What can be done to “build forward better”? – Seizing the occasion for transformative change
December 21, 2020
Can we build forward better? The virus spreads far and fast and does not know, nor care, for boundaries. Initially, some referred to the COVID-19 crisis as a “great equalizer,” yet it has been anything but equalizing. Besides being the greatest health crisis of our time, COVID-19 is a multidimensional crisis that threatens broader peace and social cohesion. While the virus is still wreaking havoc across the globe, it is nonetheless important to look to the future – or different futures – into which the pandemic may lead us. What should be the key policy and programmatic considerations for international health and employment interventions responding to COVID-19 in conflict-affected countries? What can be done to “build forward better”?
Given this overwhelming global challenge, Interpeace is delighted to launch the joint report ‘from crisis to opportunity for sustainable peace: A joint perspective on responding to the health, employment and peacebuilding challenges in times of COVID-19’. This is a collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (DPPA/PBSO).
The pandemic is overwhelming health systems, interrupting supply chains, exacerbating unemployment, and diverting resources and capacities from other health needs. It is worsening persistent political, social and economic structural inequalities. These patterns are triggering new grievances and intensifying pre-existing conflict dynamics. The potential of increased conflict and violence at such a time must command our collective attention. Potential conflict threatens not only peace and stability but also the effectiveness of public health responses to COVID-19. Domestic actors and their international partners intervening to mitigate the health, socioeconomic and peacebuilding risks of the pandemic should work together to achieving the desired outcomes.
While the primary response to the pandemic must come from both local and national levels, the role of international actors is still crucial. The report identifies key policy and programmatic considerations for international health and employment interventions responding to COVID-19 in conflict-affected countries by integrating a peace and conflict lens to equally strengthen prospects for peace.
This report draws on emerging findings on how the epidemic has affected these multiple dimensions in society. Important lessons in this regard have been incorporated from recent Ebola outbreaks in Central and West Africa. The report sets out the most relevant considerations for effective, conflict-sensitive and peace responsive approaches to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in conflict-affected contexts, including the integration of gender and youth sensitivity and responsiveness.
What can be done now to increase the chance of positive structural and societal transformations that bring about a more sustainable peace? How can social cohesion and social justice be at the centre of all interventions? And more broadly, how can all interventions help address the structural barriers to building and sustaining peace?
Read the report to find answers.