A New Deal for the Peacebuilding Commission?

Marc Baxmann, Marius Müller-Hennig
FriEnt | 2015

Report | 3 November 2014

In November 2014, FriEnt convened an expert roundtable discussion for policymakers, practitioners and researchers to discuss the interlinkages between the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States and the UN Peacebuilding Architecture. The discussion set-off with expert input from both the UN Peacebuilding Architecture and the New Deal Process about the current state-of-affairs in the respective institutional process and a short discussion with participants. In a second step, the discussion aimed to tease out potential synergies and collaboration opportunities between the two otherwise mostly separated policy and practitioner communities. This report has been drafted under Chatham House Rules.

FriEnt's Favourites – Our core takeaways from the discussion

  • Remember the PBC’s and New Deals core rationales: 

    ⇒ The UN Peacebuilding Architecture in the narrower sense is meant to fill gaps in the UN’s peace and security architecture writ large. In most cases it still needs to live up to this ambition.
    ⇒ The New Deal is meant to address important flaws in the patterns of donor assistance but the necessary shift of attitudes and institutional culture will still take quite some time.

    Both rationales remain highly important and relevant. Since they are highly ambitious, however, peacebuilding stakeholders are well-advised to remain committed and practice strategic patience with these processes and institutions.
  • The relevance of locally-led processes and the need to increase the space for inclusive national dialogues are widely acknowledged but they are still not consistently conceptualized for the respective processes.
  • Whereas the acceptance of the crucial role of civil society is also widely acknowledged in all relevant policy processes, its practical inclusion remains inconsistent. International civil society and donors each have roles to play in assuring that governments provide the space and that local civil society is equipped to fill it. At the same time it is clear that parallel processes may overburden civil society with a complexity of different processes, terminologies and formal requirements.
  • The combined discussion about the UN’s Peacebuilding Architecture and the New Deal emphasized the lack of cooperation between topically related policy processes. This reflects both divisions within national governments between the diplomatic and development communities and between different national governments. Any window of opportunity to overcome these gaps and tap the potential for more synergies should be eagerly seized by peacebuilding stakeholders.
  • Both the New Deal and the Peacebuilding Commission must be guarded against a tendency to focus on technical questions instead of political ones. While the technical aspects of peacebuilding and development are often less controversial and promise faster results, it is the political dimension of any peacebuilding engagement, that will determine long-term success or failure.

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