The UK’s approaches to peacebuilding

A review that examines how relevant, coherent and effective the UK's approaches to peacebuilding have been.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 9 December 2022
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Fragile states, Peace, security and justice, Women and girls
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Nigeria
  7. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  8. SDGs covered:Peace, justice and strong institutions

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This review finds that the UK’s efforts made meaningful contributions to peacebuilding, but the results would be improved by a more reliable and long-term funding approach. We awarded a green-amber score overall and made six recommendations.


  • The UK government’s understanding of the conflicts it engages in is good, although limited by access constraints.
  • The UK and its implementers use their contextualised understanding of conflicts as they develop and adapt theories of change, strategies and interventions.
  • The UK invests in understanding the needs and priorities of affected communities, but does not encourage accountability towards affected communities.
  • The UK government’s conflict endeavours are generally gender-sensitive and are aligned to its Women, Peace and Security commitments.
  • The UK government responded swiftly to challenges posed by COVID-19.
  • Close cross-government cooperation in the field of peacebuilding was operationalised in each of our case study countries.
  • Where relationships are strong the UK adopts the niche role of close cooperation with the host government – even when the latter’s commitment to peace is limited. This forms a key part of the peacebuilding efforts of the wider international community.
  • Close cooperation with host governments is rooted in a deliberate long-term choice to take high risks in order to achieve important results.
  • The UK government strengthens its high levels of expertise by commissioning research and encouraging learning. Some but not all learning is absorbed by policy and practice, and is shared internally, with other stakeholders and the wider public.
  • The UK government strengthened the monitoring and evaluation of its peacebuilding work, but weaknesses remain and aid budget reductions meant that some investments were wasted.
  • In our case study countries, we found:
    • the various UK government contributions benefited the peace process in Colombia.
    • In Nigeria, the most significant UK contributions were in local peacebuilding, but progress is fragile.
    • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, some of the UK government’s work took high risks, which led to failures as well as significant successes.
  • We also found that the UN peacebuilding architecture is performing well and the UK government played a key role in its establishment and development.
  • The UK government’s poor donor practice weakened results and increased the risk of doing harm.


  1. The UK government should preserve its ‘thought leadership’ capabilities in the field of peacebuilding.
  2. The UK government’s patient, strategic and risk-taking approach to peacebuilding at country and regional levels should extend to its partnerships at programme level.
  3. The UK government should strengthen accountability to affected people in its peacebuilding work.
  4. In its peacebuilding work, the UK government should maintain its focus on countries and regions in which it maintains strong, long-standing and multifaceted relations with host governments.
  5. The UK government should learn from and, if possible, build on initiatives in which it seeks to pursue peacebuilding and environmental goals simultaneously.
  6. The UK government should consider what can be learned from other countries when balancing travel risks in conflict-affected settings with the aim that UK government representatives have more access to regions for which they design and manage programmes.


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Published 16 May 2022

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 9 December 2022

Government response

Published 26 January 2023

Further scrutiny

To be confirmed