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Read more about Peacebuilding ....

The nine topics of the nine chapters of the Online Journal for Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence are linked thematically as much as they are complex topics in their own right. The purpose of this side note is two-fold - to first remind us of those interlinkages and then to explore this topic in greater depth to provide greater explanation for the interlinkages.

The Interlinkages ....

In the next few chapters we continue discussing what happened when the United Nations attempted to implement Galtung’s ideas in conflict zones around the world. Also important are parallels to the UN Program for a Culture of Peace, and the emerging importance of a movement to scientifically measure peacefulness to provide guidelines for Peacebuilding planning. We discuss the relationship of Peacebuilding to nonviolence - how nonviolence is the core nature of peace, and how the study of Peacebuilding leads to the study of five levels of nonviolent action. We also discuss important parallels and interrelations of Peacebuilding to individual psychology and to social and sustainable development programs. Finally we discuss the indispensable place of disarmament in Peacebuilding. This is a single theory with Peacebuilding at its center - the idea that you must have equality, justice, inclusiveness and strong democratic institutions in order for peace to last - but that has myriads of detailed facets reflecting the diversity of locations and cultures and histories found across the world. The unified theory is found in our summary document - Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence: Creating Peace that Lasts, while the myriad of details is reflected in our growing body of papers, blogs, videos and expert resources that are found in each chapter.

(More details on this topic; excerpted from Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence: Creating Peace that Lasts, by David Kirshbaum….)

Chapter 2. Peacebuilding

The implementation of Negative Peace worked as expected - violence was stopped and prevented temporarily, but often started up again because nothing had really changed. The things that started the violence were still there, so the violence often quickly returned..

Then what about Peacebuilding - the programs that were designed to bring real change so that violence never broke out again didn’t actually formally start until 2005.

Up until 2005, the UN had tried to create peace by just doing Negative Peace - stopping and preventing violence with short-term tactics. Consequently, it did not go well and generally the UN was not able to create lasting peace.

So in 2005, the UN passed simultaneous General Assembly and Security Council resolutions (General Assembly A/RES/60/180 and Security Council S/RES/1645, both of 20 December 2005) announcing the implementation of Peacebuilding post conflict through the creation of a new agency focused on it(19) :

  • UN Peacebuilding Commission - creating and guiding Peacebuilding programs worldwide, with support of:

    • Peacebuilding Support Office - to plan and guide the technical details of Peacebuilding.

    • Peacebuilding Funding Office - finding funding to finance UN Peacebuilding decisions and missions chosen by the Commission.

How did that significant effort go? Well, not so well. Understandably the UN, governments and civil society partners found lots of resistance to implementing long-term change:

For example, a lot of elements in many societies often resisted social justice approaches because social and legal structures of discrimination and oppression had long-standing status in the society with a strong cultural backing. They wanted peace but with the status quo. This also included the idea of working with disparate sectors of society and taking each other’s issues seriously - such an idea often conflicted with centuries-old traditions and cultural norms.

So the long-term work of Peacebuilding was really long-term. For example, it took many decades to change the Jim Crow laws in the American South that legalized discrimination against African-Americans, and even to this day racism still runs strong in American culture and daily customs.

Thus Peacebuilding had a lot of political enemies who did not like the changes that Galtung recommended. Also Peacebuilding programs tended to be expensive.

Therefore, Peacebuilding was so slow and tedious and problematic, the UN and its partners found they had to keep up the short-term practices of Peacekeeping to maintain peacefulness in the short-term and prevent violence from breaking out again. For example, the UN Peacebuilding Commission published a paper describing how peacebuilding programs must include short-term peacekeeping elements like(20-27):

  • National Ownership - making sure that local people and groups were committed to the Peacebuilding effort and did not see it as being imposed on them from the outside.

  • DDR (demobilization, disarmament, reintegration of armed combatants) - taking care that combatants were successfully returned to society and became productive citizens, and making sure their weapons were disposed of properly.

  • SSR (Security Sector Reform) - making sure military and police were retrained in humane and nonviolent police tactics, because often they were a major source of problems stimulating a violent response.

  • Reform in Healthcare, Education and Government Services - these services were quickly reformed so that citizens felt like their needs were being met.

  • Reconciliation Programs - help resolve anger and resentment, so the citizens felt like they were being listened to seriously.

  • Conflict Sensitivity - becoming aware of what are the local triggers for violence and then making sure the Peacebuilding programs were planned so that they did not trigger them.

  • Peace Dividends - quickly identifying benefits for the public from the Peacebuilding that can be quickly delivered to the public with great fanfare to help generate public support for and local ownership of the Peacebuilding efforts.

So in 2015, the UN Secretary General assembled an Advisory Group of Experts to study the situation and come up with a set of recommendations(28).

But there was nothing really new in these recommendations:

  1. Peacebuilding must be highest priority over Peacemaking, Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement.

  2. The UN must be restructured to support this priority.

  3. Increase communications and cooperation between UN entities.

  4. Greater inclusion and accountability with partners.

  5. Developing clear plans for long-lterm transformation of society.

However, during this period another development for peacebuilding was also happening - the UN was formalizing a combination of Peacebuilding and peacekeeping creating the Sustaining Peace UN Program and a new agency to run it.

To read more articles and watch videos about this topic, check out the


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