Does the Key to Sustaining Peace Lie in Resilient Social Contracts?

Erin McCandless The striking increase in violent conflict over the last 15 years has been marked by the number of violent conflicts tripling since 2010 and the rise of non-state actor conflict in many regions. Amid the untold suffering there has been an important positive impact: policy consensus at the highest levels that sustaining peace and preventing violent conflict must be priorities. This is good news, as prevention will not only save lives, but also resources. A new World Bank and United Nations report, Pathways to Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict, concludes that up to tens of billions in losses in countries and billions for the international community in interventions can be saved per year through prevention. This report, and the Security Council mandated agenda that preceded it, increase the United Nations’ commitment to more strategic analysis and action on these issues. While these are exciting developments, perhaps most importantly due to the level at which they have taken hold, important questions remain:


Why the Social Contract for Preventing Violent Conflict and Sustaining Peace?

By: Erin McCandless As the United Nations reflects upon how it will meet its revamped and revitalized mandate to prevent conflict and sustain peace, catalyzed by twin Security Council/General Assembly Resolutions, some academics and policy-makers are reflecting on the relevance of the social contract as an actionable idea, a means to revitalize these agendas – particularly in contexts affected by violent conflict and fragility. While this is by no means a straightforward pursuit, it arguably is a vital one given the current state of crisis of many state-society social contracts, globally. The social contract is a term no doubt familiar to all. It has roots in antiquity and is often dismissed for being too steeply rooted in traditional liberal thought. Yet as the world grapples with extreme challenges, and evermore resilient competing ideologies and traditions evolve, it is hard to contest the profound value underpinning the notion of the social contract. Simply put: we need basic agreements about how we can