The Future of Peacebuilding
Partnership in Action: Bilateral, Multilateral & Polylateral Response to COVID-19 in FCAS 15.50-16.25,
The Hague Time Thank you Ms. Anne Kristine. Greetings from the g7+ secretariat. I would like to thank the CSPPS for inviting us to the annual conference. Seconding the deputy chair of g7+, H.E. Habib Zadran, we commend the CSPPS for playing an active role in promoting the noble cause of peacebuilding and statebuilding under the umbrella of the International Dialogue for Peacebuilding and statebuiliding (IDPS). Most of you will agree that such a tripartite mechanism of partnership can be an inspiring modal as we embark on building back better journey.
Friends ladies and gentlemen,
I spent almost 6 months in New York since the beginning of March when COVID-19 was just declared as pandemic. I didn’t choose to stay there beyond the time of the assigned mission of operationalizing the g7+ observer status at the UN. And you know that NY was an epicenter. But it was because I could travel neither to Dili, Timor-Leste, my duty station nor back home. During these 6 months I sadly witnessed how the buzzing town of Manhattan was sadly turned into a ghost town. In the month of September I managed to travel back home. The moment I landed in Kabul, I was shocked to see how people didn’t observe the social distance and other SOPs such as wearing masks or social distance. It is despite the fact that Afghanistan witnessed the highest number of covid19 2 cases in g7+ countries. I was kind of terrified and started arguing with everyone why they are not following the SOPs of WTO and Government. I couldn’t convince myself to believe if people in my country were aware of COID-19. What I had expected was that the city of Kabul would be quiet with employees working from home and businesses being closed. But only after few days, I kind of realized that I am in Afghanistan, a country that witnesses deadly incidents of security on daily basis. It is a country where the state institutions are not as capable to provide stimulus checks to its citizens so that they can stay home. The Internet bandwidth is not as strong neither affordable by everyone as to enable people working from home and students to attend their classes online. Majority of people survive on hand-to-mouth basis; and hence they need to take errands to earn livelihoods or travel outside the country despite closure of borders in search of labor work. In a week time I was mentally back into the real world. The world that is similar for almost similar to 1.5 billion people; the world of fragile and conflict affected countries. Such an experience is common to almost all of the fellow g7+ countries where decades of wars and conflicts have made them vulnerable.
With its devastated impact the COVID-19 has revealed the inherent or acquired shortcomings in international and national systems and mechanisms. The g7+ together with its partners such as CSPPS have repeatedly identified and called for overcoming those faults. This includes fragmentation and infectiveness in peacebuilding and statebuilding and international aid systems. These defects are even reflected in the very response and counter-measures of the COVID19 Pandemic. We are increasingly noticing how these measures have adversely affected the most vulnerable and fragile countries. The impact of pandemic and the unintentional consequences of counter-measures such as lockdowns, closure of borders and businesses have threated conflict-affected countries. Most of them are already on a very critical juncture of their transition as the Deputy Minister and deputy chair of g7+ mentioned in the first session. However unfortunate it is, we had to learn the hard way 3 and hence commit to build-back better our systems and partnership. It is against this background that I would like to summarize my suggestions in 3 points on what and how effectively can we build our partnership in our engagement in fragile countries to realize the inspiration of building back better:
First: One of the worst legacies of wars in fragile countries is fragmentation in societies, institutions, politics and even service delivery. Societal fragmentation to a greater extent results directly from conflicts and wars while fragmentation in institutions and service delivery is the direct, yet unintended result of the way engagement in humanitarian, peacebuiling, statebuilding and development is managed. Such fragmentation has undermined service delivery and stability and has further institutionalized fragility. The New Deal for engagement in fragile states was adapted with the aim of addressing such fragmentation and to address the aforementioned shortcomings in systems deployed in conflict affected states.
Recognizing the indispensible role the civil society has played in establishing the new deal principles, it is time to lobby to reinvigorate the potential of the those principles. The New Deal is a suitable and relevant framework at least in fragile settings to pursue the aspiration of building back better. In particular, the role of civil society in the global north has the potential to lobby for adapting the new deal principles.
Second: The direct and indirect consequences of COVID-19 aside, the man-made crises and decisions have proven even more lethal to conflict affected countries. Despite our collective repeated calls for ceasefire and reconciliation, we have not seen considerable progress in ending conflicts in at least g7+ countries. My own country Afghanistan is one of the best examples as the Deputy Minister referred to. I think this is the best opportunity for a polylateral partnership between the governments and the civil society organizations in conflict affected countries to work for the 4 cause of pursuing peace through recompilation and national dialogue. In particular, the National civil society organizations should engage with the informal powers in these countries such as tribal and religious leaders and community based organizations. This way, there is a greater chance for building coalition to end conflicts, build trust and more importantly reserve and protect the gains that are made.
Third and last, I would like to elaborate on the importance of peer learning that our deputy chair referred to. The g7+ has facilitated what we call fragile to fragile cooperation that has mainly included exchange between governments. I would like to propose that we need to facilitate people to people exchange among g7+ members and with other conflict affected countries such as Colombia, Cambodia and etc. Donors can play a catalytic role of funding such initiatives. The g7+ Secretariat will be happy to partner with the CSPPS in this regard. In particular it is important to highlight how mobilizing support for peace and reconciliation from masses in other countries have worked.
Thank you for your attention and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have