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Peace and prosperity: the crisis of lonely world

Peace building, conflict resolution, conflict prevention, whichever term we use, sits uneasily within one particular field, discipline, or government department for that matter. Is it development, foreign policy, diplomacy, defense and security, justice and human rights, any or all of the above?

Perhaps it is unsurprising that there is no neat fit. Addressing the root causes and drivers of conflict is a long-term and complex task for those living with conflict first and foremost, but also for those supporting people working for peace. Conflicts have multiple drivers, operate as systems, are often local and do not stop at state borders. Responses require the influence, resources and commitment of different people and institutions, at different times. Yet, the fact that peacebuilding does not have a natural home does not mean it should not have a central place in our responses to some of today’s global challenges.

Since late of 1970s, most of developing countries in the world have made many economic reforms for economic development, designed to achieve rapid growth with lowering inflation and other macroeconomic goals. They have shifted their economic policy from closed economy to open economy and from inward policy to outward policy. This trend has been increased after end of cool war in 1990s. Most of developing countries have not achieved higher growth and employment even after they have passed two decades of reforms. They are unable to control inflation and their external value of currencies has been fallen sharply. Their external debt has been increased. Overall macroeconomic stability has been weak than they were closed economy. The wealth of developing nations cannot been increased by any demand or supply side management unless, those have peace. Peace is determined by many sociopolitical factors. Ethnic homogeneity and language integration , religion, democracy, culture, ethos of people, history of nations, various forms of discrimination, quality of leaderships, relationship with neighborhood and political system are fundamentals causes for making peace that affect wealth of developing nations in the term of economic growth. Instead of using all the policy measures developing countries could not attain the economic stability. Beyond the pure theoretical economic causes of economic growth such as government investment, net exports, physical and human accumulation, labor, technology, productivity, free markets and institutions, we have to focus on sociopolitical causes which are playing a key role in determination of short run fluctuations and long run economic stability in developing countries. Wealth of developing nations can be increased by sustaining peace in their countries. Peace is foundation for economic growth and development which requires visionary leadership whose decisions are based on socio political factors rather than pure theoretical based politic and economic policies.

It is observed that, extreme poverty is going down the world,affected by fragility, conflict and violence (FCV) and estimated that by 2030,up to two thirds of the world’s extreme poor?will live in these situations.  These challenges threaten to reverse efforts to end extreme poverty, and they affect both low- and middle-income countries. The impacts on people and economies are stark. Violent conflict has spiked dramatically since 2010 and conflicts now drive 80% of all humanitarian needs and reduce gross domestic product (GDP) growth by two percentage points per year, on average. Social and economic exclusion, climate change, gender and other inequalities, demographic challenges, illicit financial flows and other global trends contribute to this complexity. FCV challenges do not respect country borders and often spiral into multidimensional, regional or global crises.This surge in violent conflict has also led to historically high levels of forced displacement. Of the 79.5 million people who are forcibly displaced  from their homes to escape violence, conflict and persecution, 26 million are refugees, the highest number recorded. Around 85% of these refugees are hosted by developing countries, and 77% of them are still displaced after five years. Such long displacements can have a devastating toll on generations of refugees and deeply impact host communities. Against this background, the COVID-19 pandemic adds even greater stress, threatening to reverse decades of advancements in poverty reduction and development:

  • Countries impacted by FCV will experience their worst recession in five decades. Economic activity in these settings is forecast to contract by 4.3 percent in 2020, which is 8 percentage points weaker than previous estimates.
  • World Bank estimates show that an additional 18 to 27 million people will be pushed into poverty in 2020 in countries affected by FCV.

The increasingly protracted nature of FCV situations means that in addition to essential humanitarian support, long-term development investments are needed to protect human capital, build sustainable peace and ensure shared economic prosperity.

As we live in Asia and victim of unpleased environment which harmfully affect peace and prosperity of the region and it is hard for the residents to stay normal and safe. Peacebuilding is an enable of development, security, social and economic justice, and reconciliation. And there are three increasingly urgent reasons why investing in peacebuilding and conflict prevention should be a high and central priority:

  • The effects of conflict are far-reaching: The majority of those risking their lives trying to reach Europe are from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and other areas beset by violent conflict, insecurity or political repression. Globally, the numbers of those forced to leave their homes due to war, persecution or natural disaster have reached staggering heights: at the end of 2014, United Nations estimated 19.5 million of these are people who have fled their country as refugees and half of them are children. Seen in economic terms, the impact is also huge. The Global Peace Index calculated the cost of conflict to the global economy last year to be 9.21 trillion pounds ($13.7 trillion) as a result of increased military spending by states and more people driven from their jobs.
  • Military answers to political problems alone don’t work: At the heart of many violent conflicts lie issues of inequality, injustice and exclusion.While criminality can feed on and into a conflict, there are often genuine and unaddressed grievances at play and expressed in violence. Many extremist armed groups don’t start out that way, they radicalize over time all the more reason to engage with the underlying issues fueling radicalization early on. And while military force may be deployed to counter a military threat such as the Islamic State group, it cannot resolve profound underlying political, social, economic and governance problems or sustain peace. In fact, it can sometimes complicate that task.
  • Conflict shatters lives and stunts development: More than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by violent conflict, and the gap between those countries enjoying relative peace and those afflicted by conflict is growing. The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals respond to the fact that no low-income conflict-affected country achieved a single one of the framework’s predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals. Peacebuilding approaches, including mediation and diplomacy, dialogue and participation, are an essential part of the toolkit we need to meet Goal 16: to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.”

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Participation and inclusion are needed beyond the Agreement signing for peace which starts from point of understanding a conflict, from conflict analysis. The analysis process should find ways to include perspectives of those who don’t shout the loudest. Women playing vital roles for peace beyond the spotlight of international negotiations, youth, displaced people, ethnic minorities or those living in remote and unstable border regions because an inclusive approach is not without challenges and dilemmas. It may well need to include “difficult” actors who may hold unpalatable views, but command support from sections of society.

Giving people the space and support to collectively reflect on and explore solutions at a local level can help them discover their own agency. Encouragingly, inclusion and participation are increasingly features and requires shift from merely consulting with local people to actively involving them in their work and considered as core to mission success. It is concluded that, Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding (Albert Einstein)

The Author is from Faculty Management Studies Department, Bahria University Karachi / MD IRP

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