New report highlights UNDP’s role in building peace in Bolivia

20 Oct 2011

image On 20 October 2008 Vice President Alvaro García Linera announces the convocation of a Referendum approving the new Constitution surrounded by parlamentarians from both parties and a group of international observers. Photo credit: UNDP Bolivia.

New York— Following the tension and violence that spread throughout Bolivia around the approval of a Constitution five years ago, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) played a key role in building peace, sparking a historical dialogue between political parties and civil society groups, according to a new study launched here today.

The editorially independent report commissioned by UNDP—It was not how we imagined it: A story of Bolivia’s dialogue, conflict and peacebuilding—, stresses that the conflict could have not been resolved without enhancing the ability of local institutions to manage the country’s challenges while involving the community in solving the conflicts. 

“The Bolivian experience shows the crucial importance of supporting and strengthening institutional spaces for tackling conflicts in times of high tension and political polarization”, said Heraldo Muñoz, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.

UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative in Bolivia, Yoriko Yasukawa, highlighted the importance of advocacy in helping build peace and trust through a national communications and advocacy campaign, Convivir, Sembrar Paz [‘Coexist, Cultivate Peace’, in English]. “The campaign’s messages around “coexisting” were not ingenuous. They are based on the same principles than those of the UN Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights. As international civil servants, it is our duty and privilege to advance those principles and ensure that each person has the right to live a life of dignity”, she said.

UNDP commissioned opinion polls and surveys that allowed citizens’ voices to be heard, and built prospective scenarios and analysis that proved useful at a time when most actors were highly uncertain. “The UN’s moral support, the way they observed and facilitated the national dialogue, was clearly paramount in helping sustain negotiations and avoiding break-downs despite all the tensions”, said Rafael Archondo, interim UN Ambassador of Bolivia to the United Nations.

The report is based on opinion polls on the United Nations’ performance and features quotes from interviews with national and international representatives who played a key role in the dialogue process, including journalists, politicians and political analysts. 

While Latin America is living a moment of relative political stability, inequality and rapid social and economic change have heightened tensions among social sectors and organized groups, and have opened new avenues for insecurity through rising crime and violence. “Insecurity in the region is a threat to democratic governance and sets back hard won development gains”, said Jordan Ryan, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. “Our experience shows that the right mix of institutional reforms with strong community level engagement is the most effective measure to reduce violence and crimes.”

UNDP is currently supporting citizen security programmes and providing high level technical advice in at least 10 countries within the region. UNDP has also chosen Citizen Security as the theme for the next Latin American Human Development Report.