Advancing the Debate on a Culture of Conflict Prevention.

Author:Zarif, Farid

"The best way to prevent societies from descending into crisis is to ensure they are resilient through investment in inclusive sustainable development." This truth, as stated by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, underpins his recent vision for conflict prevention, in which the maxim of reversing inequalities and strengthening institutions applies to all countries. Putting prevention first is at the forefront of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and it frames the global community's commitment to "strengthen universal peace in larger freedom", captured in the preamble of United Nations General Assembly resolution 70/1 that introduced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the world in October 2015. The specific framework for prevention is found in SDG 16 which seeks to "promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels". SDG 16 places political action at the forefront of the peace-security-development nexus by recognizing that governance deficits are largely responsible for poverty and conflict. By virtue of this debate, the SDGs direct the international community to prioritize prevention by removing the causes of conflict through political process and the pursuit of development outcomes which leaves no one behind.

This paradigm of prevention lies at the core of the sustaining peace agenda, established by the Government of Liberia and the United Nations system, in the Liberia Peacebuilding Plan (2017). The plan was requested by the Security Council in resolution 2333 (2016), and anticipates the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in March 2018. It marks the first time the Council had asked the Secretary-General to produce a detailed plan for how the United Nations would manage the sustaining peace agenda following the departure of a peacekeeping mission. Consequently, Liberia is emerging as a model for the Secretary-General's conflict prevention vision, where attention is now focused on political, human rights and development instruments to protect the gains of 14 years of peacekeeping to ensure that the trajectory of sustaining peace is consolidated.

The strong prevention instruments in the peacebuilding plan are designed to address the critical level of Liberia's sociopolitical fragility borne from the unresolved root causes of the country's 14-year civil war. For example, public institutional reforms in Liberia are urgently required, with an...

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