BP peacebuilding part 2 english 

An assessment of its limited effectiveness

  • The urgent necessity to maintain stability leads to short- term solutions devised by third party actors: these might include international organisations, international NGOs or States, all of which are based on western liberal democracies.·
    Although these actors have the resources and the means to contribute to peace in conflict zones their approach has proven to be limited, sometimes ineffective, or even counter-productive.
  • There is no unique solution nor set of solutions that suits all conflicts or areas of tension.·
    The practice of top-down peacebuilding processes involves a highly centralized and closed decision-making process at high diplomatic levels (represented by actors such as the United Nations). However, despite their undoubted political and diplomatic skills they do not have the same level of expertise in other important dimensions of the conflict at the grassroots level.
  • For example, on the humanitarian side, the 'liberal' approach to peacebuilding tends to create partnerships and alliances that disempower experienced local actors.·
  • Global peace-building is financed by United Nations affiliates (and therefore its member states), regional organizations such as the European Union or global organizations such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (both more for development aspects), or even international NGOs based in Switzerland, the United Kingdom or Belgium, e.g. International Alert, Interpeace, Saferworld or International Crisis Group.
  • The United Nations Peacebuilding Fund approved $531 million in aid for 51 countries between 2017 and 2019.
  • June 2015: A UN report sounded the alarm on peacebuilding practices: they are under-funded, under considered and under prioritized.
  • Too few of the UN's peace programme partnerships are established with local civil society actors.

How can a more effective long-term peacebuilding policy be implemented?

Human Security

  • Implementing a long-term strategy with the focus on human security.
  • This concept entails a people-centred perspective on security emphasizing basic fundamental human rights.
  • It challenges the traditional approach to national security and its limited peacebuilding definition (such as downplaying the impact of mental health and psychological trauma, which are largely underestimated in the traditional 'peacebuilding' approach).

A bottom-up and inclusive peace process

  • This process needs to be context-specific, inclusive, locally managed by a multitude of diverse actors and operate in a "bottom-up" model. This process is more efficient, more economical and saves time. It reaffirms the legitimacy of these activities with the populations concerned and limits the potential for future 'spoilers'.
  • Some international peacebuilding actors recommend extending the process which is currently limited to 'partnerships of equals' (i.e. 'high-level' diplomacy) to prioritizing the inclusion of local actors, both victims and perpetrators, in the decision-making process.
  • Ensuring the presence of people with experience from the ground in leadership positions another key point.

Resilience and solidarity

  • The notion of resilience that enables both individuals and institutions to develop their relationships and interactions in order to reduce the impact of factors that can create tensions and potentially, more conflicts.
  • One of the mechanisms for to achieve a resilient society is preventing marginalization and exclusion.


  • Encourage and promote economic independence while avoiding financial dependency and conflicts of interest; for example, between former settlers and former colonized territories.
  • The means of international peacebuilding funding is problematic and probably not sustainable over the long term without more stable local partnerships.
    Other funding solutions should allow for better management of economic issues with more participatory funding. This could come from regional organizations, for example.

Control arms transfers to prevent conflicts

  • Conflict prevention is an essential component of peacebuilding, often overlooked. Indeed, it is more difficult to identify current and potential social, political, economic tensions, etc., or any kind of disagreement that could start or revive latent conflict, rather than it is to wait for a conflict and react once this conflict is visible.
  • France, for example, published a new conflict prevention strategy in 2018. An essential element missing from this strategy was to ensure an overhaul of French arms sales policy. Selling arms to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, both of which are involved in the war in Yemen, does not create the conditions necessary to stop violence and conflict resolution.

Breaking with the tradition of paternalistic intervention

  • Country from the North should develop a critical reflection on the consequences of their actions/decisions on countries from the South and become part of the general debate on peacebuilding practices.
  • For example, access to resources can generate tensions at the local level. This implies that there is a responsibility from wealthier states as to how they establish trade links and purchase natural resources.

Recommendations :

 > Promote regional rather than international organizations in decision-making processes.·
> Decentralize the means and resources of large global NGOs as well as institutions such as the United Nations and build local capacity.·
> Promote the human security perspective and bottom-up processes, the engagement of local actors, diversity and inclusiveness of all in decision making, including resilient and supportive communities.
> Include greater control of arms exports in conflict prevention strategies. Rethink the role of the United Nations by redefining the limits of its interventions and respecting the legitimacy of the local actors involved, in the practice of peacebuilding.
> Rethink peacebuilding funding systems to limit financial dependence and conflicts of interest between donor and recipient states.
> Invest more resources in research on societal issues that fall within the spectrum of human security, rather than resorting to military solutions, to develop long-term solutions.


The practice of building and consolidating peace must include long-term strategies to ensure peace and stability as well as human security. This is not only relevant to conflict prevention, post conflict situations or the development sector. This consolidation must be ongoing, context and terrain specific, legitimate, bottom-up, resilient and inclusive. To do so, it is necessary to challenge traditional practices of decision-making, arms sales, financing or peace intervention strategies and the role of the military.

 You can download this document in PDF format by following this link: Briefing Paper: Build peace in the world: which practices does peacebuilding cover?