Held at the request of the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and organised during the visit of one of the USIP teams, this consultative workshop sought insights from the Geneva peacebuilding community on the draft “Handbook of Guiding Principles for Peace Operations”. The project was born from the recognition that civilian peacebuilders lacked the kind of guidance offered to military operations in the form of ‘operational doctrine'.
Structurally, the Handbook is built around 5 core ‘end states' or objectives of peacebuilding. These are a Safe and Secure Environment, the Rule of Law, Stable Governance, a Sustainable Economy and Social Well-Being. In addition, USIP identified a number of ‘cross-cutting principles' that are vital to every end state, namely legitimacy, unity of effort, security, host nation ownership and conflict transformation.
While welcoming these cross-cutting principles and the overall purpose of the handbook, participants highlighted its lack of clarity with respect to specific concepts and frameworks. Also, the diagram of end-states suggested a priority relationship between these states rather than a circular, inclusive one between all states. In the same vein, more was expected on the role of Armed Non-State Actors and possible strategies for dealing with such entities.
To tackle some of these issues, UN agency participants suggested that recent UN reports and policies on post-conflict economic policy, on employment in post-conflict zones and on the integration of DDR with economic reconstruction could be used to strengthen the Handbook. This consultative workshop represented a first example of the Geneva based peacebuilding community contributing in a substantive and influential way to work which is taking place primarily in the US to frame and shape future American contributions to peacebuilding worldwide.