IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Peacebuilding: where we are at the moment

I’ve mentioned the Ashoka peace site previously.  Well today I saw an interesting guest blog there about “The State of Peace Building” (there are two parts to the post).  Here are a few paragraphs to get you interested (hopefully), but you will have to go to the original to read both parts and to follow up on the links:

“The record of international support for peace initiatives in intra-state conflicts in the last several decades suggests that the capacity of our world to come to the aid of local peacemakers in conflicts, let alone to prevent them, is modest at best.  The experiences in Sri Lanka and Somalia this past year illustrate the limitations of international action.

No single multi-lateral or bilateral entity, no matter how large, can meet the needs of the field.  Multi-lateral institutions, from the UN, to the EU to the African Union, are severely constrained by limited financial resources and competing political agendas in their peacemaking activities. Bi-lateral governmental efforts face many of the same constraints. The lesson we at the Peace Appeal have drawn from our experience to date is that the field of peacebuilding as a whole needs to develop further so that it is adequate to the challenge at hand.

The field of peacebuilding, as distinct from the practice, is still young. The most mature segment of the field is its educational and research arm, which witnessed remarkable growth with the arrival of several dozen university-based interdisciplinary centers in Europe and the United States in the 1970’s and continuing to this day. Though universities and colleges are graduating growing numbers of future practitioners, their ranks are still small.  It may take decades before the full impact of an expanded knowledge base and professional community is felt.

Other segments of the field of peacebuilding are even younger. The field’s most prominent policy research and advocacy organization, the International Crisis Group, headquartered in Brussels, was founded in 1995. Despite its size, reputation and stature, its influence is often limited without broader constituencies advocating alongside it. In the realm of peacebuilding, examples of effective global citizen action are still few in number. Two of the best known citizen lobbying efforts, Americans for Peace Now (founded in 1981) and the Save Darfur Campaign (founded in 2004) dwarf the constituencies advocating for peace in conflicts in other regions of the globe. Yet even with their resources and clout, their impact too is limited without concrete alternatives emerging on the ground.

One of the more promising developments in the field of peacebuilding over the last several decades has been the growth of citizen organizations and networks internationally engaging in peacebuilding work both at Track II and at the grassroots level. Most operate out of the limelight working diligently to end conflicts in their own communities, societies and across the globe. While many of these efforts achieve success within local communities, or build relationships of trust at the Track II level, without the engagement and commitment of political leadership in the process of conflict transformation, securing a broader peace in a society in conflict is nearly impossible. ”

One thing I personally take away from this article is that while there is a growing recognition that peacebuilding capacity is necessary, there is much, much more to do to, on all levels, to turn the tide “so to speak”.  So this article is informative, encouraging but also somewhat alarming, given the scope of the challenge.

IGbarb says:  “Let’s get on with it!”

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February 4, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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