Partners for Peace: Community and Conflict Resolution
“We are the people, we are the problem, we are the solution.”
It has been estimated that sectarian, political and ethnic conflicts lead directly to more than 55,000 deaths per year. Beyond this immediate effect, the psychosocial, developmental and economic effects of these conflicts have a huge international impact, as instability in one area spills into another, most recently witnessed on a cross-regional scale in Mali.
While conflict is often incited by outsiders or more powerful individuals or groups, it is the communities that suffer most. Sustainable conflict resolution requires complementary efforts such as government-led initiatives, strengthened security, economic development and much more. The focus of this paper is specifically the role of communities in conflict resolution – working at the grassroots level to bring communities together to resolve the sources of conflict and develop cooperation that leads to peace and stability.
This paper presents tangible lessons that can be applied to future conflict situations by organizations engaged in community-based conflict resolution. The key steps and activities outlined below have been developed by Global Communities (formerly CHF International) since our first community-based conflict resolution program in Guatemala in 1996 through to our present day efforts. We have chosen to present case studies of Global Communities’ current USAID-funded work in Kenya – where national elections have the potential to incite large scale conflict – and nine years of the USAID-funded Community Action Program in Iraq (2003-2012).