This meeting elaborated on a report written by Dr. Timothy Sisk, whose presentation formed the majority of the afternoon’s discussion. Given that 2015 is the designated time for the 10-year review of the UN’s peacebuilding architecture, this talk about the foundational elements of a peaceful and inclusive society had particular relevance.
Dr. Sisk began his presentation by noting that, contrary to the typical level of discord among scholars, there is a broad consensus within the research community regarding the idea of peace as a prerequisite for development. Many elements of the UN’s post-2015 agenda are therefore tied to peaceful relations among and within countries around the world.
The principle finding of Dr. Sisk’s report is that poverty is increasingly concentrated in fragile and conflict-affected countries. For many the roughly 60-80 countries classified as fragile, violence, poverty, and poor governance have become mutually reinforcing elements of a vicious cycle that prevents the success of development initiatives. As violence is reduced, however, and post-conflict development is begun, virtuous cycles can be created.
Dr. Sisk’s report found that peace, development, and governance are all interrelated. The level of inclusivity and democratic participation within a society contributes both to peace and development—the presence of robust civil and political society and the establishment of norms of equality and inclusion have historically led to a rapid growth in democracy. Social cohesion is extremely important, especially in fragile states. When a state is on the path to development, no real results will be achieved without an underlying base of social cohesion.
Dr. Sisk concluded by urging a continued, dedicated effort at reducing conflict, including social and interpersonal violence. Further, in developing states, access to justice is vital in creating positive perceptions of a government for its citizens, and state accountability in general will encourage individual citizens to make personal investments in the country’s advancement.
Meeting: Seminar on “Peaceful and Inclusive Societies and Democratic Governance.”
Date & Location: 6 February 2015, Conference Room 8, United Nations Headquarters, New York.
Speakers: Ms. Yvonne Lodico, Head of the UNITAR New York Office; Mr. Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the United Nations; Mr. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations; Dr. Timothy Sisk, Professor, Associate Dean for Research, University of Denver; Thomas Gass, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Written By WIT Representative: Philip Bracey