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  • Author: Paul Romita
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: At a recent conference on conflict prevention attended by over fifty UN member states, a UN official remarked, “we are living in a conflict prevention moment.” In recent years, there has been a surge of interest and activity related to conflict prevention in the UN system, at the regional level and among member states. While the UN has made great strides in refining peacekeeping doctrine and strategy, it has also made significant progress in its political response and preventive activities in recent times. In 2007, the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) established a mediation support unit “to plan and support mediation efforts in the field.” In late 2008, DPA also secured member-state support to create forty-nine additional posts; it now has approximately 270 staff members. While this was less than half of the number of new posts requested by the department, it did help desk officers to more substantially engage on conflict prevention and good-offices work in their portfolio countries. The UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA) has played a critical preventive role in recent crises in Mauritania and Guinea. A UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) was also established in March 2011 to “assist member States and sub-regional organizations in consolidating peace and preventing future conflicts.” In recent years, the African Union (AU) has been an influential mediator in high-profile cases, notably in Kenya (2008) and Sudan (2010–2011). Among the UN membership, especially among African member states, statements calling for the need to strengthen conflict-prevention tools are now consistently voiced. The Security Council, which now holds monthly “horizon scanning” sessions to discuss emerging and ongoing crises, appears to be a part of this trend.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Diplomacy, Peace Studies, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Guinea, Mauritania