What's In Blue

Posted Fri 19 Jan 2024

Arria-formula Meeting on “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace through Comprehensive Approaches”

On Monday afternoon (22 January), Guyana, Japan, and Mozambique will convene an Arria-formula meeting titled “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace through Comprehensive Approaches–Investment in People, including Empowerment of Women”. Briefings are expected from Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific Mohammed Khaled Khiari, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Achim Steiner, and a civil society representative.

The meeting, which will begin at 3 pm EST and take place in Conference Room 3, will be broadcast on UNTV.

The concept note for the Arria-formula meeting stresses the importance of comprehensive approaches in responding to the interlocking transnational risks to peace and security, to which all states are vulnerable, such as poverty, food and energy insecurity, climate change, pandemics, all forms of violence, discrimination, and gender-based inequalities. It adds that, to prevent conflict or its reoccurrence, and to make countries resilient to these complex risk factors, comprehensive approaches should encompass actions across the peace and security, development, and humanitarian nexus. The concept note suggests that this requires investing in and empowering all people, including women and those who are most vulnerable. It further involves building institutions that fulfil basic human needs, support sustainable development, and create trust between states and their citizens.

The Secretary-General’s July 2023 policy brief A New Agenda for Peace (NAfP), which outlines his vision for the future of multilateralism and the UN’s work on peace and security in a changing world, also highlights comprehensive approaches as a critical element in conflict prevention. In light of the preparations for the Summit of the Future, set to take place on 22 and 23 September, and the 2025 UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review, the concept note suggests that the Arria-formula meeting is an opportunity to discuss “how the Security Council can implement comprehensive approaches by utilizing the UN toolbox and other non-UN tools”.

At Monday’s meeting, Khiari may elaborate on some of the themes in the NAfP, which describes emerging threats to peace and security, including the fragmented geopolitical environment and increasingly complex conflict drivers. It appeals for member states to prioritise and invest more in prevention. Flagging a possible trend in rising inter-state conflict, the NAfP notes the need for states to recommit to multilateralism to prevent or resolve disputes between states.

The policy brief also highlights the need for prevention at the national level that tackles structural causes of conflict and violence. It has long been recognised that the onus of responsibility to prevent conflict is with the concerned state or states. One of the NAfP’s innovations is the Secretary-General’s proposal for all UN member states to develop national prevention strategies. These national or regional strategies, the NAfP suggests, should entail “approaches grounded in sustainable development” and be “multidimensional, people-centred and inclusive of all the different components of society”. The recommendation was also made in recognition of the difficultly the Council faces in engaging with situations before conflict erupts due to states’ concerns about interference in their internal affairs. The NAfP also suggests that states’ efforts to prevent conflict and violence can complement the Council’s responsibility to maintain international peace and security. On Monday, speakers may present their views on how to create resilient societies through comprehensive approaches; how to promote national ownership of such undertakings; and how to facilitate inclusivity in these efforts, such as the involvement of women.

Based on the concept note’s guiding questions, participants may identify good practices of regional or international coordination to implement comprehensive approaches for prevention that address the root causes of conflict. Speakers might cite the role of UN regional offices in this regard. Best known for their early warning and good offices activities, regional offices such as the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), for instance, have supported states and regions in developing strategies to address herder-farmer violence, which respond to these conflicts’ root causes. UNOWAS also works to promote common analysis and coherence among UN agencies, funds, and programmes to provide more conflict-sensitive development assistance.

Another example is Security Council resolution 2349 of 31 March 2017, which called for states of the Lake Chad Basin region to develop a strategy addressing the drivers that contributed to the emergence of Boko Haram and was adopted following a Council visiting mission to the region. This call apparently prompted these countries to move forward in creating the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram-affected areas of the Lake Chad Basin. This strategy has also been described as a good practice because the countries of the region, including local governments, had been closely involved in its creation and implementation. Monday’s meeting may also serve as an opportunity for participants to identify elements required by comprehensive approaches, including by being inclusive in their design, as well as gender and climate sensitive. Speakers are likely to reiterate that each country’s approach should be context-specific. They might also emphasise that international support should empower national or local actors, who can best understand their challenges and required solutions.

In addressing the role that the UN should play in supporting host country-owned efforts, speakers may note that states should be able to access UN expertise or resources. The NAfP recommends that the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) provide a forum to mobilise political and financial support for countries in implementing their prevention strategies. Some participants may highlight that the PBC should develop better capacity to help mobilise resources for countries to provide greater incentive for countries to engage with the Commission. Participants might similarly stress the role of the UN and member states in supporting countries’ efforts with the required resources. They could reiterate governments’ financial interest in delivering these resources, as costs required to respond to crises once they occur are much greater.

The concept note asks participants to address challenges in fostering effective cooperation among stakeholders, including national authorities and UN peace operations and country teams. Speakers might suggest that Council resolutions could encourage greater cooperation and coherence between peace operations and the UN’s agencies, funds, and programmes. They may note that such cooperation is crucial in targeting conflict risks and sustaining the impact of such assistance. This is because strengthening state institutions or addressing other structural risks are usually long-term processes that are undermined when assistance is provided through short-term projects without follow-up, or when UN country teams do not have the capacity to assume residual tasks from departing peace operations. In addition to aligning the UN’s support with the vision of the host country and local communities, speakers may also recall the importance of the perspective and role of regional and sub-regional organisations.

Strengthening cooperation between the Security Council and the PBC is a longstanding issue that speakers may also raise at Monday’s Arria-formula meeting. They may observe that the PBC, with its mandate to address issues that lie between peace and development, is well placed to enhance understanding about the interlocking conflict risks that the concept note flags. In this regard, they might highlight the importance of the Council drawing from the Commission’s advice when addressing relevant country situations. Member states may also stress the need for the PBC to continue its efforts to develop advice that identifies structural challenges and peacebuilding priorities of concerned countries, as well as to provide advice that is actionable for the Council when it crafts peace mission mandates. Speakers may further recall the importance of cooperation between the PBC and international financial institutions or regional development banks, as part of mobilising resources and facilitating sustainable financial assistance.

Issues relating to peacebuilding and sustaining peace have been a priority for the meeting’s organisers. Last year, Mozambique engaged with the PBC for the first time, including a visit by the PBC chair to the country in November 2023. Monday’s Arria-formula meeting further appears to build on a high-level open debate that Japan convened during its Council presidency in January 2023, titled “Investment in people to enhance resilience against complex challenges”.

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