Shaping an international peacebuilding architecture that achieves local peace

A Guest Blog as part of GVI’s 2018 Focus: Innovations in Peace

By Mariama Conteh, Senior Advisor on Peacebuilding/Head of Conducive Space for Peace (CSP), Oxfam IBIS and Alex Shoebridge, Peacebuilding Advisor, Oxfam IBIS, Copenhagen, Denmark

However we choose to look at it, the dual resolutions[1] passed by the UN Security Council and General Assembly on sustaining peace and peacebuilding represent a fundamental shift in the way peacebuilding is being understood by Member States, and therefore, internationally. So what if, as the international community, we are really serious about turning these beautiful words and concepts into something practical? Something that will actually make a difference in the lives of people affected by violent conflict?

We have an idea. It’s exciting. It’s bold. Some might call it too ambitious. But we are part of this international system and we believe it is possible with your help. Therefore, we are inviting you to join us on this journey. We have a fairly good sense of our destination, but you can help us locate it and shape it some more. We are confident we can get there, but only if you collaborate with us to pave the path.

Who are we?

We are a collaborative partnership implementing the Conducive Space for Peace (CSP) initiative**. CSP aims to contribute to finding ways to identify challenges and solutions to achieving sustainable peace that can be found within the systems of the international institutions providing peacebuilding support.

We are all familiar with any number of systemic drivers that account for the current challenges experienced with, and resulting from, the international peacebuilding architecture. They have been identified in existing research and policy documents, but are largely considered irreversible or addressed through piecemeal measures that ultimately prove futile. Increased attention to everyday practices, policies and conditions within the systems of international engagement in conflict-affected countries exists and policy reform agendas have been launched. These have mainly focused on high-level policy dialogue and less on how to create concrete changes in the institutional conditions and practices supporting work on the ground.

CSP will facilitate further reflection on how to address structural, relational, social and political obstacles to such change, including the power inequality dimension between international support and local ownership.


Through CSP we are trying to “walk the talk”

Through CSP we are trying to ‘walk the talk’. We know that there will be unforeseen setbacks, as well as windows of opportunity that we aren’t currently aware of. For that reason, the initiative isn’t structured around pre-identified outcomes, but rather six ‘pathways’. In 2018 and 2019 we will mainly focus on 3 pathways; 1, 5 and 6. Specific CSP activities will contribute to these pathways, and together, they will contribute to an institutional framework that is better fit for support to sustaining peace and preventing violent conflict. The six pathways for change are:

  1. Identifying challenges and testing innovative solutions;
  2. Generating and leveraging evidence to inform decision-making;
  3. Leveraging existing alliances, resources and networks for change;
  4. Mobilizing voices for change from within the system;
  5. Fostering multi-level dialogue for institutional change at global and national levels;
  6. Consolidating internal learning and developing the CSP initiative and structure.

This initiative relies on ‘change agents’ within the international system supporting peacebuilding. We already have exciting entry points in part of this system, including at global level and country level. But we are keen to broaden and deepen this network, so that it can drive the initiative forward across the different pathways identified in a way that responds to needs, ideas, and insights from those ‘in the system’ itself so we can explore problems and solutions together.

If you’re interested to learn more, we’d be interested in sharing and beginning a conversation around how yourself and others can be engaged as we move forward. We appreciate the scale of the challenge at hand, but are deeply aware that transformative changes are required instead of continued superficial adjustments.


[1]S/RES/228 ;A/RES/70/262

**The CSP initiative is being developed and implemented under the supervision of three partners. Oxfam IBIS, Humanity United and Reos Partners. Oxfam IBIS is hosting the initiative and as an international NGO with a presence in 90 countries through Oxfam International and with a strong influencing track-record and strategy, Oxfam IBIS is well placed to engage the international system of peacebuilding support. Oxfam IBIS has decades of experience in working in mutually equal and inclusive partnerships to bring about systemic change by linking local, national, regional and global levels through programming and political influencing. In addition to funding, Humanity United contributes with expertise on peacebuilding and innovative approaches to systemic change. In addition to facilitating the Accelerator processes, Reos Partners contributes with expertise in convening multi-stakeholder dialogue and innovative ways of creating practical paths for change in the face of systemic challenges.


About the authors:

Mariama Conteh | Senior Advisor on Peacebuilding/Head of Conducive Space for Peace (CSP); Oxfam IBIS | Copenhagen, Denmark | E-mail:

Alex Shoebridge | Peacebuilding Advisor; Oxfam IBIS | Copenhagen, Denmark || Mob: +45 91526562  | skype: a.shoebridge

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