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Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence (Part II) Important Parallel Peacework

By David Kirshbaum (2018)

Nonviolence Practice: Gandhi, King, Mandela, Chavez, Awad

These great men taught that justice and freedom could be achieved nonviolently, even in the face of a much stronger violent foe. They taught that the deliberate choice of nonviolence carried a spiritual power to overcome huge obstacles - that there was an alignment between spiritual truth and equality and freedom so that the pursuit of those things was essentially unstoppable, and the result was positive transformation at

every level - individual, socio-political (what Galtung called structural) and cultural. Thus, these heroes of justice and freedom accomplished Galtung’s Positive Peace at all 3 levels through nonviolent actions and resistance and their own embodiment of personal prowess through personally living the nonviolent philosophy.

Thus the theory of nonviolence has developed into a worldwide movement, with 5 levels of implementation according to what the situation requires (9):

  1. INNER NONVIOLENCE - where the individual achieves an inner peace that is invulnerable to outer disruption, and thus becomes an inspiration to others, and an embodiment of the power of nonviolence to overcome huge obstacles for the sake of outer peace, justice and equality.

  2. NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATIONS - ongoing practice of skilled communications and problem-solving methodology between cooperating groups to find mutually agreeable solutions nonviolently.

  3. NONVIOLENT CONFLICT RESOLUTION - methods of skilled mediation and conflict resolution employed where normal course of communications cannot find a solution. This approach has even been used successfully to maintain peace even in the face of terrorist and armed rebel attacks on civilians (google “Unarmed Civilian Protection” for more information) (10).

  4. NONVIOLENT DISRUPTION or NON-COOPERATION - when one group will not participate in a conflict resolution process to find an equitable solution, then methods can be employed to protest and disrupt normal daily processes to bring the refusal of cooperation to the attention of the greater society and media in the hopes of thus shaming the uncooperative group to be more cooperative. Often the disruptive action is designed to expose the wrongs of the uncooperative group in a symbolic or directly demonstrative way making those wrongs even more clear to the media and concerned society.

  5. NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE - when one group will not participate in a conflict resolution process to find an equitable solution, then methods can be employed to protest the uncooperative ways that are in turn themselves resistant and uncooperative to reactions and retaliation by the uncooperative group or by authorities, that thus provokes a reaction that is even more embarrassing or shaming to the uncooperative group, and that sometimes even leads to embarrassing violence by the uncooperative group or authorities, that strategically exposes their wrongs which then draws even more intense criticism in the hopes of forcing or shaming them to be more cooperative. Again, often the resistant actions are designed to expose the wrongs of the uncooperative group in a symbolic or directly demonstrative way making those wrongs even more clear to the media and concerned society.

But if the opposition has a psychopathic, criminal or apocalyptic mindset, none of the above might work, then you have to resort to Negative Peace methods described before to stop or prevent their violence, and then hope for government or international assistance to help bring about a reasonable and just outcome.

Mahatma Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King Jr. in the USA, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Cesar Chavez in the grape fields of Central California, Mubarak Awad in Palestine, and others successfully employed these methods of nonviolent action against oppressive, exploitive government regimes. All achieved success in liberating their people except Awad who was quickly deported by Israel and then not allowed to return (11).

It is important to note that all of their nonviolent efforts were accompanied by violent efforts by others toward the same goal, so it is a matter of important study about the role of violence and nonviolence in achieving the successful liberation of the oppressed native population. But nonviolence is definitely an important force for peace and justice in the world that embodies the best of humanity in times of both peace and conflict (12).

United Nations Program for a Culture of Peace

Since 1984, through UNESCO, the UN Education, Science and Culture Office, the United Nations has sought to develop the idea of what a culture of peace is, and how it can be used to bring about long-lasting peace (13)(14).

Such an ideal works only when seen within the framework of Galtung’s Theory of Violence and Peace. The reason is because of the significant parallels between how the UN defines a culture of peace mainly in Resolution 53/243, and how Galtung defines Positive Peace with the six requirements of Equity, Entropy, Symbiosis, Broad Scope, Large Domain and Superstructure summarized as working together toward equality, justice and mutual respectfulness in the relations between all segments of society, all areas of the country and all classes of society, and there must be a permanent, well-supplied, highly trained supportive bureaucracy with easily accessed meeting spaces and a regular schedule of meetings to facilitate skilled mediation leading to guided discussion, compromise, cooperation, etc., between all these segments of society so that all needs are heard, all activities are transparent, all missteps are held accountable, so that all injustice are caught immediately so that there is no room for affront to take hold and then retaliation to follow, as a sample way for violence to break out.

But the culture of peace materials from the United Nations tends to be abstract and flowery, beautiful and inspiring, but also difficult to put into concrete action. The framework of Galtung’s ideas of Negative and Positive Peace thus give the culture of peace a more concrete structure that makes implementation more doable involving transforming the structures of society along with the culture, while educating the population, so that the roots of violence are eliminated and thus lasting peace can be achieved.

United Nations Peacebuilding

In 2005, the UN finally recognized the ineffectiveness of it’s peace efforts because it was not focused on long-term solutions. Since it’s inception in 1945, the UN had only been doing Peacemaking and Peacekeeping – Negative Peace – which was only succeeding at preventing and stopping violence, and thus violence was starting up again because the underlying causes had not been resolved – long-term solutions had not been pursued. Thus in 2005 the United Nations created the Peacebuilding Commission to work on long-term solutions, which is the essence of Peacebuilding – rebuilding or building peaceful societies where conflict is managed and resolved in such a way that violence does not begin again.

To emphasize the importance of this, the UN did this in virtually identical simultaneous resolutions by both the General Assembly and Security Council:

These resolutions established the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission to research and guide the implementation of Peacebuilding strategies and ideals. The Commission had three sections:

  1. Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) - to guide decision-making;

  2. Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) - to provide technical support to the decision-makers;

  3. Peacebuilding Finance Office (PBFO) - to advice the decision-makers on what was fundable, and to develop funding for the decisions of the decision-makers.

he Peacebuilding Support Office has put together an Action Framework for Peacebuilding implementation that attempts to integrate the ideas of Peacebuilding with the lessons learned from 60 years of Peacemaking and Peacekeeping (15). It can clearly be seen how the lessons of 60 years of Peacemaking and Peacekeeping are included in this Action Framework but the focus of true Peacebuilding on long-term transformation of society with building structures and

culture that promotes justice and equality and all human and civil rights is still not fully realized:

  1. National Ownership (16) – of primary importance to both Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding of developing partnership with local sectors of society

  2. National Capacity (17) - 2.1 Tools: a- Definition - determining the national capacity for long-term sustainable peace b- Assessment - (i) Integrated Mission Planning Process Toolkit (IMPP) -, (ii) Post-Conflict Needs Assessment - Transitional Ressults Framework (PCNA-TRF) - 2.1 Program Elements: a- Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration (DDR) (18) of armed combatants (important element of both Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding); b- Security Sector Reform (SSR) (19) of government military and police (important element of both Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding); c- Reconciliation (20) of perpetrators and victims, oppressors and the oppressed (mainly Peacekeeping); d- Healthcare improvements (quality and equality) (important element of both Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding); e- Social and Administration Services (21) improvement of service delivery to all citizens and residents (important element of both Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding); f- Education improvements for all classes of society and age levels (important element of both Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding).

  3. Common Strategic Concerns - a- Conflict Sensitivity – designing programs that are sensitive to structural, historic or cultural triggers to violence so that the program itself doesn’t trigger a renewal of violence (important to both Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding). b- Peace Dividends (22) – structuring and scheduling benefits to the public of the Peacebuilding Program that can be delivered to the people strategically to win their ongoing support for the program (important to both Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding). c- Peace Projects Scheduling – strategically scheduling implementation of Peace Programs to maximize benefits to the society in order to develop ongoing support for the program (important to both Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding).

The above elements are important to Peacebuilding and involve some transformation of social structure and culture, but you can see how they mostly involve maintaining the status quo peacefully and not really transforming society so there is true democracy, justice and equality, and thus the more accurate term emerged of “sustaining peace” rather than “building (sustainable) peace”, especially as envisioned by Johan Galtung.

And success was spotty largely because of the difficulty and local resistance to implementing deep change so that peace would last. So on 29 June 2015, the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Group of Experts issued a progress report (23) on the work of the UN Peacebuilding Commission and it’s efforts to implement the ideals of Peacebuilding:

Progress Report Conclusions - Peacebuilding must become the main priority over Peacemaking and Peace Enforcement, and the structure of the UN must be reformed to fully support that new prioritization. This includes such things as greater communications and cooperation across UN entities, greater inclusion and accountability with partners, and deeper commitment to sustaining peace beyond just quickly facilitating a peace agreement and a brief transition plan (for example, rushing into elections, and then withdrawing).

Thus the report had 7 interconnected recommendations:

  1. Promoting Coherence at the Intergovernmental Level - improving coordination and communications about Peacebuilding between the leading bodies of the UN including the Human Rights Council.

  2. The Peacebuilding Commission - make the work of the PBC higher priority, increasing it's organizational flexibility, responsiveness and accountability.

  3. Improving the Peacebuilding Capability of the United Nations System - take steps to increase power, strength, presence in UN activities, participation of experts and funding of the PBC throughout the UN system.

  4. Partnering for Sustaining Peace - increase partnering between UN and INGOs (World Bank, IMF, IDA, IFC, MIGA, etc.) and with regional and sub-regional groupings and banks on the issue of Peacebuilding.

  5. Increase More Predictable Financing, including the Peacebuilding Fund - prioritize and more clearly structure decision-making and funding plans and processes among UN and other international entities for Peacebuilding. Increase member-state contributions for Peacebuilding.

  6. Improve Leadership and Broaden Inclusion - in the Peacebuilding process to better facilitate long-lasting peace, including eliminating corruption and enforcing agreements, including women and youth empowerment.

  7. Redefining Peacebuilding and Implementing Recommendations - reiterates that Peacebuilding means long-term commitment of all UN leadership beyond just the start of recovery and reconstruction to the processes required for sustaining peace long-term.

United Nations Sustaining Peace Program

But in the early 2000s, in reaction especially to the intractable conflict in the Middle East, and in contradiction to the above recommendations, the UN began to look for an alternative idea to Peacebuilding for defining peace, that was comprehensive, but yet did not focus on things that made a high percentage of UN member-states uncomfortable - respect for human rights, equality, accountability, transparency, cooperation, etc., which Peacebuilding suggested were needed to create a lasting peace. So they began to develop the concept of “sustaining peace”, rather than “sustainable peace”.

“Sustaining peace” meant that efforts to create a lasting peace post-conflict would now include the priority to try to continue to focus on just preventing the return of violence in addition to transforming society - in other words the UN was going back to prioritizing Peacekeeping - which often meant actually maintaining the status quo. Then in 2016, the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly passed simultaneous resolutions (24) once again but now declaring “Sustaining Peace” to be the highest priority - focusing on the prevention of the “outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of [violent] conflict,”

Then, in 2019, under direction of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a new unified “Peace and Security Pillar” (25) was created which was led by a new agency, United Nations Office for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (UN DPPA), unifying the Department for Political Affairs, the UN Peacebuilding Commission and Support Office and the UN Department of Peace Operations (26) which fully merged the UN programs for Peacekeeping, Peacemaking

and Peacebuilding, which ended up formally giving priority to Peacemaking and lowering the priority of Peacebuilding.

This new Peace and Security Pillar, with a new combined UN agency thus prioritizes:

  • Ensuring sound analysis and early warning of violence;

  • Preventing conflict and engaging in Peacemaking;

  • Managing political crises and violent conflicts;

  • Sustaining Peace;

  • Enhancing partnerships for peace and development.

In addition, major sections of the new UN agency focus on:

  • Peacebuilding Support Office: works on post-conflict Peacebuilding;

  • Electoral Assistance Division: manages UN system-wide assistance for elections

Actually it is understandable that Peacekeeping - preventing violence - would be revived as a priority because there is no doubt that it is all important to prevent violence to keep harm to people and property from happening, and Galtung always insisted that often violence had to be stopped or prevented before the long-term change required by Peacebuilding could begin, but there is also a chance that such a change might also reflect member-states ongoing greater interest in simply protecting their own sovereignty and economic goals and not interested as much in the ideals of Peacebuilding which require prioritizing human rights, justice, etc., in order to create lasting peace. And this direction would be reinforced by the global rise of nationalism, and it’s negative impact on multilateral processes and it’s corresponding reduction in UN funding, would also set back prioritizing Peacebuilding, which is admittedly more expensive and intrusive than Peacemaking and Peacekeeping, which simply seek to stop and prevent violence, and are not concerned about the long-term picture.

The jargon of the Secretary-General and UN DPPA speak of the importance of “Sustaining Peace”, but the steps to get there sound like Peacekeeping and Peacemaking, and not the long-term social transformations that define Peacebuilding (27).

Psychosocial Rehabilitation

When designing programs that have a psychological component (such as integrating traumatized soldiers back into society), Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) has some important suggestions. This approach is an excellent complement to the long-term transformational goals of Peacebuilding in contrast to the quick fixes of Peacemaking and Peacekeeping because PSR seeks to teach clients skills and support healing within grades of community setting so that they can experience social support for independent growth and success long-term (according to their capabilities). Some of the grades of community setting employed therapeutically are:

  • Group Therapy and Training

  • Therapeutic Clubhouse

  • Therapeutic Group Homes

  • Job Counselors that go with patients into the world

This is not a rigid program but is merely steps from which to pick and choose what is best for each client (28)(29).

  1. Medical Interventions - such as psychotropic medications.

  2. Training in Medication Management, Stress Management, Symptom Management, Psychoeducation and Politicalization - so that the client understands what is going on inside of them, is motivated to pursue self-improvement, and can take appropriate action to avoid and prevent escalation.

  3. Psychotherapy - where talking individually with a trained human being is required in addition to the above, in order to provide relief from psychological problems and trauma that might have developed from past experiences before and during the violent conflict. Techniques of introspection are also taught where appropriate.

  4. Life Skills Training and Case Management - practical training and services to help jump-start a new life. Life Skills can include nonviolent training, social skills, money management, vocational training, relationship therapy.

  5. Clubhouse Model - group run by clients where they can practice their life skills, support each other and create a meaningful program for themselves.

What distinguishes Psychosocial Rehabilitation is:

  1. Emphasis on step by step progress (baby steps), recognizing triggers and anticipating symptoms, accepting and learning from relapses and plateaus, acknowledging small victories;

  2. Educating the client about his inner processes so that he can become a more proactive and knowledgeable part of his treatment program;

  3. Treating symptoms right away before they have a chance to become overwhelming;

  4. Practical life solutions designed to build confidence, self-esteem, practical and motivational knowledge, and participation in community;

  5. Combination of the psychological and the practical.

Psychosocial Rehabilitation was developed in the 1970s by Dr. Robert Liberman, at UCLA, and Dr. William Anthony, at Boston University. Initially it was developed to treat schizophrenics, but eventually was applied to other diagnoses as well.

United Nations SALW Disarmament Program

Small Arms Light Weapons (SALW) Disarmament is an area of Peacework that has direct relevance to Peacebuilding more than any of the other weapon systems the UN seeks to regulate or eliminate because SALW are:

  • Found in the home

  • Are easily acquired by individuals legally or illegally

  • Can be quite inexpensive

  • Are easily concealed by individuals

  • Require little training to use effectively

  • Easily deployed by mistake

  • Are strongly implicated in domestic abuse

  • Are strongly implicated in local crime

  • Are strongly implicated in terrorism, armed rebellion and organized crime

Thus gun violence is harmful to every segment of society, and needs to be brought under control before Peacebuilding interventions can begin. This involves both negative peace measures to stop violence and manage conflict, but it may also involve transformation of pro-gun culture and training in conflict management which are examples of positive peace because they lead to long-term societal changes.


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