The Civil Society – UN Prevention Platform, co-facilitated by QUNO, hosted its first virtual event of 2021. This virtual convening, titled Advancing UN Prevention Efforts Across Sectors and Institutions: Collective Pathways for Effective Prevention, centered on the current state of prevention at the United Nations (UN), building on the Platform’s 2020 Discussion Series on Prevention. With the findings from the Series in mind and against the backdrop of the current UN processes and reforms, this dialogue shifted to a more forward-looking lens. Together participants explored entry points and opportunities to strengthen prevention within the UN system, at Headquarters and the field.
UN actors, civil society, and Member State participants filled the “room,” each bringing their own unique expertise and perspectives. The event’s speakers also reflected a range of experiences – from the roles of civil society at the local and national levels to the significance of networks in bridging the international divide. When reflecting on challenges for advancing the UN’s prevention agenda, participants raised the issue of rebuilding momentum around prevention as a way to increase Member State financing of preventive measures. What speakers repeatedly turned to throughout the discussion was the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as our roadmap to addressing these challenges and building peace.
Climate change, increased migration, technological advancements, and the growing influence of non-state actors have already changed the global landscape, and over the coming decades, the international arena will only become more complex. The recent UN prevention policy advancements, such as the SDGs, UN75 Declaration, and Sustaining Peace Resolutions, provide a foundation to navigate these complexities in a way that promotes long term peace. However, these policy changes must translate to action in the field. As expressed in the concluding remarks of the dialogue, urgent action is needed by the multilateral system to meet these challenges now, so that the same system is not overwhelmed in the future. This conversation cemented a strong sense of the need to capitalize on the current momentum for meaningful inclusivity and advancement of the upstream prevention of violent conflict at the UN to prepare for the future.