The United Nations published a report titled An agenda for peace: preventative diplomacy, peacemaking, and peacekeeping in 1992 to strengthen peacemaking and peacekeeping processes. The international arena and the nature of conflict have drastically changed since then. In 2016, the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly passed a resolution to review Sustaining Peace resolutions. The resolution emphasized the importance of inclusivity in advancing and sustaining peace. Particular attention was paid to the role of women, youths, and the broader civil society in preventing and resolving conflict. Sustaining peace and security is becoming increasingly challenging on international, regional, and national levels. Inter and intra-country inequality has increased and fragmented the international community. Peace processes must navigate an incredibly complex international arena characterized by violent conflict, the unfolding climate crisis, and a looming global recession. This is all occurring against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is time to restructure and reshape approaches to sustainable peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts, especially in fragile states.
Fragile states are presently not on track to meet peace and security goals enshrined in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). The biggest challenges that these countries continue to face are ineffective leadership, weak institutions, poor governance, and insecurity. SDG 16 aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. According to The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022, the world is witnessing the most significant number of violent conflicts since 1946. A quarter of the global population lives in countries affected by conflict. Civilians continue to be the most affected by these conflicts. Human-rights violations in conflict-affected areas have increased, including human trafficking, forced labor, physical and sexual violence, and unmet basic needs. Conflicts such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have shown a disregard for international laws. Unless armed conflicts are ended, all segments of society, especially marginalized and vulnerable groups, will continue to be hit the hardest.
The United Nations Security Council has thus far been unable to perform its primary function of maintaining international peace and security. The Council faces a gridlock as Russia holds veto power as one of the five permanent members. Subsequently, Russia vetoed a resolution condemning the invasion and used the Council to spread disinformation. The United Nations is facing its greatest challenge but is forced into inaction. Many experts are recommending reform to facilitate more meaningful interventions. A peace and security architecture restructuring is needed to prioritize conflict prevention and enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping efforts. As the international arena becomes increasingly volatile and conflict-ridden, the United Nations will find it increasingly difficult to carry out its mandated tasks. However, this provides an opportunity for the United Nations to draft a new and more effective agenda for peace. In 2021, the Security-general released a report titled Our Common Agenda exploring the future of international cooperation. However, the report needed to pay more attention to international security and crisis management. The New Agenda for Peace will need to account for the increasing global tensions, reflect on the challenges raised by Russia’s invasion, and address security concerns of developing non-Western countries.