How Can We Achieve Sustainable Peace?

We asked peacebuilders around the world: How does the international peacebuilding system need to change to enable sustainable peace and stop violent conflicts from recurring?  

Sabine Fischer | August 2021
Grafik zeigt vier Porträtbilder von verschiedenen Menschen auf einer Farbfläche

War and armed conflicts affect the lives of about two billion people worldwide. Societies and regions have to deal with the aftermath for decades to come – even if they no longer face active violent conflicts. Despite the efforts of the international peace building system to prevent violence a lot of conflicts recur at an alarmingly high rate. In the majority of all civil wars, violence escalates again within an average of just seven years after a peace agreement.

We asked peacebuilders from around the world: What is the problem with the current peace building system? How does it need to change? And what role does locally led peacebuilding play in this process? 

The wisdom and knowledge of the people on the ground are crucial when it comes to building peace. Locally led peacebuilding is key to end violent conflicts sustainably. “If you have local agency and local ownership, you have a more owned process. And therefore it does address the issue of more sustainable peace”, says Nana Afadzinu, Executive Director of the „West Africa Civil Society Institute“.

In order to achieve this goal, the international peacebuilding community needs to challenge itself: Better ways to enable local actors to unfold their potential in conflicted areas are to be developed and discussed.

Rethink and rebuild the way of operating

In order to learn from the past and achieve sustainable peace in the future the international peacebuilding community needs to rethink and rebuild its own way of operating. Therefore specific steps are to be taken. “For example funding mechanisms should be adjusted to the reality on the ground”, says Alexandra Toma, Executive Director of the „Peace and Security Funders Group“. “We also need to learn about the specific conflict and identify local partners.” 

Therefore, peacebuilders might need to get out of their comfort zones: “Working with non-traditional partners isn’t always easy because of time and security considerations. But we have to challenge ourselves and be willing to listen to some of these new voices”, says Nadim Houry, Executive Director of the “Arab Reform Initiative.”