Strengthening and sustaining peace: ILO and Interpeace work to expand global peace-responsive approaches

The International Labour Organization has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Interpeace aimed at “operationalizing the ILO’s conflict-sensitive and peace-responsive programming”.

The MoU also aims at encouraging closer collaboration between the two organizations around the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus. The Nexus recognizes that policy and programmatic approaches to employment, decent work, and other interventions in conflict-affected settings do no harm and strengthen prospects for peace.

The MoU is in line with the UN Sustaining Peace agenda that recognizes that achieving development outcomes, and reducing humanitarian need, is dependent upon preventing and transforming violent conflict.

The UN Secretary-General has called on all UN entities to integrate the approach to sustaining peace in their strategic planning.

“We know that there won't be any sustainable development without peace, and there's no peace without development. However, nobody can do it alone and so we need to join forces because peace is everybody's business,” said the ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy Martha E. Newton. “I take this opportunity to thank Interpeace President Scott M. Weber and his staff for our excellent cooperation to date and look forward to continued strong ties between our two institutions.”

“Fair access to decent work and sustainable livelihoods for all groups in society is key to addressing underlying grievances and building trust,” said Scott Weber, President Interpeace. “This MoU signals our joint effort to shift the Nexus from mere policy to practice and our shared interest in building on the resilience of communities with whom the ILO works. It is only when various actors within the system come together, such as Interpeace and the ILO, that we can change how needs are met and peace is sustained.”

Interpeace is an international organization that prevents violence and builds lasting peace through in-country programmes, collaborative partnerships and high-level policy influencing. Interpeace has a strategic mandate to build the peace responsive capacity of development and humanitarian organizations, in particular the United Nations. Interpeace’s work on peace responsiveness, and more specifically the collaboration with ILO, is made possible through the support of Global Affairs Canada.

Last year, Interpeace helped the ILO develop organizational guidance to conducting peace and conflict analysis as part of its strategy and project design process. Currently, the ILO is partnering with Interpeace to undertake peace and conflict analyses at the country level in Libya, Cameroon and Sudan. This is aimed at ensuring that ILO programmes explicitly address conflict drivers such as perception of injustice between host communities and forcibly displaced populations, lack of social justice, decent work deficits and unemployment. At the same time, this will reinforce the contribution of the constituents – representatives of governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations – to sustain peace.

It also reflects a historic commitment, as the ILO was founded after the First World War to promote stability and social justice through decent work. This was reaffirmed in the ILO’s Recommendation  on Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience (No. 205), adopted by the International Labour Conference in 2017, which provides the key international normative framework and underscores the central role of employment and decent work in crisis situations arising from conflicts and disasters. The ILO has proactively contributed to  building and sustaining peace by launching the Jobs for Peace and Resilience flagship programme, and establishing the Coordination and Support Unit for Peace and Resilience (CSPR). Furthermore, with the support of the Swiss Confederation, in 2018 the ILO reinforced its partnership with the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) to promote the key role of the Decent Work agenda in sustaining peace.

The MoU reflects a mutual commitment to build on and complement efforts in the areas of awareness-raising and strategy development; knowledge generation, external advocacy and policy engagement; capacity-strengthening and support to programming; collaborative programming; and enhancing the enabling environment for peace responsiveness.

ILO-Interpeace Partnership: how to better link decent work and peace

It is now over 100 years ago that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was founded in the aftermath of the First World War with the prevention of a return to war as its principal raison d’être.

Anchored in this founding impulse, the ILO has undertaken many efforts across its history to contribute to peace, for example through the adoption of the Recommendation 205 on employment and decent work for peace and resilience (2017) and its flagship programme on Jobs for Peace and Resilience. Building on this and knowing that employment, decent work and peace and stability are mutually reinforcing, ILO has partnered with Interpeace to further advance the ways in which it integrates peace into its work.

Together, the two institutions are working towards putting the imperatives spelled out in the Sustaining Peace Agenda and the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus into practice; notably, how development interventions in diverse sectors and thematic areas can also contribute to peace. ILO is therefore strengthening its efforts to ensure it works in peace responsive ways, i.e. to embed deliberate peace contributions. “Initiatives based on a good understanding of peace and conflict dynamics are more likely to achieve their decent work and employment goals and contribute to peacebuilding”, says Federico Negro, Head of ILO’s Coordination Unit for Peace and Resilience (CSPR).

Building on a series of practical guidance already available within ILO, the organization has now released new guidance on Peace and Conflict Analysis (PCA), which was developed by the Coordination Unit for Peace and Resilience together with Interpeace.  It outlines concrete steps for designing programmes that are conflict sensitive and make deliberate contributions to peace and how to undertake the prerequisite conflict analysis while placing equal weight on understanding both, the drivers of conflict and peace.

More conflict sensitive and peace responsive development interventions are essential, as there cannot be any development without peace and no peace without development” says Martina Zapf, Senior Manager of the Interpeace Advisory Team (IPAT).  Programming that is not well informed, will find it hard to make a concrete contribution to either peace or decent work, and is likely to fall short or fail.

ILO’s Coordination Unit for Peace and Resilience and Interpeace will support country offices, in-country programmes as well as its constituents (governments, workers and employers organizations) in the application of the guidance in peace and conflict analysis processes as well as the subsequent efforts to develop or adapt programme designs accordingly to maximize their impact on employment and decent work as well as peace.

Interpeace’s partnership with ILO is part of its work stream on peace responsiveness. Interpeace engages with a range of humanitarian and development organizations on how they can systematically integrate deliberate contributions to peace into their interventions in conflict affected contexts. Interpeace develops and shares learning and evidence in this regard as well as practically supports individuals, organizations and the system as a whole to take concrete steps in this direction, acting on Sustaining Peace agenda and the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus.


Link to guidance:–en/index.htm

Building food system resilience and supporting sustainable peace – A story from Somaliland

Despite relative stability, Somaliland continuous to grapple with multiple shocks and threats, including recurrent acute food insecurity and conflict over limited natural resources, especially grazing areas and water points in Sool and Sanaag regions. While livestock production makes up the backbone of Somaliland’s economy, droughts, land degradation and underdeveloped fodder value chains, severely impact food security, nutrition and overall well-being. Conflict in the region has driven food insecurity and conflict-induced hunger, by destroying agricultural land, farms and infrastructure, all crippling the economic stability. The recurrent need for humanitarian interventions demonstrates that resilience of the population and their food system is low, and responses are often not sufficient nor sustainable. Interventions to improve food security and nutrition can contribute to building resilience and maintaining peace.

Training on conflict prevention and resolution: A joint enterprise by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Interpeace

In 2020, Interpeace through its primary partner in Somaliland, the Academy for Peace and Development (APD), and in collaboration with FAO, jointly conducted a training aimed at building the capacity of traditional and local leaders in conflict prevention and resolution. This training formed part of FAO’s wider Food and Nutrition Security Resilience Programme (FNS-REPRO), which aims to employ livelihood and resilience-based approaches to foster peace and address food insecurity in protracted crises.

The conflict prevention and resolution training emerged out of the recommendations from a previously conducted multi-disciplinary context analysis, which helped the FAO Somalia team to identify the key conflict drivers in Sool and Sanaag, some of the least stable regions of Somaliland and among the worst affected by food crises.  The analysis underlined the competition over scarce resources (land, water and pasture) as a key driver. Traditional leaders and elders were identified as playing a key role in both the management and instigation of resource-based conflicts.

The training sessions took place over the course of six days and included over 30 participants, representing the local communities of Sool and Sanaag. It intended to strengthen participants’ understanding of conflict, to train participants in conflict prevention and resolution processes and increase their awareness on the need towards finding more sustainable solutions to conflict.  Following Interpeace’s participatory and inclusive approach, the training championed more inclusive approaches in the resolution of conflict beyond the role of traditional leaders and elders.

Interpeace's strategic engagement with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to enhance conflict-sensitive and peace responsive programming

The work in Somaliland is a recent activity as part of the strategic partnership between the FAO and Interpeace. In 2017, FAO and Interpeace signed a Memorandum of Understanding – renewed in 2020 - with the overall goal of developing, promoting and strengthening joint programmes and initiatives in support of FAO’s contributions to sustaining peace and conflict prevention. Based on this framework, FAO and Interpeace have collaborated, both at the institutional and field level, in the design and development of projects that are more peace responsive.

Interpeace’s work on peace responsiveness includes working with development and humanitarian actors to enhance their ability to operate in conflict-affected or fragile context to be more conflict sensitive and to deliberately contribute to peace through their technical programming. Based on a whole-of-systems approach, it advocates for all aid actors to start working on conflict in a way that enhances collective impact, across different fields or sectors, and focusses on already existing resilience and peace capacities in a society.



What can be done to “build forward better”? – Seizing the occasion for transformative change

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.

Click here to read the report in English 

Click here to read the report in French 

Interpeace and United Nations Peacebuilding Office renew partnership to sustain peace

The world is witnessing a marked rise in violence within states, as more societies experience violent conflict globally. In response to this worrying trend, Interpeace and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) have renewed their partnership to reduce violence in fragile and conflict affected societies.

The new commitment reflects current shared priorities to build more just, inclusive, resilient, and peaceful societies. In line with a recently updated version of an existing Memorandum of Understanding, Interpeace and PBSO will jointly work towards achieving the Sustaining Peace Agenda in the coming years. The Agenda seeks to sustain peace at the different stages of conflict in all dimensions, by preventing the outbreak of violence, its escalation, continuation, and recurrence.

Many of the key premises of the Sustaining Peace Agenda are now widely accepted and enshrined in policies, such as the application of peacebuilding approaches along the peace-conflict continuum, the focus on conflict prevention, and the need for contributions to peace across the humanitarian, development, stabilization, peace, and human rights fields. However, the operationalization of these conceptual shifts in peacebuilding is lagging.

The PBSO and Interpeace share the objective of enabling and supporting the ‘whole-of-system’ approach to peace that the Agenda calls for by promoting the application of peacebuilding not only as a set of distinct activities, but also as an approach to social, economic and other interventions in conflict affected contexts. This dovetails with the goal of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, which also seeks to promote greater collaboration among international actors towards collective outcomes – all the while enabling local ownership and leadership.

Photo credit: Interpeace.

The UN Peacebuilding Support Office and Interpeace have had a long-standing fruitful partnership based on shared values and objectives. The renewal of this partnership is oriented towards new strategic priorities in line with current gaps and opportunities in peacebuilding.

In the past years, Interpeace has provided support to various processes informing projects by the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). Among others, this was rolled out through backstopping participatory and locally led conflict analysis in The Gambia, facilitating multi-stakeholder consultations for a framework of engagement in Guinea Bissau, and supporting UN agencies in designing peacebuilding projects in Mali and Guinea Bissau. Interpeace has also implemented PBF-funded programmes that support the empowerment of women in Guinea Bissau and Mali, as well as the empowerment of young people in Côte d’Ivoire.

“We are delighted to continue this close collaboration with the PBSO through direct support to both PBSO and PBF processes, as well as strongly aligning the objectives in our independent work,” said Martina Zapf, Senior Manager at Interpeace.

Based on a firm belief in the vital role that an effective UN Peacebuilding Architecture can play, Interpeace also contributed critical inputs to the review of that architecture in 2015 and is doing so again in the 2020 review process. In 2015, Interpeace’s proposal, which is now established, was for the “UN to do less and enable more”.

Interpeace has been supporting UN agencies in implementing the Sustaining Peace Agenda by accompanying the integration of peace responsive approaches into humanitarian and development assistance. The Interpeace Advisory Team (IPAT) has engaged in co-learning processes with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in this regard. In the context of supporting the design and prioritization of PBF projects in various contexts, other agencies have also been accompanied in effectively integrating contributions to peace in their social and economic interventions.

Apart from working to foster peacebuilding action across the UN system, the PBSO and Interpeace will also collaborate on strengthening the evidence base of how different types of interventions can contribute to peace.

Photo credit: Interpeace

Interpeace and UNICEF partner to contribute to peace through work with children

A partnership between the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Interpeace contributes to the sustaining peace agenda which calls for contribution to peace at all levels and across all sectors. UNICEF drives change for children every day, by saving their lives, defending their rights, and helping them to fulfil their potential. The organization has long recognized that the sustainability of its work around the world requires addressing the root causes of fragility, conflict, and violence rather than merely responding to their consequences. Based on the recognition of this interrelationship, UNICEF leverages its programming in social services delivery and community engagement focused on realization of child rights for peacebuilding and sustaining peace, as demonstrated through its previous “Peacebuilding, Education, and Advocacy Programme”, and ongoing programming in over 50 countries.

UNICEF’s contribution to peacebuilding is centered on the social and economic dimensions of peace. It supports contributions to sustaining peace at multiple levels including individual capacity to transform conflict, fostering relationships between and within groups ( horizontal social cohesion), and (re)building state-society relations (vertical social cohesion).

In line with the second facet of Interpeace’s mandate – to assist the international community (and particularly the United Nations) to play a more effective role in supporting peacebuilding efforts around the world – Interpeace has embarked on co-learning processes with a number of UN agencies. The Interpeace Advisory Team (IPAT) provides accompaniment on the operationalization of the sustaining peace agenda, including the integration of contributions to peace in humanitarian and development work. This work is guided by key peacebuilding principles including local leadership, fostering horizontal and vertical trust - between people as well as between people and governments - and carefully crafting processes that enable these.

“We are delighted to be supporting UNICEF in its endeavor of fostering peaceful and inclusive societies for the realization of children’s rights. This work constitutes a part of Interpeace’s efforts to partner with other organizations in fostering peace responsive humanitarian, development, and stabilization action,” said Martina Zapf, Senior Manager at Interpeace.

Photo credits: Interpeace.

UNICEF has partnered with Interpeace on an evaluative review of its peacebuilding, social cohesion, and violence prevention programming. The objective of this review, carried out by IPAT, is to identify effective approaches that could be scaled up as well as opportunities to further enhance UNICEF’s work in these areas, drawing on its unique added value. UNICEF and Interpeace have also worked together in several countries to improve the situation of children and peace - as seen in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau (read more here).

Further consolidating the partnership, UNICEF has concluded a long-term services agreement with Interpeace. Under this framework agreement Interpeace will collaborate with UNICEF in the areas of peacebuilding, social cohesion, and violence prevention. Interpeace’s Advisory Team will provide hands-on assistance to country and programme teams on conflict analysis, programme design and implementation; providing capacity development and supporting organizational change processes; developing action-oriented and field-tested guidance; as well as providing reviews and a sounding board. The two organizations will also continue to identify opportunities for jointly designing and implementing programmatic activities contributing to peace.

The overall aim of the collaboration between UNICEF and Interpeace is to identify and practically act on ways of further enhancing UNICEF’s contribution to peace, in line with its mandate. Recognizing and enabling the important role that social and economic interventions play in fostering peace, gives concrete expression to one of the core tenants of the sustaining peace agenda.

Photo credits: Interpeace