Civil society actors and organizations are an integral part of peacebuilding efforts carried out throughout the world. They often possess localized expertise and institutional knowledge from long-term engagement at a community or country level, which is all too often missing from policy discussions and decision making and carry out a breadth of work that is essential to building peaceful, just and inclusive societies.
Recognizing civil society’s critical role, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, in his 2018 report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, recommended action to better promote meaningful inclusion of civil society partnerships with the UN system. Responding to this call, a joint UN-Civil Society Working Group was established in December 2018 to develop UN System-wide Community Engagement Guidelines on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace. QUNO’s New York office was excited to join this working group led by the Peacebuilding Support Office. Fellow members of the Working Group include: the Policy Evaluation and Training Division (DPET)/Department of Peace Operations (DPO); Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); UN Development Programme (UNDP); UN Women; the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC); and the International Peace Institute (IPI).
From the very start, the Working Group recognized the central importance of hearing and learning from UN and civil society colleagues about their individual and collective experiences and partnerships working to build peace. In August, the Working Group, in partnership with Peace Direct, carried out a three-day online consultation to engage with UN entities and civil society actors active in peacebuilding to discuss the process thus far on the development of the Guidelines, reflect on and learn from peacebuilding best practices, and to consider next steps to strengthen UN and civil society partnerships. QUNO, along with the whole Working Group, greatly valued the opportunity to learn from participants during this online discussion and appreciates the time and support that UN and civil society colleagues have leant to this process. We look forward to next steps to finalize, publish and implement the Guidelines.