How can international development cooperation foster social cohesion? This was the topic discussed by experts in the framework of the IDOS project „Social Cohesion in Africa“.
Policy makers, researchers and practitioners came together at IDOS for a workshop on strengthening social cohesion in fragile and conflict-affected states from 31 May to 1 June. Mixing scientific inputs with interactive elements and small group discussions, the workshop set the stage for engaged discussions and reflections on how international development cooperation can (effectively) promote social cohesion and help overcome fragility and violence.
The event featured a keynote lecture by Salma Mousa, Assistant Professor at Yale University, who spoke about existing empirical evidence on building social cohesion between groups. Thematic inputs by IDOS researchers (Charlotte Fiedler, Karina Mross, Julia Leininger, Daniel Nowack) shed light on the role political institutions and regimes can play for social cohesion, while visiting researcher at IDOS, Fletcher Cox and his co-author Timothy Sisk, discussed the complex challenges international actors confront when supporting social cohesion abroad. Engaged participants from German and international development cooperation such as BMZ, GIZ, UNDP; several NGOs as well as universities and think-tanks (e.g. UNU Wider, SIPRI) made for lively and thought-provoking discussions.
The workshop showed that there is clear value-added of taking a social cohesion approach to peacebuilding, but also that a number of challenges exist that are not easily overcome. It was organised by Charlotte Fiedler and Karina Mross as part of the “Social Cohesion in Africa” project at IDOS that investigates national and international drivers of social cohesion.