Addressing conflict and violence from 2015: Saferworld issue papers

In this series of issue papers, Saferworld examines existing evidence and arguments - and poses key questions - to help inform a productive global conversation about the place of conflict prevention and peacebuilding in the post-2015 development framework. The papers focus on themes that will be crucial in the post-2015 debate:

  • Issue Paper 1: The impact of conflict and violence on achieving development
  • Issue Paper 2: What are the key challenges? What works in addressing them?
  • Issue Paper 3: Rising powers and conflict
  • Issue Paper 4: A vision of goals, targets and indicators: Addressing conflict and violence from 2015

The latest Saferworld issue paper builds on the first three papers to ask how the new post-2015 framework could best seek to measure progress towards peacebuilding priorities.

Issue Paper 1: The impact of conflict and violence on achieving development

Issue Paper 1 looks at the impact of conflict and violence on development – in particular efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Discussing the goals that deal with human welfare (MDGs 1-7) one by one, the paper highlights the range of evidence that has led the UN to conclude that ‘violence and fragility have become the largest obstacle to the MDGs’. It thus summarises how conflict and violence go hand in hand not only with human suffering and fear, but also with hunger, poverty, lack of access to education, gender inequality, child and maternal mortality, and lack of access to water and basic sanitation.

For those who are uncertain about whether conflict and violence need to be addressed in the post-2015 framework, Issue Paper 1 is a good place to start.

Issue paper 2: What are the key challenges? What works in addressing them?

For the post-2015 framework to overcome conflict and violence, it must address the drivers that in context after context cause conflict and violence around the world.  In September, analysis by Saferworldfound considerable agreement among six contemporary peacebuilding frameworks on the priorities for sustainable peacebuilding – but also found that these priorities are largely absent from the existing MDGs. Issue Paper 2  goes deeper into the evidence on this. It asks two questions: ‘what are the key challenges to peacebuilding and development in conflict-affected and fragile contexts?’ and ‘what works in addressing them?’ The multi-country studies reviewed by Saferworld for Issue Paper 2 reaffirm a similar set of key issues to those highlighted in Saferworld’s September briefing:

  • the ability of states to manage revenues and perform core functions effectively and accountably
  • transparency, accountability and controls on corruption 
  • fair access to social services and resources
  • voice and participation in decision-making
  • reducing violence and making the public feel secure
  • ending impunity and ensuring access to justice 
  • shared economic growth and opportunities for decent livelihoods
  • ensuring equality between social groups – especially between men and women
  • reconciliation and tolerance between different social groups.

On each of these key issues, Issue Paper 2  points to the evidence provided by multi-country research and accepted in multilateral policy discourse to illustrate what works in addressing these key issues. This is the evidence decision-makers may need to take into account as they consider priority issues that should be included in the post-2015 framework if it is to support sustainable peace.

In its final section, Issue Paper 2 also picks out four critical lessons from major multi-country or multi-donor assessments of past peacebuilding experience that could be crucial in shaping the post-2015 agenda:

  1. We remain more reactive than proactive - the post-2015 framework is a rare chance to change the emphasis to upstream prevention of conflict and violence.
  2. We remain incoherent – the post 2015 framework is a chance to make a decisive move towards coherence between actors and sectors and between local, national and global solutions.
  3. What brings peace to most countries can bring conflict to some – alongside setting robust long term targets in the right areas, the post-2015 framework should allow for context-specific priority setting and sequencing.
  4. We are ignoring the politics of development – can the new framework frame targets that affirm the centrality of inclusive, fair, responsive and accountable state-society relations without attracting controversy?

Issue Paper 3: Rising powers and conflict

Issue Paper 3 broadens the scope of the debate by considering the perspectives of rising powers on issues of conflict and peacebuilding. It examines the perspectives of five increasingly important countries that have not signed the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States – Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey. Case studies of these five countries consider how their policy perspectives and experiences of engaging in conflict-affected contexts might shape their responses to the peace and security aspects of the post-2015 debate. For example: how would Brazil view the suggestion to address key drivers of conflict in the new global development framework? Would Turkey agree that development and security are interdependent? What could China’s views on state sovereignty mean for its approach to peace and security issues?

In posing such questions, the paper identifies both opportunities and challenges to engaging these countries in dialogue about the place of peacebuilding in the post-2015 framework. Key points raised in Issue Paper 3 are that:

  • Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey have growing influence in international peace, security and development debates – and play a pivotal role in shaping the views of other nations.  Engaging them in policy dialogue on the peace and security dimensions of the post-2015 debate should be an immediate priority.
  • In different ways – both from one another and from traditional powers – these five rising powers are increasingly engaged in conflict-affected states. However, because of this, they may well be especially willing to take into account the views of these countries on peace and security issues in the post-2015 debate.
  • The five countries examined have a growing interest both in stability per se and in being perceived as responsibly contributing to international peace and security.  The key to agreement on peace and security aspects of the post-2015 framework may depend on cultivating the shared recognition that promoting sustainable peace is in the interest of all states.  
  • At once both donors and developing countries, Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey each face their own domestic challenges from internal conflict or insecurity. They are likely to view the post-2015 framework as something that may well be applied to their own domestic contexts – and to resist commitments that are perceived to strengthen norms of external interference in sovereign affairs or to prescribe particular models of governance or conflict management. If the post-2015 framework can articulate a shared, depoliticised vision for upstream conflict prevention that in no way supports norms of external interference, this could satisfy a range of the different interests at play.

Issue Paper 4: A vision of goals, targets and indicators: Addressing conflict and violence from 2015

This briefing presents options for goals, targets and indicators for integrating commitments to address conflict and violence across different sectors of the post-2015 development framework. Drawing on the global evidence reviewed in a series of Saferworld issue papers entitled Addressing conflict and violence from 2015, this new briefing considers key issues in the post-2015 debate, including:

  • Should goals, targets and indicators be global?
  • Setting the right targets
  • Options for integrating targets
  • Getting the indicators right
  • Specific indicator options for peace-related targets

The aim of the briefing is to illustrate a model of how the post-2015 framework can be designed to do two things: motivate decision makers to pursue the right policy responses to reduce violence and prevent conflict; and provide an accurate picture of progress as they do so.

The briefing also analyses the quality and coverage of current data sources on key issues, arguing that although there is a surprising amount of data that measures the right things, capacity for measuring progress that is global, regular, confidential, impartial and trusted needs to be developed.