Despite the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean region is known to be considerably stable with periodic elections and consolidated democratic institutions, the gradual receding of armed conflicts have been accompanied by rising social conflicts. These are multiplying in number and complexity, which in turn challenges the capacity of the State’s response.
In addition, traditional forms of social conflict are losing ground to new dynamics and types of conflicts. These new modalities of social conflict are more focus around socio-economic, political-institutional and cultural factors, and are involving traditional movements and organizations (unions, farmworker organizations, workers in the informal sector, political movements, etc.) and new social actors which on some occasions show a strong territorial implantation, for example: indigenous peoples, informal workers, women, youth, ecological groups, non-governmental organizations, etc.
The complexity of demands, the multiplication and fragmentation of actors involved and the high levels of polarization illustrates the pattern of conflict in Latin America and the Caribbean.
UNDP delivers policy and programme support, particularly in fragile and conflict affected areas, and also to an increasing number of middle income countries where the potential of a turbulent transition towards a new “social contract” could jeopardize hard won development gains.
Investments in conflict prevention, dialogue and mediation should no longer be restricted to conflict and crisis situations, but need to be a part of our governance support in different development settings.
UNDP has supported the resolution of conflicts and the promotion of specific issues on the public agenda. The efforts have included laws or other regulatory frameworks, intercultural development plans, visions that guarantee the respect for human rights and avoid the recurrence of violent conflicts, and the promotion of the participation of women in peacebuilding and recovery efforts.
In addition, extractive industries related to conflicts are on the rise with massive foreign investment flows coming into Latin America mainly due to its natural resources, richness and the growing international prices of mineral and hydrocarbon commodities. In response to this, UNDP has collaborated with governments in harnessing their extractive industries for a people-centered and sustainable development process by strengthening democratic governance, preventing environmental degradation and conflict, and assisting in post-conflict recovery. Concretely, UNDP has supported several countries in strengthening conflict prevention capacities through the provision of technical assistance to institutions. For instance, Peru is renowned as the biggest exporter of minerals in the region and UNDP has been supporting its National Office for Dialogue and Sustainability, designated to conduct regular conflict monitoring, deploy mediation teams, and produce and publish monthly reports on conflicts.