The UN in Crisis Response – Stress Testing the UN’s National and Regional Prevention Capacities


  • Project Status:
    UNU-CPR RESEARCHERS: Dr David Passarelli, Dr Adam Day

    This project is driven by the overarching question: how can the UN better integrate its regional and national peacebuilding/prevention work to prepare for and respond to major crises?

    The reforms of the UN Development System were meant to empower the Resident Coordinator system to better prepare and respond to risks, and also build a more regionally-focused, cross-pillar approach to peace and security. The 2020 proposal by the Secretary-General for Regional Cooperation Platforms exemplifies this push for regional responses. Together, these reforms should position the UN to develop effective national prevention engagements that are linked to regional analysis, structures, and resources, allowing the UN to meaningfully address a range of stresses and shocks including climate-driven changes, transnational organized crime, large-scale population movements, uneven economic growth, and the global pandemic.

    While there have been many improvements in how the UN addresses these risks, thus far the reforms have not yet delivered on the promise of coherent national and regional engagements. Instead, independent experts have pointed to continued siloes, disjointed responses between national and regional entities, and fairly superficial engagement with regional economic actors.

    This project, supposed by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, will examine three regions (Latin America, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa) to consider how the UN is currently integrating regional and national approaches and the approaches by other actors (international finance institutions, the private sector and regional economic institutions) to develop empirically-based models for improving the strategic and operational links between national and regional actors. As such, it would help to advance a major objective of the reforms: a stronger, more coherent multilateral system that is able to prepare for and respond to major crises in an effective manner.