Getting peacebuilding right in a changing world — the case for multilateralism and cooperation
Peacebuilding today is more challenging than ever. The number of actors have multiplied. The world is more complex, volatile and connected than ever before. Every local crisis can have global repercussions. To be successful, peacebuilding has to address global actors, involve regional stakeholders and act locally — all this at the same time and in a coordinated manner.
The best way to try to manage such complexity is through multilateralism. In our times, a superpower for peace needs to be a superpower for multilateralism. Over the past century, we as Europeans have learnt that multilateralism and a rules-based international order are crucial to serve peace, democracy and stability. This global order is under threat. Too often, power politics and confrontation lead to a zero-sum-game. At the same time, the complexity of conflicts and crises goes so deep that you need a multiplicity of actors, players and powers to address them. Peace and security in a complex world like ours simply need multilateral frameworks to be sustainable and stand the test of time.
In our times, a superpower for peace needs to be a superpower for multilateralism.
Peacebuilding as a joint endeavour
What is true for international relations in general is even more so for peacebuilding. Our best chance to succeed in the realm of peacebuilding is to adapt it to today’s reality. That means that we need to factor in the needs of a multitude of actors and stakeholders, plan ahead and then move forward together.
The work we have been doing under the so-called Joint Declaration on Crisis and Post-Crisis Collaboration and Support between the European Union, the United Nations and the World Bank since 2008 is a telling example of this approach. It is an important framework for strengthening cooperation and coordination in assessing and planning joint responses to natural and men-made disasters and crises. The Joint Declaration was born in response to the tragedy of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. There was an urgent need to coordinate, collaborate and agree on priorities to ensure the most efficient and effective response. Through the Joint Declaration, the European Union, the United Nations and the World Bank created a joint framework that ever since has allowed a multitude of actors to assess, plan, coordinate and cooperate to put resources and capacities in support of those affected by a crisis to the best use.
While there is no single road to peace, we remain committed to our multilateral engagement in peacebuilding.
Since the Joint Declaration was signed in 2008, more than 75 joint assessments have taken place across the globe. These assessments reduce the burden on the conflict- and crisis-affected countries by creating a single channel for discussions, saving time and reducing the risk of confusion, duplication and lack of coordination. This joint framework does not prescribe specific solutions but our collaboration has set standards and best practices. That is helpful at moments when conflict-affected governments and societies look to build a different, better future. The example of the Joint Declaration shows that over time, three influential partners can help to set standards, which allow governments and societies to develop an orientation and take practical steps to build and sustain peace.
While there is no single road to peace, we remain committed to our multilateral engagement in peacebuilding. If it comes to a crisis in today’s multipolar world with multifaceted crises, building peace and stability together through multilateralism is our best bet.
We do not stop here. Early warning and prevention are crucial to avoid conflict and crises wherever and whenever possible. This is our top priority. Here too, a result oriented multilateral approach is crucial for success.
We look forward this discussing this together at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum.
Views expressed in this publication are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Paris Peace Forum.
Dr Hilde Hardeman, Head of the European Commission‘s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI).
Hilde has spent twenty-five years working for the European Commission, covering external relations and economic and competitiveness issues. From 2014 to 2017, she served as Deputy Head of Cabinet to Vice-President Katainen in charge of Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. Previously, she headed the Commission’s Units for respectively Relations
with Russia and with Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, and was in charge of briefing the President of the Commission for meetings with EU Heads of State or Government. Hilde Hardeman holds a PhD in Slavic Philology and History of the University of Leuven after studies at Leuven, Stanford University, and Paris. She was visiting professor at the College of Europe, and taught History of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe at Vesalius College, Brussels. She published on Russian history and minority right issues.