On Wednesday 11 May at 19h30, Scott M. Weber, Director-General, of Interpeace, one of the world’s largest peacebuilding organizations will take us on a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the world’s hot spots. He will share with us what violent conflict means to civilians, what next for the Middle East and North Africa, and why some countries are more peaceful than we think. But in the meantime he shares with us what peacebuilding really means, the challenges he and his teams face and how they know they are being effective – enabling more people to benefit from lasting peace around the world.
Scott Weber writes: Conflict, without violence, can drive positive change and innovation. Conflict is natural in society and can be beneficial for its evolution. But disagreements must be managed effectively and constructively without the use of coercion or violence. This is the central challenge and this is where our peacebuilding work comes in.
With over 300 peacebuilders working across Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe and the Middle East, we enable societies to create their own mechanisms to deal with their internal disagreements and challenges without picking up a gun, grenade or a machete.
It is never a straight line from violence to peace but we have developed an approach that has proved effective. We bring people together to participate actively in an inclusive process of discussion. Our peacebuilders enable all those involved, from across their society, to air their views freely, discuss a positive vision for their society’s future, and to identify what hurdles they need to overcome and what their path to peace will look like. Our local teams then work to translate the results of these detailed conversations into concrete policy recommendations and actions. These are then endorsed or implemented by the society’s government and others that can drive change.
Success is the accumulation of gradual steps – building lasting peace takes time. When I join our teams in the field and see people who were previously on different sides of a conflict sitting down, discussing the challenges they face, and taking ownership of the problems and the solutions, I know that our work has been effective in helping put a society on a path towards peace.
This work is not without challenges. The environments where peacebuilding is most needed tend to be unpredictable and fluid. Our teams work in dangerous environments, often risking their own safety and lives. Our work is only possible due to their immense courage, positive outlook, pragmatic approach and their vision for a peaceful future for their society.
It is their ability to build trust within and between different groups that is at the heart of our work. It takes commitment and there are no quick fixes. But this is where the real reward lies.