UN Security Council gives a welcome boost to Youth, Peace and Security

The United Nations Security Council has adopted its third resolution on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS): UNSCR 2535. It signals the Security Council’s determination to drive forward practical action on YPS, and to do so in an integrated and coordinated way across the United Nations system as a whole.

There are still troubling indications that young people are seen as a ‘problem’ at risk of being radicalised and caught up in security challenges worldwide. The challenge now is to ensure that the Security Council’s political will is converted with resources and actions into effective implementation and delivery.

Interpeace was active in the lead-up to UNSC 2535 and is developing initiatives to support its implementation. Interpeace will also be publishing policy and practice briefings on YPS that are co-authored with young peacebuilders.

Crédits photo : CENAP

Co-sponsored by the Dominican Republic and France, the new UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2535 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) is the third and also the most action-oriented YPS resolution adopted by the UN Security Council so far. The Resolution provides guidance for the implementation of the YPS agenda both at the country and headquarters level in the UN system. The Resolution raises the bar in five key ways, which have been analysed in this briefing paper. In sum:

First, UNSCR 2535 cements the priority of the YPS in the UN by requiring joined-up action across the operational siloes across the UN, requiring the UN Secretary-General to submit biennial reports on the implementation YPS agenda, and requiring YPS thus to appear regularly on the Security Council’s agenda. This ensures that action will occur and that there will be accountability and transparency across the UN system.

Secondly, UNSCR 2535 reasserts and tightens the relationship between the global YPS agenda and the ‘Sustaining Peace’ agenda, and also consolidates connections with the ‘Women, Peace and Security’ agenda including a repeated commitment to the distinct experiences and roles of young women.

Thirdly, UNSCR 2535 recognises the demographic of youth through a peacebuilding lens and offers a powerful – and essential – vehicle to integrate peacebuilding and prevention efforts across all phases of peace and conflict cycles, not just in post-conflict contexts.

Fourth, UNSCR 2535 introduces new political commitments through its emphasis on meaningful participation of youth. This also goes beyond formally mediated peace processes, by acknowledging the value of youth participation in post-conflict humanitarian context including reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery effort as well as in reconciliation processes. This builds positively on the two previous Security Resolutions on YPS (UNSCR 2250 of 2015 and UNSCR 2419 of 2018).

Fifthly, and perhaps of greatest significance, UNSCR 2535 recognises for the first time, “the structural barriers that limit the participation and capacity of young people”, acknowledging that this particularly impacts young women. It makes a reference to “protecting civic and political space” where young people can legitimately and freely express themselves, which is arguably precedent-setting in bridging the peace and security, and human rights pillars of the UN.

Finally, though, UNSCR 2535 also restores the problematic reference to the threat of youth radicalisation that had been excised from the earlier UNSCR 2419, as well as from the recent Presidential Statement which was adopted following the open debate organised by South Africa on “Youth Silencing the Guns by 2020”. In this respect, Resolution 2535 runs the risk of reinforcing the policy panic on youth and violent extremism and the ‘securitisation’ of the YPS agenda.

Photo Credit: Interpeace.

The concern about young people and extremist forms of violence can only be addressed satisfactorily when meaningful efforts are made to counter the “violence of exclusion” of young people.This sentiment was expressed by young people themselves in the “Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security” report. Specifically through its reference to the United Nations Youth 2030 Strategy of the Secretary-General, the Resolution calls on governments to invest in the resilience, resourcefulness and inclusion of young people to build peace, rather than in risk-based approaches which project young people as a potential threat, alienate them, close down their arenas of political participation, and inhibit their engagement in peacebuilding.

Next Steps

As a practical follow-up to this Resolution, Interpeace plans to develop initiatives to support the implementation of UNSCR 2535, including in the areas of education for resilience; deepening young people’s participation in peace processes; developing youth-oriented ‘peace responsive’ peacebuilding programmes in the field; and, engaging in YPS through the intersection between peacebuilding and human rights.

In anticipation of the 5th Anniversary of UNSCR 2250 (the first ever Resolution on YPS), Interpeace will also produce a series of new policy and practice briefs co-authored by and amplifying the voices of young peacebuilders themselves. These policy and practice briefs will be published on this website in the coming months.

Click Cliquez ici to read the full analysis.

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: Cliquez ici 

Interpeace’s initiative “Principles for Inclusive Peace” receives global recognition at the Paris Peace Forum

Our new initiative, “Principles for Inclusive Peace” is among 10 of the most promising governance projects presented at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum (PPF) that ended in the French capital on 13 November. The project was chosen from over 700 initial submissions and 114 projects presented at the Forum.

“Principles for Inclusive Peace” is a project initiated by Interpeace and co-led by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs to open a global participatory process and establish a new normative framework and standard to guide inclusive and effective peace processes around the world. Interpeace developed the initiative after identifying fundamental challenges to peace processes today – as a fresh new approach to re-think the way these processes are conceived and structured.

Paris Peace Forum 2019. Photo credit: Interpeace

Announcing the selected projects for short-list of ten at the closing ceremony of the Paris Peace Forum, Trisha Shetty of the scale-up projects committee said: “We will provide mentorship to these 10 new projects. We will follow up with them; we will ask them how we can be of service, what is the best marriage we can have between our team and the project members”.

“This is a recognition of the critical need to re-think peace processes from a conceptual and practical point of view, but also to do it in a collective way so that robust principles can guide all those who will be leading peace efforts in the future,” said President of Interpeace, Scott Weber.

Paris Peace Forum 2019. Photo credit: PPF

Other projects selected for the scale-up projects include “Model Drug Law – West Africa” submitted by the Global Commission on Drug Policy as well as projects from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality (UNWomen), International Labour Organization among others.

The second edition of the Paris Peace Forum, an annual international event for global governance and multilateral issues ended this Wednesday, 13 November 2019, after two days of intense conversations, talks, panels and debates.

To learn more about our initiative, visit the website: principles4inclusive.org. We encourage all people who are interested in the subject to share their insights and contribute to this initiative, by subscribing to our Newsletter and/or writing a message through the website’s platform.

IPAT - 5th Anniversary


This month, we celebrate IPAT's 5th Anniversary!

Interpeace's Advisory Team - IPAT, was created to provide advising, training, and accompaniment to enchance the capacity of organizations, teams and individuals to engage effectively in their peacebuilding roles.

In this video, President of Interpeace, Scott Weber, interviews Martina Zapf, Senior IPAT Manager, to learn about the most recent initiatives carried out by IPAT.

Peacebuilding leadership is not about solving problems – Learning to navigate between polarities

Peacebuilding leadership is not about solving problems – whether within a team, organization or society –, but about navigating the polarities or contradictions that such a context and undertaking inherently pose.

Together with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) et un UNITAR, Interpeace’s International Peacebuilding Advisory Team (IPAT) offered its annual week-long senior level training on peacebuilding leadership in November 2018, supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. While a series of discussions enabled critical reflections on the sustaining peace paradigm, gender in peacebuilding, the inter-cultural dimension of peacebuilding leadership, and local ownership, the most thought-provoking concept introduced to participants was that of ‘managing polarities vs. solving problems’.

Coined by Dr. Barry Johnson, polarities are about “managing unsolvable problems”. This immediately resonated with participants, who in their roles as peacebuilding leaders are confronted with unsolvable problems on a daily basis. The approach to managing polarities highlights that such complex challenges do not have a right answer or a solution. Rather, they are enduring challenges and dilemmas containing two polar opposites, that need to be constantly navigated and not solved once and for all. Focussing on either pole to the exclusion of the other one is counterproductive; effective leadership in the context of polarities requires maximizing the benefits of each pole while mitigating against the other’s potential negative or adverse effects.

The leadership literature identifies a number of such polarities that are commonly encountered by any leader, such as: planning and flexibility; decisiveness and participation; control and empowerment; caution and risk; repetition and innovation; etc. In addition, leaders in peacebuilding contexts and endeavours face a number of specific polarities that make their roles particularly challenging, including:

These polarities are deliberately not framed as A vs. B, but as A and B because the answer to the challenge lies neither in A nor B alone. The peacebuilding leaders participating in the course considered that the notion of ‘managing such challenges as ongoing polarities’, rather than having to find the one ideal solution, relieved some of the pressure they are under. It is also a concept particularly suited to peacebuilding which by definition takes place in highly dynamic contexts as it is an equally dynamic leadership approach.

Peacebuilding leadership is not about solving problems – whether within a team, organization or society – , but about navigating the polarities or contradictions that such a context and undertaking inherently pose.

Applications for the 2019 edition of the Senior Level Course Enhancing Leadership for Peacebuilding will open in April and close on 15 August.

Effective Advising Course 2018: Taking Advisers on a Reflective Journey

For the fifth time Interpeace’s International Peacebuilding Advisory Team (IPAT) gathered twenty experts from around the world who currently advise governments, international organizations, or civil   society entities in fragile or conflict-affected countries. During an eight-day course on “Effective Advising in Peacebuilding Contexts” at Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland, IPAT took them on a reflective journey to enhance their advising practice, based on concrete experiences and challenges.

Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland. Photo credit: IPAT

Objective and learning approach

Developed in 2013 following a request by the Human Security Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Course aims to better equip the Swiss Expert Pool and international advisors working in contexts where governance challenges often interfere with the effective delivery of technical assistance. As such, the Effective Advising Course provides guidance and tools to help participants analyse their own advisory roles, better understand their contexts of operation, and apply key frameworks for capacity development, change and inclusive governance to their own cases. The course facilitates learning not only through the inputs provided by the IPAT team, but also by creating space for peer-to-peer exchanges and self-reflection. Going beyond a classical training focussed on transferring skills, the course therefore enables participants to identify how they can strengthen the alignment between their own purpose, values, and role. This will help them navigate the challenging situations they face when advising others in complex conditions and enhance the effectiveness of their advising practice.

Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland. Photo credit: IPAT

Insights from two experienced female advisors  

In 2018, the course included a session with Mô Bleeker, Special Envoy for Dealing with the Past and Prevention of Atrocities at the Swiss FDFA. Together with participants, Mô explored and discussed responses to concrete, real-life dilemmas encountered during her extensive international experience. Interpeace’s Deputy Director-General, Renée Larivière, joined the participants for a discussion of key challenges related to peacebuilding and gender today, drawing on her 18-year experience as a female peacebuilder and advisor.

Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland. Photo credit: IPAT

Participants’ experience

Participants confirmed the value of the course with an average rating of 4.78/5 to the course, with 75% assigning it a rating of 5/5. Participants highlighted for example:

“I enjoyed the interactive nature of the learning experience. The presentation of personal cases helped me reflect and strategize on how to be a better advisor.”

“I have been able to acquire knowledge and tools on how to manage myself even while carrying out my advisory work.”

A follow-up evaluation, sent to the participants of the 2017 edition six months after the Course, revealed that a majority of respondents applied the acquired knowledge, insights and tools to their work, and 80% shared the materials with colleagues and partners. Some indicated, for instance:

“The course helped me put in perspective the various advisory roles I plan during the course of the day of interacting with my national counterparts. I also continue to nurture my understanding of self, in terms of managing relations with co-workers and national counterparts.”

“I have shared the course materials with colleagues in my office as well as some government counterparts. In various meetings, I have tried to institute some of the skills I learnt on negotiations and role playing into discussions and this seems to be working well.”

Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland. Photo credit: IPAT

First regional edition of the Course in Kenya

Building on this proven success, a regional edition of the Effective Advising Course is being delivered for first time in 2018 this week in Naivasha, Kenya. Specifically focused on African settings, this 5-day version will give selected participants a unique opportunity to learn from each other through contextualized discussions and cases studies.

For more information on the two editions of the course, including application dates, forms and brochures, see the “Course” section of IPAT’s website or send your request to effectiveadvising@interpeace.org.

This course has been run by Interpeace since 2013, on behalf of the Human Security Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.