According to the UN, violent conflict has reached a 30-year high and more than 70 million people have been forcibly displaced world-wide. In this reality, we need to broaden the aperture on peace, and efforts to foster peace, to include the creativity and energy of people at every level of the system.
After more than a decade of work on peace, justice, and conflict transformation around the world, we know that those working at the frontlines of peace hold the deep expertise, knowledge, and relationships necessary to transform their societies. Unfortunately, their efforts are often deeply devalued. Our goal is to support and amplify the work of local peacebuilders, while at the same time influencing global peacebuilding and policy systems to be more responsive to local agency and power. We recognize that peace is not simply the absence of war, but a process for restoring human dignity, and creating societies that can manage conflict, resist shocks, and promote the agency and power of all citizens.
Our Peacebuilding portfolio recognizes that current approaches to peacebuilding and conflict prevention are often ineffective because of a deep power imbalance at the heart of the global peacebuilding system. The field of peacebuilding has increasingly relied on “top- down” strategies that reinforce the agency and decisions of those with power, while ignoring local expertise, which then creates transactional relationships with those living closest to violence.
Our peacebuilding approach is centered around supporting locally-led peacebuilding initiatives, as well as innovative networks, practices, and policies that elevate the voices of local peacebuilders in international conversations. We know that local peacebuilders possess the capacity to foster lasting change, and that the broader peacebuilding and policy system will become stronger when it is focused on the needs and visions of those most impacted.
However, we also recognize that local peacebuilding is not sufficient in itself to shift the larger system; local action needs connection to governments, institutions, and wider networks in order to have an enduring impact. We want to engage those networks to begin shifting the power imbalance inherent in the current peacebuilding field.
To support this shift, our Peacebuilding portfolio focuses on long-term efforts to increase the agency and power of local actors and to generate more inclusive, lasting solutions to violence. The three focus areas of our work are:
People Power: We will support and work alongside local actors to harness and translate their agency, wisdom, and power into collective action, transformed relationships, and more sustainable social change.
Shifting Institutions: We aim to address the power imbalances between global institutions and local actors and to help strengthen the voices of local communities in global conversations.
Catalyzing Conditions: We will support the work of organizations and coalitions whose work strengthens the greater field of peacebuilding.
What is Peacebuilding?
Peacebuilding is a comprehensive field, encompassing the full array of processes, approaches, and relationships needed to transform conflict, bridge divides, and create more resilient and just societies. Peace is not merely a stage in time or a condition; it is a dynamic social construct. Therefore, peacebuilding involves a wide range of activities that both precede and follow formal peace accords. Peacebuilding aspires not simply to reduce violence, but to create “positive peace”: the structures and processes needed for a society to resolve conflict through dialogue, negotiation, and politics, and to ensure dignity and justice for all.
Principles that Guide Our Work
All of the work in our Peacebuilding portfolio is guided by a set of principles, informed by our organizational values:
- Power of Relationships: We strive to maintain authentic and healthy relationships, which are necessary and critical for shifting power at all levels of the global peacebuilding system.
- Shared Humanity: One of our organizational values, shared humanity recognizes the interconnectedness and intrinsic dignity of all human beings. We pledge to act with humility, empathy and commitment; to invest in relationships with deep listening, curiosity and consistency; and to learn from our partnerships in tangible, respectful, and granular ways.
- Commitment: We make contextually appropriate time commitments, and take emergent approaches that allow us to learn and adapt in our work. We are dedicated to constant learning and self-evaluation in order to better accompany our local partners.
- Humility: Another one of our organizational values, we strive to be humble and recognize our own power, biases, limitations, and shortcomings. We prioritize the direction and wisdom of local peacebuilders, in order to create spaces that foster local agency and contextually appropriate collective action. We want to reframe the relationship between local peacebuilders and donors toward an accompaniment model of co-learning and co-design.
- Meaningful Inclusion: We aim to prioritize and elevate marginalized voices in a way that promotes dignity.
- Do No Harm: We endeavor to ensure that we avoid causing inadvertent harm and that our work is in the benefit of our partners and the world.
- Innovative and Future-Oriented: We seek to understand systems, support innovation, and sense trends that provide insight into possible futures.