From Crisis to Opportunity for Sustainable Peace: A joint perspective on responding to health, employment and peacebuilding challenges in times of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is having profound impacts around the world on health, employment and peace. The crisis has already transformed into an unprecedented economic and labour market shock impacting supply (production of goods and services) and demand (consumption and investment). Prospects for the economy and the quantity and quality of employment are deteriorating rapidly. Swift and coordinated policy responses are needed at national and global level, with strong multilateral leadership, to limit the direct health effects of the coronavirus while mitigating the indirect socio-economic fallout across the global economy.

Notwithstanding immediate humanitarian and socio-economic challenges of the crisis, the diverse implications for peacebuilding and sustaining peace are pronounced. The crisis may exacerbate structural fault lines and grievances, increase mistrust, discrimination and perception of injustice over access to health services, decent jobs and livelihoods. Epidemics and economic crises can have a disproportionate impact on certain segments of the population, especially the most vulnerable, which can worsen inequality and marginalization. Measures have to be targeted and tailored to the differing realities of countries and economies. As the experiences with the Ebola response in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have shown, it will also be essential to engage national, local actors and communities from the outset when designing and implementing measures in response to COVID-19 in conflict and fragile situations.

Given that the most immediate effects of the pandemic are felt in the health and economic livelihoods/employment arenas, the ILO, WHO, PBSO and Interpeace prepared a joint paper setting out considerations and recommendations for health, peacebuilding and employment interventions in response to COVID-19 in conflict-affected countries so that:

  1. Health, employment, livelihood and peacebuilding responses are synergetic in conflict situations impacted by COVID-19;
  2. Responses do not inadvertently exacerbate pre-existing or emerging conflict dynamics (“Do No Harm”); and
  3. Interventions seize opportunities to contribute to reducing risks and sustaining peace.

Maintaining and reinforcing social cohesion and peaceful coexistence during the COVID-19 crisis is key in order to prevent outbreaks of social tension between communities and between the government and the population. It is also important to prevent perceptions of exclusion from service delivery; horizontal inequalities; diverse effects on women’s equality; discrimination and decent work deficits; marginalization of young people; and breakdowns of state-society dialogue in the context of emergency response. Furthermore, COVID-19 will also significantly affect current development cooperation programmes priorities, activities, work plans and delivery in conflict-affected countries. Partners may shift their priorities and contributions in the coming months. Therefore, mitigation considerations will need to be considered in all development cooperation programmes, for conflict-affected countries, along the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.

Event Date:

Wednesday, 4 November 2020 – 18:30 – 19:45 CEST

Panelists :

  • Mr. Henk-Jan BrinkmanChief of Peacebuilding Strategy and Partnerships Branch, PBSO
  • Mr. Rudi ConinxSenior Policy Adviser, Office of the Assistance Director-General, Emergency Response, WHO
  • Ms. Mito TsukamotoChief of the Development and Investment Branch, ILO
  • Mr. Daniel HyslopDirector of Policy, Learning and IPAT, Interpeace 
  • Ms. Khulood Al SaidiProgramme Manager, Libya, Interpeace 

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