Peace and Conflict Prevention

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides an integrated framework for action aimed at markedly improving the lives of the world’s people, protecting the Earth’s natural resources, and fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Both the General Assembly and the Security Council have expressly recognized that development, peace and security, and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and that an integrated and coherent approach among actors is critical to sustaining peace, improving respect for human rights, and advancing development.

The UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) most recently discussed the root causes of conflict at its May 2021 session, emphasizing the importance of cross-pillar analysis and collaboration. Its deliberations were in line with two earlier CEB products on cross-pillar integration: a CEB Statement of Commitment “Bringing the UN system together to support conflict prevention and peacebuilding within the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (2016) and an Analytical Framework on Risk and Resilience (2017).

Addressing root causes of conflict

In the face of increasingly complex and protracted conflicts, CEB deliberated on root causes of conflict at its first regular session of 2021. The discussion focused on emerging and evolving risks, specifically considering instabilities caused by climate change, weak governance, the erosion of trust in public institutions, deep economic challenges, the impacts of COVID-19, rising inequalities and technological transformations. Principals reflected upon the interlinkages between economic, social and environmental factors that are compounding risks and fragility, and the continued importance of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Board recognized that addressing these interconnected root causes of conflict required cross-pillar analysis, collaboration and proactive prevention efforts, with an improved ability to anticipate, prevent and prepare for major risks.

CEB Statement of Commitment

As stressed at the May 2021 CEB session, rising to the challenges of preventing conflict, sustaining peace and achieving sustainable development requires comprehensive and collaborative support from across the entire United Nations system. To this end, in April 2016 CEB had endorsed a policy statement on UN system support to conflict prevention and peacebuilding within the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The statement, which remains fully relevant, contains a set of eight commitments, including a pledge to strengthen the capacities of the UN system to identify drivers of conflict, detect early warning signals and respond quickly to imminent threats. It underscores the importance of carrying out joint, whole-of-system analysis, planning, programming and monitoring, and of securing adequate and predictable resources for preventing conflict and sustaining peace. The text also contains a commitment by the Board to work with Member States in bringing together the various parts of the United Nations system in support of the 2030 Agenda and reaffirmed the commitment of the UN system to support women in conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts.

Analytical Framework on Risk and Resilience

To provide the UN system with a common tool to help achieve an integrated and coherent approach to sustaining peace, improving respect for human rights, and advancing development, an Analytical Framework on Risk and Resilience had been developed through a rigorous 18-month consultative process by a task team of the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP), led by the World Food Programme (WFP).

The analytical framework presents a more proactive, risk-informed and prevention-centred approach to United Nations system efforts in support of the 2030 Agenda that promotes coherent and coordinated system-wide engagement. It seeks to advance a harmonized understanding and application of the concepts of risk and resilience across sustainable development, humanitarian, peace and security and human rights efforts of the United Nations system, as a basis to promote coherent and holistic analysis and joint planning.

At the core of the framework are three elements – systems thinking, the risk and resilience equation and a prevention lens – that can be combined to form a coordinated approach to addressing threats that could set back progress to the Sustainable Development Goals. Systems thinking, that is thinking beyond individual mandates to understand interlinkages in order to increase system-wide impact, can be used to describe the fundamental relationships among risks and other sustainable development issues at multiple levels, while a risk and resilience equation is useful for organizing efforts across pillars and for defining collective outcomes. Applying a prevention lens is intended to help foster a proactive approach when implementing measures in order to increase resilience and lower risks.

Given its emphasis on bringing together the different United Nations pillars around collective outcomes and its applicability to all types of threats, the framework serves to operationalize the humanitarian-development-peace-human rights nexus and complement ongoing initiatives, such as the New Way of Working and the United Nations System Strategic Approach on Climate Change Action.

About the development of the framework

Further to its consideration of a March 2016 think-piece on risk analysis, prevention, and resilience-building presented by the World Food Programme (WFP), HLCP had decided to conduct more in-depth analysis on these concepts and requested WFP to lead an informal task team to take this work forward. In April 2016, in endorsing the Common Principles for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, CEB had identified HLCP’s work as critical to operationalizing the principles and underscored an expectation for HLCP to deepen the UN system’s conceptual understanding of risk, prevention, and resilience, perhaps towards articulating a system-wide policy. In line with these decisions, an HLCP task team, led by WFP and composed of 25 volunteering entities had been formed to advance the work on this topic.

Subsequently, in September 2016, HLCP had considered a paper prepared by the task team that examined individual concepts related to risk, resilience, and prevention; the linkages between them; and their application in relation to the different pillars of the UN Charter and, ultimately, for supporting risk-informed programming. HLCP had agreed with the paper’s conclusion that there was potential for developing a more coherent framework. To move forward, the Committee had requested the task team to deepen its work on interoperability of concepts and a potential conceptual framework on risk and resilience. 

In March 2017, HLCP members had offered feedback on a proposed approach on risk and resilience for better cross-pillar integration risk and resilience approach put forward by the HLCP task team. The Committee had confirmed its support for the proposal and requested that the task team finalize it for approval at the following session. Accordingly, in September 2017, HLCP approved the Analytical Framework on Risk and Resilience, which was subsequently endorsed by CEB in November 2017.

  • Global Crises
  • Peace and Conflict Prevention
  • Risk Management, Oversight and Accountability
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Chief Executives Board (CEB)
  • High-Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP)

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