Employment Programmes and Peace: A Joint Statement on an Analytical Framework, Emerging Principles for Action and Next Steps

This joint statement is an important step in our collective efforts to strengthen the peacebuilding impact of our employment programmes in conflict-affected countries. Job creation, better quality jobs, and better access to jobs for the bottom 40 per cent have the potential to increase incomes and contribute to more cohesive and equitable societies. Conversely, high or increasing income inequality, unemployment and poverty can trigger alienation that contributes to instability, armed conflict, and violent extremism.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development identifies the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies and decent work and growth as key priorities. Leaving no one behind – a key aspiration of the Agenda – requires special attention to fragile and conflict-affected countries. At the same time, recent General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, adopted in April 2016, highlight the need for the entire United Nations system to work more closely together around the goal of sustaining peace. In recognition of the special role of jobs in building stability, and the importance of stability in advancing development, the World Bank Group’s framework for the International Development Association’s 18th replenishment negotiations includes: (i) Fragility, Conflict, and Violence and (ii) Jobs and Economic Transformation among its five core themes.

In the spirit of the United Nations resolutions on sustaining peace, and to support countries in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank have joined forces to advance research on the impact of employment programmes on peacebuilding. As a first step, the partner organizations have funded an independent research report to take stock of what is known on the issue. The research involved a comprehensive literature review; an analysis of 438 employment programmes (labour-based, targeted vocational training, and small- and micro-enterprise development) in 40 conflict-affected countries; country case studies in Lebanon, Liberia, and Timor-Leste; more than 120 interviews with practitioners and beneficiaries; and regional consultations in Beirut and Nairobi. This joint statement is informed by the report’s findings and consultations among the partner organizations. It reflects a starting point in the process of having a stronger foundation of shared knowledge.

This process highlighted two important challenges for raising the peacebuilding impact of employment programmes:

  • The well-established theoretical underpinnings of the relationship between employment programmes and peace are not yet translated into an analytical framework or consistently applied in operations; and
  • There is both a need and an opportunity to strengthen and extend the empirical evidence on the linkages between employment programmes and peacebuilding.

This joint statement: (i) presents an analytical framework for employment programmes that support peacebuilding outcomes; (ii) provides emerging principles for action to inform the design, monitoring and evaluation of programmes; and (iii) highlights joint next steps toward strengthening the peacebuilding impact of the employment programmes of our four organizations.


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