The All Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict
The House of Commons, Tuesday 24th
Dr Scilla Elworthy, Chair, Peace Direct.
Sixty per cent of the world’s children who die before
their fifth birthday are in conflict-affected areas.
We all know that conflict costs lives, threatens
regional and global stability. So what can we do about it? And how can we act
more effectively in this difficult financial climate?
Quite simply, we believe that using ‘Insider Power’
and diverting some development funding to secure local peace building will
prove to be a wise investment – for saving lives, for saving money, and most
importantly for those children who can then grow up and flourish in peace and
What does ‘Insider Power’ mean?
A host of international organisations including the
UN, the European Centre for Conflict Prevention, numerous NGOs, charities and
national governments - including the UK - have long recognised the need for a “
joined up” approach to conflict prevention and peace building.
What’s more, we’ve seen the results.
Since the early 1990s more wars have ended by
negotiated settlement than by military victory – in fact almost twice as many -
However the chances of conflicts reigniting are still
almost 50%. That is most likely to happen where there is no systematic
‘insider’ effort to match the ‘outsider’ negotiations — where local people –
local peace builders - are
insufficiently mobilised to enable the population to engage in the peace
process, to feel part of the agreement, and to help carry out its terms.
Let’s be more specific about how ‘Insider Power’
1. Pre-conflict insider power. Effective, local,
peace building organizations are often accurate providers of early warning of
potential conflicts, and early action to prevent escalation. Example: Kenya January 2008 - how grassroots peace-builders provided the vital
‘bottom up’ link to Kofi Annan’s ‘top down’ mediation mission early in 2008,
that allowed the violence that had erupted all over Kenya to subside, and a
durable peace to prevail.
2. Hot conflict insider power. The greater
inclusion of local people, during a conflict, encourages independence and
responsibility for solving their own problems, which over the longer term
reduces aid dependency and the ‘victim’ culture. One example here would be
conflict insider power. A shift in funding to local organizations –
particularly in the “ window of opportunity” once a peace deal has been agreed
- ensures a faster, more flexible and inclusive peace building effort.
Example: El Salvador – the
Patriotic Movement Against Crime 1995-99 – where after a 12-year civil war,
businessmen whose trucks were being high-jacked at gunpoint organized to
collect thousands of weapons in exchange for food vouchers.
Our perspective at Peace Direct comes from working
over the last five years to raise funding and profile for locally led peace
building initiatives. This work has given us an ‘insider’ perspective, albeit
one limited in terms of our short operating history. We have come to recognise
the wealth of talent for peace building and conflict resolution within countries at risk of conflict, and the
power of effective collaboration, on equal terms, between ‘outsiders’ and ‘insiders’.
The main point that we want to make is that, even
more important than ‘what’ is funded (peace building, state-building, or
Millennium Development Goals) is ‘how’ programmes are implemented. (“It ain’t what you do but the way that
you do it.”) Aid and conflict programmes can be
delivered in ways that strengthen a country’s ability to move out of conflict
into sustainable development, or the reverse. Programmes that maximise the use of local people
and organisations, and aim to strengthen government and civil society in
parallel will, quite
simply, be more effective than those that concentrate only on government.
Peace Direct firmly believes we should
anything for people that they can do for themselves.
people for free something that they are able to buy.
outsiders to provide anything that can be provided by insiders.
A capable, accountable and responsive state - at both central and local level -
requires that people are able to act on their own initiative.
Self-sufficiency is the goal, so that a country can
provide its peace building services from within its own resources. Even if the
time scale for achieving this is in the far distance, the way that
state-building strategies are implemented will move a country closer to, or
further away from, this goal.
In order to move towards the goal of
self-sufficiency, it is essential to identify and tap the capacity of people to
do things for themselves and for their communities; in other words, make use of
capacity in community development
is revealed in programmes like the National
Solidarity Programme in Afghanistan, which, while not perfect, uncovered the
ability within villages to make decisions and implement programmes that had not
previously been recognised.
capacity in peace building
has been demonstrated through the Collaborative for
Peace in Sudan. They have
initiated the Sudan Oil and Human Security Initiative bringing together oil
company representatives with community leaders and MPs of the South Sudan
Government to work in partnership on environmental and security issues, and
conducted twelve meetings in 4 locations across Blue Nile State, to bring
together women, young people and office holders to talk about strategies for
maintaining peace in the State.
capacity in the power of civil society
is revealed by the spread of mobile phones, and their
widespread use even by those who cannot afford to own their own phone. (For instance, in South Africa, extra
free minutes have been offered to young people willing to transmit basic health
education texts to their friends, helping to reduce the spread of HIV/Aids.
Brazilian coffee growers have been able to check current wholesale prices, thus
obtaining fairer prices for their crops and eliminating middlemen. SMS messages
were widely used in Kenya in January 2008 to obtain accurate information on
‘hot spots’ in the escalating conflict.)
It is time to take a long hard look at the way we,
the international community, operate in conflict areas. That means a long hard
look at how kindness kills - sometimes literally - but more often fails because
it stifles rather than supports local initiative.
How do we fund latent capacity
and Insider Power?
For every dollar spent on peace building around the
world, nearly two thousand times as much is spent on defence and the military.
Global financial downturn
means that there now is less money to go round, so all governments need to spend
less on defence. It’s financial common sense to use limited resources to
prevent conflicts, not for mopping up afterwards. We believe that redirecting
some development funding for supporting Insider Power will prove to be
financially sound. Pre conflict peace building, early warnings and intervention
by local peace builders are likely to be more cost effective than the emergency
funding poured into humanitarian disasters once a conflict has escalated.
With growing unwillingness among taxpayers around the
world to foot the bill for projects “over there”, particularly those that
apparently have no effect other than emergency aid, it is vital to demonstrate
the cost effectiveness of preventing conflict in order to win the argument that
money from the defence budget would be better spent on peace building.
Conflict prevention using local people not only
saves lives, it saves money
The cost of
civil society networking that complemented Kofi Annan’s efforts to end the
post-election crisis in Kenya cost around £100,000.
1998-2000, the Otpor
student campaign to monitor elections in Serbia cost just £3 per student trained and deployed, of whom there were an estimated 20,000.
This prevented the election results being distorted and led to the expulsion of
collection scheme in El Salvador that ended the high-jacking of trucks after
the civil war cost approximately £900,000.
Many more such examples are waiting to be documented
– all of which could be contrasted with the January 2008 peace conference
in the Congo, backed by the EU, US and UN, which brought together leading
politicians to find a solution to the violence in Eastern DR Congo. The
conference cost three million pounds. No local people were invited.
We all know what’s happened
in DRC since then.
Here are the
costs less than reconstruction:
International relief and reconstruction efforts over the three years following
the Rwanda genocide cost the international community more than $2 billion. The
Carnegie Commission, reporting in 1997, estimated the costs of a preventive
intervention would have been one third of that amount and would have saved the
lives of thousands of people.
Rapid Response Funds produce results:
Based on experience over the past 5 years, Peace
Direct has found that if a trusted local peace builder in a community can
receive a Rapid Response Fund (RRF) of as little as £10,000 to use at their
discretion in the event of crisis, they can deploy this strategically to
prevent escalation of disputes. In
Kenya in January 2008, Dekha Ibrahim Abdi – a Kenyan Muslim with a network of
trained peace-builders across the coutry - was able to use her RRF to take the
simple necessary steps of hiring rooms for meetings, providing transport money
for civilian peace builders, and paying cell phone bills.
a year in DRC funds Henri Bura
Ladyi, a peace-builder based in eastern DRC, who runs the Centre de
Henri used some of that money
to put fuel in his motorbike, to go into the jungle to negotiate with the Mai Mai
militia who have been kidnapping children to use as child soldiers and
demanding a goat as ransom from the families. A goat costs £3 - way beyond their reach.
Henri secured the release of
scores of children and has opened up a constructive dialogue with the Mai Mai.
In this case, less really is more.
Recommendations for the
consideration of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues
local capacity in peace-building
In creating programmes to prevent conflict and build
or rebuild peace, we need to tap into the knowledge and skills of local
individuals and organisations. There are very few programmes that genuinely use
the skills and knowhow of local peace-building organisations in setting
priorities and designing programmes.
There are valid reasons why this happens, for example
the fact that genuinely competent and committed local peace organisations are
not distributed in a uniform fashion across a country. The website Insight on
is redressing this with a
database that has already detailed up to 44 initiatives in nine conflict areas:
the organisation is raising funds to document a further 6 conflict areas.
The APPGCI could encourage the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office and DfID to use the Insight on Conflict database, and to
invest in the knowledge and skills of local individuals and organisations.
conflict Regional Rapid Response Funds
Regional networks of experienced peace-builders now
exist in West and East Africa, and are in development in the Middle East and
Asia. These networks need long term financial support, as
lack of resources means they can’t
act early to prevent conflict (which most of them are well placed to do as they
are an accurate source of early warning).
Such networks would be ideally placed to manage
Regional Rapid Response Funds – initially small amounts of money under their
jurisdiction to be used to monitor conflict indicators and mobilise local
networks for prevention initiatives. UNDP and the UN Inter-agency Framework for
co-ordination on Preventive Action are already moving in this direction. Swisspeace and
the Alliance for Peace-building (AfP) currently propose global and regional mechanisms for initiating
effective direct action to address the causes of mass violence in countries at
APPGCI could encourage the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and DfID to examine
conflict - commit funds to strengthen the capacity of ‘insiders’ to promote and
reinforce peace and peace agreements.
conflict is heading towards a significant turning point – either the ending of
a repressive regime, as in Zimbabwe, or a peace agreement – funds need to be
committed well in advance, in order to enable a strategy to be developed for
immediate implementation when the turning point comes.
There is usually a period of opportunity - the first
18 months to 2 years after a peace agreement is signed. Momentum needs to be
built in order for real progress to be made on the ground within 3-5 years. Our
proposal is that a sum be allocated to a locally led peace-building strategy,
in the region of 10% of the likely allocation to the UN Mission to the country
concerned, over the first five years. This sum would be for the implementation of a
peace-building strategy, the first stages of which would have been worked out
in parallel with the timetable of the peace talks. Further details are
available from Peace Direct. 0845 4569714 or Carolyn@peacedirect.org
4. Comprehensive research
The APPGCI could call for a full study on the efficacy and
cost effectiveness of local and regional ‘insider’ peace building initiatives
led by Whitehall, with input from academic, charity, NGO and civil society