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Interdependence between security and development

Concept Note


Since the late nineties, the Security Council has displayed a growing awareness of the interdependence between security and development. It has time and again recognized the need to take both elements into account in the exercise of its responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security. Far too often history has shown that purely military engagement in conflict situations – particularly in intra-state conflicts with international implications – is unlikely to bring about a quality of peace that can be sustained in the medium- and long-term. If the Security Council is to be effective, sustainable peace must be achieved.

The United Nations’ experience in conflict situations has demonstrated that sustainable peace requires a comprehensive approach to security – which involves consideration of the root causes of violence, as well as of the social and economic situation on the ground. What remains subject to discussions among Security Council members is how much of this consideration lies within the purview of the Council and how far peacekeeping operations should be involved in such efforts.

The Security Council debate on the interdependence between security and development now proposed by Brazil offers an opportunity to advance the already intense international dialogue on this issue. It intends to build on the conclusions reached by relevant discussions, such as those promoted last year by France in February on “Transition and exit strategies” (S/PRST/2010/2); by Japan in April on “Comprehensive peacebuilding strategy to prevent the recurrence of conflict” (S/PRST/2010/7); by Turkey in September on “Ensuring Security Council’s Effective Role in Maintaining International Peace and Security” (S/PRST/2010/18); by Uganda in October on “Post-conflict peace-building” (S/PRST/2010/20), and lastly by Bosnia and Herzegovina during its Presidency in January of this year on “Post-conflict peacebuilding: institution-building” (S/PRST/2011/2).

Security and development: a complex relationship

Not all peoples suffering from poverty resort to violence, but social, political and economic exclusion can contribute to the eruption, protraction of or relapse into violence and conflict. This seems to be the case in situations as different as those of Haiti or of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A professional and accountable security sector may, for instance, foster stability and the rule of law. That should not, however, be considered an end in itself. Stability must be sought as a means to enhance social and economic development – which is, for instance, clearly the most appropriate approach for a situation such as that of Guinea-Bissau.

The Security Council has underlined “the necessity to address the root causes of conflicts, taking into account that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing” (S/PRST/2010/18). With this in mind, a number of key issues in conflict and post-conflict situations need to be dealt with from the perspectives of both security and development. The relative abundance of natural resources, for instance, can either accelerate development or fuel conflict. Addressing only one of these aspects will offer an incomplete picture.

Peacebuilding has emerged as the primary tool for bridging the gap between security and development. As early as 2001, the Security Council noted the “need for enhancing peace-building activities by formulating a strategy based on the interdependence between sustainable peace, security and development in all its dimensions” (S/PRST/2001/5). Ten years later, such a strategy is still lacking in spite of many positive steps, including the establishment of a dedicated UN architecture for peacebuilding activities.

The Security Council has also recognized that responding to challenges of conflicts “in most instances requires a coherent and integrated mix of peacebuilding and peacekeeping activities, including political, military, civilian, humanitarian, and development activities” (S/PRST/2005/20). Such a “mix of peacebuilding and peacekeeping activities” requires sufficient consideration, by the Security Council, of peacebuilding activities on a case-by-case basis and from its early engagement with a country.

The successful implementation by peacekeepers of many of their commonly mandated tasks, such as support for security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs, is closely linked to the existence of economic opportunity. On a more strategic level, progress in the area of development can help foster a greater commitment to stability on the part of the local population. Generating this interest in stability is crucial to achieving conditions for sustainable peace and allowing for the subsequent drawdown of a peacekeeping mission.

Where appropriate, the Security Council should ensure that early peacebuilding activities are implemented by peacekeeping operations or carried out with their support, while other bodies of the UN and partners of host countries engage in broader peacebuilding and development issues.

The relevance of the interdependence between security and development for the work of the Security Council

In light of the preceding considerations, it seems clear that development issues are relevant to the Council in discharging its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. This relevance was initially identified in 1997 with regard to African issues on the agenda. Meeting at the level of Foreign Ministers, the Security Council adopted Presidential Statement S/PRST/1997/46, whereby it considered that the challenges of Africa demanded a more comprehensive response and requested the Secretary-General to present a report “containing concrete recommendations to the Council regarding the sources of conflict in Africa, ways to prevent and address these conflicts, and how to lay the foundation for durable peace and economic growth following their resolution”. The Secretary-General’s 1998 report on “The causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (A/52/871-S/1998/318) was to become a landmark document addressing the nexus between peace and security and development.

The existence of such a nexus does not mean that the Security Council should take on responsibilities of other principal organs of the United Nations, such as the General Assembly and ECOSOC, or create overlaps with the Peacebuilding Commission or United Nations agencies, funds and programmes. These should, of course, continue to exert their respective jurisdictions over development issues. It does, however, imply that the Security Council must take into account social and development issues in its deliberations, in order to ensure an effective transition to peace.

In some conflict and post-conflict situations, the Security Council may determine that certain socio-economic issues constitute a threat to international peace and security in their own right. In other cases, it may determine what early peacebuilding tasks can be performed by peacekeepers when they are deployed. The Council may also consider where peacekeepers can take on the role of enablers in relation to other agents and actors.

Moreover, given that the support for conflict-affected countries in their journey towards peace and prosperity must be a system-wide commitment by the United Nations, the Council has a legitimate interest in the effectiveness of development actors on the ground and in their coordination with Security Council-mandated missions, where they are deployed. A well-executed integrated strategy on the part of the agencies, funds, and programmes and the international financial institutions can significantly increase the prospects for success of the Council's efforts to ensure peace and security (including by increasing local population’s stake in stability and making them less likely to support or join rebel groups).

The Council may therefore wish to take a number of actions within the limits of its Charter responsibilities, such as:

- drawing attention to the security implications of development-related issues (either through its formal documents or through informal dialogues with other actors);

- conveying to the Secretary-General its concern with development aspects that may trigger violence, such as youth unemployment, or aggravate situations of conflict, and requesting information on it;

- requiring the Peacebuilding Commission to provide advice on non-security areas that may nonetheless have a significant impact on security matters, thus enabling the adoption of a wider perspective; and

- calling on Member States to promote coherence in the United Nations’ work in conflict and post-conflict situations through their participation in Executive Boards and governance structures of the agencies, funds, and programmes.

The way forward

In their consideration of the matter, Member States are encouraged to examine recent reports and non-papers such as: the report on the Review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture (A/64/868-S/2010/393); the report on the Implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (A/65/152-S/2010/526); the concept note for the forthcoming “World Development Report 2011 on Conflict, Security, and Development”; the DPKO/DFS non-papers “A New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping” and “Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding: Clarifying the Nexus”; the Turkish Presidency concept paper on “Ensuring Security Council’s Effective Role in Maintaining International Peace and Security” (S/2010/461); and the summaries of the General Assembly's thematic debate on peacekeeping and of the seminars held in Portugal (A/64/871-S/2010/397) and Brazil (A/64/907). Member States may wish to reflect on the following questions in their interventions:

- How can Security Council-mandated missions better contribute to sustainable peace? Which peace dividends are more relevant to securing local support and a virtuous cycle of stability in a country emerging from conflict?

- What capacity need UN missions have in order to contribute to improved coordination and synergies among all actors with a stake in sustainable peace, including local authorities and civil society?

- How can peacekeeping missions help development actors in enabling an environment conducive to the protection of civilians in the short- and long-terms?

- How can enhanced integration of the security and development dimensions of post-conflict situations – such as in DDR programs and peacebuilding activities – result in greater social and economic inclusion of women and the promotion of women's rights?

- What role can the Council play in helping to address the role of natural resources in fuelling conflicts?

- In which areas will increased coordination with development actors allow peacekeepers to better fulfil peacebuilding-related mandates?

- How can the Council, within its institutional framework, establish a strategic dialogue with the Peacebuilding Commission, and, through it, with the World Bank and other development actors on specific situations of concern?

- Could the above-mentioned report of the Secretary-General on causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa and its comprehensive review be built upon as a reference for a global study on the interdependence between security and development?

- How could reports of the Secretary-General be improved in terms of conflict analysis, including sufficient contextual information on the root causes of conflict and on development issues to enable the Council to make informed decisions on security matters?