Championing peacebuilding approaches to international conflict and atrocity prevention in hotspots through mediation, diplomacy, and effective on-the-ground programs. Important components may involve development, post conflict justice, humanitarian aid, mediation, and support for frameworks necessary for democratic processes…
Research has indicated that investing early to prevent conflicts from escalating into violent crises is, on average, 60 times more cost effective than intervening after violence erupts.
The United States ranks 101st of all nations in the 2014 Global Peace Index. In the U.S., the largest federal discretionary investment goes to the military. Military expenditures represent 55% of our annual discretionary spending ($640,000,000,000 billion). Investments in peacebuilding are miniscule in comparison. For every $1 spent in the world on conflict prevention, $1,885 is spent on military operations . In the U.S., less than 2% of income tax goes to civilian foreign affairs agencies, yet, research shows that investing early to prevent conflicts from escalating into violent crises is, on average, 60 times more cost effective than intervening after violence erupts.
We are encouraged by the expanding work of peacebuilding.* There are many complementary approaches, and while the work of mitigating international conflict is complex, putting more resources towards these methods will reduce violence dramatically.
Military strength and forceful security approaches alone can never make us safe in the long term, because they are designed to stop immediate threats rather than address the underlying causes of those threats. Effective mediation and conflict resolution strategies are also critical. We can bankrupt ourselves with more and more expensive weapons and surveillance systems, but we cannot prevent terrorism and war with militaristic approaches alone. The only way to truly be safe in the future is to change the problems that are creating the security threats—causes such as social inequality, political exclusion, and poverty. These global challenges can be changed over the long term, but they require a shared commitment to concrete investments and proven strategies to alleviate them. If we decide not to make those investments, we shouldn’t expect the security threats we feel today to be any different in the future.
International Peacebuilding is an expanding field with many complementary approaches, and we believe the US Government needs to be using significantly more resources to build peace and to prevent violent conflicts.
Supporting Nonviolent Ways of Resolving Conflict: Approaches such as nonviolent civilian peacekeeping have been shown to be effective, and can and should be integrated into State Department and USAID interventions.
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Supporting Transitional Justice: Various forms of Restorative Justice, such as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation effort, have been used to great success in healing post conflict societies while still holding those guilty of great wrongs accountable. Transitional justice efforts can heal communities and help prevent future atrocities, but too frequently post conflict societies never come to a full accounting for atrocities, enabling future crimes.
Building Resilient Civil Societies: A strong civil society where people form communities across racial, ethnic, tribal, political and economic lines fosters understanding and respect, and prevents conflicts from arising out of identity divisions. Creating a sense of shared destiny among populations creates strong bonds and drives them to find a common future.
Mediation: International Mediation works to peacefully resolve international disputes through third party’s involvement in negotiations, which the parties might take into consideration and ultimately adopt. Mediation helps opposing parties reach a peace settlement diplomatically through negotiated concessions.
Ensuring Rule of Law: A strong rule of law protects people in a society from oppressive governments by forcing those governments to respect human rights, while also giving the government strength to enforce laws protecting people against militias and interpersonal violence. A society that resolves disputes through courts, law, and politics rather than through battle is the best protection of human rights and human dignity available.
Diplomacy and Development: We believe in robust engagement with the world through diplomatic means. By diplomatically engaging those with whom we disagree or have conflict with, we can stop wars, even if it means making some compromises. Importantly, we need to talk to those with whom we disagree the most. Refusing to engage diplomatically only increases tension and anger on both sides, and opportunities for progress can only be missed, not seized. Even if we cannot fully resolve our differences, diplomacy allows us to understand those differences and find some common ground, and allowing for the possibility of change without violence. Even if that change takes a long time, we should never fear to negotiate. It is only through working with one another that we can build a better world.
- Interfaith Dialogue
- Government and Community Relations
We support greater funding and growth in the following areas.**
U.S. Institute of Peace: The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) conducts Peacebuilding training and research unique within the U.S. Government. Additionally, USIP routinely engages with communities on the ground in conflicts around the world, trying to build stronger civil societies and find more peaceful paths forward.
Conflict and Stabilization Operations: The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), part of the State Department, was created to improve the US Government’s ability to predict and prevent conflicts. They use locally grounded analysis to identify ways to break cycles of conflict and violence.
Complex Crises Fund: The Complex Crises Fund (CCF) provides unprogrammed money for the State Department and USAID to prevent and respond to unforeseen crises. In just a few short years, it has become one of the most highly demanded tools in the US foreign policy toolkit, allowing the State Department and USAID to make rapid investments in prevention, stabilization, and crisis response.
Conflict Management and Mitigation: CMM, part of USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, uses programs like their “People-to-People Reconciliation Fund” to bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious or political backgrounds from areas of civil conflict and war. They create opportunities for adversaries to resolve conflicts, reconcile differences, promote greater understanding and mutual trust, and work on common goals toward reducing conflict.
Office of Transition Initiatives: OTI supports programs that help fragile or conflict-prone countries transition to peace and stability. It has developed a strong track record over the last 15 years in applying short-term assistance to leverage opportunities for advancing peace and mitigating violence.
Greater Overarching Infrastructure: whether a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peacebuilding, a U.S. Peace Academy or significant growth in other top-level agencies, we must organize ourselves more fundamentally around the work and principles of peacebuilding.
International Violence Against Women Act
** Peacebuilding is an evolving field, and while some of the policy building blocks we recommend above may not be perfect structures, they represent meaningful alternatives to the militaristic or punitive approaches that exist today. We will continue to work towards their evolution.
Key Statistics: Challenges and Solutions
Research has indicated that investing early to prevent conflicts from escalating into violent crises is, on average, 60 times more cost effective than intervening after violence erupts. [Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict’s The Cost of Conflict: Prevention and Cure in the Global Arena (Ed. Michael E. Brown and Richard N. Rosecrance, 1999)]
The world spends just $1 on conflict prevention for every $1,885 it spends on military budgets. In the U.S., less than 2% of income tax goes to civilian foreign affairs agencies; while, 39% goes to the military. And though taxpayers provide almost $1 billion per year for military academies, they pay only about $40 million for the United States Institute of Peace—the only U.S. agency dedicated to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. add citation: [Friends Committee on National Legislation report, Prevention is 60:1 Cost Effective, 2011]
When crises are mediated, agreements occur in 62% of the cases, compared to 27% of un-mediated cases. [Jonathan Wilkenfeld, Kathleen Young, David Quinn, Victor Asal. “Mediating International Crisis” University of Maryland, Department of Government and Politics, Routledge, London (2005)]
Violence causes more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide every year. Violence is one of the leading causes of death in all parts of the world for persons ages 15 to 44. [Krug EG et al., eds. World report on violence and health. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2002. Via CDC]
Kenya’s leading business association assessed economic losses from post-election violence in 2008 as US $ 3.6 billion. In contrast, the 2010 constitutional referendum, plagued by similar inter-ethnic tensions, did not see any substantial violence. A violence prevention effort identified and pre-empted nearly 150 incidents of violence while costing only $ 5 million. [Infrastructure for Peace: A way forward to peaceful elections by Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen and Paul van Tongeren; The Life & Peace Institute; 2012]
The 20th century was one of the most violent periods in human history. An estimated 191 million people lost their lives directly or indirectly as a result of conflict, and well over half of them were civilians. [World Health Organization: visit: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention (2002)].
Organizations & Links:
The groups are listed here for educational purposes only. Listing them here is not meant to imply that they endorse the above ideas.
Alliance for Peacebuilding:
The Alliance for Peacebuilding is a global membership association of nearly 100 peacebuilding organizations, 1,000 professionals, and a network of more than 15,000 people developing processes for change in the most complex, chaotic conflict environments in the US and around the world.
Conciliation Resources is a peacebuilding NGO supporting people at the heart of conflicts who are striving to find solutions. We work with them to deepen our collective understanding of the conflict, bring together divided communities and create opportunities for them to resolve their differences peacefully.
This Cure Violence believes that only by building a strong and active network of civil society organizations—each working across political, religious, and ethnic boundaries—can a foundation for future pluralistic and peaceful societies come to fruition. Cure Violence works to reduce violence globally using disease control and behavior change methods. Cure Violence works to reduce and eradicate violence all over the globe and includes gang and youth violence, cartel, tribal, election and prison violence. Reductions in violence occur almost immediately when implemented in a community.
Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict:
The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict is a member-led network of civil society organizations active in the field of conflict prevention and peacebuilding across the world.
Global Peace Index:
The world’s leading measure of national peacefulness, the GPI measures peace according to 22 qualitative and quantitative indicators.
International Center for Ethno Religious Mediation:
ICERM envisions a new world characterized by peace, irrespective of cultural, ethnic and religious differences. ICERM strongly believes that the use of mediation and dialogue in preventing and resolving ethnic and religious conflicts in countries around the world is the key to creating sustainable peace. ICERM’s mission is to develop alternative methods of preventing and resolving interethnic and interreligious conflicts in countries around the world. Working with the State of New York residents and diaspora associations, national governments, judiciary, schools, community leaders, religious groups, peace advocates, media, local, regional and international organizations, etc. to foster a culture of peace among, between and within ethnic and religious groups through research, education and training, expert consultation, dialogue and mediation, and rapid response projects.
International Day of Peace:
International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by resolution 36/37, the United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Use this site to find organized events in your area and for inspiration on celebrating Peace Day in your own way.
As an unarmed, paid civilian peacekeeping force, Nonviolent Peaceforce fosters dialogue among parties in conflict and provides a protective presence for threatened civilians.
Peace Caravan Project:
The Peace Caravan Project’s mission is to promote cultural exchanges in an increasingly divisive global climate. Through storytelling and photography, the goal is to deepen an understanding of other cultures and to celebrate our common humanity. The Peace Caravan endeavors to inform and inspire others to achieve respect, and acceptance of individuals exchanging ideas, cultures, and traditions as they have for over 2,500 years so that a new way to peace can be revealed.
Peace and Collaborative Devlopment Network:
Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN) is a leading global portal connecting over 34,000 individuals/organizations engaged in social change, peacebuilding, social entrepreneurship, development and related fields. We provide a one-stop shop to inspire, connect, inform and provide the tools and resources to scale social change.
As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Peace Corps Volunteers work at the grassroots level toward sustainable change that lives on long after their service—at the same time becoming global citizens and serving their country.
Peace Direct is an award-winning, international NGO that finds, funds and amplifies the voice of local peace builders operating in some of the most challenging conflict environments worldwide.
Prevention and Protection Working Group:
CA coalition of human rights, religious, humanitarian, anti-genocide, and peace organizations dedicated to improving U.S. government policies and civilian capacities to prevent violent conflict, avert mass atrocities, and protect civilians threatened by such crises. The group was instrumental in supporting the creation of the Complex Crises Fund, Atrocities Prevention Board, and the State Department’s Bureau for Conflict and Stabilization Operations. As the working group coordinator, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is responsible for crafting a collaborative advocacy agenda that furthers atrocities and conflict prevention as well as works to protect civilians at risk.
Search for Common Ground:
Conflict and differences are inevitable. Violence is not. Search for Common Ground partners with people around the world to ignite shared solutions to destructive conflicts. They work at all levels of society to build sustainable peace through three main avenues: Dialogue, Media, and Community. In the tension and hostility mounting before violent conflict, they are there helping to prevent it. In the anger and chaos of war, SFCG is there working to end violence. In the pain and destruction of the aftermath, they are there bridging divides to build lasting peace.
Shanti Sena Network:
The Shanti Sena Network (SSN) comprises members from peace teams from around the US and Canada, and is open to members worldwide. Passionate about building a new paradigm of security, members of SSN want to use nonviolent ways of resolving conflicts without the potentially violent intervention from “law enforcement” or the military. DC PeaceTeam is one example. http://dcpeaceteam.com
STAND is the student-led movement mobilizing campuses and communities across the country to end mass atrocities. Their mission is to empower individuals and communities with the tools to prevent and stop genocide.
More to come…
“I commit to being a part of Be the Movement. I will invest time, energy and/or coin, at whatever level I’m able, to building upon one or more of these five cornerstones making them a core part of the foundation of our society.”
* Peacebuilding is a broad field that covers a wide spectrum of approaches beyond what we focus on in these five cornerstones. Our focus is primarily on those tools that directly improve the basic ways we relate and communicate with one another — enhancing greater cooperation. We advocate for policies, legislation and systems needed to move the work of peacebuilding forward. We welcome the work of all peace advocates and diverse peacebuilding organizations. Our hope is to align our intentions and collective peacebuilding actions for a brighter future.