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From Aswan to Stockholm: Advancing Peace and Development
07 June 2020
Stockholm, Sweden – Acting in its capacity as the Secretariat of the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA) partnered with the Secretariat of the Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development in the 2020 Virtual Stockholm Forum.

The Forum, held on 11-22 May 2020, brought together 2000 humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding participants from 60 countries to identify challenges and opportunities for sustaining peace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CCCPA’s Director General and Executive Director of the Aswan Forum, Ashraf Swelam, addressed two sessions on “Shared Commitments: Operationalizing Multilateral Action for Peace and Development” and “The Impact of COVID-19 and Conflict Prevention”, held on 15 and 20 May, respectively. Both sessions discussed and underscored the imperative for a paradigm shift from crisis management to conflict prevention.

The shared commitments session--organized in cooperation with the UN PBSO and the World Bank--tackled multilateral approaches to peace and development, including the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) Strategic Plan and the World Bank Strategy on Fragility, Conflict and Violence.

Swelam shared Egypt’s experience in launching the Aswan Forum in 2019, during its Chairmanship of the African Union. He emphasized three of its key messages: (i) the need for a paradigm shift from managing crises to managing risks; (ii) Africa’s problem is not in the lack of normative frameworks, but a crisis of implementation; and (iii) the responsibility for charting African pathways for peace, security and development rests first and foremost with African governments and societies.

Oscar Fernández-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support,  discussed the ongoing review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture (PBA) and the opportunities it provides for strengthening the multilateral system, national ownership, inclusivity and addressing the drivers of fragility and instability. “Supporting the notion of partnership, to push forward the multilateralism agenda, we need cohesion among different streams of work and have international organizations working together,” Taranco noted. He reiterated the importance of engaging local communities, women and youth in planning, programming, and responding to COVID-19 pandemic, while adopting conflict prevention, human rights, and peacebuilding lenses.

For his part, Franck Bousquet, Senior Director, Fragility, Conflict and Violence of the World Bank Group, emphasized the shift in the World Bank’s approach to addressing the causes of fragility from a narrowed focus on reconstruction to working across the fragility spectrum and on prevention. “We are investing during conflicts and crises because it is not only a space for humanitarian actors or peace and security actors but also for development actors,” he added.

Annika Söder, Eminent Person for the 2020 UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review, highlighted the solid establishment of the PBA. “Actually, the house is built. The next step for the Architecture is to refurbish the house even better that it is refurbished today and to populate the house with the right actors so that the impact on the ground will be good.” She added that financing peacebuilding is critical for conflict-affected countries, particularly those in transition settings from a peacekeeping operation.

The second session--organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)--explored both the multi-dimensional impacts and risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the current efficacy of the international infrastructure for crisis prevention.

Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD, and Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President, Africa, both emphasized how the current pandemic is having far-reaching second-order effects, especially on inequality, extreme poverty, and food insecurity. Ghanem explained the World Bank’s multi-level response to the current crisis, including strengthening healthcare systems and protecting livelihoods. Nancy Lindborg, President and CEO of the United States Institute of Peace, emphasized the imperative of channeling current prevention efforts towards immediate life-saving needs and long-term multi-layered ones, therefore balancing between the two.

Swelam underlined the need for advancing the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, stating that the “Aswan Forum made clear that the handshake missing in Africa is the one between humanitarian and political actors.” In this context, he addressed the importance of adopting a complexity-sensitive approach, highlighting that institutions often focus on “single threat assessments," which lead to employing either a conflict-, gender-, or climate-sensitive lens depending on the issue at hand--and therefore only reveal one part of the picture. Accordingly, he put forward the imperative for risk-assessed planning, implementation and decision-making, especially by national and local authorities as the primary stakeholders.

The 2019 Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development provided the first of its kind platform in Africa to address the interlinkages between peace and development, and champion Africa-led solutions, through strengthening the policies-practices linkages.
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