Domestic Peacebuilding

There are many areas of work domestically that aim to reduce violence and help create the conditions for peace. These encompasses many types of work, that go by many different names. We are choosing to define this work under the term “peacebuilding” as the umbrella term for all the other approaches to address conflict, violence and peace

There are many exciting fields of work, from gang violence prevention and intervention, Conflict Resolution Education in schools, Restorative Justice, Bullying Cessation Campaigns, peer mediation and many others works geared toward social change at all levels of society and in all stages of conflict; these tools have grown dramatically over the past 20 years.

Excerpts from Lisa Schirch (of 3P Security) Strategic Peacebuilding – State of the Field Peace Prints: South Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, Vol. 1, No. 1: Spring 2008:

The reality is that peacebuilding happens outside the halls of power – in the fields, where men and women – citizens of a the country work tirelessly to earn a living; in schools where our children go to learn and get an education; in courtrooms and parliamentary chambers, where problems once solved with weapons are submitted to tedious democratic resolution. All in an effort to deal with a broad array of issues spanning the spectrum, from school shootings, to urban gang violence, to child and elderly abuse, to the growing levels of incarceration-all problems which demand serious community solutions.

Currently in the US both the Government and Non Government/private sector players are undertaking peacebuilding efforts that seek to prevent, reduce, transform, and help people recover from violence in all forms, even structural violence that has not yet led to massive unrest. Regardless of the avenue taken by the interveners, these efforts can be classified into four major categories namely:-

  • Advocating for Change- where advocates and activists seek to gain support for change by increasing a group’s power to address issues, and ripen the conditions needed to transform relationships.
  • Reducing Direct Violence where the intervention seeks to reduce direct violence by restraining perpetrators of violence, relieving the immediate suffering of victims of violence and violent acts, and creating a safe space for peacebuilding activities in other categories that address the root causes of the violence in the communities.
  • Transforming Relationships where the intervention is aimed at transforming destructive relationships with an array of processes that address trauma, transform conflict and restore a sense of justice. These processes give people opportunities to create long-term, sustainable solutions to address their needs.
  • Capacity Building actions where longer-term peacebuilding efforts enhance existing capacities to meet needs and rights and prevent violence. These activities aim to build just structures that support a sustainable culture of peace in the US.

Many of these solutions are already working at a smaller scale within cities and states throughout the country. Current successful programs offer practical ways of improving community/police relations, rehabilitating prisoners, reducing recidivism rates, preventing domestic violence, providing cultural competency education, teaching nonviolent conflict resolution, and preventing school violence. However, much more needs to be done to significantly increase our ability to ensure that proven programs such as these are adequately funded and universally available. Additionally we need to provide the institutional heft to increase and expand the breadth of their impact, offering practical, concrete, and effective solutions to our most pressing problems. The field of domestic peacebuilding is a great American asset, deserving of far greater investigation and exploitation especially focusing on the domestic front.