Sebastian von Einsiedel, Cale Salih, Josie Lianna Kaye, Wendy A. MacClinchy & Francesco Galtieri

What Works in UN Resident Coordinator-Led Conflict Prevention: Lessons from the Field

Research & Publications | June 18, 2018 | ,

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UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has placed conflict prevention at the top of his agenda. One of the key challenges he will face is that of making Resident Coordinators (RCs) in fragile and conflict-affected countries without peace operations more effective prevention actors.

While so-called “non-mission settings” are widely recognised as the frontline of preventive action (peace operations are usually deployed once efforts to avert outbreak of violent conflict have failed), they also tend to be contexts where the UN faces some of its most acute challenges in making prevention work. This is because RCs, who head the UN’s development presence in such places, face significant political, mandate, and resource constraints in the pursuit of prevention.

Against this background, the UNU Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR), with the support of the UK Mission to the United Nations, has undertaken a research project to extract lessons of RC-supported preventive action in nine countries, where such support has generally been effective.

The project had two central aims: first, to produce analytical narratives of success stories, detailing how RCs and UN Country Teams (UNCTs) have effectively engaged across various settings in a preventive manner; and second, to identify good practices of what has worked in RC-supported prevention in the past, and how those lessons might be relevant to RCs in other settings.

The lessons, findings and recommendations emerging from the nine case studies are synthesised in a Policy Paper, What Works in UN Resident Coordinator-Led Conflict Prevention: Lessons from the Field, by Sebastian von Einsiedel.

The project’s individual case studies can be accessed here:

If you wish to download the policy paper and the case studies as a single document, you can do so here.

We hope this research will provide insights and inspiration to all UN actors seeking to enhance the Organisation’s performance in “upstream” conflict prevention. These include: Resident Coordinators and their staff deployed in countries facing risks to their stability; members of UN Country Teams; entities at UN Headquarters tasked with supporting RCs and UNCTs in their prevention roles; UN member states; and relevant think tanks.