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Conflict

Empowering women toward peace and stability

Hartwig Schafer's picture
Chorty Tabo, 25, holds her son, Simon. She fled South Sudan a year ago. She is part of a women’s association, working together in a hair salon in Meri refugee site in the DRC. © UNHCR/Colin Delfosse


More than 1.5 billion people worldwide live in areas plagued by violence and conflict. According to the UN, women in conflict-ridden countries are disproportionately affected. They are actively targeted as a tactic of war to humiliate, terrorize, punish, or forcibly displace them. In fact, women and girls are disproportionately exposed to sexual violence during conflict. And, as more men die, more women and families are left destitute. The World Bank Group is committed to doing more to prevent this cycle of violence against women, as set out in this IEG report.

Entrepreneurship is an important mechanism to help women rebuild their lives and dignity after conflict and during protracted conflict and crisis situations. Take the example of Chorty a war widow who successfully banded together with other war refugees from South Sudan to open a hair salon in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to the UNHCR story, the business is small, but the women are earning money to feed their children and take care of their families. These women are vital role models in their communities and give others hope to rebuild their lives.

Preventing violence: The role of inclusion in initiating and sustaining peaceful transitions

Andreas Hirblinger's picture



Can inclusive approaches prevent the escalation or recurrence of violence, as the subtitle of the recent UN–World Bank report, Pathways for Peace, suggests? If so, how? And what are the pitfalls of inclusion? Qualitative case study research conducted at the Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative (IPTI) offers answers to these complex questions.

Electoral violence and the prevention of violent conflict

Aditi Malik's picture



During my dissertation and post-dissertation fieldwork in Kenya and India, I was often struck by how my interviewees—including political elites—framed the issue of electoral violence. For many, such conflict had come to be a normalized aspect of their nations’ politics. Rather than denying that major episodes of election-time violence involved political machinations, respondents typically displaced the blame for such violence onto rival parties and candidates. And yet, there was also an explicit recognition that election-time conflict had come with significant human costs for ordinary Kenyans and Indians. In short, although there was an understanding that the overlap between elections and violence in these countries was far from ideal, there was also an acknowledgement that this was simply how “the game had to played.”

When can international peacebuilding make a difference? Identifying patterns of support that help sustain peace after civil war

Karina Mross's picture



How can countries emerging from civil war be supported on their path toward sustainable peace? Besides the finding that multidimensional peacekeeping reduces the risk of civil war recurrence, little systematic knowledge exists on the effects of international efforts to foster peace. Therefore, debates over priorities, sequencing, and other questions regarding the design of international support in postconflict contexts are far from concluded. At the same time, recurring violence continues to haunt many countries that have experienced civil war.

What makes for effective preventive diplomacy?

Guy Banim's picture



The upsurge in violent conflict since 2010 has led to renewed calls to promote the use of preventive diplomacy. But what do we mean by preventive diplomacy? Who can do it? And what methods are effective? As a contribution to the joint United Nations and World Bank study on preventing violent conflict, the European Institute of Peace (EIP) looked further into these questions. As a first step, we undertook a “rough and ready” review of available academic literature to see what the data sets used by social scientists might have to tell us about the issue. The picture is far from clear.

The latest poverty numbers for Afghanistan: a call to action, not a reason for despair

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture

The just-released Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey (ALCS) paints a stark picture of the reality facing Afghanistan today. More than half the Afghan population lives below the national poverty line, indicating a sharp deterioration in welfare since 2011-12.[1]  The release of these new ALCS figures is timely and important. These figures are the first estimates of the welfare of the Afghan people since the transition of security responsibilities from international troops to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in 2014.

While stark, the findings are not a surprise

Given what Afghanistan has gone through in the last five years, the significant increase in poverty over this period is not unexpected. The high poverty rates represent the combined effect of stagnating economic growth, increasing demographic pressures, and a deteriorating security situation in the context of an already impoverished economy and society where human capital and livelihoods have been eroded by decades of conflict and instability.

The withdrawal of international troops starting in 2012, and the associated decline in aid, both security and civilian, led to a sharp decline in domestic demand and much lower levels of economic activity. The deterioration in security since 2012, which drove down consumer and investor confidence, magnified this economic shock. Not surprisingly, Afghanistan’s average annual rate of economic growth fell from 9.4 percent in the period 2003-2012 to only 2.1 percent between 2013 and 2016. With the population continuing to grow more than 3 percent a year, per capita GDP has steadily declined since 2012, and in 2016 stood $100 below its 2012 level. Even during Afghanistan’s years of high economic growth, poverty rates failed to drop, as growth was not pro-poor. In recent years, as population growth outstripped economic growth, an increase in poverty was inevitable.

Most people think peacekeeping doesn’t work. They’re wrong.

Barbara F. Walter's picture



Since 2016, the United States budget for United Nations peacekeeping has been reduced by 40 percent.  This is a reflection of how many view the United Nations and it’s record on peacekeeping. Data on the effectiveness of UN peacekeepers, however, don’t support this perception. In fact, they find that the opposite is true. Numerous statistical studies have explored the role of third-party peacekeeping in reducing violence around the world. They all come to the same conclusion: Peacekeeping works better than almost anything else we know. Using different datasets and statistical models, leveraging slightly different time periods, and measuring peacekeeping in somewhat different ways, the most rigorous studies have all found that peacekeeping has a large, positive, and statistically significant effect on containing the spread of civil war, increasing the success of negotiated settlements to civil wars, and increasing the duration of peace once a civil war has ended (see here, here, here, and here). More recent statistical studies have found an equally strong relationship between large-scale peace operations and the spread of civil wars, within and between states (see here, here, and here).

UN diplomacy in modern conflict prevention

Adam Day's picture


Since Dag Hammarskjold first articulated the concept of preventive diplomacy more than half a century ago, the idea that diplomatic engagement can head off violent conflict has been at the heart of the UN. But over the past 30 years, the nature of armed conflict has changed dramatically, and today’s diplomats are faced with a far more complex array of actors, intra-state dynamics, and global risks than ever before. Violent conflict is growing and becoming more difficult to resolve. As a result, the need to prevent violent conflict before it starts has become the UN’s overriding priority.

Yet while the UN Secretary-General has called for a “surge in diplomacy for peace,” very little is actually known about what preventive diplomacy really is, and what makes it work. In a paper to support a joint UN-World Bank project on prevention, Alexandra Pichler-Fong and Adam Day set out to answer the question, “Under what conditions does UN diplomacy help shift the calculus away from violent conflict?”

Furthering our work to address the global challenges of fragility, conflict and violence

Franck Bousquet's picture



The World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, held April 17-19 in Washington D.C., offered an opportunity to take stock of progress on our work to end fragility, conflict and violence (FCV), as well as to embrace the renewed commitment expressed by the Bank Group’s shareholders. 

What does the new UN–World Bank flagship study on violent conflict prevention hold for Australia’s region?

Hannah Bleby's picture



Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflictthe flagship study jointly published by the UN and the World Bank—has been touted as an unparalleled, potentially paradigm-shifting piece of work. But so often, conflict prevention approaches are weighted toward Africa or the Middle East; is the study relevant to Australia’s region and interests?

This study is a mix, but it tips toward the positive for Australia’s approach to security, politics, and development. It features several countries of high interest to Australia, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste. Even Bougainville rates an instructive mention, although Solomon Islands is not discussed. Subnational conflict and middle-income country dynamics are certainly considered in a general sense. Predictably, though, African and Middle Eastern experiences are more prominent, given they are in many cases acute, high profile, and the destination of much conflict or peacebuilding support and political interest of UN and World Bank members.


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