What is peacebuilding?

Peacebuilding means supporting people in or at risk of conflict to prevent or end direct violence. It also means creating the conditions for sustainable peaceful coexistence and peaceful social change by addressing ‘structural violence’ – the underlying inequalities, injustice or conflict between groups of people by established institutions or processes.

Preventing or ending direct violence requires people to talk to one another, build relationships and come to agreements about how to resolve conflicts without fighting. It often also requires a shifting of power and greater social equity.

In addition, creating the conditions for ongoing positive social change and addressing structural violence requires communication and relationships between those who seek change and those who maintain the status quo, whether that is in formal institutions or through the established attitudes and behaviours in society. Societal structures, attitudes and behaviours are well established, and influencing those who have the power to change them is a long-term endeavour.

In many contexts there are groups or actors who may seek or foster violent conflict and benefit from it – for example, to weaken a neighbouring region, generate or sustain business opportunities, or reinforce political narratives and authority. Peacebuilding involves calling out and challenging such groups and actors and trying to limit their capacity to foment violent conflict or gain from it.

We do not undertake peacekeeping (providing a physical presence to prevent the resumption of violence) and tend not to get directly involved in national or international peacemaking (high-level, elite negotiations aimed at stopping immediate violence).

Our peacebuilding focusses at the community and societal levels, on strengthening relationships before, during or after violent conflict, and in creating the ongoing conditions for peaceful coexistence and positive social change.