#Blog Series 2018: Shifting priorities for Peacebuilding (RSS)

The EU has plans for peace – but is spending on defence

Dilia Zwart, Quaker Council for European Affairs

The long-term perspective of peacebuilding and the short-term focus of politics are usually at odds, but seem especially tense today. In a time when peacebuilding is needed more than ever, the rise of populist politics in Europe and other parts of the globe have challenged international cooperation. The fragmented political climate has been accompanied by a shift towards defence, particularly in Europe. However, plans for peacebuilding can be encouraged by politicians, practitioners and citizens.

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Italy’s contributions to peacebuilding: One step forward, two steps back

Bernardo Monzani and Bernardo Venturi, Agency for Peacebuilding, Italy

As violent conflict and instability have grown around the world and in the Mediterranean neighbourhood in particular, Italy has been thrust in a difficult position: affected by those crises in more direct ways than other European countries, it felt unprecedented pressure to actively engage as an international peace-broker. However, without official peacebuilding policies or consolidated capacities, its responses have often been hesitant.

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Turkey’s approach to development and peacebuilding: It’s not all about money!

Kristoffer Nilaus Tarp and Maria Stage, The Council for International Conflict Resolution (RIKO) in Denmark

To understand what has changed in Turkey’s peacebuilding strategy in recent years, it is important to remember a number of facts about contemporary Turkey as a donor country. First of all, Turkey dedicated over $7.9 billion of development assistance in 2016, nearly 85% of which was generated by the state. Second, Turkey overwhelmingly opted to provide its ODA via bilateral means (96%), and it should be noted that 94% of this was for official humanitarian aid ($5.87 billion). Finally, it is also important to note that Turkey counts its assistance to Syrian refugees in its own territory as part of this ODA, and that, in fact, this constitutes the lion’s share of $5.85 billion (TIKA, 2018). From this perspective, by simply looking at the amount of ODA provided by Turkey and to whom, the country may not seem to be potentially one of the most important peacebuilding actors globally. However, a number of other facts should also be borne in mind for a more advanced judgment.

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Why isn’t the prevention of violent conflict more of a priority in Danish policy and practice?

Kristoffer Nilaus Tarp and Maria Stage, The Council for International Conflict R

Prevention of violent conflict in a world taunted by violent conflict cannot only save human lives. It is also one of the most cost-effective tools of international interventions. Aiming to promote peaceful means to end violent conflict, the Council for International Conflict Resolution(RIKO) recently organised a conference at the Danish Parliament on conflict prevention, Danish foreign policy and development cooperation. At the conference, the current opposition parties showed interest in working towards a more prominent Danish engagement in prevention and peacebuilding. Most of the government ministers, ironically, could not participate as they were visiting companies in the Danish defence industry. The current government does, however, mention prevention in strategies on foreign policy and development cooperation. However, conflict prevention is not a high priority in policy and practice. If the majority agrees on the benefits of conflict prevention, then why isn't it more of a priority for Denmark?

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Peacebuilding: New and Ongoing Challenges in a Changing Environment

Elizabeth Hume, Senior Director of Programs and Strategy, Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP), USA

Global levels of violence are at a 25-year peak, reversing the promising reduction in conflicts recorded in the 1990s, undercutting global stability and development gains, and driving record levels of forced displacement. 2017 proved to be a challenging year for peacebuilding. Real concerns emerged about nuclear conflict, resulting in the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists moving the hands of its symbolic Doomsday Clock thirty seconds closer to midnight. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, violence continues to cost the world economy $14.3 trillion a year, exacerbating global threats like disease and trafficking, and underpinning the most critical US security challenges, including violent extremism. UN Secretary-General António Guterres summed up the crisis well in his 2018 New Year message, proclaiming we need “a red alert for our world."

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Rethinking Germany’s peace policy: From crisis management to sustainable peace?

Matthias Deneckere & Andrew Sherriff, ECDPM

Violent conflict at Europe’s doorsteps, record levels of forced displacement and a concentration of poverty in fragile states have shown the importance of building sustainable peace. At the same time, global power shifts and the rise of populism and nationalism are just a few illustrations of a world in transition where existing institutions, norms and practices are increasingly questioned. It is not yet clear what impact these changes have on the political and financial support to peacebuilding. This is why ECDPM is currently conducting a study to investigate the changing environment for peacebuilding in Europe.

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