Enhancing the humanitarian-development-peace nexus

The number of countries with violent conflicts is the highest in the last thirty years and the number of people being killed in battle has increased ten times since 2005. Humanitarian needs associated with conflict have also increased substantially with the number of people forcibly displaced reaching a record 65.6 million in 2016. This trend means that conflict prevention is more necessary than ever. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development embodies the long-standing dictum that “there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development”. The Agenda, among others, recognizes the need to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels (SDG16). Sustaining peace, however, is not exclusive to SDG16 but is also critical for achieving all the sustainable development goals. The entire 2030 Agenda provides a unique opportunity to address the root causes of conflicts and reversals into conflict. Moreover, the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs set out not just to meet needs, but to reduce risk, vulnerability and overall levels of need in an effort to realize the common vision of a future in which no one is left behind.  The United Nations’ ongoing reform process envisions UN entities working in humanitarian, development and peace realms to work more cohesively together, capitalizing on their respective comparative advantages following the recommendations of the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and in line with the 2030 Agenda. Under the “New Way of Working (NWoW)” agreed at the WHS, the various actors are expected to work towards “collective outcomes” that reduce risk and vulnerability and serve as instalments towards the achievement of the SDGs.

The Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission have forged a working relationship between the respective Bureaux as well as the bodies themselves in recent years to enhance the peace and development nexus at the intergovernmental level. Find out more on the collaboration with the Peacebuilding Commission…

While the Peacebuilding Commission focuses on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict, the Economic and Social Council has a mandate to promote economic and social progress in the context of long-term sustainable development. The Council tries to mainstream peacebuilding issues in its work to strengthen the nexus between peace and development, including through enhancing the relationship between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission as well as its country-specific activities focused on Haiti and its consideration of South Sudan.

Furthermore, during its 2017 Operational Activities for Development Segment, the Economic and Social Council held discussions on the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding nexus and the role of the UN development system in, inter alia, countries emerging from conflict.  The discussions emphasized that sustaining peace required a shift from coordinated to integrated approaches, and that political will could enable whole of system approach despite silos and operational barriers. Find out more on the Operational Activities for Development Segment page  and the UN meetings coverage... 

The ECOSOC Event on the Transition from Relief to Development has offered a good opportunity to discuss how best to translate the “new way of working” into reality through better linkages between humanitarian and development work. In 2019, the Transition Event looked at “Recent advancements, challenges and best practices of the collaboration between the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actors in Africa”. In 2018, the Transition Event had focused on “Advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in crisis contexts” and looked at the linkages between humanitarian and development activities and the importance of promoting resilience through investments in inclusive and sustainable development. 

ECOSOC events on Transition from Relief to Development

  • 2019: Transition from Relief to Development: recent advancements, challenges and best practices of the collaboration between the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actors in Africa
  • 2018: Transition from relief to development: Advancing the 2030 Agenda in crisis contexts – summary available in the 2018 HAS synthesis report
  • 2017: Transition from relief to development: Advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in crisis contexts - summary available in the 2017 HAS synthesis report
  • 2016: Transition from relief to development: Understanding the Humanitarian-Development nexus - summary available on the 2016 HAS synthesis report
  • 2015: Supporting the transition from relief to development: promoting recovery and resilience - summary available in the 2015 HAS synthesis report
  • 2014: Supporting the process of transition from relief to development: funding and risk management - summary available in the 2014 HAS synthesis report

Similarly, the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS) as well as the side events which take place during the HAS have, have increasingly recognized the humanitarian-development interlinkages, and discussed examples on how to improve results on the ground through strengthened collaboration and through the “New Way of Working”. During the 2018 Humanitarian Affairs Segment, the Economic and Social Council held discussions on “Restoring humanity, respecting human dignity and leaving no one behind: working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability”. The high-level panels focused on specific areas of relevance, which also drew the connection to working in a way which could reinforce the achievement of the SDGs, particularly in the context of extreme weather events and climate change; strengthening local leadership in humanitarian action; and the impact of armed conflict on children. The side events showcased a number of issues which also resonate with the SDGs, including strengthening the humanitarian and development partnership in the Lake Chad Basin, humanitarian-development collaboration, the New Way of Working, as well as areas which are specifically relevant to the SDGS such as disabilities in humanitarian contexts, women’s empowerment and gender equality.  In 2016 and 2017, the HAS themes, high level panels and side events focused on the importance of humanitarian assistance, and stronger collaboration between the humanitarian system and the development system to contribute to sustainable development. Find out more on the Humanitarian Affairs Segment page and the UN meetings coverage