coexist with counterterrorism measures.

This issue brief explains the various ways in which sanctions regimes can impact humanitarian action. Acknowledging that this is not a new issue—though one that may be of increasing concern—it identifies several factors that make it challenging to resolve. Finally, it lays out some avenues for progress, pointing to existing efforts and highlighting where more could be done.

Given that sanctions regimes are mostly targeted and that member states are bound to uphold the principles in the UN Charter and international humanitarian law (where it applies), sanctions should protect and not inhibit humani­tarian action. Where sanctions hinder aid, the impact on civilian populations is immediate, and efforts to backtrack will always come too late. Going forward, member states, the UN, financial institutions, and humanitarian actors should proactively and preventively tackle this problem. While the most effective courses of action will require political will, stakeholders at all levels can take incremental steps to help mitigate the impact.