Peacebuilding and conflict prevention

Photo: Jerry Galea

One third of the world’s poor live in countries where there is war or another form of armed conflict. All too often, poverty is the result of conflict.

Even a short period of fighting and destruction can reverse decades of development and cause suffering and trauma for a generation or more.

Millions of people around the world remain trapped in ‘half war/half peace’ situations. Peace deals are signed in places like southern Sudan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the violence goes on almost as brutally as before. Each year, almost 200,000 people are killed in wars, but almost as many again may be killed in crime and other forms of armed violence. For many more people, their ability to make a living is destroyed by conflict, and their families are broken up.

Oxfam New Zealand has developed strong expertise in conflict prevention and peacebuilding with experience campaigning on issues such as small arms and landmines. We also worked for six years in Bougainville to build peace after the conflict, using community projects to foster cooperation and help integrate ex-combatants back into communities.

We are currently supporting conflict prevention and long-term peacebuilding programmes in Papua New Guinea and providing humanitarian assistance in the wake of the riots that affected people in the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

How we work

Oxfam’s work to build peace and prevent conflict is part of our wider programme to promote the right to life and security. Our approach includes community-based peacebuilding, emergency relief to people affected by conflict and also campaigning and advocacy work at an international level. We support people in communities at risk of violence to earn a living. Often having a means of earning a living can remove the underlying cause of violence.


Conflict in the Pacific

Conflict has flared up again recently in the Pacific. In Melanesian societies, conflict is often associated with economic decline, a lack of jobs for the rising numbers of disaffected youth and poor government accountability.