Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict

Development – Conflict Prevention – Governance

Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank and United Nations
March 01, 2018 :: 341pages
The resurgence of violent conflict in recent years has caused immense human suffering, at enormous social and economic cost. Violent conflicts today have become complex and protracted, involving more non-state groups and regional and international actors, often linked to global challenges from climate change to transnational organized crime. It is increasingly recognized as an obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This has given impetus for policy makers at all levels – from local to global – to focus on preventing violent conflict more effectively. Grounded in a shared commitment to this agenda, Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict is a joint United Nations and World Bank study that looks at how development processes can better interact with diplomacy and mediation, security and other tools to prevent conflict from becoming violent. To understand ‘what works,’ it reviews the experience of different countries and institutions to highlight elements that have contributed to peace. Central to these efforts is the need to address grievances around exclusion from access to power, opportunity and security. States hold the primary responsibility for prevention, but to be effective, civil society, the private sector, regional and international organizations must be involved. Enhancing the meaningful participation of women and youth in decision making, as well as long-term policies to address the aspirations of women and young people are fundamental to sustaining peace.

Executive Summary [Excerpt]
Eight Key Messages for Prevention
The study’s findings revolve around eight key messages:
:: Violent conflict has increased after decades of relative decline. Direct deaths in war, numbers of displaced populations, military spending, and terrorist incidents, among others, have all surged since the beginning of the century. A rapidly evolving global context presents risks that transcend national borders and add to the complexity of conflict. This places the onus on policy makers at all levels, from local to global, to make a more concerted effort to bring their tools and instruments to bear in an effective and complementary way.

:: The human and economic cost of conflicts around the world requires all of those concerned to work more collaboratively. The SDGs should be at the core of this approach. Development actors need to provide more support to national and regional prevention agendas through targeted, flexible, and sustained engagement. Prevention agendas, in turn, should be integrated into development policies and efforts, because prevention is cost-effective, saves lives, and safeguards development gains.

:: The best way to prevent societies from descending into crisis, including but not limited to conflict, is to ensure that they are resilient through investment in inclusive and sustainable development. For all countries, addressing inequalities and exclusion, making institutions more
inclusive, and ensuring that development strategies are risk-informed are central to preventing the fraying of the social fabric that could erupt into crisis.

:: The primary responsibility for preventive action rests with states, both through their national policy and their governance of the multilateral system. However, in today’s shifting global landscape, states are often one actor among many. States are increasingly called to work with each other and with other actors to keep their countries on a pathway to peace.

:: Exclusion from access to power, opportunity, services, and security creates fertile ground for mobilizing group grievances to violence, especially in areas with weak state capacity or legitimacy or in the context of human rights abuses. This study points to specific ways in which states and other actors can seek to avert violence, including through more inclusive policies.

:: Growth and poverty alleviation are crucial but alone will not suffice to sustain peace. Preventing violence requires departing from traditional economic and social policies when risks are building up or are high. It also means seeking inclusive solutions through dialogue, adapted macroeconomic policies, institutional reform in core state functions, and redistributive policies.

:: Inclusive decision making is fundamental to sustaining peace at all levels, as are long-term policies to address economic, social, and political aspirations. Fostering the participation of young people as well as of the organizations, movements, and networks that represent them is crucial.
Women’s meaningful participation in all aspects of peace and security is critical to effectiveness, including in peace processes, where it has been shown to have a direct impact on the sustainability of agreements reached.

:: Alongside efforts to build institutional capacity to contain violence when it does occur, acting preventively entails fostering systems that create incentives for peaceful and cooperative behavior. In order to achieve more effective prevention, new mechanisms need to be
established that will allow greater synergy to be achieved much earlier among the various tools and instruments of prevention, in particular, diplomacy and mediation, security, and development…


Press Release
As Conflicts Surge Around the World, New Approaches to Prevention Can Save Lives and Money – Up to US$70 Billion Per Year
WASHINGTON, March 1, 2018 —Preventing violent conflict saves lives and money—up to US$70 billion per year on average, according to a study published today by the World Bank and the United Nations.

The new study, Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict, the first report on conflict prevention done jointly by the World Bank and the United Nations, says the world must refocus its attention on preventing violence as a means to achieving peace. The key, they say, is to identify risks early and to work closely with governments to improve response to these risks and reinforce inclusion.

“It’s increasingly clear that violent conflict is one of the biggest obstacles to ending poverty,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “Conflict impacts a growing number of people within countries, but it does not confine itself to national borders, and its spillover effects can imperil entire regions and pose risks worldwide. Preventing violent conflict is one of the most critical development challenges of our time, one that requires more resources, innovative approaches, and intensified collaboration among international partners.”

Since 2005, deaths related to battle have increased ten-fold, reaching their highest point in 2015. Between 2010 and 2016 alone, the number of civilian deaths in violent conflicts doubled. Violent conflict has also forced people from their homes in record numbers. Today, an estimated 65.6 million people are either internally displaced or refugees, with children making up more than half of the world’s refugee population.

It is estimated that violent conflict could cost up to US$13.6 trillion per year globally, a figure equivalent to 13.3 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Recovery from conflict can take generations. The Pathways report demonstrates that prevention is cost effective and highlights three cost-saving scenarios ranging from US$5 billion to almost US$70 billion annually…

The Pathways study finds that the most successful countries mobilize a coalition of civil society, women’s groups, the faith-based community, and the private sector to provide incentives for peace and manage tensions. They also undertake reforms to strengthen the foundations and inclusiveness of their institutions.

The report calls for an urgent review of the incentives that national, local, and international stakeholders have to act early and collaboratively to build and sustain peace, noting that preventing violent conflict can only be achieved through the full partnership of domestic, development, diplomatic, and security actors.