Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis: 6 Opportunities to Strengthen Conflict Sensitivity across the Humanitarian-Development-Peacebuilding Nexus

The COVID-19 pandemic, and efforts to control its spread—including lockdowns, social distancing measures, and border closures—have led to unprecedented health, humanitarian, and socioeconomic shocks worldwide. These shocks, in turn, are raising the likelihood that risks for many forms of violent conflict—crime, armed conflict, violent extremism—may increase. It is crucial for the United Nations (UN) to adopt a conflict-sensitive lens in all relevant operations across the humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding (HDP) nexus to prevent an increasingly volatile situation from deteriorating further.

Medical and hygiene supplies arrive at a COVID-19 isolation center in Somalia. (© WHO/Ismail Taxta)

Throughout 2021, New York University’s Center on International Cooperation has engaged UN actors from across the HDP nexus to reflect upon this challenge. Through interviews and workshops, as well as a review of conflict-sensitivity documents produced by the UN, we have explored the many challenges facing UN staff as they seek to operationalize conflict-sensitive approaches amid the pandemic. Some of these challenges are specific to the pandemic, while many others predate it. We have also facilitated discussions among a diverse group of UN staff to identify opportunities for addressing preexisting and emerging violence dynamics within and across the UN’s humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding operations. The objective of this policy brief is to amplify UN staff “asks” in these regards and, based on these, to provide recommendations for strengthening implementation of conflict sensitivity at the UN.

Read the full brief: Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis: 6 Opportunities to Strengthen Conflict Sensitivity across the Humanitarian-Development-Peacebuilding Nexus

More Resources

  • Publication: Analysis May 17, 2023 CIC Perspectives

    Managing Opportunities, Challenges, and Expectations for the New Agenda for Peace

    Ahead of the policy brief expected from the UN Secretariat in June 2023, this piece provides a historical glance at past UN reforms, identifies the primary challenges and opportunities the UN and its member states face as they undergo this process, and looks forward to the key priorities that can be taken up from a realistic and practical perspective. Highlighted is how the New Agenda for Peace “provides a rare opportunity for the United Nations to examine and reflect upon the totality of the peace and security work of the Organization to uncover and better understand the synergies and contradictions of the existing processes and structures.”

  • Publication: Policy Brief April 24, 2023

    Does the Present Interpretation of the UN Principles Cause Harm in Syria and Yemen?

    This policy brief takes a comparative examination of how the United Nations has adopted a paradoxical interpretation of its guiding principles to address the complex humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen. It offers approaches that could change the course of international humanitarian operations and protect them from further politicization, weaponization, and diversion.

Stay Connected

Join our mailing list to receive regular updates on our latest events, analysis, and resources.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.