Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 9: Peace Building and Humanitarian Engagement

The scope and character of peace-building and stabilization missions significantly affect the work of humanitarian actors. Across a range of contexts, humanitarian actors must balance principled action alongside considerations of peace. An operational format that gained traction in Kofi Annan’s 1992 “Agenda for Peace,” peace-building encompasses dimensions of peace-making, peacekeeping, and development. Despite the emergence of “stabilisation” frameworks post-9/11, which were aimed at limiting peace-building’s expansive definition, peace-building continues to cover a multitude of possible activities designed for positive peace.

The United Nations Department of Peace Keeping Operations is currently conducting 15 missions on four continents with the service of more than 120,000 men and women. Whether the objective of a specific format is a “positive peace” (in which violence ceases and justice is secured, alongside economic and socio-political development) or a “negative peace” (in which violence subsides while the underlying structures remain in tact), humanitarians are forced to examine how assistance is being delivered and to what extent they will engage in the broader political process. For its part, peace-building is often the first step in moving beyond relief and mitigation but typically hinges on incorporating aid into integrated missions. Compared to peace-building, stabilisation presents a bigger obstacle to humanitarian actors, as it involves breaking neutrality to actively support one party to the conflict.

This Humanitarian Assistance Webcast engaged experts and practitioners to ask:

1. Are successful relief and peace-building operations intrinsically linked, or is it possible for one to succeed without the other?

2. What are the risks for humanitarian actors of engaging in peace-building activities? In what ways can humanitarians engage with communities to support the development of peace without breaking their neutrality?

3. What impact does peace-building have on the way humanitarians engage with beneficiaries and non-state groups?

Moderated by:

Christina Blunt (ATHA Project Coordinator, HPCR)
Dustin Lewis (Program Associate, HPCR)


Antonio Donini (Tufts University)
Dr. Claudia Hofmann (Chatham House)
Masayo Kondo Rossier (OCHA)