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Peaceful and inclusive societies

War and violent conflicts both cause poverty and hinder efforts to combat poverty. Sida works to foster sustainable peace and human security by addressing the causes of conflict, strengthening peace-building, and contributing to the reconstruction of communities affected by conflict.

Progress has been made

Peace agreements

In several countries, important steps towards peace have been taken in recent years. After 50 years of civil war, in 2016 Colombia signed a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas. In the summer of 2018, Eritrea and Ethiopia, which have long been in conflict, signed a peace agreement. In Sudan, an agreement was signed in 2019 for the transition from dictatorship to civilian rule. 

Fewer people died in armed conflicts

The number of people dying in armed conflicts has dropped by nearly fifty percent since 2014, according to Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Nevertheless, in 2019 over 75,000 people died in violent conflicts. 

Challenges remain

79

million people have been forced to flee their homes. Globally, the number of armed conflicts – especially those that take place within states – is increasing. At the same time, today’s conflicts are more complex and protracted and involve a larger number of armed actors than before.

Conflict zones

The number of people living in proximity to conflict zones has almost doubled since 2007. 

Peacebuilding curtailed by pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has, and will continue to have, major implications for peace-building and human security. Conflict-affected countries find it particularly challenging to prevent the spread of infection and provide care to those infected. Peace-building and humanitarian interventions are curtailed by the pandemic.

Sida's work for peaceful and inclusive societies

An increasing proportion of the world’s poor live in conflict zones. At the beginning of 2020, OECD estimated that three quarters of the people in the world who live in extreme poverty live in conflict-affected or fragile states. Poverty makes people more vulnerable in conflicts, and conflicts make it harder for people to pull themselves out of poverty. 

Armed conflicts do not only cause death, suffering and destruction. Conflicts also halt the development of countries and regions.

Countries that are unstable or affected by conflict are particularly vulnerable to, e.g. climate change, environmental degradation, economic crises, challenges linked to migration, and virus outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conflict prevention and dialogue

Conflicts arise for many reasons. Often there is a combination of several complex causes. At the same time, it is possible to identify causes and in some cases also to prevent a conflict from escalating into war. Conflict prevention results in less suffering and costs less than rebuilding societies after a conflict. This, in turn, means that more resources can be used to combat poverty.

Peacebuilding

International Alert (IA) works to prevent conflict and build peaceful societies in some 20 countries, inter alia by engaging the business community in peace-building efforts. In Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, IA supports women trading in the countries’ border areas. This strengthens women’s self-sufficiency, promotes gender equality and regional trade, and increases trust between the countries. In collaboration with other organisations, AI has also developed a global tool for anticipating water-related conflicts.

About the tool on the Water, Peace and Security Partnership web page

Increasing social cohesion

Somalia is currently embroiled in armed conflicts involving many actors. The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) works to increase social cohesion through measures such as supporting youth organisations and creating dialogue between civil society and the state. EISA also trains female leaders in order to give women a stronger political voice.

About the project in the EISA web page 

Inclusive peace processes

In order for a peace process to result in sustainable peace, everyone in a community must be involved in deciding how the community should be rebuilt after a conflict. But this is not always the case. For example, in many cases women, young people and other marginalised groups do not have sufficient influence in peace processes, even though the decisions taken impact their lives and futures.

Inclusive peace processes

Sida supports a number of organisations that help strengthen women and young people’s participation in peace processes through global advocacy. Examples include the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, MADRE, the United Network for Young Peacebuilders and Kvinna till Kvinna. Sida also supports inclusive peace processes at the local level. One example is the UN Peace and Community Cohesion Project in South Sudan, which contributes to the representation of more women and people from different ethnic groups and of various ages in the local committees that address conflicts between or within ethnic groups in the country.

About the Peace and Community Cohesion Project on the UNDP South Sudan web page

Supporting local conflict resolution

Discrimination, gender-based violence and economic vulnerability are examples of injustices that divide societies and increase the risk of violence. The Saferworld organisation supports local conflict resolution and strengthens the links between social groups as a way to build peaceful and inclusive societies, with a focus on women’s participation. Saferworld works in several countries, including Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, Tajikistan and Myanmar.

Saferworld web page 

Human security

Conflicts, poverty, hunger, environmental and climate-related crises, disease epidemics and economic crises threaten people’s security. All people have the right to both physical and mental security. Human security is a prerequisite for long-term peace and development.

Demining

One major problem during and after armed conflicts is mines and other explosive objects, which threaten people’s safety and prevent them from using land. In countries such as Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, Ukraine and Zimbabwe, the Danish Demining Group and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) work to remove landmines. The organisations also disseminate knowledge to the public about the risks of mines.

Supporting journalists

In many of Sida’s cooperating countries, the safety of journalists – especially those who scrutinise people in power – is under threat. They are at risk of harassment, intimidation and violence, and every year numerous journalists are murdered. Sida supports International Media Support (IMS), which trains journalists about security issues in countries such as Afghanistan, Palestine and Myanmar. In Afghanistan, IMS also has a 24-hour hotline to which journalists can turn for emergency help.  

IMS web page

Reconciliation and transitional justice

Violent conflicts result in the violation of human rights. Many people lose relatives, friends, homes and the opportunity to earn a living or go to school. This can create mistrust between groups and destroy the bonds that hold communities together – even after a conflict is over.

Support for survivors

More than 20 years after the peace agreements in Guatemala, much work remains to be done to heal the wounds of its armed conflict and to create the conditions for peaceful coexistence, truth and justice. Sida supports the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation(FAFG), which endeavours to find graves, identify victims and allow survivors to bury their family members. The FAFG also participates as an expert witness in trials relating to crimes committed during the conflict. The support also allows survivors to receive psychosocial and legal aid.

FAFG web page

Legal support for the civilian population

The civilian population of Colombia was hit hard by the country’s 50-year-long civil war. When the peace process commenced in 2016, the complex work to bring justice to those affected could finally begin. Sida provides, inter alia, support to the lawyer organisation Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, which works to ensure that victims receive fair compensation, e.g. by getting their land back. 

Comisión Colombiana de Juristas web page

Scope and governance of Sida's work for peaceful and inclusive societies

In 2019, 52 percent of Sida’s total aid was earmarked for peace and security as the main or sub-objective. 

Sida supports interventions aimed at fostering peace and security, and does so both in direct cooperation with specific countries and at the regional and global levels. Sida’s global work to promote peace and security is guided by the Strategy for Sustainable Peace 2017-2022

All of Sida’s interventions are analysed from a conflict perspective in order to take into account people’s security, help strengthen peace whenever possible, and avoid exacerbating conflicts.

Updated: 13 January 2021