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 Bureau d'appui à la consolidation de la paix (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)la United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) et 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.

Crédit photo : Interpeace

Why Peacebuilding should be part of the COVID-19 response

COVID-19 has taken the world by surprise and upended life as we know it, introducing looming uncertainties. As we unite in fighting the rapid spread of the virus, we must also recognize that the consequences of the pandemic go beyond medical and public health. The crisis is unique because the direct solutions and ameliorative public health approaches have the potential to be highly conflict-inducing. Thus, the integration of peacebuilding approaches into international responses to COVID-19 is now a matter of urgency.

This briefing paper, Peace and Conflict in a COVID-19 World – Implications for International Responses, summarises ten framing aspects of the crisis and offers three implications for international actors responding to it. Our collective understanding of the causes and solutions to the crisis will determine how we respond to the crisis. While much is uncertain, it is clear COVID-19 is both a multidimensional crisis and an opportunity for change. The key question before us all — especially local and international humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding actors — is how to leverage opportunities for positive change and manage the potential risks?

It is clear human-centred and cooperative approaches which are at the core of peacebuilding work are needed. Peacebuilding approaches of local ownership and leadership with a long-term resilience focus are critical to embed into technical health responses, as well as broader socioeconomic responses to COVID-19. The way in which these approaches are integrated into national and international responses will be critical not only for the technical success of those responses, but also to understand whether they support peace or might exacerbate new or existing grievances already triggered by the pandemic.

Photo Credit: UN/ Isaac Billy

Early in the crisis some referred to the pandemic as a “great equalizer,” but as the disease evolves, it is increasingly apparent that it is anything but equalizing. COVID-19 threatens broader peace and stability by exacerbating persistent political, social, and economic structural inequalities that render some groups more vulnerable than others. In many contexts, it is reinforcing patterns of inequality and grievances that erode the social contract between individuals and communities with the states that represent, govern, and protect them.

We need resilience approaches that can enhance positive local capacities, skills, and attributes, and enable communities to not just ‘bounce back’ but ‘build back better.’ These conflict sensitive, locally owned, and peace responsive peacebuilding approaches are highly cost-effective and sustainable. They must not be sacrificed due to short-term reallocation of funds to what is deemed as “immediate” pandemic responses. Short- and long-term responses to COVID-19 must be aligned.

Thus, the question of how peacebuilding approaches are integrated into the multidimensional humanitarian and development actions of governments, INGOs and UN actors — or not — is not theoretical. The extent to which international humanitarian and development responses are conflict sensitive and peace responsive to the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 will be critical in determining how successfully those interventions contain the virus. The opportunity for transforming conflict dynamics and patterns of structural violence in this moment is significant and can be driven through operational peace responsive approaches.

As a next step to this briefing paper, Interpeace is developing recommendations and practical actions both for its own peacebuilding policy and programming and to inform the policy, programming and coordination of other international peacebuilding actors. They will be published on this website in the coming months.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

Read the full briefing paper: ici 

Interpeace’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

The tragic death of George Floyd in the United States has affected all Interpeace staff worldwide in a profound way. It is an affront to human dignity and human rights, and thus to Interpeace’s values and principles.

L' Black Lives Matter protests are a global clarion call for a long overdue reckoning with systemic racism against black communities and people of colour.

Interpeace unequivocally condemns racism and is committed to using its resources to address racism in all its manifestations. We affirm our full support to those seeking to change peacefully the patterns of racial injustice that have led to the perpetuation of physical, structural, and cultural violence around the world.

The corrosive legacy of colonialism, anti-black racism and xenophobia continues to have an influence and impact on peacebuilding work today and cannot be ignored. If the world is to achieve meaningful and sustainable peace, there must be recognition of the inter-generational traumas - past and present - caused by centuries of bias, privilege, inequality, and injustice and of how these factors determine life outcomes today.

Racism comes not only in open and direct forms, but in everyday experiences of unconscious bias and discriminatory behaviour. We must therefore be equally vigilant in addressing overt and covert or casual forms of racism and prejudice in our societies.

When the social contract is repeatedly violated, especially by security forces, then public protest and dissent are an understandable and almost inevitable response. Often, such demonstrations are the only way that society is able to shine light on its own patterns, behaviours and institutions of exclusion. In this way, social protest movements become an essential part of the process of restoring trust and building a better future.


Photo credit: Interpeace.

As an international organization for peacebuilding, Interpeace recognizes its responsibility to advance equality and eliminate all forms of discrimination within its structures as a pre-requisite to supporting and enabling local communities to transform their own conflict dynamics. This has led us to consult internally on the need to establish a process of self-examination and reflection to ensure that no form of discrimination, intolerance, or exclusion on racial or other grounds can take place within our own organization.

To advance this commitment, Interpeace is establishing a representative Diversity and Inclusion Working Group that will independently consult with all staff, and will support management to (1) foster a constructive and inclusive discussion in the organization about diversity and inclusion; (2) identify ways, where required, to eliminate any structural, systemic or casual forms of racial and other discrimination and exclusion within our organization and networks; (3) review and offer recommendations on ways to enhance our peacebuilding work positively and meaningfully in support of greater diversity and inclusion; and, (4) strategize how to scale up Interpeace’s practical support for peacebuilding, including in Europe and the U.S., that addresses exclusion, racism, and marginalization.

Interpeace will also join other peacebuilding organizations wherever possible to create greater collective effort and progress in advancing and upholding diversity and inclusion in the worldwide peacebuilding community.

Interpeace takes these steps to build a stronger and more diverse and inclusive organization that is better able to address structural and systemic patterns of exclusion wherever they may be present.


Scott M. Weber





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 ici).

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

Interpeace Governing Board welcomes three new members

Interpeace is pleased to announce the appointments of three new members to its Governing Board: Ambassador Simon Geissbühler, as the new Representative of the Host Government, Switzerland; Mohamed Khaled Khiari, as the Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General; and Nathalie Delapalme.

“I am delighted to welcome Ambassador Geissbühler, Mr. Khiari and Ms. Delapalme as new Board members,” said Monica McWilliams, Chair of the Interpeace Governing Board. “These individuals bring diversity, expertise and very rich experience in their different fields, from which Interpeace will benefit enormously”.

Nathalie Delapalme is the Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Before her appointment to the Foundation, Nathalie was a French senior civil servant, and served in various roles at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in other departments. A recipient of several awards, Nathalie is Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, and sits on the Board of Institut Francais des Relations Internationales (IFPRI).

Nathalie Delapalme. Photo credits: Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Ambassador Simon Geissbühler is a Swiss diplomat, historian, and political scientist, currently serving as Head of the Human Security Division at the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs. He previously served as Switzerland’s Deputy Head of Mission to the United States in Washington D.C. from 2017 to 2020, and has held various other positions in the Swiss Foreign Service.

Simon Geissbühler. Photo Credit: Human Security Division of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs

Mohamed Khaled Khiari, a Tunisian diplomat with over 35 years in diplomacy and foreign affairs, is currently the Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations of the United Nations. Before his appointment as Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Khiari was Director General of Americas, Asia and Oceania in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia.


Photo credits: UN

Together with existing members of the Board, the new members of the Governing Board will provide strategic direction, counsel and guidance to Interpeace.

Welcoming the appointments, the President of Interpeace, Scott Weber, said, “Our new Board members are deeply committed individuals who share Interpeace’s mission of reinforcing the capacities of societies to address conflict in non-violent and enduring ways. The new members bring a wealth of expertise and a rich diversity of experience that will add value, wisdom and impact to Interpeace’s crucial peacebuilding work worldwide.”

The Interpeace Governing Board is comprised of prominent individuals from the government, international, and business sectors. The Board is the top decision-making body of the organization and provides direction to Interpeace’s overall strategy.

Two permanent seats on the Governing Board are reserved for founding institutional members – one for the Host Government, Switzerland, and another for a designated representative of the United Nations Secretary-General. These permanent institutional memberships cement the commitment of Interpeace, the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations to continue to work together for sustained peace worldwide.

Integrating peace into development and humanitarian work: Interpeace launches Peace Responsiveness Facility

Interpeace is delighted to announce the launch of the first international Peace Responsiveness Facility in June 2020. The Facility will provide expert advice and develop practical field work  with international organizations – including UN bodies such as the FAO, Qui, UNICEF and others – to ensure that future development and humanitarian policy, as well as field activities worldwide, are better equipped to identify conflict risks and to contribute to long-term peace.

After successfully trialing ‘peace responsiveness’ from 2017 to 2020 with several specialized agencies, as well as practical fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, the concept is now being scaled-up to a full Facility which is funded for the next three years.

Despite the fact that over 80% of humanitarian and development work is carried out in contexts of violent conflict, many organizations acknowledge that their actions are insufficiently adapted to those complexities. As a result, humanitarian and development interventions in such settings are less sustainable and miss crucial opportunities to contribute to peace and ending need.

To assist international organizations in seizing those opportunities, Interpeace has launched its Peace Responsiveness Facility (PRF). The Facility supports organizations operating in conflict-affected or fragile settings in designing and implementing programmes that not only achieve technical outcomes such as food security and health interventions among others, but that contribute to enhancing peace at the same time.

“COVID-19 has made it even more urgent for development, humanitarian and peacebuilding organizations to work together, mitigate critical humanitarian needs and address pressing underlying conflicts. The Peace Responsiveness Facility will support translating this way of working into practice,” said Scott Weber, President of Interpeace.

The Facility, which Interpeace has piloted for years, will play a vital role in facilitating learning on how the COVID-19 pandemic interacts with peace and conflict dynamics as well as providing policy and programmatic guidance for peace responsive COVID-19 interventions.

“COVID-19 is affecting relationships in communities as well as between communities and governments and we need to plan together with international organizations, a peace responsive approach mitigating these effects,” said Martina Zapf, Senior Manager at Interpeace.

Peace responsiveness is an approach to the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus enabling all interventions undertaken within different sub-sectors to ultimately contribute to social cohesion and trust in state-society relationships.

The Facility will involve joint programmatic efforts on the ground, with Interpeace and partner organizations working together for locally owned, sustainable, and peace-oriented humanitarian and development activities.

“Interpeace’s role is to assist the international community – especially the UN – to improve peacebuilding through its innovative thought leadership, and to deliver practical peacebuilding on the ground. We had achieved a proof of concept that ‘peace responsiveness’ works, and the new Facility will now create lasting change in the international system and in people’s lives,” Scott Weber added.

Photo credits: UN Photo/Gema Cortes

The Peace Responsiveness Facility will develop new partnerships and also build on Interpeace’s previous and current work with partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)la International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Labor Organization (ILO)la Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO)la United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF)et World Health Organization (WHO).

“We are starting to see the impact our peace responsive work can have. Our work with FAO and other partners is testimony,” said Martina Zapf. “Interpeace has worked with agencies like the FAO to identify good practices and put in place methods that enable programmes to systematically identify and seize opportunities to contribute to peace,” she explained.

The facility supports humanitarian, development, and stabilization organizations to play a more effective role in also supporting peace efforts around the world.

“As the current chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission and a candidate for the UN Security Council in 2021-2022, I am proud of Canada’s ongoing commitment to promote integrated responses to conflict. We are therefore delighted to support the Peace Responsiveness Facility, building on the important work Interpeace has done to support all pillars of the UN system in analyzing and responding to risks of conflict,” said Marc-André Blanchard, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York.

Our partner FAO has welcomed the creation of the Peace Responsiveness Facility at Interpeace with support from the Government of Canada, to respond to a multitude of interventions beyond health, livelihoods, and food security among others.

“FAO and Interpeace have partnered since 2017 to better address and prevent conflict, particularly in those contexts most affected by food crises. Together we have developed and tested tools enabling more systematic and intentional conflict-sensitive programming, strengthening our internal capacities and processes, and helping FAO better understand how we can contribute to local peace impacts,” explained Dominique Burgeon, Strategic Programme Leader – Resilience Director, Emergency and Resilience Division at FAO.

He added: “This kind of support is at the heart of this new Facility, helping agencies like FAO play a more effective role in supporting efforts that contribute to sustaining peace. Support like this will be essential for the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus approach to be made a programmatic reality.”

Interpeace has also supported efforts by organizations responding to the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It designed and supported community engagement which allowed international actors to better understand community concerns and adapt their technical interventions to create greater trust and better humanitarian and development outcomes. It is key that lessons learned in the context of the Ebola response in conflict affected contexts are considered for COVID-19. In this vein, the launch of our Peace Responsiveness Facility is timely.

Special thanks to our Partner, the Government of Canada for supporting the Facility.