On 8 November, amidst the highly attended Geneva Peace Week, QUNO’s UN Representative Rachel Madenyika presented and moderated a panel entitled “The Future of Prevention: Civil Society Perspectives on Obstacles and Opportunities to better support the UN’s work on Prevention.” The workshop was co-organized by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).
Rachel opened the meeting by introducing the work of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform (the Platform). Launched in 2016 in New York, the inclusive initiative aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations and the UN at all levels by identifying concrete and practical steps to enhance the UN and civil society’s collective capacity to carry out preventative work. Rachel shared with the Geneva audience that the Platform primarily worked through sharing of best practices, identifying areas of potential collaboration, supporting the UN’s work in early warning and early action, and most importantly, that the Platform relied on an informal extensive network of global expert civil society organizations. The panel highlighted concrete examples of opportunities and challenges in engaging the UN. GPPAC emphasized that for local civil society actors, such a platform is a significant opportunity to empower civil society engagement not only with the UN but also with local, national, and international actors. SSRC expressed the importance of engaging with local academics as experts who are knowledgeable of the country context. The speaker from the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) discussed how early warning systems are effective in West Africa because of the strong networks of local actors that work cohesively in preventing conflict from escalating. Funding and lack of information sharing were identified by all speakers as challenges to better support the UN. The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform was a welcomed initiative in Geneva and the event was well attended with participants expressing interest in joining the Platform’s larger network of civil society experts.