It’s not often that we get a chance to celebrate the culmination of our peacebuilding achievements, but last week in Brussels, International Alert celebrated the end of its three-year project, the Initiative for Peacebuilding (IfP). The finale, which was held in a unique Moorish “folly” in the centre of Brussels, was a chance for Alert and partners to highlight the Initiative’s “Milestones on the Road to Peace” as well as draw attention to the human dimension of our work.
A specially commissioned photographic exhibition profiled the people we work with and the places they live. Images from Liberia and Nepal, taken by local photographers Sando Moore and Kashish Shrestha, provided an exceptional backdrop to the days’ activities. A film, “Lands of our Ancestors”, produced by filmmaker Veena Holkar, took the 30 participants to a remote area of Eastern DRC to see the complexities people face in resolving their conflicts over land. Mini-workshops allowed the 10 partners of IfP to showcase their creativity, ideas and achievements around the themes of conflict mediation, conflict sensitivity, transitional justice, gender and security.
More than 40 participants from the various partner organisations, the European Commission, NATO and Brussels-based NGOs attended the event which kicked off with an informal panel discussion led by Alert’s Secretary-General, Dan Smith. The panel, which included directors from European peacebuilding organisations, kept an eye on the big picture while discussing the emerging issues of our time and how peacebuilders might contribute to solutions.
So what is the Initiative for Peacebuilding and what are its achievements?
IfP, a consortium led by Alert and funded by the European Commission, drew together the geographic and thematic expertise of 10 civil society organisations (and their networks) across Europe and in conflict-affected countries to share understanding, harness knowledge of peacebuilding and to address its challenges. The project aimed to assist governments NGOs and especially the EU build more conflict-sensitive development assistance policies and programmes.
The IfP partners included: Adelphi Research, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’, Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO), Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE), International Alert, International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Partners for Democratic Change International (PDCI) and Saferworld (SW).
In the three years we worked together we produced more than 80 publications on themes as diverse as: justice and security in Nepal; land conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo; mediation in Georgia; the African Union’s mediation capacity; regional water cooperation in the Middle East; impunity in Guatemala; and security sector reform in Afghanistan. The IfP publications were edited consistently to an extremely high standard by Alert’s Chandani Thapa and are available on the web at www.initiativeforpeacebuilding.eu.
Many of the publications are available in print too, and represent a confounding degree of knowledge, thinking, innovation and commitment. The research and publications were regularly used as a basis for discussion in many meetings and seminars from Brussels to Kathmandu, from the Hague to Islamabad, and many times bought policy-makers face to face with those who lived with the consequences of their polices.
Where we worked
So, quite a lot to celebrate, and so much more to do. Happily, most of the partners have stayed around to take forward the next phase of Initiative for Peacebuilding: so check out IfP Early Warning, its aims, partners and locations at www.ifp-ew.eu.