2.5. Reinventing Peacebuilding

Chair: Dr Caty Clément

Speakers: Ms Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Dr Rim Turkmani and Ms Gunilla Carlsson

Rapporteur: Ms Julie Allard, Geneva Centre for Security Policy

This panel addresses two critical challenges requiring a rethinking of current peacebuilding practices. First the rise of new powerful states such as China, India or Brazil in the world geopolitics may lead to a value crisis and a need to reconsider the liberal/western foundations of the world’s peace architecture. Second, while current peace missions and mandates are largely state based, the most threatening challengers ready to use deadly violence operate transnationally in pursuit of a global agenda. As a result, Mali has become the most dangerous mission in the world. The current peacebuilding system is ill prepared to address actors’ whose range is the world and whose aim is to reject the liberal system on which the peace architecture rests. Responses to both these challenges must address the root causes, some of the key values implicit to the global peace architecture.

Given the important evolutions we have seen across the international security landscape since 1945, is the liberal peace model in crisis? If so, what changes are needed?

In the light of the profound changes our international system has been facing since the creation of the United Nations, the term “reinventing” seems to be the most adequate when facing such a paradigm shift. The UN system has been designed in a time where the world was mostly shaken by civil and inter-state conflicts whereas today the threat is more transnational. Therefore, the panel argued that the way peacekeeping missions are configured today is not adapted. 

The speakers also denounced the current liberal peace model as encouraging premature political actions in countries in transition. This model has proven too often to be the causes of the resurgence of existing tensions or emergence of new ones. As of today, there is a need to call for a longer period of transition in order to shape the readiness of the country for national elections.  Therefore, the focus should be primarily capacity-building at the local and national level with a strong support for constitution writing, development of the civil society and establishment of an efficient administration.  

Does the growing threat posed by transnational terrorism require us to rethink the global approach to preventing and countering violent extremism? Should we address the prevention gap identified in the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) report?

On that question, the situation in Syria was discussed with a particular focus on the shift from legitimate protests to the rise of transnational threat. Looking back since the beginning of the conflict, two elements were identified as central to the stabilisation of the situation: a consensus at the international level and a flexible monitoring mission on the ground. These elements highlight the important and positive role international actors have the potential to play when a consensus is reached.  Emphasize were also given on the importance of having a monitoring mission on the ground that would bring new dynamics and allow some mediation at the local level.  As of today, the discussions agreed on the need to replace economic growth and development at the forefront. This needs to be tackle not only after the conflict but during in order to counteract the appeal for transnational actors.

Regarding the long-term prevention’s ambitions, the international community needs to focus on Justice and democracy and promote Human Rights. There is also a crucial need to clarify the concept of Prevention as the line between prevention and intervention is currently unclear.

How can we address two key challenges in implementing the sustainable Development Goals: 1) ensuring that they advance peace and security, and 2) ensuring that developing countries have sufficient investment in sustainable development, while developed countries integrate the goals in their national agendas?

During the discussion there was a general agreement that including peace and security in the SDGs is essential as the lack of them is a driver of poverty. Therefore there is a need for everyone to commit to these goals. Today the developed countries should see the benefit of implementing the SDG’s, in particular goal 16, as they are also facing new challenges in terms of peace and security. Furthermore they will pave the way for the developing countries to implement them, as peer pressure can play an effective role.  Money is there but the problem lays in how to channel it in an efficient and trustworthy manner. The importance of monitoring was also highlighted in order to appreciate the benefits.

As for aid, just like everything else is changing, has to evolve. Therefore, it needs to be invested where we know it will be prosperous and entail development. In terms of the donors’ control over the aid, a more trusting relationship has to be installed in order to give recipients actors more independency to implement what they actually need.


This panel was the occasion to highlight the need to adapt the international system to the current changes and more specifically to rethink the role of the UN system. The panel argued that Peacebuilding actors need to take into consideration the lessons learned and tailor solution to particular context. More specifically, it was mentioned that the UN Missions have a pressing need to adapt to the new circumstances and to ensure their increased effectiveness.

Regarding ongoing conflicts affected by transnational actors, both and simultaneous top/down and bottom/up approaches should be prioritized. At the local level, actions should start gradually by reinforcing the peace where it already exists and then expand it.

On the SDG, this panel draw attention on the importance of developing a more efficient, participatory and representative system at all levels (international, national and local). Therefore it is the time to mobilize resources and unleash potential to implement the SDGs.