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

Elhadj As Sy appointed to the Governing Board of Interpeace

Interpeace is delighted to announce that Elhadj As Sy has been appointed to join the Governing Board of Interpeace.

Mr. Sy gladly accepted the appointment, stating that “communities around the world are striving for peace to create an enabling environment for their health, development and wellbeing. It’s my privilege to join the Interpeace Governing Board and to contribute to its mission to make peace possible”.

Mr. Sy brings strong experience from decades of working in the humanitarian sector, including in numerous leadership roles. Most recently, from 2014 to 2020, Mr. Sy served as the Secretary General of the world’s largest humanitarian network – the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Previous roles include senior positions at the United Nations Children’s agency (UNICEF), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)la Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and The Environment and Development Action in the Third World (Enda Tiers Monde).

Photo credits: Interpeace, by Elhadj As Sy.

In a world where humanitarian and development actors are struggling to secure the trust of affected communities, it is timely to welcome an outstanding humanitarian, such as Mr. As Sy, on to the Governing Board of Interpeace to enhance our peacebuilding efforts,” said the Board Chairperson, Monica McWilliams.

Mr. Sy is a member of the Global Commission on Adaptation, and, since 2018, has co-chaired the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board jointly convened by the World Health Organisation et World Bank Group. He is also a member of the Roll Back Malaria Board since 2016, Governor at Wellcome Trust, and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board since 2019.

I am delighted to welcome Mr. Sy to Interpeace. His strong values, leadership experience and his commitment to protecting and enhancing the dignity of all people is truly inspiring,” said Interpeace President, Scott Weber.

Mr. Sy is a Senegalese national, also a graduate from the Vienna Diplomatic Academy, and speaks French, English, and German.

L' Interpeace Governing Board is made up of prominent individuals from the government, international, and business sectors. It is the highest decision-making body of the organization and plays a key role in defining Interpeace’s overall strategy.

Photo credits: Interpeace.

Interpeace Response to COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Interpeace has temporarily closed all offices worldwide, and all staff are working online. We have ceased all international and domestic travel by our staff and consultants, and we are not organizing or participating in large physical gatherings/events.

Interpeace staff have reviewed the full breadth of our peacebuilding work in the field as well as our peacebuilding policy projects. We have now made adaptations to ensure that all scheduled work in our 2020 annual workplan can still be delivered this year. We are in direct contact with our generous donors, partners and the communities we serve worldwide about how those adaptations are occurring. We are also appreciative for the support and commitment to new investment in Interpeace which has been extended to us even since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Planning is underway for the re-opening of our offices in due course, which will be in careful and full alignment with relevant World Health Organisation advice and also with local laws and regulations in the countries where each office is located.

Interpeace meanwhile remains in regular contact and consultation with our supporters and partners as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

Photo credits: Interpeace by Antoine Tardy.

Director of Interpeace USA is appointed lead author of UN Advisory Group of Experts for Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security

“Young people can break barriers, reach across divisions and forge understanding. The United Nations Security Council has finally recognized the importance of youth.” - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

Last Friday August 12, during a speech at the University of Calgary, on the occasion of International Youth Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, announced the formation of an Advisory Group of Experts for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, as mandated by Security Council resolution 2250 (2015). Secretary-General described that the group will “carry out a progress study on the youth’s positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution, in order to recommend effective responses at local, national, regional and international levels.”

Graeme Simpson, Director of Interpeace USA and Senior Adviser to the Director-General of Interpeace, has been appointed lead author of this Advisory Group of Experts for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security. This is a wonderful recognition of the expertise that Graeme and Interpeace have been bringing to the issue of engaging youth in peacebuilding efforts for over 22 years in more than 20 countries around the world. Simpson has also worked extensively on issues related to transitional justice and the transformation of criminal justice institutions, has been consultant to both governmental and non-governmental organizations in various countries, and has published widely in books and journals.

Resolution 2250 (2015), adopted in December of 2015 by the Security Council, is the first resolution that recognizes the invaluable role youth play in building more inclusive and peaceful societies, both at a local and international level. Through the resolution, which defines youth as persons between the ages of 18 and 29, the Security Council urges Member States to recognize youth as powerful agents of change and to give them a greater voice and participation in peace processes and conflict transformations. Moreover, recognizing the threat of radicalization among young people, the Security Council, encourages Members States to empower youth, as a way to counter the spread of violent extremism. Through the use of Internet and other technologies, terrorists are recruiting young people and inciting them to commit terrorist attacks. Therefore, the resolution 2250 (2015) urges Member States to engage youth through five pillars: participation, protection, prevention, partnerships and reintegration.

The Advisory Group, has been formed to study the progress of this resolution, considered to be historic, in a time were the youth generation is the largest the world has ever known. Secretary-General described, “Nearly half of the Group’s members are young. Some of them survived conflict. One lost her father in war. Another was shot. Others were refugees.” Graeme Simpson will lead this Advisory Group over the next year, and will continue to work for Interpeace in our Representation Office in New York. The findings and recommendations of the Study will be presented to the Security Council on December 2017.

Graeme Simpson, Director of Interpeace USA. Photo credit: Oskar Kullander

Lead author and members of the Advisory Group:

Graeme Simpson of South Africa, Director of Interpeace USA, was appointed lead author. The Advisory Group members are: Farea Al-Muslimi (Yemen), Luz Alcira Granada Contreras (Colombia), Scott Attran (USA), Chernor Bah (Sierra Leone), Ikram Ben Said (Tunisia), Malual Bol Kiir (South Sudan), Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet (CAR), Ilwad Elman (Somalia), Matilda Flemming (Finland), Terri-Ann Gilbert-Roberts (Jamaica), Saba Ismail (Pakistan), Thevuni Kavindi Kotigala (Sri Lanka), Nur Laiq (UK), Mieke Lopes Cardozo (Netherlands), Robert Muggah (Canada), Hussein Nabil Murtaja (Palestine), Funmi Olonisakin (Nigeria), Salim Salamah (Syria), Ali Saleem (Pakistan), Hajer Sharief (Libya), and Marc Sommers (USA).

Resilience: Translating promise into reality

Humanitarian need has outpaced humanitarian resources, stemming in part from protracted and recurring conflicts and crises. One of today’s biggest humanitarian challenges is that of displacement, caused by conflict and natural disasters.

To further discussion on the need for a resilience perspective, Interpeace and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NCR) are co-hosting a side event at the World Humanitarian Summit called Resilience: Translating promise into reality. The side event will take place on May 23 in Istanbul, Turkey at 11:00 am to 12:30 pm, seeks to support the overall objectives of the Summit and includes a particular stated-objective: ‘Change people’s lives - From delivery of aid to ending need’.

Regional summit on formal peace education in the African Great Lakes held in Nairobi

On March 3-4, 2016, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Interpeace and UNESCO successfully organized a regional summit on Peace Education in the African Great Lakes Region in Nairobi, Kenya.

Delegates at the two-day summit included officials from government ministries responsible for education, gender and youth; parliamentarians; leaders of provincial governments; education practitioners from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda; as well as technical experts in peacebuilding and peace education from Interpeace and UNESCO.

The summit was officially opened by Ambassador Josephine Gaita, ICGLR National Coordinator for Kenya. Its focus over the subsequent two days was on the implementation of formal peace education in the three ICGLR member states of Burundi, the DRC and Rwanda. The Republic of Uganda was also present as an active observer, while South Sudan was represented by its ICGLR National Coordinator.


Delegates at the Nairobi peace education summit. Photo credit: Interpeace

The summit was premised on two prior occasions. The first was an Extraordinary Summit of ICGLR Heads of State and Government on Youth Unemployment, held on 24 July 2014 in Nairobi, which emphasized the important role of the youth in the pursuit of peace, security and stability within the region. The second was a 2014 participatory action research carried out by Interpeace and its six partner organisations in Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern DRC. The research was based on consultations with diverse actors across the Great Lakes region and revealed that most people considered identity-based stereotypes and manipulations as a fundamental obstacle to sustainable peace in the region. The research participants suggested that peace education could serve as a priority intervention to address challenges related to identity-based stereotypes and manipulation, arguing that peace education could both strengthen existing peacebuilding efforts and help in the prevention of conflict among future generations.


ICGLR Executive Secretary Ntumba Luaba addresses the summit. Photo credit: Interpeace

Proceedings included presentations on the current state of peace education in Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda; expert presentations on the policy and practice of peace education; plenary discussions; and breakout sessions where country delegations had the opportunity to retreat and come up with their country-specific ideas on the way forward for the effective implementation of formal peace education. Participants expressed the need for regional level peace education strategies to respond to the intermittent conflicts in the Great Lakes region, which often have a cross-border dimension.

It emerged from the discussions that peace education efforts already existed in all the three countries, albeit at varying levels of implementation. Among the challenges identified were the need to develop comprehensive peace education frameworks, as well as a pedagogy that would facilitate a harmonized understanding of formal peace education in all the three countries. Country delegations committed themselves to sharing the findings of the summit with the concerned actors in their respective countries, in order to make sure that the summit results will inform future discourse on peace education.


Interpeace Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa, Johan Svensson (left) and ICGLR Executive Secretary Ntuba Luaba at the summit. Photo credit: Interpeace

Interpeace’s Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa (ECA), Johan Svensson, praised the national delegations and the ICGLR for taking into account the sentiments of the local populations in their efforts to integrate formal peace education both domestically and across the region.

“Your commitment as stakeholders is inspiring because you are responding directly to your people’s call for peace education,” Mr Svensson remarked at the summit.

These findings were emphasized by ICGLR Executive Secretary, Professor Ntumba Luaba, who called for the creation of a regional ICGLR peace education programme and praised the delegates for taking the initial steps towards the harmonization of formal peace education for sustainable peace in the future.

“Peace education has the potential to create a new generation of women, men and youth who will be the guardians of peace in the region,” Professor Ntumba told participants at the summit.

Professor Luaba also lauded ICGLR’s partnership with Interpeace, which made it possible for the summit to take place. He also suggested the joint organisation of a similar Peace Education summit with the participation of all the twelve ICGLR Member States. The ICGLR’s twelve member states are Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

More information

Read about Interpeace’s ‘Cross-Border Dialogue for Peace in the Great Lakes programme

Read an opinion piece by ICGLR Executive Secretary Ntumba Luaba on youth and peace education in the African Great Lakes region