Geneva Peace Week 2018

UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura opens ILO event on Jobs for Peace and Resilience at the Geneva Peace Week

News | 12 November 2018
UN Special Envoy on Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, opened the “Jobs for Peace and Resilience” side event held on November 9th at the Palais des Nations in the context of the Geneva Peace Week 2018. The event, which took the form of a panel discussion, was organized by the ILO in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Graduate Institute’s Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP), the UN Peace Building Support Office (PBSO) and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, and with the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. de Mistura thanked the generosity of the City of Geneva in promoting peace also by hosting the Geneva Peace Week and the Peace talks on Syria. He then highlighted the importance of employment in the peacebuilding process. Having been involved in 23 conflict situations during his 40-year long career, he shared that he often saw himself as an emergency doctor, but always felt that “once the patient is stabilized, we leave. Sometimes we go to the next emergency or we try to stop the next bleeding but the war is not really over. We often forget resilience and that war can start again. And it does often start again, in a different way, in a low intensity and more complicated way without the CNN effect”.

Affirming that “in Syria, the issue now is how to move from the humanitarian phase, which is still taking place, into resilience, rehabilitation and eventually reconstruction”, Mr. de Mistura set the scene for the ensuing debate, which involved high-level experts from ICRC, CCDP, the Swiss Mission in Geneva and the ILO.

Oliver Hoehne (Permanent Mission of Switzerland), Donato Kiniger-Passigli (ILO), Aminata Maiga (ILO), Staffan de Mistura (UN Special Envoy on Syria), Charlotte Bennborn (ICRC) and Oliver Jütersonke (CCDP)
With the moderation by Donato Kiniger-Passigli, Coordinator of ILO’s Fragile States and Disaster Response Group, Ms. Charlotte Bennborn, ICRC Head of Economic Security, Dr. Oliver Jütersonke, CCDP Head of Research, and Ms. Aminata Maiga, Director of the ILO Country Office for Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon reflected on how immediate and long-term decent work and employment creation can reinforce social cohesion, build peace and ensure resilience to future shocks in countries affected by conflict and fragility. Particular attention was given to the key role of employment in the humanitarian development nexus and inter-agency coordination; to urbanization and decent employment in fragile States and to the importance to put in place “no-harm strategies” through a thorough conflict and target group analysis. Finally, the role of education, particularly vocational training, during protracted conflict was analysed and seen as essential if a generation affected by conflict was to stand any chance of joining a recovering economy and finding decent work. Therefore it is key to build resilience with the private sector and to develop vocational training programmes linking the supply (workers) with the demand (private sector), particularly in crucial sectors such as infrastructure.

In the course of the debate, the panelists underlined the predominant role of the Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation (No. 205) that addresses both conflict and disaster prevention, as well as migrants and refugees, and gives new perspective to the role of employment in the peace building process. The key role of social partners (employers’ and workers’ organizations) in safeguarding employment and social peace in a sustainable manner was also discussed.

Examples of conflict-affected communities jointly finding solutions and coping mechanisms to create economic opportunities while simultaneously promoting contact and reducing grievance among previously antagonistic groups were highlighted as successful good practices in contributing to peacebuilding by bringing people together, as illustrated by interventions in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia and Palestine.

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