By Diaku Dianzenza Kunsikila
I. Theoretical Approach
There is nothing divine than peace. Through peace, people are able to improve their situation depending on the choices they make. Whether we believe in peace as attached to principles of holiness or to those that are purely not, the understanding of peace finds its meaning within the core function of the society. This simply means that the more we implement structures addressing issues of conflict, the more we start putting in practice a successful society keen to the well-being of communities. One of the most known examples is the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) implemented in Greenhaven Prison in New York since 1975 by a group of inmates in collaboration with the Quaker Project that has become a very successful programme. Its main goal is to reduce the level of violence by introducing people to positive and effective nonviolent ways of resolving conflict. Many countries around the world have adopted this practice that help people regain their self-esteem through AVP trainings.
Focusing on practical means to peace education is one way of contributing to the implementation of conflict resolution structures. This means that our full commitment to teaching the society how to manage personal emotional traits in order to improve their anger, humiliation, rejection and not revenge for the hurt undergone, leads into the reconciliation process, which is one of the most important aspects that conflict resolution deals with. However, reconciliation is not possible without forgiving. How people forgive while they have been hurt is another important aspect that has to be taken into account. On one side, Smedes suggests some important processes to take into consideration if forgiveness is the choice. He suggests that people after being hurt forgive: slowly, with a little understanding, in confusion, with anger left over, a little at a time, freely, or not at all and with a fundamental feeling (1996) . On the other, Harbottle insists that conflict resolution should not be understood as a successful defeat of the enemy and an end to the fighting…but the restoration of law and order, social and economic stability, the guarantee of people’s human rights, rehabilitation of the structures… structural violence that prefaced the manifest of violence (1994: 5). In the peacebuilding context, the former United Nations (UN) Secretary’s report, indicates that action to identify and support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict is necessary ( Boutros, 1992). This is possible in nations where decision makers, particularly political leaders with a straightforward thinking capacity invest themselves into putting in place structures to deal with conflict adequately. In this regard, a close look at preventive diplomacy in managing conflict issues in the society is always very beneficial in nations where good governance is a priority rather in those commonly known as «failed states». Failed states are practically those states where the rule of law, human rights abuse and other aspects related to the dehumanization of human nature is a policy through structural violence and other types of violence. Many African nations are said to be in this category due to their failure to maintain a democratic rule of law. Nonetheless, this is something that needs to be discussed in details to demonstrate the drawbacks of human nature in this process.
II. Practical dimension of peace
The implementation of structures dealing with peace in the society remains one of the easiest and adequate ways to address and to prevent a high level of conflict recurrence. In the same regard scholars has sustained that, it is scientifically incorrect to say that humans have a “violent brain”. While we do have neural apparatus to act violently, it is not automatically activated by internal or external stimuli (UNESCO, 1986). Consequently, a human nature in whatever circumstances he might find himself is capable to behave in a nonviolent way or adopt nonviolent means of resolving conflicts. Thus, any human nature whose behavior tends to recur to violence as an appropriate means to resolve any conflict might have been motivated by his uncontrolled stimulus whether positive or negative that he believes is his last resort to the situation. Unfortunately, it is aberrant to adopt a negative option that contributes to the worsening of social relations within the community though conflict does not seem to be disturbing at all times. We consider that though conflict might always change the way society must be positively managed, it requires time, financial means and other conditions that we deplore at last.
Furthermore, in the contemporary period where scientific research has developed in all domains of study the exchange and/ or the reinforcement of expertise through trainings and workshops between nations has become important. For instance, nations lacking structures dealing with conflict and all other related fields to develop socio-political strategies to prevent the recurrence of violent conflicts might benefit from those with available expertise in the field. Because peace is a long and continuing process, which involves local authorities, the grassroots, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), stakeholders and religious representatives, the implementation of structures to deal with conflicts helps to putting in place capacity building. By capacity building, we mean not only involving more training in fields such as: human resource development, the process of equipping individuals with the understanding, skills, tolerance and access to information, but also enhancing their knowledge and training that enables them to perform effectively.
III. Adequate strategies to peace education
There are tested and proven mechanisms that help peacemakers to develop and improve people’s conflict resolution skills. The focus on conflict resolution must be understood as a purposeful field that consists in extending the well-founded reasons for peace to prevail in the society. In other words, conflict resolution stands as the mother while its result, which is peace, is the child. It is worth mentioning that tough all techniques that can be used tend to reconcile parties involved in a conflict, onus rests upon conflict parties to abide to principles that require whether parties are for a win-win solution, win-lose solution or its contrary, which is not our concern in this article.
III.1. Implementing peace structures within the community
Offering experimental trainings on how to manage conflict resolution helps transforming the community to build communication skills, problem solving, affirmation of self and others, and cooperation. The only way successful a nation might reach these objectives is to implement structures dealing with conflict on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Thus, a well-planned national curriculum must be designed in order to train, search, and publicize results of issues that are collected on the field. The curricula to be designed are meant to target large communities including schools, churches, prisons, companies, families etc… However, trainings for instances those that deal with AVP meant particularly to prisoners, people are free to join and benefit adequate negotiating, mediating, manage anger and disputes resolving skills. AVP can also benefit communities that are not in prison. Its helps teach people how to improve their relationships and discover new horizons in conflict situations through attending a three-day workshop.
In countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where such structures do not exist, decision makers’ involvement at different levels of responsibility will enable people and the whole nation to settle a culture of peace.
A practical example in this regard could be an implementation of a structure led by people with conflict resolution skills to deal with recurrent conflicts issues in the Eastern part of the country where scores of innocent lives are being lost for ethnic, tribal or hidden preferences. On one hand, experts in conflict would practically organize trainings or workshops were conflicting parties attend and benefit from negotiation and mediation skills. On the other, experts might focus on economic ties that might be at the core of the conflict. Such cases will involve seminars or workshops that gather conflicting parties where they discuss and share their experiences in their real life on the conflict itself taking into account challenges and emotional aspects they experience at the time of the conflict.
Training communities with real life issues empower them understand the pros and cons of their positive or negative involvement in a conflict situation. The more communities discover tangible realities on how to manage their anger, their negative behaviour and other aspects related to rendering a conflict become worse, the more conscious they become in viewing conflict not as being only negative but contributing to positive attitude towards a peaceful society.
III.1.1. Why the community and who does the structures might target?
One of the most worried aspects that I have been focusing on is to know why peace must start by the community and what results will we expect in this regard? This question is very important because the community remains the dashboard through which everyone is brought up before joining societal structures where anyone might emerge as a leader or cream of the crop in a given domain. Within the community, chances of succeeding in having a mature community are also linked to the type of education that each of us receive in our respective families and around the common environment made available by political decision makers.
Reasons to target the community as the beginning of implementing peace structures are deliberate. First and foremost, the message of peace will reach a huge number of people if communities are trained in skills of conflict resolution. Secondly, people within communities are at the same time the ones who in one way or another will expand the peace message to other people, at home, at church, at the shop, at the market, at work and so on or will help resolve conflict within their own environmental milieu. Thirdly, since peace is a long process, communities with skills of conflict resolution will be able to dissociate conflicts that are politically motivated from those that are not and will be able to live with them distinguishing the interest of parties involved.
Besides the community or grassroots that are targeted, fingers must be principally pointed out to decision makers namely, political and religious leaders, civil society organizations to get involved in sustaining efforts of peace structures in order to successfully implement a culture of peace where everyone finds its interest. Failure of them getting involved contributes in a nation to remain a state where peace is a dream.
III.3. Capacity-building in implementing peace strategies in post-conflict situations
The empowerment of the populous that have undergone years of suffering might take place in different ways. Generally, a conflict management capacity-building within a post-conflict contextual approach requires a structure that assists governments' efforts strengthens governance capacities in responding to conflict and crisis. Besides, it is necessary to mention that prior to the implementation of such activities within the country decision makers need to focus on a number of emergency prerequisites.
Among the challenges that the country has to face after war, (Harris, 1999) underlines that armed conflicts may have a number of effects. He quotes aspects such as "…the direct and indirect human casualties, the latter (much larger than the former) occurring largely as a result of reduced food supplies and access to health facilities which are sometimes the result of deliberate strategy of war…resources may be exploited at excessive rates to finance the war ".
The post-conflict period requires adequate structures to address issues related to durable development, reconstructing general infrastructure like schools, hospitals, bridges …that were destroyed during the war but also reconciling the populous with itself, with former fighters and a number of other important aspects.
To conclude with, practical means to peace education must be understood by policy makers as an altogether good governance policy structure that privileges conflict resolution aspects within the community. This means that the populous needs to reconcile with its political elite, with itself and with the general social environment. Thus putting in place structures like those implemented in South Africa, which have as task to deal with all socio-political conflict. South Africa has succeeded to implement structures like Peace and Reconciliation Commission, peace structures in schools, peace officers within service, AVP programmes dealing with prisons, CCMA a structure dealing with conflicts in the industrial arena and all types of social injustice. All these structures help the South African government to alleviate the conflict impact within the society thus contribute in one way or another to settle a country keen to a culture of peace. Nations like the DRC needs to follow this wonderful example in order to help the nation revitalize news hopes after decades of financial and socio-political mismanagement. However, only leaders with a straightforward vision but also with unselfish personal motivations would reach the target to think peace, behave peace, develop peace and implement peace. Hopefully, policy makers in the DRC would bite into the cake and think once and for good PEACE, to reign in its depth within the society.
Cater, C., 2003, The Political Economy of Conflict and UN Intervention: Rethinking the Critical Cases of Africa, in Ballentine, K., and Sherman, J., The Political Economy of Armed Conflict. Beyond Greed & Grievance. Boulder. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. 19-45.
Boutros Ghali, B., 1992, An Agenda for Peace: Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and Peacekeeping, New York, United Nations.
Harbottle, M., 1994, The Peacebuilding Role of the United Nations Operations, paper presented to the International Peace Research Association Conference, Malta, 18-22 September.
Harris, G., 1999; The costs of armed conflict in developing countries, in G.T. Harris (ed.) Recovery from armed conflict in developing countries, London, Routledge, 12-28.
Smedes, L.B., 1996, Forgive and Forget. Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve. Harper San Francisco.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 1986, The Seville Statement.