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Strategic Partnerships in Conflict and Post-Conflict Zones

Sara Noshadi, Mosul Initiative- Culture Cabinet of the Director General

Recovery in post-disaster and post-conflict contexts offers a daunting challenge in terms of planning, implementation, coordination and finance. On the other hand, such contexts present unique opportunities for international actors to strengthen strategic partnerships.


The strategic partnership of primary importance in a conflict zone is actually the one with the host country which is ultimately responsible for coordinating the international aid and funding coming into the country.  In post-conflict and post-disaster countries (PCPD) contexts, the public sector is often deeply dependent on such international aid. In such contexts, a partnership can only be strategic and “working” if it has funding implications; in other words, when the host country considers a partnership important enough to contribute to it financially. Such funding can be through multi-partner trust fund or self-benefiting agreements. This is a partnership which opens the way for cooperation with major donors in terms of fundraising and coordination with other UN agencies in terms of programming.


A successful example is the Afghanistan National Program for Culture and the Creative Economy (NPCE) which was established in coordination with the government of Afghanistan in 2016. The program closely adheres to the Government of Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) for 2017 – 2021. 


The program was established with significant seed funding from the Afghan Government prior to receiving any donor contributions. National ownership of the NPCE is high. The program is governed by a Steering Committee consisting of five Afghan Cabinet Ministers, UNESCO and any donor that is contributing over 1 million USD per year. The Minister of Finance chairs the Steering Committee. The program supports a series of innovative activities in highly challenging contexts through eight thematic areas. Since its establishment, the Afghan Government has contributed 3.25 million USD to all its thematic areas. Italy has contributed 4 million Euros to its thematic area related to preservation of built heritage and the EU has contributed 3 million Euros to its thematic area related to “the Right to Culture”.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of UNESCO