Addressing horizontal inequalities as drivers of conflict in the post-2015 development agenda

Global thematic consultation input

Addressing inequalities is important not only for economic growth, development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but also from a peace and security perspective. This paper examines the evidence linking inequality to violent conflict and recommends ways this can be addressed in the post-2015 development framework.

Drawing on economic and social research – together with qualitative analysis from the Balkans, Melanesia, Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East – this paper describes how various inequalities – economic, political, cultural, and those related to gender, security, justice and social services – can heighten group grievances and lead to conflict. The evidence reviewed also illustrates how conflict and violence plays a role in worsening inequality. Based on this, the paper strengthens the case, from a peace perspective, for inequality to be addressed in the post-2015 framework both through policy commitments and in the way progress is measured.  Policy options to address inequalities include the following:

  • Equality can be recognized as one of the guiding principles underpinning the whole framework;
  • One or more goals can specifically focus on inequality, for example by type of inequality (social equality, economic equality, political equality), similar to MDG3 on gender equality;
  • Inequalities could be integrated as a concern into goals and targets on different sectoral/thematic issues (politics, security, justice, health, education, poverty), through language stressing inclusion, fairness, responsiveness and accountability to all social groups throughout the framework;
  • Indicators can be better disaggregated by more categories to show attainment of development benefits by different groups within society, and an inequality measure could be added for each indicator; and
  • Progress towards goals can be weighted to ensure that progress on inequality scores higher.

This paper was produced by Saferworld and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office to feed into the joint Civil Society/UN consultation Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities in the post-2015 development framework. Download the paper here.

“There are important reasons to include inequalities into the post-2015 framework, including the strong evidence that horizontal inequalities are important drivers of violent conflict.”