How can international peacebuilding efforts be better integrated? This article assesses the efforts of the UN to improve donor coordination in post-conflict settings and finds that, in spite of recent reform efforts, peacebuilding missions still often lack integrated systems of planning and implementation. It recommends that the international community draws lessons the post-apartheid South African experience on developing an integrated approach to governance that both meets immediate needs and lays the foundation for lasting peace. Multi-agency planning requires structured and systematic interaction, alignment of different planning instruments, and targeted interventions.
Lack of coordination among the world’s major peacebuilding actors has proven a key challenge in establishing momentum for post-conflict reconstruction. The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), unveiled in 2005, was established address this problem. The Commission’s key organisational function is to reduce the inherent complexity of the UN peacebuilding architecture and move towards a single, more ‘integrated’ post-conflict development planning process. Nevertheless, due to institutional deadlocks, the United Nations still lacks an integrated system of planning for peacebuilding.
South Africa’s self-styled ‘integrated development planning’ (IDP) approach, implemented after 1994, deserves closer scrutiny. The approach, although not perfect, is centred on integrated governance and has played a role in accelerating service delivery. It has served as a platform for previously marginalised municipalities to: be involved in service delivery planning; reform old and build new institutions; and to identify and prioritise strategic development interventions with both short and long-term impact. The three main principles of the approach are consultation, strategic planning, and implementation:
- Appropriate forums should be established where local residents, government representatives, NGOs, civil society, and external sector specialists can: analyse problems affecting service delivery; prioritise issues; develop a common strategic framework; formulate and integrate project proposals; and assess, align, and approve IDP plans.
- The IDP approach aims to ensure that: local knowledge is combined with that of technical experts; service delivery delays are overcome through consensus building within given time periods; both the underlying causes and symptoms of service delivery problems are addressed; resources are maximised; and IDPs are integrated from the start with other complementary sectors.
- The IDP aims to become a tool for better and faster service delivery by ensuring that: concrete, technically-sound project proposals are designed; planning-budget links are created with feasibility in mind; and sufficient consensus among key stakeholders on the planned projects is reached.
The IDP approach reveals some important lessons for the design of integrated peacebuilding strategies in countries emerging from conflict:
- Structured and systematic local inputs into peacebuilding policies: The PBC’s country-level configurations should ensure a more balanced platform for deliberation and decision-making around development and service delivery to enable systematic and structured local inputs into peacebuilding policies.
- The participation of local representatives: Participation should not be regarded as a compliance issue, but rather as a consultative process to ensure that residents are mobilised as partners in delivery.
- Alignment of planning instruments: Institutionalising a well-designed and enforced planning system for peacebuilding may be possible if the PBC is given the authority to align and synchronise different planning processes, monitoring mechanisms, and budgeting cycles
- Shared areas of impact: Some areas of a post-conflict country will be easier to develop than others. To create momentum for development, it may initially be useful for the PBC and its local partners to prioritise investment in areas with greater development potential.
- Targeted interventions: Integrated peacebuilding strategies should aim to build indigenous capabilities in peacebuilding.