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Crisis prevention, conflict management, peacebuilding

Peace and security – a task for development policy

Mothers line up to register their children at a centre for Burundian refugees at Bugesera, Rwanda in April 2015.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 3

Crises and conflicts threaten the lives of millions of people and cause immeasurable suffering. They deprive people of their right to a life in freedom and security. They destroy economic and social infrastructure as well as vital private and government institutions. They have severe impacts on the development of the countries concerned.

Usually, violent conflicts do not only have local impacts. They often pose a threat on a regional or even global scale, for instance because they displace people or create a legal vacuum that provides a safe haven for criminals and terrorists. In countries that have been destabilised by violence and conflict, there is a greater risk of people falling into poverty.

According to a study conducted by the World Bank and the United Nations (Pathways for Peace, PDF 4.3 MB), the number of violent conflicts tripled between 2010 and 2016. The number of civilian casualties and people displaced by violence has also risen massively.

Peace and stability are fundamental prerequisites for sustainable development. That is why the international community has made strengthening peace and justice a key message of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both in its Preamble and in Goal 16. Development policy has the task of supporting partner countries in fostering peace – through crisis prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding


Peace is more than the absence of war

Dil Mohammed, 70, fled his village in Rakhine State in Myanmar in January 2018 and is now living in a camp in Bangladesh.

Fostering global peace is one of Germany's key constitutional goals.

Germany's efforts for peace are based on the insight that peace is more than the absence of war. Germany's work in this field is guided by the long-term vision of a "positive peace". The idea is to realise social justice and reduce the structural causes behind violent conflict, such as poverty, hopelessness, inequality, human rights violations, and the restriction of political participation.

Conflicting views are a natural part of social change. It is neither possible nor desirable to avoid such conflicts at all costs. However, peace and development can only be attained if these conflicts are resolved without violence and in a constructive manner. Making that possible is one of the goals of Germany's development cooperation.

Examples of areas that Germany addresses in this context are support for good governance and efforts against state fragility. This helps reduce the factors that contribute to violence. In this context, human security is defined as a comprehensive concept comprising political, economic, social and environmental aspects.


Areas and levels of intervention

In line with international principles, Germany's peacebuilding policy addresses five areas of intervention that complement each other:

  • legitimacy of policymaking,
  • security,
  • rule of law,
  • economic development and natural resources, and
  • government revenue and public services.

Alongside foreign policy efforts and, if need be, military interventions within the framework of peace missions, Germany's peacebuilding efforts include comprehensive contributions in the field of development policy. They are implemented by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in close cooperation with other federal ministries.

In its peacebuilding activities, the BMZ deploys its full range of instruments at all levels: international, regional and local. In 2017 alone, the BMZ spent more than 2 billion euros on activities in the fields of crisis prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding.


International partners

UNHCR transferring people fleeing war in the Central African Republic to camps in Cameroon

Important partners for Germany's development policy are, at the international level, the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank, the G7, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). They all have a multitude of instruments – diplomatic, economic, financial, military, legal and also development instruments – to respond to crises and conflicts in a comprehensive manner.

The German government is also taking part in the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding. This forum unites fragile states, development partners and civil society actors. In November 2011, its members adopted the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. Together, they defined goals in relation to peacebuilding and statebuilding, developed consultation mechanisms and laid down commitments on the part of donors and recipients with a view to attaining these goals. Germany supports selected partner countries in implementing the commitments from the New Deal. Together with the UK, Germany took on the chairmanship of the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF) at the beginning of 2018. INCAF is a subsidiary body of the OECD Development Assistance Committee.


Promoting regional organisations

Seat of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Regional organisations play an important part in crisis prevention and therefore receive support under German development cooperation.

One important partner is the African Union (AU), which has put in place its own instruments for crisis prevention and conflict management in the form of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). In this effort, it has had extensive support from the German government, for instance through funding for the establishment of a Peace and Security Department within the AU.

The BMZ also provides advice, for example, to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) on the development and implementation of small arms control measures. Assistance is also provided to further regional institutions with a view to addressing specific problems and challenges, including the conflict-free use of natural resources, the development of conflict early warning systems, and training for police officers and election monitors.


Activities on the ground

In 2018, using its internal crisis early warning system, the BMZ accorded 65 of the 94 countries evaluated the status "fragile". As government institutions in these countries only function poorly, they are partly or completely unable to guarantee their people security, well-being and development opportunities.

All German development cooperation projects in conflict countries serve the overarching purpose of helping to prevent crises and build peace. Acting on behalf of or with support from the BMZ, the BMZ's implementing organisations as well as non-governmental organisations are active on the ground to identify and help eliminate the causes of conflicts and to prevent violence from erupting again.

In five countries, the BMZ has agreed with its partner government to make peacebuilding and conflict prevention a priority area of bilateral official development cooperation: Central African Republic, Colombia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste.


Cooperation with non-governmental actors

An NGO worker goes over paperwork with a Syrian refugee family living in the Bekaa Valley.

Non-governmental development cooperation plays an important role in crisis prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding. The non-governmental organisations, political foundations and faith-based agencies working in this field have built up many years of experience and have developed their own strategies for peacebuilding.

Their involvement is particularly important in situations in which official development cooperation is impossible, for instance due to political reasons.


Making projects conflict-sensitive (Do No Harm)

In some cases, development cooperation can have unintended consequences. At worst, it can contribute to the deterioration of the situation or to the escalation of a conflict. All organisations that work in crisis situations face this risk, for instance when they have to decide about the allocation of funding, choose cooperation partners and engage in public relations work. Thus, it is especially important for programmes dealing with crisis situations to be as conflict-sensitive as possible.

The purpose of following the Do No Harm principle is to identify (early on), avoid and mitigate unintended consequences of development cooperation, especially those which worsen conflicts. Effects that foster peace and bridge the differences between the parties to the conflict, on the other hand, are specifically supported.


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