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Good Practice Note: Conflict Sensitivity, Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

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Executive Summary

This Good Practice Note provides practical guidance and concrete tools for UN entities to integrate conflict sensitivity into their programming – with a view to contribute to building and sustaining peace, and with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals as the ultimate objective.

Conflict sensitivity is about bringing awareness of conflict dynamics to UN entities that deliver development and humanitarian assistance, and support to political processes, with the goal to minimize the risk that those activities worsen conflict dynamics and bring countries further off track on their path to achieve the SDGs. It is a minimum requirement for the UN, aligned with the principle of “Do No harm”, and that lays the foundations for activities that sustain peace and further sustainable development, with the promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights at their core.

The Note is articulated around three main areas:

  1. A conflict-sensitive approach to sustainable development along 4 key steps:

i. Understand the peace and conflict context, through a conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding analysis that helps shape, prioritize and adjust activities to address or mitigate drivers of conflict, notably as part of the development of the Common Country Analysis (CCA), as necessary supplemented by additional local level conflict analysis of specific sub-regions.

ii. Analyse how activities interact with peace and conflict: as peace and conflict evolves, UN entities need to regularly consider whether some activities may exacerbate conflict dynamics and cause tensions or whether some have the potential to create opportunities for building and sustaining peace.

iii. Adapt activities and manage interactions:
UN entities need to adapt accordingly – minimizing new risks identified, adjusting responses and scale up activities as and when conditions allow.

iv. Leverage opportunities for building and sustaining peace: United Nations activities can be designed to have a direct impact on conflict and peace dynamics by positively contributing to ease tensions, increase trust between the state and the population and among population groups and lower the risk of outbreak, escalation or recurrence of conflict – including by organizing inclusive participatory approaches and engaging various groups that might be at odds with each other (e.g., farmerherders, host-displaced). To assess if, and how, United Nations activities can contribute to building and sustaining peace, entities should formulate a theory of change and develop a monitoring framework with specific indicators to measure the effects of UN activities on conflict dynamics.

  1. Guidance and tools to embed conflict sensitivity and, where possible and appropriate, peacebuilding into organizational values and processes, building capacity of staff around conflict analysis and conflict-sensitive approaches and ensure UN activities are conflict sensitive.

  2. Monitoring and evaluation tools to measure and inform conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding: • Ongoing context and conflict analysis to provide a detailed understanding of the peace and conflict context, a primary tool for understanding impact and interactions between UN activities and the context and for identifying relevant indicators;

• Peacebuilding and Conflict sensitivity markers to measure the extent to which peacebuilding and conflict sensitivity have been incorporated into UN activities; and

• Conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding indicators that help measure interactions between UN activities and the peace and conflict context, including the potential positive or negative impact that activities have had.