How important are coherence and coordination in United Nations peacebuilding missions? This study from the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs argues that pursuing coherence helps to manage the interdependencies that bind the peacebuilding system together. Coordination is the means through which individual peacebuilding agents can ensure that they are connected to the overall strategic framework. Unless peacebuilding agents, including the Norwegian Government, generate a clearly articulated overall peacebuilding strategy and operationalise the principle of local ownership, peacebuilding systems will continue to suffer from poor rates of sustainability and success.
There is a core logic for coherence in peacebuilding systems: all peacebuilding agents are interdependent. They can not individually achieve the goal of the peacebuilding system, which entails addressing the root causes of the conflict and laying the foundation for social justice and sustainable peace and development. Nearly a quarter of all peace agreements fail in the first five-years after they have been signed. Among the reasons for failure are shortcomings in the support provided by the international community.
Lack of coherence in generating a clearly articulated peacebuilding strategy that can provide the peacebuilding agents with a common frame of reference, and a lack of local ownership, have been most damaging to sustainability.
- It is impossible to achieve coherence if the framework, with which individual agents have to be coherent, is missing.
- It is important to monitor the effect that the peacebuilding strategy is having on the host system, so that the strategy can be continuously adjusted to the dynamic environment.
- The inability of the external actors to give meaning to their stated policies and principles of alignment undermines coherence.
- Entrenched practices and established relationships hamper efforts to change.
- Agencies that undertake peacebuilding activities often lack a shared understanding of the role of coherence and coordination in peacebuilding system.
- They fail to see that the role of coherence and coordination is to manage the interdependencies that bind the peacebuilding system together.
Without meaningfully addressing these shortcomings, peacebuilding systems will continue to suffer from poor rates of sustainability and success. The Government of Norway should:
- take steps to ensure that each individual governmental agency’s contribution to the peacebuilding project is coherent with its own policies by increasing internal coordination and institutionalising a coherence criteria;
- ensure that it has a coherent approach to peacebuilding in general and that it has a coherent whole-of-government peacebuilding strategy for each specific post-conflict country in which it is engaged;
- place donor coherence at the centre of its approach to peacebuilding;
- play a leading role in generating international focus on operationalising the principle of local ownership; and
- support initiatives and activities aimed at empowering internal actors to play a leading role in the coordination of peacebuilding systems.