Mainstreaming Conflict Sensitivity

The most effective way to build an institution’s capacity is to try to integrate it across programmes. Conflict needs to be factored into all aspects from programme assessment, to design, to implementation and monitoring so that the intended and unintended consequences across multiple sectors may be examined. There is no single recipe for how to best mainstream a conflict-sensitive approach as it varies depending on the particular organisation, its needs and how it operates in the field.

Some organisations have developed stand-alone conflict or peace units that strive to build the capacity of the organisation to conduct and operate in a conflict-sensitive manner. These efforts are most effective when the unit is well connected and linked to the rest of the organisation and has institutional support. Otherwise, it risks becoming marginalised and having peacebuilding being seen as an isolated sector.

Experience shows that for conflict sensitivity to have maximum impact, five organisational factors need to be addressed:

  • Institutional commitment
  • Willingness to make changes in organisational culture and institutional structures
  • Support for capacity development
  • Conducive external relationships
  • Accountability mechanisms

Ideally, an organisation will undertake a comprehensive strategy to implement a conflict- sensitive approach throughout its programming and operations. However, depending on the needs and availability of resources, some organisations may start by developing the skills of a few staff members. They, in turn, can begin implementing the approach on a limited number of projects and slowly seek to promote it to others in the organisation. It may also be effective as an initial step to rely on expert consultants, although, in the long-term, if efforts are to be effective, they must be internalised and there must be organisational support.