BP peacebuilding eng fr

What is peacebuilding?

Definition of peacebuilding also known as peace-making:

  • Boutros Ghali (former Secretary-General of the United Nations), defined the term in 1992 as “The absence of war and military conflicts amongst States does not in itself ensure international peace and security. The non-military sources of instability in the economic, social, humanitarian and ecological fields have become threats to peace and security.” To this end, actions which define and support structures to strengthen peace, either by averting the resumption of hostilities, or preventing new violent conflicts by dealing with its root causes will aid in ensuring sustainable peace. Furthermore, creating societal expectations of a peaceful resolution will support lasting political and economic peace based on social stability. These initiatives must be mutual, guided and driven as much by the population as by their rulers.

The french approach


The French approach is characterised by a top-down governance system. The main decision-makers on peace issues are the State and public institutions.
French strategy is centred on the prevention of conflict and violence. This strategy falls within a global movement to “safeguard” peace through development programmes. It tends to emphasise the prevention of conflict and violence, rather than peace-making activities as such.
It is a strategy that can prove counter-productive in dealing with underlying social and economic problems. This is the case when the armament industry and defence lobbyists have abundant resources and a strong presence in the decision-making processes while the peacebuilding world does not have equal – or indeed any - lobbying power.

Participants in peacebuilding in France

  • The French Development Agency (AFD) is the most important organisation for implementing the government’s national strategy. It is both the funder and the executive institution
    responsible for development policy.
  • Peacebuilding research studies have shown that it is extremely important to support or work with local actors already involved in peace-making efforts because they know the relevant context. They are thus able to avoid humanitarian interventions that are tainted with neo-colonialism or which are ineffective because a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model is being applied, regardless of the geographical location.
  • Yet only 4% of French development aid has been invested in bilateral agreements with civil society organisations which play a minor role in implementing this localised aid. However, according to the French government, this figure is set to increase.
  • Those receiving the 4% aid include a number of well-known international peace”building NGOs which have the resources and administrative capacity to manage large sums of money – Médecins du Monde, the Red Cross, Action against Hunger, Handicap International, ACTED etc. Peacebuilding in France is a profoundly institutionalised sector. However, it was France which led this disastrous military intervention. - Indeed, the FDA has requested has requested censorship of an article which appeared in March 2019 in the journal Afrique Contemporaine dealing with French military intervention in Mali, which revealed major political interference and common interests between the government agency and the French army.

Flaws in French peacebuilding


Since 2013, it has proven impossible for France to win its military operations in the Sahel, even with the help of its military allies (G5 Sahel and the United Nations). The success of French strategy in Mali, based on the ‘3 Ds’ (Diplomacy, Defence and Development) is thus questionable.
This approach emphasises the security aspect of peacebuilding, a short-term approach which benefits the defence industry but does not deal in-depth with the social, economic and political causes of conflict, although these are issues which must be addressed to ensure a lasting peace.

You can download this document in PDF format by following this link: Briefing Paper: Peacebuilding: Peace-making à la française