A post-workshop reflection on the issues of the triple nexus

Published: 10th July 2022

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On 24 June 2022, the Endless Conflict Team held an internal, invite-only workshop organised by the Glasgow team, with an aim to discuss and consolidate the ongoing policy-oriented research on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus (triple nexus).

The team benefited greatly from this exchange, as the invited academics and practitioners helped to tease out the common topics and challenges of the two case studies (Colombia and the DRC) on the triple nexus. Two main points, warranting further discussion amongst the Endless Conflicts team, emerged from the discussions.

Firstly, and unsurprisingly, one of the issues in common across the three presentations (international level, DRC & Colombia) was funding. Funding is one of the driving forces behind the need for the triple nexus. In their bird-view introductory presentation, Asli Olcay and Giedre Jokubauskaite portrayed the nexus as an attempt to use limited resources more effectively and efficiently at an operational level of international institutions. Funding is also at the heart of the implementation efforts in the DRC and in Colombia, as it determines which projects will go forward. However, access to funding for the countries and for the conflict affected regions ultimately depends on the trust from the donors – trust that is hard-earned and that can be heavily dependent on politics, as exemplified by the Colombian case study. Johanna del Pilar Cortés-Nieto noted this with reference to the relationship between donors and the previous Colombian government. 

Moreover, from a more structural perspective, the workshop also made clear that international law has created a state-centric international system, in which the nexus is meant to operate. This means that national governments, which represent states internationally, often benefit from this donor trust by default, whereas the regional actors and non-state actors do not. Consequently, localised approaches that are meant to coordinate and channel different sources of funding to the areas affected by conflict, such as the PDETs in Colombia, face obstacles. The focus of the nexus approach on international-state relations is also present in the DRC, where the research suggests that the nexus is still very much a top-down approach. Pascal Sundi pointed out that although the nexus is an official, state-coordinated policy in the DRC since 2018, most civil society actors are unaware of its existence and its meaning.

Secondly, the discussion repeatedly returned to the role of the peace pillar in the triple nexus – or rather, the lack thereof. The workshop showed that, indeed, the coherent understanding  of peace – let alone a framework for peace – is absent in the international policy framework on the triple nexus discussed during the workshop, including the OECD Recommendations (2019). One participant asked if there was even a triple nexus that included peace and not simply a double nexus (humanitarian-development), as it seems to be difficult to pin down the peace pillar as a coherent framework of its own. However, it can be argued that the peace component gives the triple nexus its direction. The discussion at the workshop has highlighted that further discussions are needed on the place of the peace pillar within the nexus. 

In conclusion, the workshop helped the project team to refine their main findings, to identify new directions for further research, and it gave impetus for the finalising and publishing of the three policy reports on the triple nexus by the Colombian, DRC and Glasgow teams.

Written by Franziska Chyle