Prepare for Peacebuilding During the Conflict in Ukraine
For many, this will be a strange article to post at this stage of a conflict that has horrifically developed only recently. However, despite the conflicting war narratives, the continuing increase of violence, death, destruction and the dreadful suffering of people in Ukraine, it is time to prepare for peacebuilding.
We have to learn from the past conflicts which found peacebuilding approaches lacking in their ability to adapt to various contexts and cultures. The past autocratic approach (one size fits all) has struggled in acknowledging that in every conflict, the people that suffered and the trauma felt are specific to the social, religious and social conditions in that place, community and time.
Now is the time to build a peacebuilding platform that can observe the conflict through a peacebuilding lens. There are many examples of peace accords being agreed upon and the peacebuilding community beginning a game of catch-up leading to many of the politicians, military officers, diplomats and bureaucrats employed in the previous conflict narrative and being re-employed as peacebuilders. It does take much imagination to see the challenges that this creates from the outset.
This early platform requires a new approach and should be freshly staffed, actively ensuring that old hierarchies and cronyism is guarded against. It should be developed with both sides represented with staff focused on a peacebuilding agenda that is a ‘hybrid of top-down and bottom-up approaches' (Even those phrases are weaponised and loaded with meaning developed by a history of backbiting between academics and peacebuilding policy/donor chasers).
The platform should be independent and open-minded, should be factual and engaging without boundaries (physical or otherwise). The management must be transparent and accessible. The peacebuilders have to show the same determination and bravery for peace as those have shown in their quest for violence. There should be no room for bias, stereotype and ego. This platform has to be supported by, at the very least, both the warring nations. The diplomats involved in past peacebuilding efforts during the post-cold war era should be stood-down with regards to this peacebuilding effort.
Peacebuilding is not a military operation, it is political, legal and financial but above all, it is a humanitarian one.
Start Peacebuilding Now…