Peace-promoting efforts important for the development of failing states

Military or police forces alone cannot resolve the conflicts in countries such as Mali, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, but they do save lives and contribute to improved conditions for peace and development. That is the opinion of the Swedish UN Federation's Aleksander Gabelic and Lina Nordin.

On 11 April, the UN Security Council set up a peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic, CAR. The force, which will comprise 12 people, is a response to reports over the past six months on violence, abuse and great humanitarian suffering in the country. At the same time, the Security Council instructed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to incorporate the CAR Division of the UN Peacebuilding Commission into the new force. The UN chief, who visited CAR in April, has repeatedly called for a ceasefire.

The Central African Republic is one of the 44 conflict-affected countries highlighted in the so-called "New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States". The initiative was launched at a meeting in South Korea in 2011 by nineteen countries exchanging experiences of protracted conflicts and what it takes to get development started.

The difficult security situation in Mali, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, for example, has caused humanitarian organizations to sound the alarm. Without basic security on the ground, aid workers cannot carry out their work. Aid workers and health care workers are also increasingly becoming targets themselves in conflicts, which we have seen with appalling results elsewhere as well, for example in Syria.

When the countries within the "New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States" initiative met in South Korea, an agenda was created for cooperation between states on the one hand and aid organizations on the other. It emphasizes that all levels of society must be involved, from grassroots to presidents. It also requires perseverance and an understanding that change will take time. It places special demands on leaders and governments as well as dialogue between donors, governments and civil society. Thirdly, careful planning is required and various measures are implemented in the right order and in dialogue with the inhabitants. Precisely one's own ownership of development processes is also emphasized in the OECD's principles for how to work with failing states. Prevention, state-building and the link between policy, security and development are other important principles.

Human Security Report lists the reasons why fewer people die in armed conflicts today than at the end of the Cold War is the increase in the number of peacekeeping operations, and that more countries have contributed personnel to two important points. Research shows that in cases where a third party can guarantee security, the chances of reaching a stable negotiated solution to internal conflicts increase dramatically. If you compare internal conflicts where a peacekeeping operation has been sent with conflicts where no peacekeeping force has been in place, countries that have had an operation have a 75 percent greater chance of still being at peace five years after the end of the armed conflict.

Military or police forces are not the solution to fundamental causes of conflict, but reconciliation and development cannot take root in an insecure society either. Security, development and human rights are closely linked, as the countries of the world have also stated in the UN on several occasions. Safety promotion can be anything from clearing anti-personnel mines on agricultural fields to securing the way to school for girls who are at risk of being assaulted. It is also about promoting the rule of law and good governance, as well as keeping a particularly watchful eye on the opportunities and rights of girls and women, who are often particularly hard hit in conflict situations. Much work remains to be done to realize the intentions of UN resolutions such as 1325 and 1820 on women's participation in peace processes and sexual violence in conflict.

Peacekeeping operations provide the conditions for working effectively with development in many conflict and post-conflict communities. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières have called for greater commitment from the outside world to stop the conflicts in Africa. Several UN missions have difficulties in obtaining sufficient staffing and additional support from the outside world is required. The countries of Europe, which are major donors to Africa, can do more. Today, EU countries contribute less than half a percent of the staff in UN-led peacekeeping operations in Africa. Sweden also shines to a great extent with its absence. At the turn of the month, April-May, there were 377 Swedes in international operations, of which 30 in UN-led peacekeeping operations worldwide. The figures are the lowest since the early 1970s.

The countries of the world have a lot left to learn about how to best work with conflict-affected countries. In the past, we have sometimes underestimated the difficulties of building failing states. Today we know that it will take time. From a UN perspective, many different types of efforts are required. The realization that security, development and human rights belong together is particularly important. OECD principles provide guidance, as does the New Deal initiative.

In the midst of all this are millions of civilians and humanitarian organizations providing assistance to the needy. Their voices must be taken seriously in the ongoing discussion on security and development.

the Swedish UN association

Alexander Gabelic, President

Linda Nordin, Secretary General

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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