What is the best way to introduce peace and conflict sensitivity to development and humanitarian programmes? This study from the Center for Peace Research and Strategic Studies provides a guide to planning development and humanitarian interventions in conflict zones. It suggests that while peace and conflict sensitivity has been successfully mainstreamed as a topic of discussion, the international community has not yet arrived at an automatic, systematic peace and conflict sensitive aid policy and operational implementation. There needs to be a systematic link between the analysis of the conflict and peacebuilding environment and the implementation of interventions. The theory of conflict transformation should combine with professional operational requirements for programme planning.
Development and humanitarian action can contribute to peacebuilding in different ways on different levels. On the macro political level, it can contribute through targeted policy interventions such as the conditionality of aid resources, negotiated benchmarks, identifying humanitarian entry points for peace negotiations or international measures against war economy. Here, there is an overlap with traditional diplomacy, and therefore these interventions require cooperation between development and foreign policy actors. On the development sector level, it can contribute through inculcating conflict and peace issues into development sector strategies. On the operational level, it can contribute through peace and conflict sensitive development, by supporting new types of programmes that are directly related to peacebuilding, such as support for capacity building or training for local peace organisations and networks, peace journalism training, demining or demobilisation activities.
There are several reasons why a peace and conflict lens should be applied to development and humanitarian work:
- All development interventions taking place in conflict situations have a higher risk of failing than do interventions in normal situations.
- Many aid efforts undertaken by the international community have not been effective and sometimes they have had negative effects on the level of violence.
- By applying a peace and conflict sensitive approach to development, actors can establish whether it is possible to contribute to peacebuilding in addition to their primary objective.
- Such programming sensitivity is increasingly necessary as sustainable social and economic development is impossible without peace.
- Peace and conflict are political issues, therefore development actors are faced with political challenges.
- Standard methods of planning and evaluating development and humanitarian interventions don’t function effectively in conflict zones.
Despite the progress that has been made, a number of challenges for peace and conflict sensitivity in development and humanitarian action remain:
- There is a need to repoliticise the debate around peace and conflict sensitivity.
- Although there has been training, mainly around the ‘Do no harm’ approach, more training, in the form of capacity building, is needed, particularly in the south.
- There should be international standards for planning and evaluating development and humanitarian interventions in conflict zones. These should be worked out by researchers, governmental and non-governmental actors in the context of an international network.
- A web-based joint learning platform could be established to share information and experiences of the practice of linking conflict, peacebuilding and development, as well as professionalisation in peacebuilding.
- There needs to be an organisational integration of the peace and conflict lens – a holistic mainstreaming approach.