Plenary Session 1

Global Policies – Local Peace? A Reality-Check


Violent conflict and its impact is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. Violence is currently not only increasing in numbers around the world, conflicts are also getting more interconnected, complex and violent across the globe.

An unprecedented number of international and national policy frameworks is trying to find answers to this changing nature and scale of conflict and violence. With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (in particular SDG16 to create peaceful, just and inclusive societies) and the Sustaining Peace Resolutions, we now have a clear global consensus around the need to address the root causes of conflict by supporting country-owned solutions that rebuild trust and strengthen national capacity. This is also reflected in the latest landmark reports, the UN-WB Pathways for Peace report (2018) and the UN Sustaining Peace report (2018).

We are now at the crucial point to translate words into action and into local realities. However, ongoing and protracted crises in Syria, South Sudan, CAR, Ukraine or Iraq raise many questions with regard to the implementation of these global policy agendas. Global power shifts and the rise of populism and nationalism are just a few illustrations of a world in transition where existing multilateral institutions, global norms and practices are increasingly questioned.

Against this background, the opening panel asked, what concretely the global peacebuilding frameworks can offer to strengthen and improve peacebuilding practice. How can we bridge the gap between global policies and local peacebuilding? Which kind of partnerships are necessary to implement the peacebuilding frameworks? Where are risks, challenges and barriers for an effective implementation? The participants took a critical view on the global framework for peacebuilding. The session distilled critical priorities for the international community to move from words to actions and set the scene for the discussions at the FriEnt Peacebuilding Forum.

Key takeaways
  • The Agenda 2030, the Sustaining Peace Resolutions as well as the German policy guidelines on "Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace" represent major policy achievements highlighting inclusive and collaborative approaches for the prevention of violence and sustaining peace. They are vital for a more coherent and coordinated peacebuilding policy.

  • However, while policies are getting better and better, the daily headlines speak a different language. We need to grapple with the gap between policies and the reality on the ground. There is a strong need to make the agendas more practice. A first step is to translate the rhetoric into recommendations that are more practical. What do these frameworks actually mean for the policies of governments as well as for approaches and strategies of CSOs? What do they mean in different country contexts?

  • The implementation of these policy frameworks needs to include a broad range of views – especially of those affected by violence. Sustainable peace requires an inclusive approach that includes local voices and strong partnerships and networks between all stakeholders. Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace efforts need to be locally led, regionally anchored and internationally supported.

  • Unfortunately, the rhetoric around broader inclusion in the Agenda 2030 and the Sustaining Peace resolutions is thwarted by the global trend of shrinking space for civil society, which creates a major barrier for the success of the global peacebuilding frameworks.

  • Civil society can bring more ownership, transparency and accountability to the implementation of peacebuilding and conflict prevention in practice, but the current system makes it hard for local CSOs to get direct funding due to bureaucratic barriers.

  • International peacebuilding intervention must avoid a duplication or replication of existing local mechanisms and structures. There is a need for a general shift: We should not only ask how to translate the global to the local, but think more thoroughly about how to translate local needs and realities to the global arena to make these discussions more meaningful.

  • The people in conflict-affected countries do not divide their lives into development, peace and human rights – these issues are all intrinsically linked. We need to remove the artificial divide between peacebuilding and development – more coordinated and interlinked approaches are required – the Gambian case can serve as a positive example.

  • There is a need to reform the way we finance peacebuilding and sustaining peace and find new and creative ways. Humanitarian budgets are skyrocketing. Without a focus on vulnerable populations and fragile and conflict-affected countries, this trajectory will not change. Investing money in upstream prevention is cost-effective and saves money for humanitarian aid.

  • Violence and conflict are universal concerns: No area in the world is untouched from violence. In many parts of the world, societies are becoming socially exclusive. Peacebuilding and conflict prevention need to be seen as universal tasks.

  • Shift the starting point of analysis: For prevention to serve the overarching goal of sustaining peace, the drivers of peace, rather than the drivers of conflict, should be the starting point of analysis. This entails identifying the societal factors that contribute to durable peace rather than only those that contribute to conflict.

  • Martin Luther King said it best: “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war”. The peacebuilding community needs to learn how to do partnerships better and how to enhance the public support for long-term and comprehensive conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Too often, this work is under the radar and hard security responses prevail and dominate the perceptions.


Harriet Lamb
International Alert
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Lesley Connolly
International Peace Institute (IPI)
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Nina Tsikhistavi-Khutsishvili
International Center on Conflict and Negotiation (ICCN)
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Sara Sekkenes
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
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Marc Baxmann
Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt)
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Current Topics

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The FriEnt Peacebuilding Forum is a series of events on current and overarching challenges and trends in peacebuilding. With the Peacebuilding Forum, we want to provide future-oriented impulses for the development of peacebuilding and strengthen the visibility and importance of the policy field in its entirety.


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und Entwicklung (FriEnt)
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