At the end of each year, we tend to reflect on what the last year held for us. Perhaps we started a new job, made a few new discoveries, or welcomed a new family member, colleague or friend into our lives. For me and the Building Peace team at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, 2013 included all of this when we launched the inaugural issue of Building Peace in April. During this last year of developing and publishing the magazine, we learned a great deal from our authors and you, our readers.
As we head into 2014, we in the peacebuilding community see a year of great transition as people around the world find themselves on the brink of social, economic, and political change. In fact, it is increasingly clear that the very way in which change occurs is shifting:
- Leaders of fragile states, international bodies like the United Nations, and donor countries now recognize that “development as usual” has not succeeded in making our world more prosperous or peaceful; peacebuilding needs to occur alongside development and statebuilding. The international community has now developed new poverty alleviation goals that include peacebuilding. See Georges Tshionza Mata’s article on A New Deal for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and also Neil Levine’s Between Warning and Action: Preventing Mass Violence and Atrocities.
- The legacies of Afghanistan and Iraq already reveal to the military that conflict prevention, security, and sustained peace require an increasing amount of strategy, personnel, peacebuilding tactics and involvement of local communities. See John Agoglia’s article on Talking to Each Other: Developing Effective Education and Training Programs for Conflict Prevention, Stabilization, and Resolution, and also Janine Davidson on Beyond the Last Resort: The US Military and Conflict Prevention.
- The “Arab Spring” created a tectonic shift in governance in the Middle East and North Africa, where peoples’ will for change and peace are being tested and torn as we see in Syria. See Rafif Jouejati’s article on Syria: We Will Not Become the Tyrant We Are Fighting, and also Nisan Ahmado on Civil Society in Syria: A Milestone for Sustainable Peace.
- Corporations increasingly see the value-add of operating in stable and peaceful regions and are thinking of ways to make positive contributions to the post-war context – thanks to the contributions of the Institute for Economics and Peace (See Steve Killelea’s article The Price of Violence and also Angela Rivas Gamboa on The Business of Preventing Armed Conflict), the World Bank, and others – and now view themselves as important actors in conflict settings and are seeking to act in ways that build peace and stability, rather than enabling cycles of violence.
- Global commitments to prevent conflict (see interview with Jan Eliasson, The World As It Is and The World As It Should Be) and genocide have led to unprecedented and historic movement by the international community to build peace. See article by Andrea Bartoli on The Atrocities Prevention Board: An Experiment in Genocide Prevention Systems.
People around the world rise up and make stronger calls for peace, as poignantly documented in Opting Out of War and A Whisper to a Roar. In response, the peacebuilding community is identifying the best ways to support those movements:
- The revolution in communications and social media is changing social and governmental dynamics on every level, in unpredictable ways – and helping to build peace. See John McDonald’s article on Building a Platform for Peace.
- Peacebuilders around the world are using new tactics to prevent violent conflict (See article by Victor Ochen on Uganda: Restoring Hope and Jon Kurtz on From Conflict to Coping: Promoting Drought Resilience through Peacebuilding) and governments are also pushing the boundaries of how to redress the impact of violent conflict. See Paula Gaviria Betancur on Colombia: The Victims’ Hour.
- Women are becoming a part of the peacebuilding fabric and infrastructure around the world as Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee discussed in her interview with me. We will address this in our March issue which looks at more gendered and inclusive approaches to peacebuilding.
- Cross-border criminal violence has overtaken politically-oriented civil violence as the major source of violent deaths – and new trends are emerging in the peacebuilding field. My colleagues and I on the Building Peace team and at the Alliance for Peacebuilding will explore these new issues in our September issue of Building Peace in 2014.
It may be that at the start of every year we claim to be on the cusp of great change. I believe that 2014 will bring much change. We need to remind ourselves that change can be small and barely noticeable or great and eye-catching, but for individuals and communities whose lives are improved by increased peace and security, even small change matters. 2013 saw a rising tide of momentum for peace – and 2014 will be about seizing the political and public will for peace. I am grateful to be working toward this with you – our dedicated readers and partners in peace. Here’s to a new year – and our renewed efforts.
Editor-in-Chief, Building Peace: A Forum for Peace and Security in the 21st Century