Wars and armed conflicts cause poverty and hamper poverty reduction. A large number of Sida's partner countries are in a conflict or post-conflict situation. Efforts for peace and security are therefore crucial in development cooperation.
Armed conflicts are not only causing death, suffering and destruction. Development in countries and regions suffering from armed conflicts stagnates, and efforts to combat poverty, become more difficult. Sida supports efforts for peace and security in countries such as Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At the same time, the risk that a conflict might escalate into an armed conflict is evident in many of Sida's other partner countries, which is why Sida also supports peaceful efforts to prevent armed conflicts. Violent situations do not arise by chance; they are a result of a series of events that can be identified, and in some cases prevented. We also know that democracy and respect for human rights reduce the risk of armed conflict.
An important, and frequently used term in this context is human security. This means that women’s and men’s, girls’ and boys’ safety comes first. No people should have to live under deprivation and in insecurity. Everyone has the right to have their basic needs met. They can be about access to food and other supplies, health and education in humanitarian emergencies, protection against violence and sexual abuse, or about reconstruction and reconciliation after a conflict.
Human security touches upon several important areas of life and is a prerequisite for people to be able to exercise their political, social, cultural and economic rights and opportunities.
It is also about the overall objective of development cooperation – reducing poverty. Human security is often crucial for effective poverty reduction. Wars and social conflicts after an armed conflict, as well as vulnerability following a natural disaster, hinder development and reduce opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty.
During the 2000s, several important Security Council resolutions within the field of peace and security have been adopted. Resolution 1325 establishes that women and girls are particularly vulnerable in conflict, and therefore require special protection, and that women should be guaranteed full and equal influence in the work of prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Vulnerability of women has been further elaborated on in the Resolution 1820 and in several follow-up resolutions that focus on sexual violence in conflict.
Two further resolutions, 1612 and 1882, strengthen protection of children against violence and abuse in situations of armed conflict and establish that children should not be used as soldiers.
Examples of interventions within peace and security:
- Peace building: Sida provides support for regional peace efforts through e.g. capacity support to the African Union’s (AU) Peace and Security department, partly through direct payment of salaries and partly through training conducted by organisations such as the Institute for Security Studies (in order to contribute to a well-functioning peace framework for AU).
- State building: In Somalia, Sida, together with the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance (JPLG), works towards promotion of peace by supporting civic engagement of various groups in new governing institutions that arise at the local level.
- Women, peace and security (UN Resolution 1325): Sida supports organisations such as the African Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) that also works to highlight the situation of women in conflicts in relation to particularly the UN and the African Union, and in Liberia, Sida supports the Swedish NGO Kvinna till Kvinna's efforts to increase women's capacity to participate in peace-building and state-building processes.
- Dialogue and confidence building: In Colombia, Sida contributes to strengthening the civil dialogue partners’ capacity in areas where armed conflict is ongoing.
- Transitional justice and reconciliation: In Guatemala, Sweden supports a programme for transitional justice, which includes support for lawsuits against those responsible for abuses during the armed conflict, excavation of graves, dignified funerals for victims of the conflict and redress for families. Furthermore, Sida also funds the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) in transitional justice processes in conflict situations such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Demining: Sida supports demining programmes in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and South Sudan by funding organisations such as the Danish Demining Group (DDG) and Mines Advisory Group.
- Interventions for control of small arms and light weapons: Sida helps the organisation Saferworlds’ work with research and reversal of factors that promote proliferation and misuse of small arms in Africa, Asia and Europe is a work that Sida support.
- Developing methodology within peace and safety promotion.
Conflict sensitivity is important for most of Sida's contributions, not only in traditional conflict countries, but in all contexts where Sida is engaged. Today, conflict patterns look different than before, and violent conflicts can arise where social and political tensions are present, which is applicable to most of Sida's partner countries. This is why it is very important that support to all areas (such as health, business development, and human rights) has a so-called "do no harm" perspective, i.e. that the support itself does not contribute to exacerbation of the risk for armed conflict. In the best case, interventions should also consider how they could boost peace and state-building processes, even if that is not their overall purpose.
Among the global peace and security organisations that receive most of Sida’s support are the UN’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) and UNDP, UNICEF, the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), the African Union, International Alert and the Swedish NGOs Diakonia and Kvinna till Kvinna. Sida also takes part in national and international coordination and advocacy work of the OECD / DAC INCAF, the UN and the EU, in order to strengthen the international community's ability to deal with conflicts, and post-conflict and fragile situations. Sida, along with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, is engaged in the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and State Building and the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States.