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Our Common Peacebuilding Challenge: the Contribution of International Geneva

On 6 November 2007, the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) hosted jointly with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) a one-day conference entitled 'Our Common Peacebuilding Challenge: the Contribution of International Geneva'. The Chairman of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support delivered keynote addresses.

Attended by over 150 representatives of Governments, United Nations entities, regional and sub-regional organizations and civil society, the event was intended to nurture a greater engagement between the PBC and the key stakeholders located outside of United Nations Headquarters in New York. The overall objective was to ensure that the practical experience and expertise of this multitude of actors would feed into the deliberations of the Commission. The aim was to produce practical recommendations that could serve to inform and bolster the international community’s peacebuilding response through the PBC.

Conference synopsis

Final agenda

Biographies of speakers and moderators

Concept note

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Taking place over one day, the conference was divided into three main sessions with distinct but complementary objectives. The opening session, with keynote addresses by the Chairman of the PBC and the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, brought stakeholders based outside of United Nations Headquarters in New York up-to-date on the progress achieved, on the political, institutional and operational challenges faced by the PBC since its inception and on prospects for its activities.

One of the objectives of the PBC is to bring together all relevant actors and to improve the coordination of these actors within and outside the United Nations. The introductory session was therefore complemented by a panel discussion with representatives of some of those stakeholder communities to discuss the modalities of interaction and to consider how the engagement could be strengthened.

In the first afternoon session, GCSP presented the findings and conclusions of their comprehensive and structured survey of Geneva-based institutions involved in peacebuilding, The International Geneva Peacebuilding Guide. This overview was followed by comments on the outcomes of this mapping exercise, as well as a discussion of the strengths – and possibly – gaps identified, and of how this knowledge may best contribute to the work of the PBC.

This analysis of the contribution that “International Geneva” may make to the PBC, and to the international community’s peacebuilding efforts more generally, was further developed through a targeted panel discussion, focusing on a central theme in the current peacebuilding debate where “International Geneva” has particular expertise: the transition from humanitarian assistance to longer-term development.

The proceedings were closed by the Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue who distilled key lessons from the discussions and looked ahead to how the multi-stakeholder approach in peacebuilding may be reinforced, without losing focus and accountability.
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The conference followed on from the project entitled “The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and International Geneva”, launched by GCSP with the financial support of the Swiss Government and organized in association with the Quaker United Nations Office, the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, and other partners. The mapping of the peacebuilding capacities in Geneva, the International Geneva Peacebuilding Guide, was part of this project. The preliminary results of this mapping exercise were presented at GCSP on 12 September 2007, and also formed the basis of one of the session at the 6 November 2007 event.

Building on this GCSP-led project and on the strength of the rich presence of stakeholders in Geneva, the one-day event aimed at broadening our common understanding of the gaps in the international community’s post-conflict peacebuilding response, raising awareness of joint capabilities and identifying avenues for further developing the effort.