On 3 June 2021, the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) will present to the countries that support its work with voluntary contributions — and to potential donors — an update to its Multi-Year Appeal. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of voluntary contributions to the Department. In 2020, this funding, which countries provide over and above what they contribute to the UN’s regular budget, enabled the Department to carry out much of its conflict prevention and peacemaking work around the world, and that in the middle of the pandemic. DPPA is requesting $40 million in contributions for 2021.
The MYA is a trust fund that supports an ever-larger percentage of the Department’s work. It serves as an essential complement to the UN regular budget, filling the gap in DPPA’s operational reach and allowing it to act quickly and with flexibility in response to requests from UN member states and other entities. Crisis response, mediation support and electoral assistance are almost entirely funded by the MYA, for example. The MYA also helps DPPA fund innovative initiatives that would otherwise not be feasible with the regular budget alone.
DPPA’s total annual budget to help countries prevent violent conflict and build peace is about $80 million. The new Appeal calls for $40 million for 2021, which is roughly half of what is needed for one day of humanitarian assistance.
“The return on investment of prevention is indisputable in dollar terms. When we consider the immeasurable human cost of conflict, that fact is even more compelling”, said Delphine Bost, the head of DPPA’s Donor Relations unit.
The MYA also has a “Rapid Response” window that allows DPPA experts or other assistance to deploy within 72 hours in case of critical need. The MYA is characterized by small, agile, and often discreet initiatives. About 70 per cent of MYA funds are unearmarked, so they may be applied to the areas of greatest need or risk.
With voluntary contributions, DPPA can also invest in innovative areas under our mandate, such as piloting projects under the technology and innovation window. For example, we are exploring the use of tools for remote sensing and online mediation processes, including digital focus groups, social media mining, and satellite imagery analysis, which are now even more critically needed. For example, in Yemen, large-scale online discussions were organized by the Special Envoy, which brought together over 500 Yemenis — a third of whom were women — to discuss opportunities and challenges for peace in hundreds of different Yemeni dialects. This made sure that nobody was left out.
The MYA Update
The Update and an Annual Report on the Appeal provide details of the crucial work that DPPA was able to carry out using voluntary contributions, work that spanned the globe and supported every aspect of the Department’s mandate.
Facilitating the Special Political Mission transition in Sudan
MYA funds are proving critical in Sudan, where the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) completed its work at the end of 2020 as the newly formed United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) took up its mandate. The funding not only enabled this transition, but enabled it during the most difficult of conditions, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
MYA funding will enable the new mission to build on the gains made by UNAMID and continue its efforts to sustain peace through the rule of law and community engagement. This is more important than ever as Sudan continues its transition towards peace and democracy. While the country is making progress towards the key political benchmarks outlined in the 2019 Constitutional document, this transition remains fragile. Not only that, but the influx of persons seeking refuge from the conflict in Tigray has elevated the humanitarian need in Sudan, which is compounded by the pandemic, flooding, COVID-19, and intercommunal violence.
In Libya, intense multilateral efforts were essential to bring about the conditions required to resume a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned dialogue and end nearly 16 months of armed clashes. These efforts resulted in the signature of a permanent ceasefire agreement in Geneva on 23 October 2020, under the auspices of the United Nations. DPPA provided expert advice to inter-disciplinary discussions and to UNSMIL leadership in elaborating options for the way forward.
Women, Peace and Security
It is a truth now universally acknowledged that having more gender-equal societies results in more stable and peaceful states. In 2021, we are investing more to support the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The Update has a new funding window that sets aside at least 17 per cent of our overall programming resources to promote gender equality and ensure women’s meaningful participation in all areas of peacemaking.
In the last year, funding under the MYA enabled increased support for the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Libya, Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Mexico. In Libya, for example, despite conflict party delegations being almost entirely comprised of men, 17 out of the 75 delegates of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum were women. In Syria, through the Women’s Advisory Board (WAB), women made up 28 percent of the Constitutional Committee. In Iraq, Syria and Yemen, with MYA funding, DPPA is continuing its work with consultative advisory groups of women.
In Bolivia, after the 2019 elections were annulled, the Secretary-General dispatched his personal envoy, Jean Arnault, to engage with all Bolivian actors and offer UN support to help find a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The swift deployment of the envoy was made possible by MYA funding. The subsequent agreement reached between local stakeholders paved the way for new general elections, which were held in 2020. Experts were deployed to provide technical support and advice to the country’s electoral authorities. As a result, the situation in Bolivia has improved, but remains volatile. Work continues, with MYA funding, on peacebuilding efforts, including fostering increased voter awareness, the promotion of human rights, and the strengthening of the legislature.
Backstopping efforts to resume political processes in Yemen
In Yemen, the MYA enabled the work towards peace to continue. The Special Envoy for the Secretary-General for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is working to break the escalatory cycle of violence. He has called on the Government of Yemen and the Houthis to agree on a proposed Joint Declaration that would include a nationwide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic measures, and the resumption of the political process.
Implementing the Maputo Peace Accords in Mozambique
In Mozambique, MYA funding has ensured continued work by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, Mirko Manzoni, to create the conditions necessary for a return to the negotiating table by the Government and the armed opposition, the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) for the full implementation of the Maputo Peace Accords. Considerable progress has been made: thus far, some 1,490 combatants have been demobilized and six RENAMO military bases have closed. With continued MYA funding, more progress is expected this year, including the transitioning of the remaining 3,700 combatants, as well as the continuation of dialogues on national reconciliation.
Supporting the search for political solutions in the Syrian conflict
DPPA holds the lead role on the Syrian conflict in the UN system, including on policy formulation and coordination. With MYA funding, the Department’s Syria desk has provided support to advocacy efforts to secure the renewal of cross-border access for humanitarian aid. It has also promoted the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, and advanced accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including through support to the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) and the Commission of Inquiry.
Ensuring a coordinated response in Nagorno-Karabakh
Continuing hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh highlighted the need to build on DPPA’s work to ensure a coordinated response in the post-conflict phase. Through the MYA-funded UN Liaison Office in Vienna, the Department continues to engage with the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as with civil society partners, in order to foster a conducive environment for the continued cessation of hostilities and to advance peacebuilding efforts.
The MYA ensures the continuation of vital work
The projects and initiatives listed above provide just a taste of the work made possible by the MYA. With increased donor support, this work can continue, and new work begun to tackle fresh crises and challenges. As Bost highlights,
“The MYA is a lifeline for the Department, it could not be operational and carry its mandate without it. It gives us operational discretion and independence in our conflict prevention and peacemaking roles”.