Switzerland supports UNDP in crisis prevention and recovery

Article, 23.05.2016

The United Nations Development Programme helps countries to prevent armed conflicts and violence, and to build better and stronger societies in the aftermath of crises. Switzerland will provide additional support to its crisis prevention and recovery programs. On 23 May 2016, Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark have signed a partnership agreement of CHF 13.8 million at the margins of the World Humanitarian Summit.

Malawian youths pledged to ensure peaceful General Elections.
Malawian youths pledged to ensure peaceful General Elections. © UNDP Malawi

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to “leave no one behind”. Great progress in fighting extreme poverty has already been made. Those furthest behind are women, children and men living in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence. It is hardest to make progress on development in these countries because of social tensions and weak institutions.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is well placed to take up this challenge in some of the poorest countries due to its vast field network and its expertise in governance and the rule of law. It is accompanying authorities and communities in their effort to build more peaceful and inclusive societies and stronger institutions, which are more accountable to their citizens. 

Conflict prevention

Armed conflict wrecks lives, destroys the social fabric, imposes economic burdens on countries that can ill afford them and extinguishes any hope of eliminating poverty for millions of people. To halt the spiral of conflict and humanitarian crisis, UNDP and the UN Department for Political Affairs work together to help governments and local communities prevent conflict, and to support their efforts to build peace. The Programme deploys so-called Peace and Development Advisors to nearly 40 countries who work with communities to generate dialogue between opposing factions, and promote tolerance. 

For example, in Malawi, tension and violence around the country’s 2014 elections made it the most contentious in the nation’s history. The Peace and Development Advisers supported the UN in ensuring peaceful elections. A series of planned peace initiatives and the mobilization of a critical mass of “peace voices” across all sectors of Malawian society played a key role in limiting violence, and ensuring calm following the announcement of the results.

Governance and the Rule of Law

By working to strengthen the rule of law in some of the most difficult environments in the world, UNDP is striving to help countries to recover from conflict and violence. UNDP works to strengthen the rule of law in the police, justice and corrections areas in insecure places. At the same time, UNDP supports authorities in fragile contexts so that they can better deliver the most basic services to their citizens. The focus here is on building institutional capacity at all levels. 

For example, following sectarian violence and an almost complete breakdown of security in the Central African Republic in 2014, UNDP together with the UN Peacekeeping Mission, UN Women, and others, promotes national reconciliation and justice to combat impunity for serious human rights violations. UNDP, along with the World Bank, also partnered with the government to restore core functions through registering civil servants and administering salary payments, keeping staff employed. This ensured that the services critical to restoring citizen confidence – like the police – were reliably delivered, and that much-needed recovery efforts were sustainable and nationally owned. 

Early recovery

When a crisis strikes, UNDP works to help ensure that the humanitarian response to the emergency also contributes to longer-term development objectives and more resilient communities. The focus is on helping people move from humanitarian dependency to self-sufficiency as soon as possible. 

For example, following the renewed outbreak of armed conflict in Yemen, many people have been deprived of their jobs and livelihoods. UNDP – through a local partner – has put an emergency scheme in place to strengthen the ability of people to cope with unemployment. In this way, families were in the position to address a number of urgent needs through a cash-for-work programme. This short-term intervention later became a more comprehensive programme to restore social cohesion and livelihoods, which is hoped to help lay the foundations for recovery.