The concept of sustaining peace—as enshrined in the identical General Assembly/Security Council resolutions of April 27, 2016—offers a new consensus and vision for the UN’s work, in which prevention plays a central role. Prevention continues, however, to be defined negatively, largely by its relationship to conflict rather than by a proactive, nationally owned strategy for averting the outbreak of conflict and sustaining peace.
On October 26, 2016, in pursuit of a practical and conceptual shift around prevention for sustaining peace, IPI organized the first in a series of monthly, high-level "conversations" among member states and other key stakeholders to explore the policy, systemic, and leadership implications of such a shift. This conversation focused on the preventative potential of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with particular focus on target 5.5 on women’s participation and equal opportunities for leadership. The conversation offered the following insights:
- Discussions around sustaining peace and prevention are needed to reflect on how to embed them in the UN agenda and move beyond rhetoric to implementation. The 2030 Agenda could indeed serve as one entry point to operationalize these concepts. Other entry points are Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), on women’s right to unfettered political participation.
- Sustaining peace is not a new framework for peacebuilding alone. It reaches further to connect the three pillars of the UN’s work with prevention playing an explicit role, and encourages the UN and member states to work across silos.
- Participants agreed that all states and multilateral bodies have a collective responsibility to better include women in decision making to realize their role in prevention.
- Women’s empowerment can also be achieved by integrating a gender lens in foreign aid investments and development cooperation, through prioritizing an increased focus on education, and the more systematic inclusion of women in dialogues and policy discussions.
- Collecting examples and exchanging ideas between member states could help in building collective awareness and accelerate the achievement of Target 5.5 and other targets.
- Participants highlighted the importance of focusing not only on processes and means to empower women but also on impact, including the potential for prevention. For example, the correlations between the role of women in the development pillar and strengthening peace, and the proven link between women’s inclusion in peace processes and longer-lasting peace. Further data collection and analysis at the national and international levels could help impact policy.
- Two additional elements were highlighted as key to make implementation possible: good leadership and a broader change in mindsets.
- Finally, although conceptual shifts are necessary, the focus should be on implementation. Member states and the UN can start to lead by example, through gender budgeting analysis, gender-balanced cabinets, affirmative action policies, and by promoting women’s participation at the grassroots level to unleash the preventive potential of women for sustaining peace.
Despite conceptual advances, operationalizing the concept of sustaining peace remains a challenge. For a newly elected UN secretary-general and a relatively new president of the UN General Assembly, this presents leadership opportunities that must be seized to help overcome this challenge. At the United Nations, special political missions such as the Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia should be further leveraged to support member states in integrating prevention for sustaining peace at the national and regional levels. Click here to access the source of this article.