In 2023, the world struggled with the highest number of violent conflicts since the Second World War 80 years ago, with more internally displaced people than ever before, increased refugee numbers, and humanitarian crises being prolonged for longer periods. A war of aggression by Russia in Ukraine continued, and deadly conflict exploded anew between Israel and Hamas, even while violence and loss of life occurred elsewhere beyond the glare of the global spotlight, such as in Sudan.

Beyond the decline in worldwide peacefulness for the ninth year in a row, according to the 2023 Global Peace Index, heightened levels of conflict also had considerable social and economic ramifications. The global economic impact of violence increased, now accounting for around USD 17.5 trillion or 13% of global GDP. Conflicts in more than 15 countries in Africa, from the western Sahel through the Horn of Africa and encompassing the Great Lakes region, forced an estimated 40.4 million people to be displaced around the continent. Additionally, extreme environmental events around the world, such as flooding, wildfires, drought and extreme heat, have had significant impacts on human health, ecosystems, nature and infrastructure. Meanwhile, new generations of technology are emerging with far-reaching but ill-understood consequences.

Common political will, purpose and resources are insufficient to meet these various pressing global challenges and needs, and instead multilateralism and respect for international law and rules-based order are in a troubled state. The use of violence as a means of executing foreign policy has increased dramatically. The global context is evolving rapidly, with factors converging in often asymmetric and unanticipated ways to create both new challenges and new opportunities for peacebuilders. At its heart, the global context for peace processes, structures and policies is under historically significant strain. The consequences for Interpeace in advancing its mandate are significant – both in continuing its peacebuilding at the community level, and in assisting the international community to be more effective at peacebuilding.

Despite these macro-level global challenges, 2023 marked the third year of progress in Interpeace’s five-year strategy, A Resilient Peace, and the organisation was able to make practical and powerful advances towards the three principal aims of that strategy:

  1. to rethink the ways we build, asses and fund peace
  2. to enhance resilience for peace
  3. to embed peace in state behaviour and sustainable peacebuilding strategies.

In 2023, Interpeace focused on three key dimensions of “rethinking peace”: how peace is built, assessed and funded. Some 8 400 people participated in research designed to better understand how to measure resilience for peace by assessing factors such as trust, resilience and inclusion, among others. The pilot Ethiopian Peace Index, launched in June 2023, demonstrated practically how to create better quality and more in-depth analysis of peacefulness and conflict, food security, mental well-being and gender equality outcomes in the regions under study. Furthermore, Interpeace achieved significant progress in the development of innovative financing solutions for peace – through its Finance for Peace initiative – by launching a Peace Finance Impact Framework and draft global standards for peace bonds and peace equity. And in October 2023, the African Development Bank and Interpeace signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly promote economic investment and social development that positively impact peace.

Interpeace’s second strategic aim, “enhance resilience for peace”, was advanced through the organisation’s achievements in strengthening the capacities of societies to manage conflict in non-violent, non-coercive ways by assisting national actors in their efforts to develop social and political cohesion. In 2023, Interpeace reached 2.4 million people through its project activities, which included dialogues, training sessions, media campaigns and collective action. Approximately 32% of participants were women, while 43% were young people. Through integrated programming, Interpeace is also strengthening resilience for peace. In 2023, Interpeace released Mind the Peace, a guidance framework for practitioners on integrating mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), peacebuilding and livelihoods into programming. The guidance has since been used in six contexts to lead processes that bring together stakeholders from different sectors (physical health, mental health, peacebuilding, livelihoods, protection, etc.) at the local, national and even cross-border levels to collaboratively design relevant interventions that leverage each sector’s approach to create holistic change.

Over the years, Interpeace has learned that what is important for peace at national and institutional levels is the responsiveness of government institutions to the needs of all people as well as the ways in which decisions are made. It is in this vein that Interpeace aims to “embed peace” and foster sustainable peacebuilding. In 2023, Interpeace reached 26 partnerships with state institutions in countries and territories including Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Somalia and related Somali regions, and Yemen, among others.

Interpeace also advanced in embedding “peace responsiveness” – a framing for advancing more practical and peace-enhancing action by humanitarian, development, peace and other actors beyond the limitations of conflict sensitivity. Interpeace endorsed the Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace, and offered a tangible contribution to the package of solutions: a climate-security programming dashboard for climate finance, developed in partnership with the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and which provides new frameworks and resources to design climate finance projects in fragile settings.

In 2023, Interpeace also supported the Governing Board to recruit and appoint a new President following a competitive and international search based on consultation with its strategic partners and other stakeholders.

This report describes the different impacts, achievements and challenges faced by Interpeace in 2023. Interpeace is deeply grateful for the tireless work of its staff and partners, who continue to advance peace in volatile environments. It is at this time that Interpeace is called upon to reinforce its support for the communities it serves, to redouble its efforts to assist the international community – especially the United Nations – in its peace efforts, and to invest further and with greater impact in making the case for peacebuilding as a means of resolving deep-seated and longstanding violent conflict at all levels of society in an enduring way.