Building and Sustaining Peace Together
CSPPS Co-Chair Gwendolyn Myers alongside CSPPS Focal Point in Nigeria Theophilus Ekpon participated in the first edition of the Annual CSO-UN Dialogue on Peacebuilding that took place at the UN Headquarters in New York from the 30th November to 1st December 2023. The theme for the inaugural dialogue is “Building and Sustaining Peace Together”.
The CSO-UN Dialogue on Peacebuilding facilitated valuable networking and connections between civil society from local, national, regional, and global levels, with a particular focus on CSOs from the Global South. The Dialogue acts as a sounding board on peacebuilding policy and strategy, supporting civil society organisations to influencing global peacebuilding goals and priorities.
The dialogue brought to the forefront the challenges associated with geopolitics, politicisation of funding, human rights violations, and shrinking civic space that civil society faces, hindering the impact of their work.
Existing partnerships between the UN and CSOs were also explored including information on how CSOs can become beneficiaries of the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). However, some participants were concerned that there is competition between UN agencies and civil society in accessing the PBF and that there was an urgent need to prioritize direct support going to civil society organisations. There were calls for the UN Resident Coordinators who administer the PBF in-country to be more inclusive to ensure robust civil society engagement at all stages, as engagement of civil society is missing or minimal in some settings. Some participants urged the PBF to enhance its efforts in mobilising financial resources as the approximately 2 billion dollars disbursed since the PBF’s establishment in 2006 were seen insufficient to achieve the desired impact.
Further discussions focused on how Governments wishing to be part of the PBF can join by identifying and outlining their priorities before sending formal letters of application to the UN Secretary General. The role of civil society in holding governments accountable and serving as alternative sources of feedback to the PBF on in-country implementation was also emphasized.
Participants suggested that the CSO-UN Dialogue should be replicated at continental and sub-regional levels to ensure more meaningful participation and engagement of civil society organisations. Taking the dialogue to the regional level will also ensure that more voices and ideas are brought into the dialogue process.
The first CSO-UN Dialogue on Peacebuilding was sponsored by the Government of Finland, UN Department for Peacebuilding and Political Affairs, UNDP, OHCHR, UN Women, Interpeace, and UNHCR.