Conflict Trends 2013/4

ACCORD Conflict Trends 2013/4

"The United Nations (UN) Global Compact Leaders Summit 2013 was held in New York on 19–20 September, as a precursor to the UN General Assembly meetings. The summit reinforced two important truisms about peace in the 21st century: first, there is a crucial peace– development nexus; and second, the triad of government, civil society and the private sector working with each other, or to complement each other, are positioned as the key actors for securing peace and development...

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in the December 2012 editorial of Conflict Trends, i reported a death toll of 50 000 people in Syria between the start of the war in early 2011 and the end of 2012. Barely six months later, that number The complexity of the peace–development nexus, as well as the challenges of conflict in this century, are underpinned by the disruptive forces of humanity's rapid demographic and technological transformations. These forces are vividly exemplified by the tens of thousands of young protesters who were mobilised by civil society for street protests in Cairo through social media, as well as through the insurgents' live-tweeting of their attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall. No government can manage the complexities of this century on its own. They need partnerships with civil society and the private sector.

In this regard, the post-2015 development agenda has taken a great leap forward in highlighting the theme of conflict, violence and disaster within the broader agenda of peaceful, just and resilient societies. Civil society representatives have long been advocating for this shift, and will no doubt support its inclusion. For those in the fields of peace and development, there will be little debate on the substance of the recommendations contained in the UN's Report of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

However, in the aftermath of the 2011 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-led Libyan intervention, and with the ongoing events in Syria, the most contentious debates will focus on the principles, approaches, financing and implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. On the question of principles, two important criteria will be debated with regard to the post-2015 development agenda. First, how universally applicable will the new goals be? Will the goals apply to all UN member states or will some states be exempt? Second, with what consistency will the goals be implemented? And again, will some countries be excluded from the firm benchmarks developed?

On the question of approach, two important dimensions will be tested. First, will the new goals, indicators and targets embedded within the post-2015 development agenda be contextualised for the varying development trajectories of specific countries, or will they be uniformly applied to all member states in pursuit of idealised outputs, outcomes and impact indicators? Second, on the specific question of achieving the goal of inclusive governance, will we seek this change through dialogue or through military intervention?

This leads to the question of how to finance these new goals. If we accept that there is a causal link between security and development and, consequently, that insecurity leads to fragility and fragility impedes development, then it must follow that our financial commitment to conflict prevention and peacebuilding should match our investment in development. So, too, if we accept that dialogue leads to more sustainable peace and development, then it must follow that our investment in the instruments of conflict prevention and peacebuilding must match our investment in the instruments of war.

Beyond these crucial debates, and in light of the peace– development nexus, the first step towards successfully implementing the post-2015 development agenda is to emphasise and support the peaceful resolution of disputes. There are three ways to resolve a dispute: we can go to war, we can go to court, or we can engage in dialogue. Every government in the world has a ministry of defence and a ministry of justice. However, except for Nepal, Costa Rica and the Solomon Islands, no other country has a ministry of peace. If we want to achieve sustainable development for all countries in the 21st century, peace must be at the centre of national, regional and global efforts to transform our planet.

Vasu Gounden
Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD.


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