The Netherlands promotes peace processes and inclusive and responsible governance. In doing so, we focus on strengthening and increasing the roles, voices and involvement of women and youth. We work in fragile and complex situations, which entails risks. Achieving and maintaining peace, preventing the recurrence of violence, and promoting social cohesion require a long-term commitment. Conflict sensitivity is the guiding principle of our involvement, to ensure that our interventions do not have unforeseen negative consequences.
To contribute to open, inclusive and legitimate political systems, the Netherlands supported organisations like VNG International and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD). In 2018, VNG trained more than 5,600 people in seven countries on themes like gender awareness, decentralisation, conflict sensitivity and local governance. NIMD organised educational activities, workshops and dialogues in which 5,201 people took part, including 2,432 women. In addition NIMD established special Democracy Schools in six countries, which focus on developing knowledge, skills, trust and mutual understanding between political and civil society actors. 219 people graduated from these schools in the reporting period. In South Sudan, under the leadership of the Ministry of Federal Affairs, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) organised dialogues on federalism between actors in the peace process, including the government, the opposition and civil society. These dialogues gave women and youth the opportunity to take part in and exert influence on important political governance and policy issues.
To promote sustainable peace in fragile situations, the Netherlands supported third parties in facilitating inclusive peace agreements. For example, we supported mediation expertise to assist the UN Special Envoy for Yemen. In addition, the Clingendael Mediation Facility trained 344 mediators and 335 negotiators to play a constructive role in peace processes worldwide. In Niger the UN Peacebuilding Fund established 21 youth associations that focus on conflict mediation and strengthen the position of youth in their communities.
The Netherlands also supported activities to maintain peace and strengthen social cohesion. International Alert, for example, initiated peacebuilding activities in Lebanon, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda and elsewhere. Through its network of local partners, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) generated dialogues on peace processes in various conflict regions, including Uganda and the DRC. The World Bank’s State and Peacebuilding Fund is active in almost 60 fragile states. In Libya the fund organised a series of consultations on needs and priorities in the peace process and a strategy to implement them. At international level, the Netherlands is working to increase the effectiveness of large multilateral and regional organisations.
Progress in result area Peace processes and political governance
Substantial results have been achieved, especially with training and coaching programmes aimed at national and local government officials. The challenging conditions in which we work, characterised by political instability and insecurity, sometimes lead to delays or adjustments to programmes. Our implementing partners constantly follow these developments and adapt themselves to these circumstances so as to achieve the desired results and implement lessons learned. Research and monitoring have shown, for example, that the legitimacy of government is strengthened more by actual participation in decision-making by increasing access to basic services.
It is difficult to assess progress made by peace processes, as it is not linear and they often take a long time. The risks are high and results can easily be undone by (geo)political changes. Peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts supported by the Netherlands have achieved significant results, at times in the spotlight and at others behind the scenes, by promoting dialogue at all levels and creating the right preconditions for peace in a country. At the same time we have to be realistic about the extent to which our programmes can contribute to lasting peace worldwide. The Netherlands does not only aim to see substantial efforts on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, but also to ensure that they are as effective as possible. For that reason, in the coming year the Netherlands will continue to emphasise the importance of cooperation between international and multilateral organisations, in line with the UN reform agenda.
Nonviolent Peaceforce: Women's Role in Peacebuilding and Gender-Based Violence Prevention
This Nonviolent Peaceforce programme clearly shows how the various topics within the theme of Security and the Rule of Law are interrelated. It focuses on promoting the role of women in peacebuilding and in preventing gender-based violence in South Sudan. Community groups and 26 Women Protection Teams with more than 1,000 members have been set up as part of the programme, in cooperation with local and national authorities, to protect women, solve security problems, support victims, conduct awareness-raising campaigns and facilitate peace dialogues. These activities are even being carried out in remote rural communities. They have resulted in a better living environment for people in local communities and a sharp reduction in everyday violence. The rights of women are better respected and their participation in decision-making on peacebuilding, protection and security issues is being promoted.
Afghanistan Urban Safety and Security Programme (AUSSP)
Together with Switzerland, the Netherlands supports the Afghanistan Urban Safety and Security Programme (AUSSP). UN-Habitat is implementing the programme in close cooperation with the Afghan government in eight strategic cities: Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e Sharif, Jalalabad, Kunduz, Farah, Bamyan and Nili. The AUSSP’s aim is to involve women and men, and girls and boys in particular, in these urban areas in local decision-making processes, so as to restore trust in government. As part of the project, 41 Community Development Councils in these cities have started conducting security assessments and training and drawing up action plans.
Building Constituencies for Peaceful Change in Sudan
In this Addressing Root Causes (ARC) project, people share information on security risks by telephone. The information can be discussed within the community or shared with others. That enables prompt action to be taken, which can prevent violence.