The World Development Report 2011 acknowledges some innovative programmes such as the “peace infrastructure” in supporting integrated approaches to prevent repeated cycles of violence. However such initiatives are not yet in the mainstream of diplomatic, security, or development implementation on the ground. A different way of doing business is needed. The mission of this objective is to:
– Support the establishment of well-functioning national Infrastructures for Peace in ten countries by 2016, in close cooperation with national governments, civil society organisations and UNDP-BCPR – Primary goal;
– Support processes aimed at establishing Infrastructures for Peace in another fifteen countries, by 2021 – Secondary goal.
These processes are timely and urgent; most countries lack structures, capacities and mechanisms to deal adequately with ongoing and potentially violent conflicts.
Violent conflict is widespread and a global concern; it requires dialogue and relevant mechanisms to be resolved skilfully and non-violently.
Evidence demonstrates that peace structures work; mechanisms for peace building have been successful in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and several other countries.
Such mechanisms are inexpensive and cost-effective; compared to the costs of armed conflicts, ‘Infrastructures for Peace’ sums are minute and ultimately offer tremendous financial rewards.
Outside intervention is frequently ineffective; on the other hand, use of infrastructures that are in place within a country can be far more effective and timely, allowing societies to manage their own problems on their own terms and therefore promoting long term stability.
Other Institutional structures; Every country has a bureau or ministry that deals with all aspects of natural disaster preparation, planning and mitigation. Just as Health provision requires institutional structures to support it, so does peace.
In South Africa from 1990-1994 a civil war was prevented by the development of a Peace Accord and the establishment of Peace Councils at national, district and local level, through which all relevant stakeholders could cooperate in systematically building peace and preventing violent conflict. This model has now been further developed by the governments of Ghana and Kenya, demonstrating how civil strife can effectively be prevented at low cost.
There is a growing interest from governments and CSOs in Infrastructures for Peace. An International Steering Group including governments, CSOs and UN was established in June 2011 to enhance Infrastructures for Peace internationally. The main functions of the Steering Group will be exchanging of experiences and best practices; and reaching out to a broader community and advocacy work.
The process of enhancing Infrastructures for Peace internationally will be steered by a Steering Group on Infrastructures for Peace. Members of the Steering Group are governments, UN agencies, local and international peacebuilding NGOs/networks, and other stakeholders decided by the Steering Group. The expectation is that soon several more governments will follow. Some international networks of peacebuilding CSOs are interested as well to participate: the Global Alliance for Ministries & Departments of Peace; Department of Peace Operations of PATRIR and probably Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict.
To support a process of building national Infrastructures for Peace in ten countries by 2016, working with national governments, civil society organisations and the UNDP.
Paul Van Tongeren, former convenor of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), established in 2003, assisted by Mohamed Daghar, MPhil. in Peace Studies.