Peace beyond Agreements: International Commission on Inclusive Peace discusses the way forward for Principles for Peace
For the first time since its inception, the International Commission on Inclusive Peace met in person in Geneva on 10-13 November.
Spearheading the development of the Principles for Peace, the Commission held their quarterly meeting to discuss, among others, the findings from the global consultation process, as well as the steps towards the launch of the Principles for Peace as a new frame of reference for peace processes in the Commission Report planned for the end of 2022.
One year on, significant momentum and a sense of “fed-upness”
One year after its establishment, Principles for Peace has held over 86 consultations, gathering more than 100,000 insights from policy makers, peacebuilders, scholars, youth, women, civilian and military actors, traditional and religious leaders as well as parliamentarians from over 50 countries.
“The Initiative has gained significant momentum over the past year,” said Hiba Qasas, Head of Secretariat of Principles for Peace. “The initiative is a collective effort of over 120 organizations and a strong alliance of advocates, policy makers, practitioners, and scholars coming together in support of the International Commission to create a new frame of reference for peace.”
During their meeting, the Commissioners highlighted the importance of evidence underpinning the Principles, and decided to expand the range of global participatory consultations over the coming months, coordinating closely with the Initiative’s Research Committee and Stakeholder Platform in the process.
The Commission also collectively agreed that the launch of their report and the Principles at the end of 2022 is but one milestone for the Initiative, with the end goal of grounding these Principles in ongoing peace processes and anchoring them in global normative frameworks.
“The relevance of the Principles depends on how they improve conditions for peace on the ground,” said Bert Koenders, Co-Chair of the Commission and former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs and former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in Ivory Coast and in Mali.
“There are millions of people waiting for more sensible policies from their governments and the international community, and the Principles can only make a difference is if there is an alliance of people supporting their development and translating them into policy.”
Briefings around the meeting
Various exchanges with the Commissioners were also held during their visit. Organised by the Permanent Missions of Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, the Commissioners held a briefing of member states on the Initiative and its findings at the United Nations (UN) Office at Geneva (UNOG).
Involving representatives of various diplomatic missions, the event opened with Ambassador Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN, and Ambassador Anna Jardfelt, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN, who underscored the opportunity that the work of the International Commission poses in building on and operationalising existing global commitments, and in continuing to re-shape current approaches to peace to be more inclusive and sustainable.
Commissioners Bert Koenders and Yves Daccord emphasized the urgency of creating a new frame of reference for peace during the event. “So many peace processes have failed, and many people feel abandoned,” said Daccord.
“The stakes are extremely high. There are 56 ongoing conflicts in the world and we need to urgently rethink peace processes,” added Koenders.
Commissioner Ilwad Elman, another panellist at this meeting, presented key findings from the various consultation processes. “Three questions are repeatedly asked in some of the consultations we convened, while participants spoke of three big flaws,” she said.
“They often describe current peace processes as narrow, exclusionary, and heavily externally driven.”
The Commission called for a broadening of the understanding of peace processes, which was highlighted by Commissioner Bernardo Arévalo de León during the afternoon briefing with the Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect and the Permanent Mission of Luxembourg, also held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Scott Weber, President of Interpeace, echoed the necessity for the Initiative. “Interpeace is pleased to support the work of the International Commission and host the Principles for Peace Secretariat,” he said. “Call for a fundamental change to the way we build peace have grown louder and louder. This explains why the Initiative has quickly become the largest collective endeavor in the peace space of our generation.”
In addition, the City of Geneva invited the Commission to engage various international actors at Palais Eynard, the site of the signing of the Geneva Conventions. Mr. Alfonso Gomez, member of the City’s Executive Council, spoke about the role of International Geneva in the creation and implementation of the Principles.
Mr. Gomez, along with the Permanent Representatives of Switzerland, Sweden, and Luxembourg vowed their full support in building and sustaining momentum around the initiative.
Building momentum towards a new frame of reference
Throughout their visit, the Commission expressed its astonishment with the pace at which the Initiative has gathered interest and backing. They also pointed to the necessity of sustaining this momentum in order to secure a legacy for and implementation of the Principles.
“We have reached an inflection point in our global process,” said Yves Daccord, Co-Chair of the Commission and former Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross. “We are aiming by December 2022 to create Principles not just for states or peacebuilders, but everyone — a common and shared language that imagines peace well beyond the peace agreement.”
Principles for Peace would like to thank the Permanent Missions of Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and Switzerland as well as the City of Geneva for hosting and organizing the various briefings that the Commission had during their visit.