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Promoting the prevention and settlement of conflicts
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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.


On Eve of Pledging Conference, UNRWA Head Says Neutrality Essential for Doing Humanitarian Work

Fri, 21/06/2019 - 21:31
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The subject of the June 21st Speaker Series event at IPI was “The Risks of Politicizing Humanitarian Action: The UNRWA Perspective,” and the speaker, Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), focused his comments on what he said was the most misunderstood of all principles governing humanitarian work—neutrality.

“Neutrality is often misunderstood as ‘indifference’ when in fact it is a crucial action enabling principle,” he said. “It is crucial because what it means and entails is a fundamental consideration—you as an organization are not taking sides. The misunderstood part is that it sounds sometimes like neutrality is a reflex of taking a step back, physically moving away from the conflict or battlefield.” To the contrary, he said, “our humanitarian work is only possible if we engage… and this can be achieved only if we engage in dialogue with everyone.”

UNRWA provides education, health care, microfinance, and relief and social services to some 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, an area that Mr. Krähenbühl identified as “one of the most polarized and politicized places on the planet.”

A former Director of Operations at The International Committee of the Red Cross with more than 25 years of experience in humanitarian, human rights, and development work, he pointed to a key misunderstanding about neutrality in conflict contexts. “Neutral does not mean, ‘I am not in favor of the other one, but I agree with you.’ It means, ‘I do not take sides. I am here in a conflict environment, and there is no need to take sides.’”

Maintaining a neutral position is always under challenge in the conflicted region where UNRWA operates, and he gave an example, stemming from the discovery that the fundamentalist organization Hamas had built a tunnel under one of the agency’s schools in Gaza. “We found out, we informed the different parties, and we condemned Hamas and contributed to the sealing the tunnels,” he said. “This is how far UNRWA is prepared to go to protect its neutrality, to not allow any actor in the region to play with its installations or undermine credibility of its work.”

UNRWA is holding its annual pledging conference starting June 25th, and a particular concern is how to make up for the cut last year in longstanding financial contributions to the agency from its traditionally most generous donor, the United States. He said that the agency had reduced its spending by $92 million and received increased funding from 42 countries and institutions in response to the American action, and its purpose now was to sustain that and keep the annual budget level at its current $1.2 billion. “If every single donor would preserve and maintain their level of contribution reached in 2018, we would be able to cover the financial needs of UNRWA,” he said.

He said the budget was balanced for the first half of 2019 but already was showing a deficit for June. A lack of funding would cripple the agency’s provision of services, especially in the fields of health and education, threatening to delay the opening of schools in August. He declared himself “passionate” about UNRWA’s education program and cited a comment about it from former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown—“There is not a single other actor in the humanitarian system that runs an entire education service of over one half million boys and girls.”

Mr. Krähenbühl said that providing education affected the stability of the entire region and alluded to a statement from King Abdullah II of Jordan. “The Jordanian King said that if the 122,000 boys and girls in the kingdom no longer had access to education, it would become a matter of national stability,” he said.

In a general assessment of the U.S. cuts, he said he didn’t challenge the right of a country to take such action, but he lamented what he called “the accompanying narrative that somehow that UNRWA is a key actor in perpetuating the refugeehood among Palestinians.” He added: “This analysis doesn’t stand serious review.”

Asked about the particular effect of the cutbacks on girls and women, he noted that there was gender parity in the parliament representing 280,000 students in Gaza. The president of the parliament, he said, was a 15-year old girl. “Every time we have funding challenges, we worry that it will impact young girls and women,” he said, “and this, in particular is something we are trying to limit.”

IPI Vice President Adam Lupel moderated the discussion.

Rød-Larsen: Palestinian Identity is Glued to the Notion of Establishing a Palestinian State

Tue, 18/06/2019 - 18:51

In an interview with FRANCE 24 in The Hague, IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen discussed the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and also shared his thoughts on the merits of the Trump administration’s plans for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Prioritizing and Sequencing Peacekeeping Mandates in 2019: The Case of MINUSMA

Mon, 10/06/2019 - 18:30

The UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in June 2019. Amidst the potential stagnation of Mali’s peace process, concerns over rising violence against civilians, and continued weaknesses of the Malian government in providing basic services, the upcoming negotiations on MINUSMA’s mandate represent a critical moment to reflect upon the Security Council’s strategic engagement in the country.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report organized a workshop on May 13, 2019, to discuss MINUSMA’s mandate and political strategy. This workshop provided a forum for member states, UN stakeholders, and outside experts to share their assessments of the situation in Mali. The discussion was intended to help the Security Council make more informed decisions with respect to the strategic orientation, prioritization, and sequencing of the mission’s mandate and actions on the ground.

The workshop highlighted several tensions in the Security Council’s approach to pursuing peace and security in Mali, specifically the tensions inherent in a conflict that is simultaneously transnational and hyper-localized. It also highlighted the debate around whether the mission should focus more on the north or the center of Mali. Participants largely agreed that MINUSMA’s current mandate remains relevant but also put forward several proposals to further strengthen and adapt the mandate in the interest of advancing the mission’s political strategy and achieving the Security Council’s objectives in the coming year. Recommendations included expanding MINUSMA’s political work to the center of the country and supporting a national dialogue, making protection of civilians a strategic priority, increasing support to justice and reconciliation, and strengthening regional coordination.

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Sustaining Peace in Liberia: New Reforms, New Opportunities?

Tue, 28/05/2019 - 17:13

Gross ODA disbursement to Liberia, 2007–2017 (Click for full graphic)

Top 10 donors of gross overseas development assistance in Liberia, 2015–2017 (Click for full graphic)

The reforms to the UN development system, effective on January 1, 2019, marked the start of a new period for the UN presence in Liberia, making it one of the earliest test cases of a “next generation” UN country team. This comes less than a year after two other transitions: the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Liberia and the inauguration of a new Liberian president. On top of longstanding socioeconomic challenges, these transitions are testing the country’s ability to sustain peace.

This paper, a publication of IPI and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), examines the implementation of the UN’s peacebuilding and sustaining peace framework in Liberia, looking at what has been done and what is still needed. It focuses on the four issue areas highlighted in the secretary-general’s 2018 report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace: operational and policy coherence; leadership at the UN country level; partnerships with local and regional actors; and international support. It looks specifically at how the UN country team is adapting its strategy and operations in the wake of the recent transitions in Liberia.

The changes taking place in Liberia illustrate that efforts to implement the secretary-general’s recommendations are already underway. The UN has implemented a new, innovative model centered on an empowered resident coordinator’s office, which has been able to effectively coordinate its approach with the Liberian government. Nonetheless, this office needs support to ensure that programming is oriented toward conflict prevention and connected to discussions at UN headquarters.


Strengthening the Human Rights Compliance Framework for the G5 Sahel Joint Force

Fri, 24/05/2019 - 21:38
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The G5 Sahel Joint Force was launched in 2017 by Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad, and Mali to unite their efforts to address common security threats in the region. In a resolution authorizing the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to provide operational and logistical support to the force, the United Nations Security Council called on these five states to establish a “robust compliance framework” to deal with and “publicly report” violations and abuses of human rights law and international humanitarian law related to the joint force.

On May 24th, IPI and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) held a policy forum taking stock of the initial implementation of what Jake Sherman, director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, described as an “innovative mechanism.”

Namie Di Razza, IPI Senior Fellow and head of IPI’s Protection of Civilians (POC) program, cited the resolution’s insistence that adherence to the human rights compliance framework was critical to building the required trust in the force among the populations affected by military operations. It was particularly important, she said, in establishing human rights and POC as a central consideration in the conduct of counter-terrorism operations.

Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, underlined the point, saying, “The eventual success of the joint force will only be there if it works to protect all civilians during its operations. Therefore, the human rights compliance framework should not be seen as a burden, but rather as a tool to make the force more effective, stronger, and in the end more successful.”

He said it was essential to focus on the “root causes” of the region’s instability, one of which he identified as the local population’s feeling of being marginalized. “You cannot win against terrorism if at the same time you cannot win the hearts and minds of the local population,” he said.

Yemdaogo Eric Tiare, the Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the UN, saying he was speaking on behalf of all five force states, also linked effective counter-terrorism with respect for rights. “We cannot win the fight against terrorism and violent extremism without the collaboration of our own citizens,” he said.

Richard Gowan, UN Director of the International Crisis Group, said that the future of peace operations will inevitably be “messy”, but he added, “It is crucial that while we may have a more fragmented world of conflict management, we should still maintain some common standards in how we respond to conflict, and those standards have to rest on a clear common vision of human rights and POC.” The G5 force compliance framework was important in its own right, he asserted, but also as “an important model for this sort of conflict management that the UN will be doing a lot of in the future.”

Mr. Gowan said that given the growing complexity of UN peace operations, he imagined that OHCHR would be doing this kind of normative assessing frequently, an action he compared to the practice in the United Kingdom of providing products with a so-called Kitemark seal of safety assurance. “The Kitemark tells you that a product has gone through a standard safety testing…and I think to some extent that is what OHCHR is providing here, providing a Kitemark reassurance that a coalition operation will live up to the highest principles that it can.”

Baptiste Martin, Senior Human Rights Officer and Coordinator of the OHCHR/G5 Sahel project, said the G5 force compliance framework was a new model for OHCHR. His team includes staff in all five countries, he said, with the goal of tailoring implementation to “the specificities of the force, of the context, of the G5 Sahel organs, and to its context. Then trying to adapt the tools, the mechanisms, all the activities to the specificities of that force in a support role for us.” He said the mission was “more robust than the traditional UN peacekeeping one.” He described a broadly consultative process, involving, among others, the African Union, the UN, NATO, and the International Committee of the Red Cross in partnership with the Austrian, French, and Italian governments.

Georgette Gagnon, OHCHR’s Director of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, drew on her time working for OHCHR in Afghanistan where an early version of a compliance framework was eventually put into effect with positive results. “Over many years, civilians would tell us, ‘We’re caught in the middle between the insurgents and the Afghan and international forces.’ Civilian harm undermined the mission’s credibility and interests, its political and military objectives.” She highlighted that this early framework had a direct impact on national actors: In 2017 the Afghan government adopted a national policy on civilian casualty mitigation and prevention, and a civilian casualty mitigation structure has been implemented in the Afghan forces as well.

The compliance reforms that were adopted, she said, greatly reduced casualties and led to needed changes in training and tracking. “A benefit of the compliance framework approach is that in addition to protection dividends, it can provide operational dividends to the force,” she said. “Retaining and sustaining the support of civilian operations is essential to successful military operations in many if not all contemporary contexts.”

Col. Dia Saidou, Military Attaché of the Permanent Mission of Mauritania to the UN, highlighted parts of the compliance framework that he saw as essential for reinforcing local support. He singled out the need for a trained police component, and for a proper judicial follow-up as a complement of military action. He also insisted on clear and dependable communications so that “the population perceives the force in a positive way.”

Sheraz Gazri, Legal Counsellor and Head of Human Rights at the Permanent Mission of France to the UN, said France was dedicated to the success of the G5 Sahel joint force. She highlighted the different challenges it faced, including the need for adequate and sustained resources, for continued international support.

Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of OHCHR in New York, acknowledged that donors feel more comfortable if human rights violations are not committed, but he warned the compliance framework “must not be seen as a donor-driven exercise, and we are very keen to make sure that it isn’t.” He highlighted the shift in OHCHR’s approach to incentivize forces to comply with human rights standards: “We do this not by finger-pointing, but by actually working with the forces. It is a way to speak their language in a way they find constructive.”

The discussion was moderated by Ms. Di Razza.

Twenty Years of Protecting Civilians through UN Peacekeeping Operations: Successes, Challenges, and New Frontiers

Wed, 22/05/2019 - 21:08
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Twenty years ago, the United Nations Security Council established the first explicit Protection of Civilians (POC) mandate, resolving that the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

On May 22nd, during the week in which the Security Council held its annual POC open debate, IPI, in partnership with the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) and the Permanent Missions of the Netherlands and of Uruguay to the UN, held a policy forum taking stock of these two decades of direct attention to POC in peacekeeping operations. The event provided an opportunity to explore the progress made and the reforms that are still needed to ensure the protection of local populations relying on peacekeepers.

“We know that peace operations have striven to do more to protect, but they are also facing many challenges,” said IPI Senior Fellow Dr. Namie Di Razza. “Peacekeepers are being asked to do more with less…and a number of reviews have highlighted persistent shortcomings and a general lack of accountability for POC.”

Since 1999, 14 missions have been mandated to protect civilians from physical violence, and today eight of the fourteen active UN peacekeeping operations have a POC mandate, constituting the vast majority of civilian and uniformed personnel deployed to these operations around the world.

Speaking to the centrality of POC to peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre LaCroix, UN Under-Secretary for Peacekeeping Operations, said, “I would argue that all peacekeeping operations, whatever the mandate, ultimately are about the protection of civilians…POC, in addition to being one of the greatest achievements of peacekeeping, is probably our greatest challenge as well.”

In meeting that challenge, he said, one had to be conscious of the outside expectations and the inside limitations. “We are never able to put peacekeepers in every village, in every location, in every place where civilians are under threat,” he said. “But by being deployed, we create and raise expectations to a level that is very difficult to meet in practice.”

He said that peacekeeping missions had developed a number of tools to acquire the “situational awareness” necessary for advancing the protection agenda in peacekeeping environments. “We engage better with local communities to have better information to be able to better deter, prevent, and preempt threats, and making sure that we can, if needed, react before these threats come to the civilian population,” he said.

Karel Van Oosterom, the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN, listed ten points that he said reflected that “we have to do more.” Among them were the need to internalize POC as standard operating procedure, to improve and expand the training of peacekeepers in protecting civilians, and to make sure that the host country takes primary responsibility. He also stressed that resources had to be sufficient to make POC an “achievable result.”

David Gressly, Deputy Special Representative for Operations and the Rule of Law, UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), spoke of the successive generations of POC practice. He stressed the importance of telecommunications in “reinforcing the intelligence architecture” so peacekeepers can track threats before they develop into armed conflict. He particularly stressed the innovations pursued by the peacekeeping mission in the DRC, where 65 community alert networks were established, and cover more than 900 communities. He explained the value of protection through presence and projection, as “showing up and being there…[causes] an immediate freezing of the situation.” He added, “We need to end the conflict, that’s the ultimate protection.”

Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, UN Departments of Peace Operations and Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that including women was a crucial element of protection of civilians activities. To illustrate the point, she told a story about her work for the peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) that was suddenly overwhelmed by thousands of internally displaced persons, most of whom were women and children. “On the day when we arrived, we came to a place where it was important for women to be there,” she said. “Most of the peacekeepers were men, they could not go and engage and see within the site what was happening with women because they had to protect their privacy.”

It was also a situation that required the attention of humanitarian workers, and Ms. Keita said, “Another aspect of protection is having all humanitarians and all components of the mission in one meeting.”

The importance of having women involved in POC also figured in the remarks of Lieutenant Commander Marcia Braga, former Military Protection of Civilians and Gender Adviser, UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). “When I have female peacekeepers, it’s a little bit easier to talk about the special needs of different groups. Our presence is less offensive, and we can approach the local population, which is very important.” Having this kind of engagement with the local population built up the level of acceptance by them and made it easier for the peacekeepers to protect them, she said.

Alison Giffen, Director, Peacekeeping Center for Civilians in Conflict, lamented that international enthusiasm for peacekeeping was declining and warned against shortchanging peacekeepers. “If we’re going to issue mandates to protect civilians, we have to give them the means,” she said. “That’s not just the trained troops and civilian personnel. It’s not just the capabilities and the enablers. It is the financial cost of peacekeeping. Protecting civilians has a cost. It is an investment worth making.”

In concluding remarks, Elbio Rosselli, Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the UN, commented, “We also have to remember that armed protection is not necessarily the only way of protecting civilians. Unarmed methods are incredibly effective.”

Jake Sherman, Director of IPI’s Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, made welcoming remarks, and Ms. Di Razza moderated the discussion

UN Libya Envoy: “This Conflict, Left to Itself, Can Only Deteriorate and Expand”

Wed, 22/05/2019 - 15:30
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The most recent round of fighting that erupted in Libya in April, even as a national conference to find elements of consensus in the country was imminent, threatens to widen into an enduring civil war unless the international community acts now to halt it, said Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

“I believe this conflict, left to itself, can only deteriorate and expand, and can lead to a true civil war,” he said.

He urged the international community to “not only contain this conflict,” arguing that letting it continue would have consequences throughout the region.  “Leaving this conflict festering before us is a danger for the Libyans first, but also for their neighbors and for peace and security throughout the region,” he said.

He was speaking at a May 22nd IPI “Leading for Peace: Voices from the Field” event a day after warning the UN Security Council that the ongoing battle mounted by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and the factional Libyan National Army was “just the start of a long and bloody war.” More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the fighting, and 510 have been killed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

General Haftar launched the offensive against the internationally and UN-recognized Government of National Accord on April 4th, and though he has covered lots of ground across the vast country, the effort to capture the capital, Tripoli, has stalled, and there is a military stalemate. “The frontline hasn’t changed an inch in the past month,” Mr. Salamé said.

Though Gen. Haftar has not succeeded in advancing further, he still stands in the way of any settlement, Mr. Salamé said. “If you are looking for a peace formula, you cannot ignore somebody who is not in control but who is to a large extent the largest influence over 75 percent of territory…and 70-75 percent of the oil fields. You cannot say, ‘He does not exist, I do not want to deal with him.’”

Mr. Salamé, a seasoned UN official who has been a professor of international relations at Sciences Po and is the founding dean of its Paris School of International Affairs, lamented what he said was an excessively cynical outside view of the Libyan conflict. “The way people see Libya is more concentrated on Libya as a prize for the shrewdest, the strongest, the most patient and very much less Libya as a country of 6, 7 million people who deserve a decent life after four decades of dictatorship and a decade of chaos. There is not enough of a moral motivation to put an end to this war, and therefore there is less of a political predisposition to take the extra mile to find a solution.”

He suggested this attitude had affected Security Council thinking. “I am not sure that some leading countries in the Security Council are aware enough of the risks they are taking by allowing the conflict to fester,” he said. “This particular conflict can transform, it could mutate in way that we could in a few months truly regret that we did not stop it in time.”

He said that UN credibility had also been put at stake by highly publicized recent breaches of the UN arms embargo, violations that used to be done “quietly, discreetly” but are now boasted about as evidence of armed strength. “The Security Council members should know that the Security Council is not taken seriously when the violations are so blatant and exhibitionist,” he said.

The blunt-spoken Lebanese diplomat noted that Libya, with its oil riches, did not have to rely on outsiders to finance war within its borders. “The truth is that Libya can pay for its own suicide,” he said. “They are committing suicide with their own money. You do not need external fuel for this war…This country is producing 1.2 million barrels of oil a day. This is big money. The country is very wealthy…The conflict does not depend on financial transfers from outside.”

For that reason, he said “if you want a textbook case for a war on resources and how it can turn extremely vicious, Libya is your example.”

The national conference that Mr. Salamé had been organizing since assuming his current post in 2017 was to have taken place on April 14th and 15th. It has been indefinitely postponed because of the conflict.

But on a positive note, he said the UN has had success introducing “political fluidity” in local areas, holding elections in 28 large cities and promising to conduct more regardless of the pressures of the conflict. “We will continue to do as much as we can in these municipal elections between now and the end of the year, whatever happens to the war itself,” he said.

The discussion was moderated by IPI Vice President Adam Lupel.

Related coverage:
Al Jazeera: UN envoy: ‘Libya a textbook example of foreign intervention’
The Guardian: UN envoy attacks lack of ‘moral motivation’ to end Libyan war

Finding the Road to Implementing Security Council Resolution 2286

Mon, 20/05/2019 - 19:26

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On May 24th, IPI together with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (SHCC), and the Permanent Missions of Poland, France, Iraq, Germany, and Afghanistan to the UN, co-hosted a policy forum entitled “Finding the Road to Implementing Security Council Resolution 2286.” This was a side event to the 2019 UN Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians.

In 2016, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2286, a landmark resolution reaffirming the relevance of international humanitarian law and, in particular, its rules relating to the protection of the wounded and sick. The resolution’s adoption represented a strong political commitment to protect the sanctity of healthcare delivery in armed conflict.

Since then, the protection of medical care in armed conflict has received sustained attention at the Security Council. Unfortunately, this has yet to translate into significant and concrete change on the ground. Around the world, attacks on healthcare continue unabated. Beyond attacks, access to impartial medical care has also continued to suffer other, less visible impediments. These include the removal of medical items from aid convoys by armed actors, threats to medical personnel, or the ripple effects of restrictive measures such as counterterrorism regulations, some of which may criminalize the provision of medical care to members of groups considered as “terrorist.” These challenges have an immediate impact on the ability to provide medical care to those who need it, but also create longer-term consequences for the health of entire populations.

This event provided an opportunity to recall the necessity, in armed conflict, for parties to armed conflict to comply fully with relevant international humanitarian law obligations and the need to take concrete action, at all levels, to stem the flow of attacks and other impediments to the impartial provision of medical care in armed conflict. It also highlighted good practice in Resolution 2286’s implementation and identified ways in which member states and relevant institutions can concretely follow up on initiatives to better protect the wounded and sick in armed conflict.

Read the concept note>>

Introductory remarks:
H.E. Ms. Joanna Wronecka, Permanent Representative of Poland to the UN
Ms. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the UN

Mr. Leonard Rubenstein, Chair, Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition
Mr. Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief of the Policy Development and Studies Branch, UN OCHA
H.E. Mrs. Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN
H.E. Mr. Mohammad Hussein Ali Bahr Al Uloom, Permanent Representative of Iraq to the UN

Closing remarks:
H.E. Mr. Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN

Mr. Jake Sherman, Director, Center for Peace Operations, IPI

Guatemala’s Achilles’ Heel: The 2030 Agenda and the Fight against Corruption

Wed, 01/05/2019 - 16:56

In late 2015, momentum toward implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was steadily building in Guatemala. This momentum was driven by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and protesters in the streets demanding action against corruption. Since 2017, however, a political standoff in Guatemala has started reversing these gains. A sustained reversal would undermine efforts to address the country’s longstanding socioeconomic needs.

This study analyzes recent gains and setbacks in Guatemala’s efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and provides recommendations for ways the country can fight corruption and securitization to sustain peace and promote sustainable development. It suggests better communicating the 2030 Agenda through multi-stakeholder outreach, improving monitoring or progress, aligning international aid with local objectives, and continuing to engage with the private sector.

This issue brief is part of the International Peace Institute’s (IPI) SDGs4Peace project, which seeks to understand how the 2030 Agenda is being rooted at the national and local levels and to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The project focuses on five case studies: Guatemala, the Gambia, Greece, Lebanon, and Myanmar. Implementation of the 2030 Agenda provides each of these countries an opportunity not only to buttress existing aspirations but also to build new partnerships that transcend traditional approaches.


IPI MENA Hosts Youth in Art for Peace

Mon, 29/04/2019 - 23:28


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Graduating high school art students from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, India, Ireland, Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, donated artwork to an IPI MENA “Youth in Art for Peace” exhibition organized in collaboration with Saudi Artist Wedad Al Bakr, Founder of Artwed and peace advocate.

In his opening remarks, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji stressed IPI’s vision for youth in peacemaking and multilateral policymaking. He called for greater involvement of youth in leadership positions for innovation in the field of peacemaking, and as a deterrence against growing dissatisfaction, violence, and extremism among youth.

Ms. Al Bakr outlined art as a means of intercultural communication, as well a tool for promoting inclusivity, tolerance, and peace. Noting the diversity of youth who convened at IPI MENA as a testament to the unifying power of art, she called on the young artists to build bridges and cultural connections in advocating for peace.

H.E. Selim Ghariani, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to the Kingdom of Bahrain, remarked that “it is important to devote time to the initiatives of youth and peace.” He expressed a desire to see concerned players at the regional and international level adopt this initiative and showcase youth artwork.

Noting the “high density of artists, art movements and galleries in Manama” H.E. Kai Boeckmann, the Ambassador of Republic of Germany to the Kingdom of Bahrain discussed the potential for youth in art in the Kingdom, saying,  “I welcome the voices of youth, especially speaking on issues such as environmental sustainability and peace, as these are issues that we must tackle together as an international community.”

H.E. Kemal Demirciler, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the Kingdom of Bahrain, praised the youth for actively taking up their roles as peace advocates.

The young artists then gave statements on their works, how they were inspired to create them, and what peace means in their artwork.

During the student presentations, Majd Sattam Algosaibi of Ibn Khuldoon School (IKNS) showcased her acrylic painting “Ummah.” Discussing the community’s role in fostering inclusivity, tolerance, and understanding, she hopes to portray in her work “that no one is superior to another and no one deserves more because of authority or race.”

Describing his acrylic painting “Pure Youth,” Hamza Rahma of IKNS School explained that his subject symbolizes the trauma and suffering experienced by children in war and conflict zones. He hoped his audience would assess the sensations and effects of war and thus be inspired to work towards peace.

Stirred by “the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, inequality, stereotypes and war” Juman Al Ghalayini of IKNS School entitled her artwork “Salam” (which means “peace” in Arabic) with the aim to increase awareness. She purposefully detached the letters of the word “salam” in her Arabic calligraphy to symbolize the unachieved peace today. However, she contrasted this negativity through the use of brightly colored, dried flowers as a sign of hope for sustainable peace.

Ahmed Dadabai of Riffa Views International School stated art as a means of storytelling, and a way for him to express peaceful perspectives on the world. His piece depicted Islamic symbols showing “religion as a force of calmness and light, in contrast to its common representation in some media.”

Hana Aysha Noor of Ibn Al Haytham Islamic School focused on discrimination as an obstacle to sustainable peace. She highlighted the role that Nelson Mandela, played in challenging hatred, building understanding and tolerance; core values of durable peace.

Created through a collaboration of six student artists from St. Christopher’s School, the layered and multi-technique artwork “Peace in Sight” depicted the word peace in many languages, including braille. The piece symbolizes the use of art as a communicative tool, often expressing more than words, stated the artists.

Read the Press Release in Arabic>>

Stuck in Crisis: The Humanitarian Response to Sudan’s Health Emergency

Fri, 26/04/2019 - 18:39

Following decades of war, economic decline, and underinvestment, Sudan’s healthcare system entered a new phase of crisis in 2019 as peaceful protests led to the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir. Among those leading these protests were doctors and other medical personnel fed up with poor working conditions and medicine shortages. This speaks to the degraded state of healthcare in the country, particularly in the conflict-affected regions of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile.

This paper looks at the humanitarian response to health-related needs in these conflict-affected parts of Sudan. After providing an overview of the state of Sudan’s healthcare system, it explores the main trends and challenges in the humanitarian health response, including the difficult partnerships between international and Sudanese health actors, restricted humanitarian access, and the effort to shift toward more sustainable approaches.

It concludes that the humanitarian health response in Sudan is stuck: most agree on the need to move beyond short-term approaches, but the national capacity and development funding needed to make this transition are missing. At the same time, with newly accessible areas exposing unmet needs and conflict and displacement ongoing, a robust humanitarian response is still desperately needed. This situation calls for the UN, donors, and health NGOs to continue their efforts to respond to needs while strengthening the healthcare system, to coordinate humanitarian and development funding, and to advocate for maintaining and extending humanitarian access.


A Conversation with Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Madagascar

Wed, 24/04/2019 - 20:40

On April 24th, IPI hosted the next event in its “Leading for Peace: Voices from the Field” series, featuring Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Madagascar, who shared his reflections on the country’s efforts to achieve peace, stability, and a successful democratic transition. He provided insights into Madagascar’s ongoing electoral process and identified lessons from recent efforts to support and sustain political dialogue, including through partnerships with regional organizations like the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.

Mr. Bathily was appointed by the Secretary-General as his Special Adviser on Madagascar on April 27, 2018, where he has since worked with both Malagasy and international actors to create a peaceful and credible environment for the December 2018 presidential elections. Until 2016, Mr. Bathily served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Office for Central Africa (UNOCA). Before that, he served as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) in Mali from 2013 to 2014. Prior to his international engagements, Mr. Bathily was a senior minister for the presidency from 2012 to 2013 and a member of Senegal’s Parliament from 1998 to 2000, during which time he served as deputy speaker. For more than thirty years, Mr. Bathily has taught history at the University Sheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. He holds a Doctorat d’Etat from the University of Dakar and a PhD from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

The event was moderated by Dr. Youssef Mahmoud, IPI Senior Adviser.