Approaching two million people throughout the South Caucasus lost their homes as a result of ethnic mobilisation, confrontation and conflict through the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their fate remains a key challenge for both the Nagorny Karabakh and Georgian–Abkhaz peace processes. Through film projects, TV discussions, and policy papers, Conciliation Resources and our partners in the Synergy network have recently been bringing new thinking to bear on these issues. At the heart of these activities are the peacebuilding perspectives of local people.
Janet Adama Mohammed has been working with rural women and communities to build peace for nearly two decades. “For me it’s never been about seeking money or power – just having a positive influence. We all need to find spaces in which we can unleash what we’re passionate about.” In this comment piece she reflects on how she first got involved in mediating conflicts in her native Ghana and how, in the years since, she’s been involved in some pivotal moments in the recent history of West Africa.
In the aftermath of the February 2012 London Conference on Somalia, Sally Healy – Accord 21 editor and a Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute – offers her personal assessment of the conference, its likely impact and the complex challenges ahead. Featuring insight from Mohamed Abdi Aynte, Mark Bradbury, Al-Hadi and Ken Menkhaus, this comment piece, concludes that "There are no risk-free options for Somalia. It is ever more obvious that Somalis, not foreigners, have to lead on the solutions."
The Voice of Peace editorial team talk to Father Mark Kumbonyaki, a church and civil society leader from Yambio, WES in Southern Sudan:
Can the London conference on Somalia succeed this time where others have failed? After a year in which large swathes of Somalia have been hit by famine and continued war, and international militarisation has markedly increased, the UK government’s initiative to host an international conference on Somalia on 23 February is welcome. But lessons must be learnt from past mistakes. Ahead of the conference, Mark Bradbury makes the case that support should be given to local Somali-led solutions that promote legitimacy and participation.
In early November the Colombian army killed Alfonso Cano, the head of Farc (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). While many argue this is another significant step towards ending the bloodshed and instability caused by almost five decades of armed conflict, in reality nobody knows for sure what will follow. Responding to recent developments, Kristian Herbolzheimer of Conciliation Resources makes the case – originally published in a Guardian article – that Colombia needs to fundamentally rethink its approach and design a participatory peace process. While, “there are no ready recipes for building peace,” he writes, there is a need, “to keep trying innovative and inclusive approaches.”
As South Sudan celebrates its independence, Conciliation Resources hears from South Sudanese religious and cultural leaders about what they consider to be the ongoing challenges facing the new country.
A recent study of community activism in Northern Ireland highlights resilience as a key outcome of the contribution of community action during times of both violence and tentative peacebuilding.