By ANANT MISHRA [Former Youth Representative to United Nations]
We refer to a situation as “Post Conflict”, when a war or an organised crime involving the public is officially decreased or terminated, in which “partnerships with the international community are most crucial in supporting or underpinning still fragile cease-fires or peace processes by helping to create conditions for political stability, security, justice and social equity.”
From a war torn nation to a peace building nation, questionable legitimacy and incapacitated state governed institutions and democratic processes becomes a major problem for the governments in post conflict areas. Referring to the social and economical sectors, people not only suffer from mentally and physical harm of violence, but also retain long term memories of inhumane practices. They then become refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) without adequate needs of survivals. Understanding the risks involved in post conflict while coping with cross border issues originating from legacies of conflicts, international agencies including the United Nations implement peace building mechanism to consolidate peace and to reintegrate the development into state. Through peace building and prevention of resurfacing of violence, peacemaking and peacekeeping are ensured, assuring post conflict areas “peace” beyond the ceasefire agreement.
The concept of peace building adopted by the United Nations reveals its main goals and functions in improving post conflict situations. In an agenda on peace building in 1992, the then Secretary General issued a report defining peace building as “action to identify and support structures, which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict.” The report focused on how to rebuild institutions, infrastructures as well as assist people in integrating back to the society. In 1995, the Supplement to An Agenda for Peace restructured the idea for Peace mentioned in “An Agenda for Peace” approving the essential step of institutionalization for Peace through Peace building. In 2000 a report was published by the Commission on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations recommended many actions on peace building, including active engagement with local authorities, free and fair democratically elected regimes, strengthening the peacekeeping force, and concerns about human rights.
Ruling out the complex notions, the then Secretary General of the UN published a report on peace building in the aftermath of conflict, the report defined five principles for peace building.
The First steps involved maintaining basic security in the region through disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and strengthening the position of law.
The Second step focussed on, strengthening basic services for the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The Third step involved enhanced inclusive political reconciliation and conflict management at national and regional levels to maintain peace and security in the region.
The Fourth step focussed on quick restoration of the government functions, mainly the administrative and enforcement sections depending upon institutional and financial capacity.
The Fifth step involved rapid promotion of economic revitalization through rehabilitation and infrastructure management.
Prioritising the aspects of peace building, the Secretary General focussed on establishing effective and accountable leadership, national capacity, integrated strategic framework, while assessing peace building measures. In 2012, the United Nations and its agencies took Peacekeeping measures into account and ensured wide participation by ensuring state transparency and legitimacy effectively. Stable interconnections, timely international support and mutual accountability used as a baseline to accelerate the progress of state building institutions along with the state capacity to implement conflict management, enforce recovery programs, rule under “unbiased” law, and ensure human rights protection.
On many occasions people have asked me how I think Peace building and Post Conflict mechanisms should be. When we are talking specifically about peace building and post conflict mechanisms, it is imperative that the short time and long terms scenario’s of post conflict reformation are understood. Peace building is a process which helps in rebuilding economic, social reforms, judicial and civil society institutions, providing resources and strategies concerning various circumstances to counter post-conflict problems. Although today, the reality of peace building and post conflict mechanisms are quite the contrary we discuss. Inadequate and incomplete efforts followed by poor trainings and inexperience dissolve the whole aspect. Carrying out domestic rebuilding programs while battling the regional rebel power makes an already “high risked zone”, vulnerable. Local governments hardly handle peace building in such situations. You need effective strategies to control the already flamed situation. Hence, I would say, practices of peace building and post conflict recovery require a lot of improvement (from implementation to planning) to ensure the functions of the organization tasked to monitor, remains active.
In a Post conflict situation, the fragile condition of the state creates a heated situation, making the nation vulnerable to another uprising and accidental violence, tensions between ethnic groups, along with the risk of unequal economic opportunities between multiple ethnicities. Some difficulties encountered in a post conflict situation are:
- The level of warfare and violence centric insecurity and instability in the area. Additionally many social and political influence the conflict and add fuel to fire.
- During this time the legitimacy of the government and the leader is questioned hence limited support and trust is earned from the people. Rapid political scandals, and politically motivated assassinations makes a very difficult task for the newly elected leader hence, they fail to contain the chaotic post conflict society.
- The capacity building process is hampered due to the slow rebuilding mechanisms and domestic political instability, post conflict nations are deprived from regional and national institutions (in my words) to take charge along with the government incapacitated state development.
- High human and material loss in violence worsens the situation. National infrastructure is destroyed and private assets are left unguarded, resulting in violence and small battles. A recent report published by the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees stated, that there are respectively 16.7 and 33.3 million refugees and IDPs as a result of violence that occurred in 2014 which does not seems to end. IDPs and refugees face threats to their safety and are deprived from the basic necessities such food, water, housing and health care. Without sufficient resource, IDPs and refugees become vulnerable to abuse.
Additionally, peace building confronts enormous challenges during its implementation. Inadequate financial assistance is one of those and especially when we talk about contesting elections, that too against a central power, right after in the conflict affected regions. High political risk and mismanagement of aid by the interim government (varies from situation to situation), donor nations hesitate to fund the government, which is carrying out the peace building missions. Most importantly during stages of reconstruction of state and infrastructure the question of, “who seizes power?” becomes a very critical question not only to the organization or international aid assistance firms but to three pillars of the government—executive, legislative and judiciary—of state and central governments. Besides, internal struggles appear from time to time hence preventing internal conflicts acts as a diversion. In situations like these, the public and the private media are compromised hence they fail to provide reliable and vital information to the civilian and to the international communities. Media is a vital source that can help you to understand the progress of peace building and post conflict recovery.
Peace building is the foundation for peace and development. Achieving the above mentioned objectives, the strategies used by the United Nations should compromise a “realistic” solution for the problem. You cannot resolve a conflict using post cold war peacemaking methodology, especially when the peacekeeping is covering the conflict of 21st
century. There are many solutions to the issue.
- Inclusive actions and reconciliation
Violence erupted in a historical dispute has more than one possibility of resurfacing again. Hence issues like these should be resolved through peaceful means especially through peaceful political governance, as political clashes between parties are common. One such method is “inclusive societal consultation” which involves exchange of different opinions enhances representativeness, making the government effective and legitimate in governance. Addition to the above, judicial reforms should be a must. These reforms should be based on transitional justice and trust building.
- State governance capacity and institution building
Building legitimate institution is very important as it rapidly to the expectation of the people and is seen as a core foundation of trust building. By restoring government functions and reforming rule of law, governmental institutions under the supervision of a UN or peace keeping agency would monitor post conflict recovery, and also help in establishing peace as a whole.
Other solutions include protection of human rights; basic needs of internally displaced persons (IDP’s). Social welfare and economic development are essential features of successful peace building practices.
Peace building is the foundation of “rebirth” of a post conflict region. Peace building focuses on building institutions and infrastructures, which monitors the areas’ political, economic and social development effectively. Besides post conflict recover practices, effectively to monitor the area with timely resources and recommendations is necessary, enabling the government to implement positive rehabilitation policies, preventing the state from further collapse. Additionally, comprehensive development should also be considered in the context of post conflict areas, since the progress of peace building requires cautious monitoring policies from international agencies. For effective post conflict recovery and peace building, member nations and global international partners (NGO’s) should explore productive approaches.
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About the Author
Anant Mishra is a former Youth Representative to United Nations. He has served in numerous committees including United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC).He is an Associate Member of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi.