[Background & Objectives]
As violent and protracted armed conflicts followed by its recurrence are increasing in number and complexity, it became a pressing need to shed light on contemporary forms of international cooperation to resolve conflicts and build peace, and examine its respective challenges, responses and limitations. In this context, the United Nations (UN) launched the “Sustaining Peace” Agenda, presenting a new narrative and approach focused on a long-term comprehensive vision to development, humanitarian, and inclusive peacebuilding activities across the cycle of conflict. The 2016 resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly (2282 and 70/262 respectively) on sustaining peace further reinforce this approach. However, the operationalization of sustaining peace is still largely untried, while the full variety and characteristics of interactions between international, national and local actors in complex conflict-affected situations remains unrevealed.
JICA Ogata Research Institute conducts this research project with the aim of examining contemporary forms of international cooperation for peace in protracted, complex and recurring armed conflicts, and assess how they are fostering and/or hindering the related sustaining peace process. This includes the analysis of various pathways to peace through a collection of case studies that represent multiple contexts in several regions affected by armed conflict. The related research findings will contribute to emerging peacebuilding approaches (e.g. adaptive peacebuilding) that seek to effectively address current conflict trends and help to inform the implementation of sustaining peace, the 2030 Agenda, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
[Addressing Changing Conflict Trends]
Since 2010, trends in armed conflicts have been shifting significantly causing an impact on the inability of humanitarian, development and peace actors to effectively prevent and respond to related crises. Recent data shows that there has been a relative increase in the number of intrastate violent conflicts, refugees and internally displaced populations, as well as civilian casualties and battle-related deaths in urban areas. In addition, current trends also demonstrate that violent armed conflicts are changing in nature: they have become protracted, more complex, and recur more often. In this context, international peacebuilding actors, such as multilateral and bilateral agencies, as well as non-government, national and local actors, are seeking for more legitimate and effective ways to respond to contemporary violent armed conflicts or prevent them.
[Recognizing Current Peacebuilding Narratives]
'Peacebuilding' has been presented under various understandings and perspectives in public, policy and academic discourses. Today, peacebuilding remains an ambiguous concept with no common definition and no consensus among scholars and practitioners. The reality and practice of peacebuilding have often encapsulated various approaches and various understandings. In the 2016 sustaining peace agenda, peacebuilding covers all actions undertaken before, during, or after a violent conflict, to prevent, end, and/or transform violent conflicts. However, peacebuilding also remains as an evolving concept that depends on the interpretation of all involved stakeholders and requires further research.
[Focus on Context-specific Approaches and Adaptive Peacebuilding]
Context-specific approaches are synonymous of non-linear models of peacebuilding that underline the importance of local agency for a peace process to become sustainable. The adaptive peacebuilding approach is informed by concepts deriving from complexity theory, resilience and local ownership. According to Cedric de Coning, Senior Research Fellow at Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), adaptive peacebuilding is a complexity-informed approach where peacebuilders, including communities and people affected by conflict, actively engage in a structured process to sustain peace, by employing an iterative process of experimentation, learning and adaptation. Adaptive and context-specific approaches underline the self-organization capabilities of systems affected by conflict, demonstrating that peace needs to emerge from within and take into account local agents, local cultures and local socio-economic contexts.