What Is Peacebuilding?
The following was originally published on the UN Peacebuilding Support Office website.
The term “Peacebuilding” first emerged in 1970s through the work of sociologist Johan Galtung who called for the creation of of peacebuilding structures to promote sustainable peace by addressing the “root causes” of violent conflict and supporting indigenous capacities for peace management and conflict resolution. Since then, the term Peacebuilding has covered a multidimensional exercise and tasks ranging from the disarming of warring factions to the rebuilding of political, economic, judicial and civil society institutions.
Peacebuilding became a familiar concept within the United Nations following Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s 1992 report, An Agenda for Peace, which defined peacebuilding as action to solidify peace and avoid relapse into conflict. The 2000 Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (also known as the Brahimi Report) defined it as “activities undertaken on the far side of conflict to reassemble the foundations of peace and provide the tools for building on those foundations something that is more than just the absence of war.”
In 2007, the UN Secretary-General’s Policy Committee agreed on the following conceptual basis for peacebuilding to inform UN practice: “Peacebuilding involves a range of measures targeted to reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacities at all levels for conflict management, and to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development. Peacebuilding strategies must be coherent and tailored to specific needs of the country concerned, based on national ownership, and should comprise a carefully prioritized, sequenced, and therefore relatively narrow set of activities aimed at achieving the above objectives.”
Who Does Peacebuilding?
In most post-conflict situations there are many actors who contribute to peacebuilding:
- Humanitarian and development agencies may be in a country before, during and after the conflict. Once on the ground and when the conflict ends, these actors can lay the important foundations for the peacebuilding process (by providing early peace dividends).
- Peacekeeping operations increasingly play a significant role as early peacebuilders. The mandates of multi-dimensional operations include disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), security sector reform (SSR) and support to electoral processes.
- DPA Special Political Missions and integrated peacebuilding missions are also given the mandate to cover a wide range of peacebuilding tasks.
In countries that are eligible to receive funding from the Peacebuilding Fund, a joint Steering Committee is responsible to plan, manage and approve the funds and advocate for broader peacebuilding goals. The joint Steering committee is co-chaired by the national Government and the United nations with a broader membership representing national and international stakeholders.