National Cohesion for Sustainable Peace and Development - A Perspective from Sierra Leone

The International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS) is in a new stage of evolution, having gelled as a three-constituency policy dialogue over a number of years to advance aid effectiveness in the area of peacebuilding and statebuilding across the donor community, and within g7+ states. Critically, the IDPS and its constituencies played an instrumental role in the development of SDG16 in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in ensuring that peace was mainstreamed through the entire agenda. The new IDPS Peace Vision situates national cohesion as an instrumental pillar of conflict prevention, peacebuilding and statebuilding.

A three day workshop was held in Freetown on the 18th- 20th October 2019 by the Sierra Leone War Trust in partnership with the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding and Dr. Erin Mc Candless, supports the advancement of comparative thinking and shared understanding of the interlinked concepts of national cohesion, peace and sustainable development.


This engagement brought to the table state and non-state actors from diverse fields not only from Sierra Leone but also from Liberia and the Ivory Coast to deliberate and dialogue on how national cohesion – one of three core priorities in the IDPS Peace Vision – must be at the core to create a conducive environment for sustainable development. This is a valuable priority objective for civil society, given the pivotal role played by civil society organisations during the IDPS-deliberations in Lisbon and in general in context of peacebuilding and statebuilding initiatives.

Key issues that emerged during the discussions that should be at the heart of future deliberations at both national and international level include:

  • Increased engagement of the private sector in peacebuilding dialogues noting they currently serve as drivers of conflict in many parts of the world.
  • Strengthening vertical and horizontal societal relationships; with vertical relationships centered around state-citizen relationships built around the understanding of the social contract for improved service delivery ,enhancing state legitimacy and ownership of processes. Horizontal relationships around the various enclaves of society for peaceful coexistence that wil need tol transcend to build national cohesion.
  • Good governance is at the core of nation building. Building strong state institutions –independent and with clear mandate for delivery sits well with the citizenry. Sustaining and building on agreements and processes serves as a source of strengthening national cohesion as citizens can identify with the overarching goal. Sierra Leone has over the years developed a plethora of roadmaps and frameworks which if implemented will strengthen national cohesion, support the country to transition from fragility that will usher in sustainable development.
group discussion

The discourse around the social contract can facilitate effective SDG implementation, through New Deal principles – in ways that address fundamental challenges and opportunities of national cohesion.  Civil society is well positioned in their role as advocates, service providers, campaigners and movements to deepen the dialogue and ensure sustained commitment from policy makers who are strong partners in development.

Attached here: Communique as issued on National Cohesion for Sustainable Peace and Development – following the workshop at Mammy Yoko Radisson Blu Hotel, 18-20 November 2019.

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