Sunday 10 February 2013

UN Peacemaker: coherence in peacebuilding?

A new set of tools has been launched by the UN aimed at supporting what it calls "peacemaking" efforts by UN agencies, Governments and NGOs. I guess we add "peacemaking" to the lexicon of peacebuilding but the interesting thing about this tool is that it seems to be intended as a resource that gets real investment and becomes well used rather than a website where PDFs of reports get uploaded once in a while, as seems to sadly be the case with other well intentioned initiatives.

This might be a valuable contribution to bringing some coherence to peacebuilding approaches between donors, practitioners on the ground and non governmental actors. And if it does that, then it will have made a really useful contribution. The challenge will be the extent to which the international financial institutions are part of that picture, with the World Bank already having launched something similar.

The UN seems to recognise this and describes the challenge:
"The actions of the international community, including the United Nations, regional, subregional and other organizations, States, NGOs, national and local actors, all have an impact on mediation, even if their engagement in a given mediation process may vary. This diversity can be an asset, as each actor can make unique contributions at different stages of a mediation process. But multiplicity also risks actors working at cross-purposes and competing with each other. Different decision-making bodies, political cultures, legal and normative frameworks, levels of resources and financial and administrative rules and procedures will make coherence, coordination and complementarity difficult".
Here's how the UN describes Peacemaker:

UN Peacemaker is an online mediation support tool developed by the Mediation Support Unit (MSU) in the Policy and Mediation Division of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA).

Intended for peacemaking professionals, it includes an extensive database of peace agreements, guidance material and information on the UN’s mediation support services.

UN Peacemaker is part of the UN’s overall effort to provide advice and support to the Secretary-General and his Representatives in their efforts to resolve international disputes and internal conflicts. It is also intended to be useful to UN partners actively engaged in peacemaking efforts, including Member States, regional organisations, civil society, non-governmental organisations and national mediators.

Re-launch in 2012

Initially launched in 2006, UN Peacemaker is the product of a multi-year learning project drawing on DPA’s leadership and experience in peacemaking and preventive diplomacy.

In the summer of 2011, MSU initiated an end-user analysis in partnership with Swisspeace. In order to adapt UN Peacemaker to the emerging needs of the mediation community, MSU undertook a comprehensive overhaul and update of the website, which was re-launched in 2012. UN Peacemaker has one of the most comprehensive databases of peace agreements with an advanced search function.


Intended to support peacemakers in their efforts to manage peace processes and negotiate peace agreements, the website offers key tools and resources such as:
  • A comprehensive database of more than 750 peace agreements.
  • Guidance documents on mediation.
  • Information on UN mediation support activities and services.
  • A library of selected literature on key mediation issues (e.g. power-sharing,
  • wealth-sharing, constitutional issues, mediation processes and strategies etc.).
  • MSU will also be adding video interviews with mediation experts discussing strategies and tactics on how to manage mediation processes and providing guidance on specific themes.
The overhaul of UN Peacemaker was made possible by the generous support of the governments of Canada, Finland, Germany and Ireland.

Current Management

UN Peacemaker is currently managed by MSU in DPA.

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