International peacebuilding consists of a wide array of actors with divergent and sometimes conflicting interests, values, purposes, organizational forms and modalities of action.
These various stakeholders can be differentiated on the basis of:
There is no universally recognized way of categorizing peacebuilding actors. Most resources and directories classify them according to categories which actually combine - sometimes incompletely - some of these criteria. Access to a few directories is provided at the end of that section.
Most of the literature on peacebuilding distinguishes between "local," "national," and "international" stakeholders. These adjectives can be quite problematic and contentious in particular settings. For instance, a national actor coming from the capital city or another social group may well be considered as an outsider when entering a specific community; this is why some distinguish between a "national" and a "local" level, but the criteria for making this distinction are unclear. Some analysts distinguish between individuals and organizations in the capital city and those living in the rest of the country; but this distinction is generally not based on any in-depth socio-political analysis. Moreover, what may be true in one country may be entirely inapplicable in another.
The notions of "insiders"/"outsiders" may be of greater utility. Some analysts have defined insiders as "those vulnerable to conflict, because they are from the area and living there, are people who in some way must experience the conflict and live with its consequences personally. Outsiders are those who choose to become involved in the conflict and who have personally little to lose."47 For others, this dichotomy may be more flexible as it is subjectively constructed by the actors concerned and mainly reflects the power relations in a particular setting.48
In all cases, it is important to understand how the relationship between insiders and outsiders is defined in a particular context, according to different parameters having to do with issues as varied as the history of the relationship with the external world, the local socio-political configuration of the forces, and the interests of designated individuals. Even when the distinction between "insiders" and "outsiders" seems to be obvious, it has to be closely considered. In many instances, outsiders, especially but not only, when working with civil society, claim to work with "locals," but are actually collaborating with other outsiders - in other words, with themselves.49
There are many ways to categorize local peacebuilding actors.
Many outsiders actually interact (or think they interact) with only one particular type of actor and for one particular activity and do not need to know more about others, with the exception of potential collaborators or spoilers. This is both the most simplistic and limited way to map the local arena.
If one understands the different situations in micro-sociological terms, it becomes possible to identify:50
Several elements need to be kept in mind when considering these different categories of actors:
[From John Paul Lederach's Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1997), p. 39. Used with the permission of the publisher.]
But one should never forget how fluid those local socio-political arenas may be. Distinguishing between different types or levels of leadership is not always easy and the understanding one may have at a certain time may no longer be valid a few months later. Therefore, the understanding of local contexts needs not only to be as broad as possible, taking account of all social practices and daily power relations, but dynamic. Outsiders who go in a foreign country to work as peacebuilders do not always have that capacity. Yet, it is as important as any technical expertise they may have on a specific dimension of peacebuilding.
External actors include many persons and groups, organized according by different types:
Less often considered are:
All of these compose what is often referred to as the "international community," which is far from unified. Despite the term's simplicity, neither insiders nor outsiders are convinced by that excessive reference which conceals more than it reveals, even if local discourses may play on appearances. Indeed, the degree of consistency between these actors, and even more between insiders and outsiders as well as their modalities of interaction differ largely, even in time, in each given context. "External actors come to post-conflict peacebuilding with multiple agendas and motivations - which are not necessarily compatible with or driven by the political realities on the ground. Proper mechanisms need to be established to ensure that external and internal actors work within a coherent strategy, establish priorities, and mobilize the necessary recourses."51 The UN Security Council Resolution 1645 (2005) stresses "the primary responsibility of national and transitional Governments and authorities of countries emerging from conflict or at risk of relapsing into conflict, where they are established, in identifying their priorities and strategies for post-conflict peacebuilding, with a view to ensuring national ownership." Analysts have however, drawn attention to the dangers of making "national ownership" a policy mantra which can lead to donors privileging the formal institutions of the state without sufficient attention to the informal sector.52 National ownership thus must include the widest array of stakeholders, towards ensuring a sustained, societally owned peace.
The way outsiders are distinguished often refers in part to the kind of activities they pursue - in other words, to the specific role they play in any specific component of the peacebuilding process. These activities may be enumerated as:
Of course, most organizations have different kind of activities in the meantime. Peace operations as well as UN peacebuilding offices and integrated missions typically pursue a large range of activities in different sectors, security being only one of them.
Finally, many sources distinguish peacebuilders, whether they come from the humanitarian, development, political or security sectors according to their main area of expertise and activity. These are organized around 4 or 5 pillars which are:
The thematic sections of the portal present the main underlying debates in each sector as well as the way they translate in concrete interventions, linking academic discussions to political and practical challenges. They also illustrate how these issues have played a role in the design and implementation of particular activities and what lessons can be drawn from current practices at the country level.
The limits of this are to compartmentalize peacebuilding efforts which, therefore, lack a coherent and strategic objective. While some categorization of priority areas and activities is viewed as unavoidable, it is increasingly accepted that a comprehensive assessment of the context, conflict and peace dynamics, indigenous capacities and opportunities for peace should precede the design of peacebuilding programs. The UN's movement towards a notion of integrated peace strategies has roots in the UN Secretary General's 2001 analysis in No Exit Without Strategy53, and the UNSC discussions that followed which underscored the need for strategies to be based upon the interdependence between sustainable peace, security and development in all dimensions.54 The PBC has further committed itself to advancing thinking and practice in the area of integrated peacebuilding strategies, which it will support in the countries that it serves. How these strategies will build upon and harmonize with other strategic policy frameworks and processes currently in existence on the ground will be fundamental to their success.
Click here to access a listing of research centers and think tanks (compiled by the Peacebuilding Initiative, with the support of UNPBSO).
The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), which became operational in 2006, is a new intergovernmental advisory body of the United Nations specifically dedicated to helping countries make the transition from war to lasting peace. It has been created to marshal resources at the disposal of the international community to advise and propose integrated strategies for post-conflict recovery, focusing attention on reconstruction, institution-building and sustainable development, in countries emerging from conflict.
Until its creation, no part of the UN system had responsibility for helping countries make the transition from war to lasting peace. The Peacebuilding Commission is designed to help fill this gap by facilitating an institutional and systematic connection between peacekeeping and post-conflict operation and bringing together all the relevant peacebuilding actors, including international donors, the international financial institutions, national governments, troop contributing countries and civil society representatives.
Specifically, the Commission will:
The concurrent General Assembly and Security Council resolutions establishing the Peacebuilding Commission also provided for the establishment of a Peacebuilding Fund and Peacebuilding Support Office.
The UN Peacebuilding Fund is a multi-year standing trust fund for post-conflict peacebuilding set up in 2006 by the United Nations Secretary-General at the request of the General Assembly. It provides a funding bridge between conflict and recovery for post-conflict countries, focusing on funding for implementation of peace agreements; conflict resolution capacity building; strengthening government institutions and governance; and emergency situations. With an initial funding target of US $250 million, it supports countries before the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and countries in similar circumstances as designated by the Secretary-General.
The PBC is supported in its work by the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO). The PBSO serves as the secretariat of the PBC and is mandated to help better coordinate peacebuilding activities across the UN system, including by consolidating peacebuilding best practices. The PBSO facilitates the development of the peacebuilding frameworks for countries on the PBC agenda and supports the work of the Working Group on Lessons-Learned.
The New Peacebuilding Architecture
With the establishment in June 2006 of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, a new Peacebuilding Architecture was put in place within the organization - comprising the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO). These three bodies work together to:
The Peacebuilding Commission - a 31-member, intergovernmental body - is charged with bringing together all relevant actors to advise on and propose integrated strategies for post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery. Its standing organizational committee consists of members of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly, and top providers of contributions, military personnel and civilian police to UN missions.
As the second pillar of the peacebuilding architecture, the Peacebuilding Fund - a multi-year standing fund for post-conflict peacebuilding, funded by voluntary contributions - aims to ensure the immediate release of resources needed to launch peacebuilding activities, as well as the availability of appropriate financing for recovery. The Fund, which is designed to provide the initial seed money for peacebuilding, had nearly $184 million in commitments as of September 2007, towards and initial target of $250 million.
The Peacebuilding Support Office - the third pillar of the peacebuilding architecture, manages the Peacebuilding Fund, supports the Secretary-General's agenda for peacebuilding, and serves as interlocutor between the UN system and the Commission. Its substantive but non-operational mandate includes assisting the Commission in designing strategies and working within the system to ensure those strategies are implemented.
ActionAid, CAFOD, and CARE International. "Peacebuilding Report: Consolidating the Peace." June 2007.
Global Policy Forum
Global Witness. "Peacebuilding Omission?" October 2007.
Institute for Global Policy. "Togheter for Better Peace"
Security Council Report
Security Council Report. "Special Research Report: Peacebuilding Commission." June 23, 2006
Security Council Report. "Special Research Report No. 2: Peacebuilding Commission." October 5, 2007
47Mary B. Anderson and Lara Olson, Confronting War: Critical Lessons for Peace Practitioners (Cambridge, MA: CDA, 2003), 36.