- Long-term commitment is crucial for sustainable peace and development.
- Tackling the root drivers of violence and conflict is crucial.
- Measuring peace progress is a complex task but it can be done.
- Targets and accountability frameworks are being developed to measure progress.
- Most UN Member States want to contribute to a framework on peace and security due to the success of the MDGs, which had simple, measureable targets.
In the lead up to 2015, the time is right to address conflict and violence. Today, in places where people are getting poorer, it is very likely that there is also increased conflict and violence. In studies asking people in poor countries what they need for their well-being, they are clear that well-being means much more than higher incomes alone. They also want dignity, security, safety and peace. But peace is a difficult thing to uphold. There is widespread recognition that ‘sustainable development’ must also include ensuring cohesiveness and peace. The challenge is to address global factors that drive violence and conflict in order to uphold peace sustainably. Taxpayers also want to support peace and security. With dwindling ODA, policymakers need to look at where peace fits into the concept of development.
How do you measure peace? The EU’s Agenda for Change is addressing fragility as a major objective. The United Nation’s High Level Panel to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015 drew on experience gained in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), both in terms of results achieved and areas for improvement. The panel noted that the success of the MDGs was in their simplicity and measurability.
Although measuring peace progress is a complex task, it is possible. Targets and accountability frameworks are key. One tool that can be used is the ‘three-sided indicator’, which combines measures of capacity, the objective situation and people’s perceptions. Three-sided indicators take one target – for example, ‘All groups can express political opinion without fear’ – and describe the effort going in, progress in terms of real events, and whether the public is satisfied.
How do we translate universal goals into local indicators? Data tracking systems are being developed around violence, rule of law and justice that can be used for this. The UN has organised an open working group on several issues and will look at the violence and conflict agenda deliberated in February 2013. The working group is developing five targets each for peace, rule of law and governance.
The success of the MDGs has made it attractive across UN Member States to contribute to a framework on peace and security. However, some are not yet convinced about tackling peace and security issues, so what is needed is dialogue. Would they be willing to measure governance? Some states say they are not yet ready to measure results but others, like Brazil and China, have begun to be more open to the concept. It is important to demonstrate that peace is measureable in a sensible way. It is also important to ensure that goals and results, not capacity, are being measured. Many Member States play the politics of embellishment and deception; there has to be a way to account for this practice.
The EU’s funding cycle is just seven years. But impact and results cannot be measured in the short-term. Although it is important to address immediate needs, longer-term commitments are crucial as some issues take generations before they are improved or resolved. For countries like Afghanistan, for example, only long-term commitment will result in sustainable peace and development.
‘We recently completed an assessment of peace and security. Our recommendations included ensuring women’s political participation and involvement in policy making. So far no women have participated in peace talks with insurgents or the Taliban. They should be at the table.’ Lida Nadery Hedayat, Executive Board Member, Afghan Women’s Network