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Invest in Pre-Conflict Prevention Before Post-Conflict Protection

Invest in Pre-Conflict Prevention Before Post-Conflict Protection


UN Secretary General António Guterres presented on his report of peacebuilding and sustaining peace during an informal gathering of the UN Assembly. “The imbalance between spending on conflict, and spending on peace, must be tackled head-on”, Secretary-General António Guterres said, urging the United Nations to rally all international actors “for our efforts across the peace continuum – from prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and sustainable long-term development.”

In the News:

  • “If the financial cost is unsustainable, the human cost is unbearable,” he maintained. “Instead of responding to crises, we need to invest far more in prevention. Prevention works, saves lives and is cost-effective.”
  • Mr. Guterres stressed that gender considerations must remain front and centre in all efforts to sustain peace, noting that the importance and effectiveness of women’s leadership and participation in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding are not in doubt.

Peace Science Insights:

  • Shifting focus from post-conflict protection to pre-conflict prevention is more effective and less costly.
  • Once violent conflict is underway, political barriers and high social and economic costs limit constructive options of violence prevention.

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a global political commitment to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, endorsed by all member states of the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit. Labeling protection as a responsibility provides the opportunity for powerful states to frame their military intervention as the responsible humanitarian thing to do. Yet we know that there are always numerous viable, nonviolent, alternatives that are more responsible and effective means of protection. As research has shown, prevention is still the most effective approach. Resources and political will need to follow the already existing knowledge on violence prevention.


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