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

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.

Towards “peace responsive” programming – Interpeace and FAO continue partnership to better address and prevent conflict

Most severe hunger crises around the world occur in situations affected by violent conflict. Finding better ways to address and prevent violent conflict is therefore necessary to eradicate hunger. In this regard, the Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture - FAO developed a corporate framework in 2018 that outlines how the organization contributes to sustaining peace through its interventions. Moving forward, FAO intends to understand better the conflict dynamics in which its programmes take place, in order to ensure it does no harm, but also identifies where it can help strengthen and consolidate local peace.

In 2017, FAO sought the expertise of Interpeace, made available through Interpeace’s Advisory Team (IPAT), to operationalise this corporate framework.  Over the course of 2018, Interpeace and FAO developed and tested tools that will enable more systematic and robust conflict-sensitive programming. One of the most important products from this partnership was the The Programme Clinic Facilitation Guide. Following a year of testing in FAO field offices, this publication is a self-explanatory guide that helps users make their project or programme conflict-sensitive. The guide provides a multi-step process that empowers staff to effectively apply conflict-sensitive programme design in fragile and conflict-affected contexts; twelve FAO country offices have used this Programme Clinic approach to date, which is supported by a Guide to Context Analysis to inform FAO decision-making. The Programme Clinic Facilitation Guide is the first step in an ongoing process that will help further strengthen the contributions to local peace through FAO programmes aimed at strengthening resilience and achieving socio-economic development outcomes.

Interpeace and FAO are now embarking on a second phase of this joint work. IPAT will accompany FAO in further strengthening its internal capacities and processes for conflict-sensitive programming, as well as distilling typical pathways through which FAO programmes contribute to local peace impacts, within the scope of its mandate.

With this partnership, IPAT pursues the second part of Interpeace’s mandate, assisting the international community in playing a more effective role in supporting peacebuilding efforts around the world.

It is also part of IPAT’s wider efforts to accompany humanitarian and development actors in becoming more “peace responsive” so that international efforts collectively aggregate to greater peace impacts. This is based on the premise that peacebuilding is not only a set of dedicated activities undertaken by specialized organisations like Interpeace, but also a way of engaging in conflict-affected societies that, if adopted and applied by a larger set of actors, has the potential to really ‘up the game’ for peace and SDG 16.

For more background information about our partnership, read:

Tackling hunger through a peacebuilding approach: Interpeace partners with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)



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

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



Peacebuilding in the “new” Gambia: Implementing a participatory, inclusive and local-ownership approach to conflict and development analysis

Gambian President Adama Barrow announced a four-year development plan to lay the foundations for sustainable economic growth. The main objective of the 2018-2021 National Development Plan (NDP) is to “deliver good governance and accountability, social cohesion, national reconciliation and a revitalized and transformed economy for the wellbeing of all Gambians.” On May 22, 2018, the government of The Gambia held a donor round table meeting in Brussels to present this plan. Ahead of this round table Interpeace, through its International Peacebuilding Advisory Team (IPAT), supported the UN in conducting a participatory conflict analysis in The Gambia, involving the government, private sector, civil society, and non-governmental organizations.

Interpeace-IPAT supports the UN  in The Gambia

In 2017, the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and Interpeace signed a Memorandum of Understanding declaring their intention to support UN country teams to produce effective conflict prevention and peacebuilding programmes; and to create and reinforce the capacities of UN country teams to carry out conflict analysis and programmatic response. Interpeace makes such support available through its International Peacebuilding Advisory Team (IPAT).

In this context, Interpeace-IPAT was solicited by the the UN in The Gambia to provide support to the development of an inclusive, participatory and gender-focused peace and conflict analysis of The Gambia. The objective was to deepen the understanding of the current situation in The Gambia; identify the processes that fuel conflict and build peace, including the ways in which gender and conflict interact, and the different roles assumed by women, men and gender minorities; and lastly, to identify the strategic entry-points for UN-supported conflict prevention and peacebuilding work.

Building peace in the “new” Gambia

Interpeace-IPAT worked together with the UN Peace and Development Advisor, the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Interior and WANEP-Gambia (West African Network for Peacebuilding), who jointly constituted the Project Team, and a national consultant. Research activities, including key informant interviews and focus group discussions, were undertaken throughout Gambia’s administrative regions (i.e. the Greater Banjul Area and Kanifing Municipality, West Coast Region, North Bank Region, Lower River Region, Central River Region, and Upper River Region), targeting stakeholders at the national, sub-regional, and district/community level. Fieldwork data processing was completed in order to enable a collaborative systems analysis, which sought to illuminate the key conflict drivers and primary peace engines currently shaping the nature of forces underpinning conflict and stability within the Gambian context today.

The participatory and gender-sensitive approach, undertaken by Interpeace-IPAT seeks to contribute to the development of trust and confidence among stakeholders, opportunities for new mechanisms for change, and local ownership. Moreover, Interpeace-IPAT’s support is characterized by an ‘accompanied capacity-building approach’, recognizing that the development of societal capacities for conflict prevention and processes that sustain peace in a society can only prevail if they are anchored in internal dynamics: owned by internal actors and perceived as the result of their own efforts. As a result, this work will help inform Gambia’s transition process.