This is a summary of a seminar The Soul of Europe gave at the Leeds Metropolitan University. The seminar addresses three areas and proposed responses for more effective peace building.
This section describes the coherent approach from the European Union in its interventions in Bosnia (as the milestones to be described indicate), particularly in the repair and restoration of the infrastructures and capital projects. It has been argued that the rush to establish democratic structures in Bosnia should have been a priority. What might have been more useful was first to establish the rule of law, set up a non-corrupt judiciary and police, thus creating the minimum conditions for economic activity and foreign investment. The ground for these activities was secure. However when abstractions like democratization and human rights, peace building and reconciliation take over, the ground is less safe.
A coherent plan of intervention has to include attention to peace building alongside political and diplomatic, legal and constitutional, economic and social, security and military measures. Two global initiatives are described: the Human Security Response Force and the Peace and Security Commission. Potentially these initiatives could assist in implementing funding and monitoring peace building globally.
The limitations of ‘top down’ peace agreements are described. Sometimes hailed as solution, they frequently conceal the seeds of further conflict; the conflict carries on ‘in people’s heads’. Only a matter of time before the ‘agreement’ collapses and conflict resumes.
In Bosnia there were many uncoordinated initiatives in peace building: NGOs occupying a moral high ground, yet often missed the mark, failing to transform their activities with networks of civic engagement and to address driving factors of conflict, or to engage key people, such as hard liners. There was fear, reluctance and sometimes a prohibition to engage in ‘real polititik’.
What is required is a wholistic approach that stresses the multiplicity of peace builders, long term perspectives, and the need to create an infrastructure for peace building alongside and as part of the measures described in Section 1.
This wholistic approach will emphasize:
1. The Process – which involves deep listening as former enemies are brought together.
2. The necessity of extending activities into civil society and civic engagement: engaging religious leaders
3. Attention to the psychological and human responses to conflict
4. Attention to the driving factors of a conflict, and engaging ‘hard liners’.
5. The necessity of drawing on experience of local and international mediators
6. The need to find a political language which reflects the psychological effects of war such as ‘demonizing’ and trauma.
Key people in peace building are not the ‘outsiders’ who drop in and out of the process, but local people. Not much has been done to build capacity; very little in the way of ‘training by doing’ or ‘action/reflection models of learning.
The difficulties of finding funders for peace building are analyzed; the language and assumptions of the market, which inform the decisions of those who hold the purse strings (governments and the EU especially) do not match the day to day realities of peace building. This is a serious mismatch. Diplomacy has also suffered, with governments’ insistence on ‘delivery’, detailed ‘inputs’ and outputs’, and ‘concrete results’, which take no account of human factors.
Experienced mediators should be brought together with those who are learning, with a view to creating bonds of solidarity. This sort of mentoring is a less instrumental way of describing ‘building capacity.’
Those who hold the purse strings need to be aware of the mismatch described above.
A significant project would be to discover appropriate criteria for funding and evaluation. This is obviously necessary since public money has to be accounted for in a public and transparent way.