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Research Report

Rethinking Peacebuilding:: Transforming the UN Approach

Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2014
Pages: 24

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. [i]-[i])
  2. (pp. [ii]-[iii])
  3. (pp. 1-2)
  4. (pp. 2-3)

    This report asserts that peacebuilding, even more so than peacekeeping before it, constitutes a profound change in the way the United Nations is pursuing its core mandate of maintaining global peace and security. However, unlike peacekeeping, the UN has never been able to turn peacebuilding into a core concept and operational tool for the organization, reducing the impact of its interventions in fragile countries afflicted by armed conflicts.

    Under the general notion of peacebuilding, the UN has moved beyond its original mandate of helping prevent and end wars between member states and begun to intervene directly within member states to...

  5. (pp. 3-6)

    In 1992, when the concept of peacebuilding was first introduced to the UN through the Agenda for Peace, the organization found itself in the middle of an upsurge in the number of fragile member states with civil wars. This was largely a consequence of the end of the Cold War, which brought many intra state conflicts into the open that had previously been suppressed or shielded by East-West hostilities. With belligerents now bereft of their former protectors, many of these violent intrastate conflicts became a responsibility for the UN.

    Today, traditional interstate wars have virtually disappeared. According to the Peace...

  6. (pp. 7-9)

    The core assumption behind peacebuilding is that strong and functioning nation-states26 are not only essential for ensuring internal peace, justice, and the well-being of citizens, they also form the basic elements for maintaining global—or, rather, international—peace, security, and prosperity. Peacebuilding therefore implicitly reaffirms a global order based on individual sovereign nationstates.27 Territories that fall outside of governmental control are considered threats to this global order of nation-states and no longer acceptable.28

    But what is the “nation-state” that the UN wants to rebuild? What is its role in today’s globalized world, in providing services to its peoples, and in...

  7. (pp. 9-12)

    The United Nations has continually been engaged in fragile countries that are afflicted by conflict for twenty-five years. After the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, the UN’s first peacebuilding-like operation was Operation Salaam, followed by many more such missions. However, it took the General Assembly and the Security Council another fifteen years, until 2005, to recognize peacebuilding as a main component of UN peace operations and create what is now called the UN’s peacebuilding architecture: the Peacebuilding Commission, Peacebuilding Support Office, and Peacebuilding Fund (a voluntary fund managed by the Peacebuilding Support Office).

    Despite twenty-five years of...

  8. (pp. 12-16)

    Threats from fragile nation-states afflicted by internal armed conflicts will continue to dominate the UN’s peace agenda. In 2014, the OECD lists 51 countries as fragile and the Fund for Peace places 61 percent of the 178 countries examined in its Fragile States Index on a scale ranging from “high warning” to “very high alert.”59 And the number of dysfunctional and fragile nation-states appears to be on the rise. Today, large areas in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are controlled by politically radical (or criminal) nonstate actors. The Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in large parts of...

  9. (pp. 16-19)

    The suggested definition of peacebuilding will, no doubt, be controversial. But the definition is not the foremost issue. The real issue is how the UN can best adjust its peace interventions to respond more effectively to threats to global peace and security emanating from collapsing member states with internal armed conflicts, and how it can best reduce the associated human suffering.

    For the UN to remain credible, it will not be enough to point to the special role of the Security Council in authorizing peacebuilding interventions— it must also have the capabilities to effectively implement Security Council decisions. For this...

  10. (pp. 20-20)