Crime-Proofing Peace-Making: Identifying Good Practice

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    UNU Office at the United Nations
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    Project Manager :
    James Cockayne

    Within the UN and the global community, the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) has a vital leadership role to play in conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding. In pursuing its broad mandate, DPA is facing an increasingly complex and fluid strategic context, which is characterized by several important factors such as changing conflict dynamics and the increasing prominence of transnational non-state actors, including groups involved with organized crime. These groups can represent major threats to peace and security in several areas where DPA works, both in mission and non-mission settings. A report from the Centre on Humanitarian Dialogue suggested that ‘criminal agendas’ may be having unidentified spoiling impacts on peace processes. Since 2009, the UN Security Council has recognized the international peace and security implications of organized crime. It has included references to organized crime in some mission mandates, held six thematic debates on drug trafficking and organized crime since 2009 and adopted a number of Presidential Statements, including most recently in June 2014 in the context of a briefing on Afghanistan. Organized crime may thus have significant impacts for key aspects of DPA’s work, including preventive diplomacy, early warning, mediation support and electoral assistance support, whether in conflict assessment, mission planning, transition or drawdown. In several of its PRSTs, the Security Council has consequently invited the Secretary-General to integrate organized crime into ‘conflict prevention strategies, conflict analysis, integrated missions assessment and planning’. One external report suggested that, historically, some political missions were ‘flying blind’ as a result of unclear guidance on how to handle the influence of criminal activity on conflict drivers and peace processes. And a recent study from Columbia University suggested a need to ‘crime proof’ conflict assessment. This project aims to help the United Nations Department of Political Affairs build its institutional knowledge around crime-sensitive conflict prevention policies, in line with Decision 2013/3 of the Policy Committee of the Secretary-General, by identifying good practice, from across several regions, on what it means in practice to incorporate sensitivity to organized crime into conflict prevention and peacemaking policy and practice.