Improving International Support to Peace Processes

The Missing Piece

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Peace processes hold the promise of re-starting non-violent efforts towards creating more equitable, resilient and developed societies. Yet, such processes are politically and psychologically complex, as well as high-risk. Many fail and such failure is harmful, as it reduces confidence and increases cynicism amongst parties to a conflict, citizens and international partners alike. International support can help a peace process to succeed but its nature and quality matter greatly.

“The Missing Piece” identifies seven recommendations to improve the quality of support that states and international organizations provide to peace processes. It does this through a thorough analysis of: the characteristics of today’s violent conflicts, the factors that influence the success and failure of a peace process and  the current strengths & weaknesses of international support.



Violent conflict and organised violence today

This chapter briefly analyses four general characteristics of today’s violent conflicts and draws out implications for international support to peace processes. There has been a shift in the nature, frequency, effects and implications of violent conflict and organised violence in the 21st century. Today conflict is relatively simple and cheap to initiate and maintain because of easy global access to finance and weapons, and local access to recruits; it has significant local, regional and global costs; it features a fusion of criminal, political, terrorist and commercial interests, and often recurs. The implications for international support to peace processes include the need to understand both the global and local drivers of conflict, and to make sure that peace agreements contain provisions to reduce access to the resources that fuel conflicts. Peace agreements should place more emphasis on breaking the structures for violence than conventional efforts, including attention to transnational organised crime, rebuilding community conflict resolution mechanisms, educational efforts to reduce the culture of violence and reducing political/commercial incentives for organised violence. Peace support efforts also need a strong focus on restoring social capital. On a positive note, the chapter finds that the international toolkit for dealing with and preventing violent conflict is becoming more successful and sophisticated, though more can be done.


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