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Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies

The Addis Agenda commits to promote peaceful and inclusive societies and to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels to enable the effective, efficient and transparent mobilization and use of resources.

Sustainable peace

The crucial connection between peace and development has long been affirmed by the international community, but it is only with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action, that peace and security concerns became fully integrated into the global development agenda, at the policy level and at the operational level. The MDG framework's lack of sufficient attention to peace was widely seen as one of its major limitations. Violence was a particular constraint to meeting the MDGs: by 2015, no low-income country in a situation of fragility had achieved all the MDG targets.

Official data availability and coverage in relation to peaceful and inclusive societies is limited and it will take time to develop capacities and to collect data for official monitoring through official statistical systems. Data gathered in relation to SDG16 indicators will help provide some of the picture on evolution of AAAA commitments regarding the promotion of peaceful societies.

The following sections largely draw on a joint report by UNDP and UNRISD on 'Global Trends: Challenges and Opportunities in the Implementation of the Sustaianable Development Goals'. It finds that the number of external, “interstate” conflicts (conflicts between two or more states) declined in the post-WW2 period, but that there has been a recent upsurge in internal or “intrastate” conflicts (conflicts between a government and non-state actors within a state) (see IEP 2016). In 2015, for instance, there were 280 intrastate conflicts, in contrast to 74 interstate conflicts, with internal conflicts constituting about 80 percent of the global conflict count (HIIK 2015, 2016).

Although “terrorism” accounts for only a small percentage of the total number of violent deaths, its incidence has grown steadily over the past decade. The number of terrorist attacks reached its highest point in recent years, with 14,806 terrorist events and 38,422 fatalities reported in 2015, compared with 651 terrorist events and 171 fatalities in 1970 (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism).

Another relevant trend in recent years is the increasing “internationalization” of intrastate conflicts (ie. military involvement of external actors in internal conflicts) (Pettersson and Wallensteen 2015; von Einsiedel et al. 2014). Internationalized internal conflicts made up nearly 33 percent of all internal conflicts in 2014 compared with 3 percent in 1991 (IEP 2016). While the involvement of external actors in internal conflicts is not a new phenomenon, it is notable that the 2014 proportion is the highest recorded since 1945 (Pettersson and Wallensteen 2015). Perceptions of the likelihood of political instability and/or politically-motivated violence, including terrorism have also increased:

As a result of conflicts, violence, persecution or human rights violations, global forced displacement increased by 75 percent over the past two decades, rising from 37.3 million in 1996 to a record-high 65.3 million people in 2015 (UNHCR 2016). Of these, 40.8 million were internally displaced persons, 21.3 million refugees and 3.2 million asylum seekers.

Ongoing conflicts have already had negative impacts on economies and societies at national and regional levels, with poverty being more extensive in fragile and conflict- affected states (World Bank Group 2016). And yet they could lead to an even more pronounced slowdown in the world economy (UN DESA 2015d), while threatening global stability and continuing to challenge social progress.

Adapt aid policies for countries in fragile situations

The UN’s Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing (2016) notes that the OECD estimates that, if current trends continue, the cost of humanitarian assistance will have risen to $50 billion by 2030 and 62 percent of the world’s poor could be living in fragile and conflict-affected countries. In addition to emergency response, reconstruction and recovery efforts are very costly. As ODA can be slow to materialize, governments often resort to extra loans to cover emergency expenses and investments (see the joint report by UNDP and UNRISD).

It is critical for the international community to ensure that humanitarian needs are met, while also addressing simultaneously the root causes of crises, fragility and instability. Conflict prevention is becoming increasingly important in the political and policy agenda – the “Sustaining Peace Resolutions”, adopted by the UN General Assembly and Security Council in April 2016, set out a vision for a ‘comprehensive approach’ to sustaining peace, that brings together conflict prevention, with action to strengthen the rule of law, protect human rights, and promote good governance and accountable institutions. They also explicitly place this commitment to prevention within the context of broader action to promote “sustained and sustainable economic growth, poverty eradication, social development, sustainable development.”

Reducing gender inequalities and empowering women can also accelerate efforts to prevent conflict. Aid policies must be adapted for countries in fragile situations. At the global International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding meeting in Stockholm in April 2016, the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States was renewed for an additional five years through the “Stockholm Declaration on Addressing Fragility and Building Peace in a Changing World”  which repositioned the New Deal to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda using New Deal Principles. The UN and the World Bank have together embarked on a study on the role of development in the prevention of violent conflict, which aims to improve understanding of how domestic policy making and endogenous dynamics interact with development assistance, security, political, and human rights tools, to prevent conflict from becoming violent.

 

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Displacement

There has been a shift in the geography of displacement, with each region facing different challenges in attempting to contain violence. Both older unresolved crises and new or reignited conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, as well as increasing violence in some Latin American countries, contributed to the increased number of refugees, of whom 50 percent came from Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria, and half were women and children (Ibid.).

In 2015, sub-Saharan Africa hosted the largest number of refugees (4.41 million), followed by Europe (4.39 million) and the Asia and Pacific region (3.8 million). Driven largely by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the Middle East and North Africa saw an increased flow of refugees, hosting over 2.7 million in 2015 (Development Initiatives 2015a; UNHCR 2016). Countries in developing regions hosted an average of 86 percent of all refugees under UNHCR’s mandate (Ibid.). In 2015, Turkey alone hosted 2.5 million refugees, which makes it the world’s largest refugee-hosting country; while in Lebanon nearly one in five individuals was a refugee, which is the largest proportion of a refugee population in one country compared with its national population. LDCs, which face significant challenges to meet the development needs of their own citizens, let alone the humanitarian needs of refugees, provided asylum to over 4 million refugees in 2015.

Gender consideration

Reducing gender inequalities and empowering women can also accelerate efforts to prevent conflict. According to the largest dataset on the status of women in the world to date, gender equality is a stronger predictor of a state’s peacefulness than its level of democracy, religion, or gross domestic product (GDP). States where women are more empowered are also the States less likely to experience civil conflict or go to war with its neighbours. Countries ranked as most stable and peaceful overall generally have a high percentage of women in leadership positions. This suggests that a key component of conflict prevention – and achievement of SDG 16 (promote peaceful and inclusive societies) – may be greater investment in women’s and girl’s empowerment, including their reproductive and overall health, and their education and rights, which constitute SDG 5.

Adapt aid policies for countries in fragile situations

Aid policies must be adapted for countries in fragile situations. In the Paris Declaration, it was agreed that aid effectiveness principles apply equally to development co‐operation in situations of fragility, including countries emerging from conflict, but that these principles need to be adapted to environments of weak ownership or capacity. Since then, Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations have been agreed at the OECD, and were supplemented in 2011 with the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States – a joint agreement between development partners and a group of self-declared fragile or conflict-affect countries (the g7+). Progress reports on the implementation of the New Deal underscore that further action has to be taken to further improve aid effectiveness in these environments.

At the global International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding meeting in Stockholm in April 2016, the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States was renewed for an additional five years through the “Stockholm Declaration on Addressing Fragility and Building Peace in a Changing World”  which repositioned the New Deal to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda using New Deal Principles. The Declaration articulates that development support must be invested in innovative, efficient, and accountable ways and leverage other sources of finance for building sustainable peace. It commits to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, including by scaling up the levels of development support invest-ed in domestic resource mobilization by 2020, with a special focus on tackling tax evasion schemes in line with the Addis Ababa Tax Initiative; and to work more closely with development and humanitarian actors and promote increased incorporation of conflict-sensitive and longer-term development approaches and financing into humanitarian operations in protracted crisis sit-uations, to achieve context-appropriate collective outcomes.

The UN and the World Bank have together embarked on a study on the role of development in the prevention of violent conflict, which aims to improve understanding of how domestic policy making and endogenous dynamics interact with development assistance, security, political, and human rights tools, to prevent conflict from becoming violent. The study will identify ways in which international assistance tools can positively shift local dynamics in a positive direction to reduce the risk of conflict.

The World Bank’s IDA 18 implementation is a significant step change in its policy and financing framework for fragile situations. It also includes doubling of financing for countries facing current or rising risks of fragility (almost $15 billion), and introduces new financing mechanisms to support refugees and host communities and to promote private sector investments with a focus on fragile situations.

The High-Level Meeting on Sustaining Peace, scheduled to take place between September and December 2017 in New York or Mexico, will discuss the SG’s sustaining peace agenda, potentially making far-reaching decisions with regards to operational and policy coherence, financing, leadership, capacities and partnerships for sustaining peace.

Good governance and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions

Good governance has been at the heart of the global agenda on financing for development since the outset. The Addis Ababa action agenda identifies “good governance” as a key enabler for achieving development financing goals. The OECD estimates that more than 1.4 billion people are still living in areas affected by conflict, violence and fragility – a number that is projected to grow to 1.9 billion by 2030.The Institute of Economics and Peace cautiously estimated the global economic cost of conflict at more than $700 billion in 20015.

Equality and non-discrimination

To ensure integrated implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and to achieve the 2030 Agenda, institutions need to collaborate on implementation of policies coherently across the economic, social and environmental spheres – this is particularly important for governance, given its links to all other aspects of the SDG framework. Policy coherence is becoming an important prerequisite for balanced, inclusive and equitable growth.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms

Over the past years, important gains have been made in mainstreaming human rights in the post-2015 development framework. Human rights, including fundamental freedoms are multidimensional. They represent legal obligations and, at the same time, they are valuable in and of themselves (intrinsic value). However, has decades of research has shown, rights and freedoms can also be instrumental to promote other development objectives (Sen 1999). The instrumental dimension of human rights is particularly connected to participatory rights and fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression or association.

Rule of law and access to justice

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes “the need to build peaceful, just, and inclusive societies which provide equal access to justice and are based on respect for human rights.” SDG16, and target 16.3 in particular, highlight the importance of ensuring “access to justice for all” in achieving sustainable development. In this matter Legal Aid services are of critical value.