Thoughts on Early Warning & Prevention: Key Points for Improving Effectiveness

A multi-stakeholder planning process in Sudan prior to the referendum on independence for Southern Sudan
A multi-stakeholder planning process in Sudan prior to the referendum on independence for Southern Sudan

 

This note was developed as a quick ‘brief’ for an EU foreign ministry following their request for key issues in improving Early Warning and Prevention in 2011. It is shared here for broader distribution and dialogue in the field.

1.    The Logic and Argument for Early Warning & Peacebuilding/Prevention Still Need to be Made Concrete and Realistic

Far too many government officials, decision makers and staff of governmental and non-governmental organisations (as well as media, academics and analysts, etc) are still unclear about the practicality of early warning and prevention. Discussions are still too theoretical and abstract. The value, benefits and the practical viability of Early Warning & Peacebuilding/Prevention need to be made clearer, concise and credible.

2.     For Early Warning to Lead to Effective Prevention, there needs to be:

  1. Standing Institutional Capacities for Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation and Violence Prevention in place[1];
  2. Clear Policy & Political Commitment prioritizing (or at least accepting / supporting) peacebuilding as a value and an approach to dealing with conflicts (including commitment to nonviolence, support for human rights, and peaceful resolution of conflicts)[2];
  3. Operational Frameworks – standing frameworks and ‘fora’ which bring together they key institutions and actors which would be involved in peacebuilding / prevention;[3]
  4. Well trained and capable personnel (both specialized and general)[4]
  5. Up-Stream peacebuilding and prevention which addresses issues before they reach crisis;
  6. Systemic strengthening of peacebuilding capabilities in the society, government and key actors on a standing basis

3.     Early Warning Needs to be Integrated Into an Overall / Coherent Conflict Intelligence Capability

Early Warning should be part of a standing, well supported conflict analysis & intelligence capability. This should support on-going analysis and identification of conflicts to improve government and multi-stakeholder capabilities to address and engage with them. ‘Early’ warning should kick in:

  • To identify situations which could escalate
  • To prioritize situations which are escalating or which are in clear threat of escalating

Logic: There is a need to improve overall understanding of conflict and conflict issues. On its own, early warning is too often ignored or not addressed. If it’s part of an enhanced capability for intelligent conflict analysis and understanding as  whole, it can carry greater weight when providing actual ‘warning’. Linking with enhanced conflict intelligence can also contribute to enabling improved upstream approaches to address conflicts before they even become situations requiring ‘warning’.

4.     Training & Capacity Building Are Key

Those responsible for dealing with conflicts often don’t have the necessary skills to do so in a way that mitigates/prevents violence or escalation or deals with them effectively. Police on the front lines often respond with actions/behaviours that escalate violence. Local authorities often don’t know what to do when confronted with escalating situations. Politicians often face choices where there only known/trusted policy options may in fact make the situation worse. Training and Capacity Building for peacebuilding and working with conflict effectively need to be entered into the standing curricula of those sectors and institutional actors who will be responsible for addressing conflict issues, including:

–       Local Authorities

–       Civil Servants

–       Police & Security Personnel

–       Government & Members of Parliament

–       Media

Other institutions / actors which play major roles in addressing conflicts, such as religious, social and cultural leaders, youth, unions and businesses, etc., should also be encouraged and supported to weave peacebuilding skills into their training, charters, and curricula.

 

MAKING THE ARGUMENT ON INVESTING IN STANDING CAPACITIES FOR PREVENTION

Today many governments have barely begun to conceive of the idea of investing in standing peacebuilding and preventative capacities. This is largely because:

  • They previously haven’t considered it;
  • They are still largely unclear about ‘what are’ peacebuilding and preventative capacities
  • They haven’t been convinced (yet) of the logic, viability and practicality – for the most part because they haven’t been significantly exposed to it

Arguments for the importance of building standing capacity can be drawn from the health, military and other sectors. To support the argument for peacebuilding and prevention specific capacity, more work needs to be done to:

–       Make concretely and realistically visible for governments, policy makers (and citizens, media, academics, etc) what capabilities and mechanisms are involved in peacebuilding and prevention; and

–       What would be possible ‘blueprints’, examples of effective preventative capacities[5]

Points to Develop Further:

Infrastructure for Peace (I4P):

Key to prevention is the development of effective infrastructure for peace from the local levels through district, national, regional and international. This should be a key issue recognized and promoted through the conference. (some examples of I4P: Ministries and Departments for Peace, Early Warning, Civil Peace Services, etc. )

Early Warning – Integrated Planning & Engagement

Early Warning needs to be directly linked with integrated planning of engagement / response options linking all key actors involved in structural and operational prevention. Drawing from the Clingendael Institutes’ Conflict Policy Assessment Framework which recognized the need to directly link analysis and intelligence with operational planning. Therefore: in designing the early warning systems, attention must be paid to the institutions and agencies which will respond / address identified crisis and conflicts, to ensure that the information is analysed, gathered and processed in a way which enables them to act upon it.

Training & Capacity Building

Training and Capacity building is key. Far too few people actually have effective capabilities for prevention and peacebuilding. A major focus should be to integrate relevant, practical training into core curriculum of staff colleges, diplomatic academies and training institutions preparing people for key civil and government functions.

Training should also be inter-agency cutting across organisations and institutions so people learn the same language, concepts, and operational framework, to improve their ability to work together effectively in prevention of crisis.

Training should also include simulation of actual contingencies and scenarios which are likely to be faced in a situation / region. As with natural emergency crisis management, the more people are prepared and ‘role played’ in actual crisis, and given opportunities to improve inter-agency interaction, communication and coordination, the more effective they will be in responding to actual emergencies and crisis situations.

Prepare Institutions / Sectors responsible for dealing with conflict issues: One of the most important issues in training is to identify the spectrum of institutions and responsibilities which will be engaged in managing / preventing conflicts and crisis and ensuring they are appropriately trained. This needs to be done by weaving training into core national training capacities and institutions (as no external agency can ensure enough people are trained, that the training will fit local needs, and that the training will be continuous / sustainable.).

Policies

Governments should develop standing policies, handbooks and operational guidelines for peacebuilding and violence prevention, the same way they do for natural disaster management.

Operational Framework – practical bodies linking key agencies/organisations

Practical operational frameworks linking agencies and organisations which will engage in prevention should be developed and standing (in place) in advance of particular crisis.

Up-Stream Prevention: Peace and conflict sensitizing policies

Upstream prevention is the most important form of prevention, working to address conflicts before they develop. For this, conflict analysis and intelligence are necessary to identify conflicts at these early stages. A means should also be developed for evaluating / assessing the conflict sensitivity of government policies. Often governments may produce policies which escalate violence / conflict.

 ENDNOTES 


[1]  Examples here are medical and military capabilities which are enabled on a standing basis to respond to ‘crisis’ when they break out. There would be no ‘warning’ system in health or military without effective capacities and spectrum of measures to be able to address them. The metaphor of the ‘switch and lightbulb’ is appropriate. If early warning is the ‘switch’, the standing capacity of the wiring, the lightbulb, etc., needs to be already invented and in place and in good order(!). A switch with no lightbulb doesn’t exist, and a broken light bulb won’t go off no matter how often you flick the switch.

[2] Many countries actually proclaim their commitment to these values and principles and this can be built upon

[3] Peacebuilding and Prevention require coordination amongst a number of actors and agencies, including government (and local authorities); police and security services; media; NGOs; social, cultural, religious and traditional leaders; economic actors (businesses, unions, etc); educational actors (teachers, professors). Preparation of these actors (capabilities) for peacebuilding and prevention roles needs to be done in advance and on a standing basis, building a culture and practice of peace within these sectors and linking them together. Only if they have standing understanding and operational capabilities can they then best become active in times of need.

[4] The best early warning system without a skilled surgeon is not that effective. The people doing the peacebuilding/‘responding’ need to know how to do it.

[5] While these are still being developed there is more than enough experience in many areas of the world to develop a basic model that would outline some of the elements or architecture / infrastructure for peacebuilding and prevention, and to make visible the logic and how (practicality) of its pieces.

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Letter to the Movement / Citizens of Romania (#1): “Why an ‘open space’ web-site / platform would help the movement”

Letter to the Movement / Citizens of Romania (#1):

“Why an ‘open space’ web-site / platform would help the movement”

Call to Global Action for Romania and Rosia Montana: Sunday, September 15
Call to Global Action for Romania and Rosia Montana: Sunday, September 15

 

Dear Friends –

 

The movement is growing but we are in a moment where our ability to share information effectively, to help get our message out, to help support people in becoming involved, in seeing or imagining themselves how they can contribute, and enabling good, easy communication between activists and engaged citizens across Romania and internationally really matters.

 

AT THE MOMENT we have been using Facebook very effectively and we havewww.rosiamontana.org as a main reference site. Thousands of activists and concerned citizens supporting the movement have felt and are expressing the need for something more. This Letter #1 seeks to: 1. Identify the need; 2. Share some ideas that could help us address it; 3. Ask YOU specifically if you can help create this site / platform to support Salvati Rosia Montana.

 

1. THE NEED, THE OPPORTUNITY, WHAT WOULD HELP

 

Four key things have been identified for a site that would profoundly help the movement. It could be:

 

i. A place where great documents, materials, pamphlets, posters can all be collected and put together so that people can find them easily and not have to search across many pages on FB. This should include: in Romanian, Hungarian, English, French, German, Spanish to start, and possibly also other languages if people can translate (there are many people able and willing to support the movement with this, so if we have a site up this could be managed easily and much more rapidly and effectively then we’re having it done now).

 

ii. A place where people can easily and openly communicate and share together on different topics / lines that can help build the movement. Some people might want to discuss and share ideas on ‘strategy & actions’ (how to develop the movement further and in a healthy direction). Others might want to share and have a space / forum they can discuss and exchange together on:

 

– how to reach out to and involve more people in the movement

– how to positively and constructively engage media and journalists 1. in Romania and 2. Internationally

– using arts, music, theatre and dance in your community / city to inspire and engage people for ‘Romania with dignity, jobs and self-respect’ or ‘Salvati Rosia Montana’

– research & materials development (to help write/develop great materials and to collect superb publications, reports, analysis and materials out there)

– coordination groups/action groups/discussion groups for different towns/cities so people can discuss and share information to help them organise

– and any other possible topics that would be relevant for people to be discussing and sharing on

 

These should be ‘open forum’/ ‘open space’ with people able to share and post ideas and discuss them together, and where people could ‘click’ support for ideas to show those they feel really resonate or could help the movement. These ‘on-line’ forums should also be complemented with on-site forums in each town/city/area. This technology is pretty easy, and has been developed for many movements and citizens’ engagements.

 

iii. A place where we can very easily upload information on ‘activities’ and ‘events’ taking place so people can ‘at a glance’ find what’s happening in their city, town, community, and also be inspired by what’s being done elsewhere

 

iv. A place where we can load great photos, videos, do it yourself guides, etc.

 

PHILOSOPHY / CORE IDEA AND HOW IT COULD HELP THE MOVEMENT

 

A) What’s important to be clear is: the idea is not to create a site which would ‘tell’ people what to do (a top-down organisation). The exact opposite. The site would be a ‘PLATFORM’: an enabling ‘space’ where people can come together and discuss more easily, and have a ‘one-stop’ source of information and useful materials to help to make it easier (and more effective) for them to get involved – and to be a democratic space where we can share information, ideas, inspiration, and discuss together.

 

B) A key philosophy and pillar of strategic thinking behind this is that: we need to support our ability to reach out to our broader societies, many of whom do not use the internet. The point isn’t to ‘put all our focus on a site’, but to create an ‘enabling space’ where it makes it easier for us to i. find what we need instantly and ii. share our ideas, successes, challenges and find support with each other.

 

C) This is important because: there are literally thousands of people asking ‘how can I get involved’ and a space like this could bring great information, inspiration and examples which i. they could use or ii. could inspire them to develop their own ideas. Having good materials gathered together (and available in several languages), will also overcome the difficulty that hundreds of people are asking ‘where can I get good information on this’ because media or potential supporters want it (there are some excellent materials already gathered on rosiamontana.org and other sites but they are all ‘static’ and depending on someone uploading them. A platform/open space site could be built to enable people/activists to upload great information directly – decentralising, democratising, and making it much faster and more effective).

 

2. HOW COULD IT BE DONE?

 

It could either be done by developing / enhancing the existing www.rosiamontana.org or by creating a solidarity / complementary site, closely connected, but that would be designed as a forum / platform model (using wiki technologies or building from easy to use platforms such as ning sites such as the Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN) – which provides an easy to use platform/basis for people to add information, connect and link together, create different forums/discussion/work groups, post ideas, share videos, pictures, etc. and make it easy to find everything:http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/)

 

I know absolutely nothing about site development and how to do this, but I know that Romania is one of the leading IT countries in the world and I know that there are hundreds of people supporting Salvati Rosia Montana who could help the movement but setting something like this up overnight.

 

It would be helpful though to not create 20 different sites like this and to duplicate efforts. If there are people / designers / programmers who can create something like this, it would be good if they: 1. Communicate together; 2. Create an ‘action group’ that takes it upon themselves to create this

 

SO

 

3. CAN YOU DO THIS? Or DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO CAN?

The last two weeks have seen an amazing ‘rising up’. A breathing. A finding of dignity, courage, hope, passion, joy, dedication, determination and engagement. From the history of movements and ‘eruptions’ around the world though, we know this can far too easily collapse as well. RMGC/Gabriel Resources Ltd has extremely bright, capable, dedicated people committed to putting forward a project which will make their shareholders rich and be devastating for the country – and for those who need jobs in the region, as there are much better economic alternatives that can help create sustainable, real jobs and use the gold/wealth in Rosia Montana to support the people in the area and the country, not a misleading foreign corporation. To move forward..to build a real movement that will be dynamic, vibrant, and able to GROW; to build a movement that will be successful; to build a movement that will build upon all of the amazing energy, inspiration, creativity and passion that has come forth…we need to help put in place some of the ‘support’ foundations that can help with that. This is a ‘Do it Yourself’ (DIY) / ‘Do it Together’ (DIT) movement. There’s no person guiding, leading, or with the time, energy or capacity to do everything that’s needed to help it, to make it succeed. It’s a movement that needs: YOU.

 

If you have the skills, technology, understanding/knowledge to be able to set a site like this up and/or help create the site (or host it or whatever else is needed): please step up. If not: if you know a friend or friends who can, please speak to them. If you are an IT site designer/creator or a web-company that does this, you can also help out by quickly getting it set up – and then helping to improve it as needed.

 

In solidarity

 

#rosiamontana

#salvatirosiamontana

#romaniarising

WE ARE ALL ROSIA MONTANA!

The Save Rosia Montana movement is becoming an international movement of concerned citizens standing in solidarity with the people of Romania. It is most of all a movement of people who are acting upon integrity, upon information and understanding of what is happening, and upon a commitment to not stand back or be passive in the face of abuse, manipulation, and intimidation by incompetent political officials and an abusive corporation. Deep appreciation to actor Woody Harrelson and to the growing number of citizens – actors, artists, journalists, politicians, and concerned individuals around the world – who are standing in support with the people of Romania. This is a movement to protect the environment, a movement for dignity, and a movement that says ‘NO MORE’ to incompetence, disrespect, and abusive government which, together with RMGC, have been trying to rob, threaten and abuse the people of Romania.

Around the world an increasing number of actors, politicians, environmentalists and concerned citizens - people who believe in and want to help Romania - are standing up to support the Salvati Rosia Montana movement; to support Romania.
Around the world an increasing number of actors, politicians, environmentalists and concerned citizens – people who believe in and want to help Romania – are standing up to support the Salvati Rosia Montana movement; to support Romania.

I was asked now by a friend and wonderful democratic activist in his own country if I was responsible for Woody Harrelson’s support for Salvati Rosia Montana (I most certainly wasn’t, and in fact had nothing to do with it, but my deepest appreciation, admiration and respect to those who did and to Woody Harrelson himself). This is my reply. I think…it may be inspiring, and important,for all of us…for today: we are all Rosia Montana!

“No Wassim, I had nothing to do with it. That’s the true beauty of this movement. There’s no one person making things happen. There’s no hundred people making things happen. There are tens of thousands of us – learning, working, sharing, supporting, building together. People who had connections to him must have reached out and inspired him, or he saw what was happening and chose to get involved. We need support from the people of Tunisia as well my friend. This is a historic moment for Romania. The people of Romania are doing all we can…for a deep struggle..a struggle to overcome shame, a struggle to overcome disempowerment, a struggle to make our government…for the first time in decades..or perhaps the first time ever…treat people with respect and fulfil their responsibility as elected officials…servants..of the people of this country…or to go. Woody Harrelson’s action is fantastic…because it recognises and gives respect to what the people of Romania themselves are doing. Every one of us who’s ever dreamed of something better for Romania, every one of us who’s ever…felt sadness when we see the corruption, incompetence and abuse of some of our elected officials; everyone of us who’s ever been to our hospital system, especially in rural areas, or our school system in rural areas, and seen how we are failing those most in need; every one of us who’s ever seen the tragedy of so many of our pensioners not having enough to survive in a life of dignity, while politicians increase their salaries; everyone of us…in Romania…around the world..who has ever dared to dream..that a life of dignity, a government and country based-upon respect and good governance, is possible…WE ARE ALL ROSIA MONTANA! …and we are rising! On Sunday, September 15th there will be a day of actions, celebrations, unity and rising across Romania, and solidarity actions around the world. Join us.”

Gânduri despre o țară pe care o iubesc… dintr-un schimb de opinii recent

Rosia Montana “… gândurile acestea sunt foarte personale, dar simt nevoia să le împărtășesc. Am lucrat, trăit și călătorit în aproximativ 90 de țări – în țări în război, după război, în țări sub regim dictatorial și în multe multe altele. Trăiesc sau vin în România de ceva vreme și pur si simplu m-am îndrăgostit de țara aceasta. Dar am observat un lucru ce oamenii îl spun mereu aici – mai mult decât în orice altă țară din lume sau decât în orice țară prin care am fost – cât de dezamăgiți sunt de deciziile alora. În majoritatea cazurilor această dezamăgire devine un pretext/ un argument/ o justificare pentru 1. a nu se implica; 2. a se muta în străinătate; 3 a se convinge pe sine si pe alții că nu se poate face nimic.

 

Și când te uiți la ce se întâmplă în lume, în țări cu condinții mult mai dificile, țări în care oamenii chiar se implică și chiar luptă pentru schimbare, unul dintre lucrurile pe care le vezi de obicei este că oamenii nu se plâng, ci se gândesc la cum pot să ajute să schimbe ce nu le place.

 

Într-adevăr  sunt condiții foarte dificile și grele în România. M-am plimbat din Cluj până în București pe jos și mi-am petrecut mulți ani călătorind prin România visitând multe locuri, vorbind cu oamenii, ascultându-i și discutând cu mulți români ce vin din diferite clase sociale, regiuni și educație, poate mai mult decât alți români au avut ocazia să o facă. Situația în România este dificilă, dar nu se compară cu țările pe care le-am văzut – unde oamenii, chiar și în condiții mult mai epuizante și grele, chiar și fiind sub presiunea unor consecințe violente, chiar și în condiții mult mai puțin luxoase, cu mai puține oportunități și mai puțină siguranță, iau atitudine și se implică să schimbe ceva, să rezolve problemele din țara lor și să construiască împreună ceva mai bun.

 

Ghandi zicea: «adevărul, chiar dacă în minoritate, tot adevăr este». Chiar dacă doar tu, eu sau oricare dintre noi ar fi singurii care să ia atitudine pentru ce știm noi că este just, să ia atitudine prin demninate, să ia atitudine prin curaj, să ia atitudine prin speranță, inspirație și prin fiecare bătaie de inimă, fiecare răsuflare, fiecare picătură de putere și curaj și determinare… tot ar merita, cât timp ar exista.

 

Steve Biko, unul dintre mai deosebiți lideri de tineri, ființe umane și revoluționari din secolul trecut, care s-a luptat pentru a schimba lucrurile în bine în țara lui și pentru democrație sub guvernul apartheid al Africii de Sud – unde a fost torturat de poliție până a murit pentru că a insitgat oamenii din Africa de Sud să ia atitudine – a zis odată: «cele mai mari lanțuri ale persecuției încep în mintea celor persecutați». România a fost asuprită de-a lungul a 400 de ani de către “intelectualii” și presecutorii locali care au condus-o și le-au spus oamenilor că nu pot face nimic, că totul în țara aceasta este rău și că nu merită mai mult. Aceste lanțuri nu există în realitatea României, nu în condițiile obiective, nu în limitările în ceea ce putem să facem, ci în mințile noastre și în cultura noastră: aici ne descurajăm, aici găsim motive și justificări – de multe ori mult prea superficiale și incorecte – pentru a doveni că nu putem schimba nimic, aici ne adunăm ranchiuna, furia și reproșurile față de ceilalți, înviovățindu-ne unii pe alții, oprindu-ne din a respira, a trăi, a simți, a experimenta și a utiliza acea solidaritate… acel respect(!) pentru ceilalți, chiar dacă nu suntem tot timpul de acord, pentru a lucra împreună pentru o schimbare reală.

 

Dar unul dintre lucrurile care mă inspiră… unul din lucrurile… care îmi dă speranță… care îmi face inima să bată mai tare… care mă încurajează… este faptul că în ultimii ani din ce în ce mai mult nu mai aud oameni spunându-mi ce nu se poate face, nu mai aud oameni prin cafenele plângându-se cat de greu este în România (și de multe ori chiar este foarte greu). Acum văd oameni care se implică. Oameni vorbind respectuos unii cu alții, cu ceilalți. Oameni… descoperind… speranța. Descoperindu-și puterea. Oameni… rupând lanțurile asupririi, fricii, dezamăgirii, furiei, reproșurilor și scuzelor din toate minciunile în care ne îngropăm pe noi înșine și unii pe alții.

 

Acesta a fost un răspuns foarte lung la ce ai scris tu și defapt dacă mă gândesc nu a fost chiar un răspuns pentru tine, dar o împărtășire a unor sentimente. Îl scriu din iubire pentru România, pentru casa mea, pentru toți oamenii minunați și frumoși pe care i-am cunoscut aici. Și deasemenea, scriu cu respect. Sper că nu am jignit pe nimeni. Este un sentiment… o perspectivă… o recunoștință din suflet pentru un popor ce ia atitudine.”

 

 

În cea de-a doua parte a conversației, ca răspuns la întrebarea dacă știu despre situația de la Roșia Montană și despre „faptul” că oamenii nu se implică, reflecția mea umilă a fost:

 

…. De fapt ştiu. Am călătorit acolo încă din prima zi a campaniei Salvati Rosia Montană .. și am fost chiar și în încăperea în care s-a decis crearea campaniei. Spre rușinea mea … și în principal pentru că am călătorit în ultimii 10 ani peste tot în lume cu programele noastre de consolidare a păcii … a trecut mult, prea mult timp de când am fost ultima oară acolo, cu toate acestea mi-ar plăcea să merg acolo din nou. Având în vedere realitatea și condițiile la faţa locului:

 

1. Eu nu m-aş aștepta ca oamenii să procedeze altfel decât până acum , și

2. Îi respect pe cei care s-au alăturat în efortul de a salva Rosia Montană.

 

Eu personal cred că există o responsabilitate pentru noi toți, fiecare dintre noi, pentru fiecare cetățean din România, de a încerca să înțeleagă de ce oamenii nu au acţionat, de ce noi înșine nu am acţionat. Cred ca oamenii … pe bună dreptate.. sunt obosiţi de “promisiuni”. Cred că oamenii încearcă să supraviețuiască de la o zi la alta și să-şi întreţină propria familie. Cred că mulți oameni sunt epuizaţi, dezamăgiţi şi lipsiți de putere. Cred că în această țară nu a fost niciodată o reflecție profundă, o discuție profundă și o ascultare reciprocă… despre ceea ce se întâmplă și despre tipul de țară în care vrem să trăim. Cred că rar, foarte rar, ne-am permis nouă înşine să ascultăm într-adevăr ce simţim, ca să nu mai vorbim despre ascultarea reciprocă. Cred că…dacă dorim ca oamenii să ia atitudine, oricine, inclusiv noi înșine, eu … trebuie în primul rând să-i tratăm cu respect. Cred că … dacă vrem ca oamenii să ia atitudine … trebuie ca mai întâi noi să luam atitudine. Nu intenţionez niciun fel de lipsă de consideraţie pentru sentimentele voastre. Autentica şi adevărata voastră dezamăgire. Frustrare. Poate chiar tristețe. Le-am înțeles. Profund. Și vreau să văd.. să găsesc calea… prin care să putem…. creşte … din acest punct … mai departe… la ceva … şi mai puternic. Vă multumesc.

 

Și unul din citatele mele preferatele:

 

“Eu nu sunt un optimist, nici un pesimist, dar am speranţă – născută din alegerile pe care le fac și acțiunile pe care le înteprind”.

 

Depinde de fiecare dintre noi, să nu ne uităm la ceilalţi așteptând ca aceştia să se implice, ci de a face propriile noastre alegeri, de a întreprinde propriile noastre acțiuni … și să luăm atitudine.

***

 

Când țara ta are nevoie de tine; când în acel moment ia naștere și se creează istoria, când ai ocazia să iei atitudine și chiar să te implici… să faci ceva… pentru tot ceea ce iubești, pentru tot ceea ce ai spus că-ți dorești… ce faci? Îți folosești la maxim abilitățile, talentul, posibilitățile artistice de exprimare ale propriei tale minți, propriei tale minți și tot ceea ce ai în interior? Îți folosești abilitățile, imaginația, capabilitatea de a face o diferență?… sau… comentezi din culise, plângându-te că „Sunt dezamăgită de faptul că nu ies mai mulți oameni în stradă”, în timp ce nici măcar tu însuți nu ieși afară în stradă/faci asta; dezamăgit de acțiunile și deciziile altora, în timp ce tu însuți nu ai luat atitudine și nici frâiele in mână. Acesta, acum, acest moment care se întâmplă pretutindeni în jurul tău: acesta este momentul. În care alegi … să te ridici… să te implici… să îți acorzi un moment unic, eliberator, plin de bucurie și însuflețitor… să te implici cu întreaga ta ființă, cu tot ceea ce ai, cu toată mintea ta, cu toată inima, bucuria, dorința, pasiunea, inteligența, creativitatea și dedicarea… este unul din cele mai prețioase daruri pe care niciodată nu ți le vei acorda ție însuți, copiilor pe care poate-i ai sau pe care îi vei avea, într-o bună zi. Cea mai frumoasă mulțumire adresată părinților tăi. Cel mai mare „DA” pe care-l poți cânta, dansa, striga din toți rărunchii, mintea și inima ta bătândă. În România… ne-am săturat să blestemăm și să ne plângem de „negru ” este totul. Veniți. Veniți să ne ajutați să aprindem suficiente lumânări pentru a lumina inimile și mințile fiecărei persoane din această țară. FII – tu, tu însuți, acum – FII schimbarea pe care vrei să o vezi în lume, în România, în viața TA. Iar atunci când… peste ani și ani… când copiii, prietenii și colegii tăi… când  TU te vei întreba, într-o bună zi: „Unde am fost atunci?”, vei putea spune cu mândrie, din tot sufletul: „Am fost acolo. Am făcut o diferență.”

 

Te-ai săturat să blestemi despre cât de „negru” este totul?

Vino să aprinzi o lumină și fii schimbarea pe care vrei să o vezi în lume.

 

Reflection on a country I love…

Reflection on a country I love..from a recent exchange…

“… it’s very personal, but I’d like to share a reflection. I’ve worked, lived and travelled in about 90 countries world-wide – in countries in the middle of war or after wars, in countries under military dictatorship, and many, many, many more. I’ve been living in or coming to Romania for quite some years now, and have fallen deeply in love with this country. One thing I notice though, is that I hear people here say — more than I have ever heard anywhere else in the world, or in every other country I’ve ever been in put together — what they are ‘disappointed’ in in the choices of others. In most cases, this becomes a reason / justification / legitimisation / argument for 1. why they don’t get involved; 2. why they’ve moved abroad; 3. why they convince themselves and work to convince others that nothing can be done. And when you look at what’s happening in the world, countries in UNBELIEVABLY MORE DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES, countries where people DO ENGAGE and DO WORK for change, one of the things you often see is that, rather than people saying what they’re ‘disappointed in’ in others, they look at ‘what can I do to address this situation that I think needs to be changed.’ There are very, very difficult and hard situations in Romania. I’ve walked across this country by foot from Cluj to Bucharest and spent years travelling across it, and seen perhaps more of Romania, and talked, listened and spoken with more Romanians of more classes, regions, and diverse backgrounds, than many in Romania have the chance to. There are difficult situations, but nothing like what I’ve seen in so many countries and regions of the world – where people, even in the face of incredible challenge and adversity, even in the face of overwhelmingly greater threat and overwhelmingly less luxury, opportunity and safety, stand up and get involved to work for change, address the problems facing their country, and BUILD together something better. Gandhi once said: “truth, even if a minority of one, is still the truth.” Even if you, I or any of us were the only ones to stand up for what we know is right, to stand up with dignity, to stand up with courage, to stand up with hope, inspiration and every beat of our heart, every breath in our body, every ounce of our will power and courage and determination…it’s still worth while standing. Steve Biko, one of the greatest student leaders, human beings, and revolutionaries of the last century who worked to make things better in his country and struggled for democracy under the apartheid government of South Africa – and was tortured to death by the police for inspiring the people of South Africa to rise – once said “the greatest chains of oppression begin in the minds of the oppressed.” Romania has been brutalised through more than 400 years by “intellectuals” and DOMESTIC oppressors who have ruled over it, told people there’s nothing they can do, told people that everything is bad and they don’t deserve better. It’s greatest chains exist not in the reality of the actual situation in the country, not in objective conditions, not in limitations upon what we can do, but inside our minds and in our culture: where we disempower ourselves, where we find justifications and reasons – often all too shallow and incorrect – for why change can’t happen; where we develop resentment, anger and blame towards others, all of us blaming each other for the same thing, and preventing us from breathing, living, feeling, experiencing and practicing the very solidarity…the very respect(!) of each other, even when we disagree, that we need to work for real change. …. But one of the things that inspires me… One of the things…that gives me hope…that makes my heart beat faster..that encourages me…is that more and more over the last two years, I don’t hear people telling me about what others have done that disappoints them. I don’t hear people telling me what can’t be done or sitting in cafes and whining and complaining about how hard things are (and they often are very hard). I hear..people getting involved. People speaking respectfully with each other, to each other. People…discovering…hope. Discovering their power. People…breaking the chains of oppression, of fear, of disappointment, anger, blame and excuses within..of all the lies we cover ourselves and each other in…and rising. This was a very long response to what you wrote, and I think not even really a response to ‘you’, but a sharing…of a feeling. I write it..with love…for Romania, for my home, for all the wonderful and beautiful people I’ve met here. And with respect. I hope I haven’t caused any hurt or offence at all. It’s…a feeling..a perspective…and a deep appreciation, for a people…rising.”

5 Important Actions for Save Rosia Montana

Save Rosia Montana Youngest Demonstrator
Save Rosia Montana Youngest Demonstrator

 

Can you help make these happen?

 

The movement’s growing and more and more people are getting involved. Here are 5 things you might be able do to help make the movement grow further.

 

1. A web-page to show all events being organised in Romania and Internationally

 

People are now organising events all across the country and around the world for a Global Day of Action and Celebration for Romania and Rosia Montana on Sunday, September 8th. To help people see how they can take part or to share information on events they’re organising, can a web-page be put up on the Save Rosia Montana web-site (www.rosiamontana.org) or elsewhere that allows people to easily see and follow what’s happening in their cities, to add information on events, and to connect / link with events pages on Facebook?

 

2. A web-page to gather all good quality articles in national and international media and links to radio and tv programmes / video postings

 

There’s a lot of great information and coverage in the news of the demonstrations and what’s happening across Romania – and its support internationally. While people are posting this on the internet many people (including supporters around the world) are asking for an ‘easy to find’ page in English (and one in Romanian) where they can see all the different news postings gathered). This could also be put up on www.rosiamontana or anywhere it’s easily accessible.

 

3. Make visible clear scientific, environmental, social, cultural and political arguments for why we oppose this project and want something better for the country

 

Many people across the country support the project or are undecided – and for good reasons! We can’t just condemn anyone who has a different point of view or doesn’t agree with us, and we don’t need to. What’s great about this movement is that we’re being the change we want to see for the country. If we want government and people to listen to each other and have better governance and respect for dignity and for each other, let’s ourselves be a model of that in the way we’re organising and working for change in the country. Many people support the project for the obvious reality that we have a major problem in Rosia Montana and rural areas across the country of poverty, lack of good jobs, and lack of investment in infrastructure. They think the project may help with that. I don’t agree that the project will do this, but I do agree on the need for improving jobs, quality of living, infrastructure and opportunities – in rural areas and across Romania. Since I’m writing this on a computer and use a mobile phone and keys to my house, you can also imagine that I – at least in some way – support mining. What I don’t support though is the impressive bad practice of this company, or the often dishonest and corrupt ways the project has been developed over the past ten+ years, and I don’t agree with the unacceptable levels of complicity and bad governance we’ve seen from our political class in relation to the project. We need and can have: good governance; economic development done in ways that support and sustain environmental sustainability; and use of our national resources to create jobs, opportunities, investment and infrastructure for Romania – not just for the profit of a few stakeholders abroad. We can also have discussions, even if we radically and passionately disagree with each other, in ways that are respectful, and help build a real culture of civic dignity, democracy and mutual respect and solidarity in this country. If we have good scientific, environmental, social, cultural, political and other analysis and arguments for why this project should be opposed (and I’ve seen some wonderful ones) can we collect them together in an easy to use ‘guide’ to Rosia Montana, that can be shared widely in Romanian, Hungarian, English and other languages, that can be used for advocacy, lobbying and informing media and decision makers, and that can also be discussed with people who are undecided or even supporting the project. And: let’s make sure it has quick, one page ‘fact sheets’ and is done in an attractive way, so that people see clear arguments and facts. Let’s also make sure it’s rigorously accurate and correct!

 

4. Take the time to really talk to people and recruit people for September 8

The energy and excitement in the movement are growing all across Romania and around the world. More and more people are becoming involved. It’s important that we take the time to really talk with people – with friends, with colleagues, neighbours, people who oppose the project and people who support the project – and with respect, imagination, creativity and inspiration, invite and encourage them to take part. Especially: recruit and inspire people to join the Global Day of Action and Solidarity for Rosia Montana on September 8th. Let’s get 100.000 plus people in the streets all across Romania! Does it seem ambitious? Impossible? It’s not! If we all organise, if we speak with friends, if we turn this into an amazing, democratic movement and celebration – for dignity, for good governance, for civic participation, and for the environment – we can make it happen.

 

5. To make that happen, we need to go into the streets…and beyond!

Getting out into the streets is a vital part of this movement. It’s also an amazing and exciting part! Many people have been saying that they’re taking part in ‘demonstrations’ for the first time – and they’re loving it! The demonstrations have been places of unity, creativity, celebration and inspiration. People feel that they’re finally standing up for something that matters to them – and seeing thousands more doing the same! There have been discussions, songs, and amazing solidarity. This is only going to grow – all across the country. To make it grow though, we need to also be creative in other actions we can add to these. One of our main goals should be to invite all the people of Romania to take part – and to do that in a way that reaches out to them, respects them, and makes them feel excited and positive about participation. This could include:

 

Organising concerts – in the streets, in cafes, pubs, with friends – between now and Sunday and using music and song to inspire and encourage people;

 

Go to highschools and engage students! “Schools back” and elementary and highschool students are going back to school. Let’s energise every school in this country to be a ‘site’ of mobilisation, dialogue, inspiration and engagement, and get students discussing what’s happening – and being a driving force of the energy and preparations for Sunday! Children and youth are part of the future of Romania! Let’s really reach out and get them involved.

 

Organise workshops, ‘discussion cafes’, panels, and ‘civic forums’ to reach out to people more broadly and create space for discussion, questions, sharing different opinions. At its heart, a lot of what’s happening now is people across the country standing up for and demanding better governance – and doing that through active citizenship and participation. So let’s go one step further. Let’s put into practice good governance and democracy by creating citizens forums and democratic spaces for dialogue and discussion across the country, and let’s turn these spaces into experiences of empowerment and building respect, dignity and solidarity.

 

Recognise how important you are! Right now you might be taking part in actions and events across the country, thinking about taking part, or annoyed and upset about what you’re seeing on the streets! We can have a range of different thoughts and opinions about what’s happening. Whatever you’re thinking though: know that you’re important and your thoughts and actions are important. Whatever your opinion, we have a responsibility (and a right) to inform ourselves about what’s happening – and we can also help other people to be informed as well. Getting involved or not getting involved is also ‘voting’ for what you want in Romania. And, if you are getting involved: can you talk with your parents, your family, your children, your friends, colleagues, neighbours and others to encourage them to get involved as well? Imagine if, instead of just going to the demonstrations, we all think of 5, 6, 10 other people we want to get to come along as well. We’ll reach 100.000 plus people in no time, and you’ll have helped make it happen!

 

And there’s a lot more! You can use poetry, letters to the editor, standing in your city, town or village with a sign informing people about September 8th, going into cafés and getting into discussions there, reaching out to unions and syndicates, pensioners associations, and much, much more! Key: Facebook helps, but if we want to really involve people, we need to talk face to face.

 

Most important of all, remember that this is a celebration. This is about people participating, celebrating what we want to see in the country, standing up for the environment, living solidarity, and refusing to be complacent, cynical or disempowered any longer. These are 5 quick ideas. Maybe you have a dozen more. Be creative. Be inspired, and most of all: believe in yourself and that yes, now, in this moment, you can make a difference.

 

Two important things to remember:

 

  1. The RMGC / Gabriel Resources project will not succeed, because people will not let it succeed.

 

  1. Your action, your choice, your involvement matters

 

And a few quotes to inspire you:

 

“I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but I have hope – born of the choices I make and the actions I take.” KFBJ

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

“Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar.” “Traveller there is no road. The road is made as one walks” Antonio Machado

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

Roşia Montană: Romania Rising

ImageAn Interview by Diana Campean for Revista Bulevard (http://revistabulevard.ro) with Kai Brand-Jacobsen, Canadian-Norwegian-British by background, and now ‘adopted’ by Romania.

[This interview is currently being translated into Romanian and will be published shortly on http://revistabulevard.ro]

Mr. Brand-Jacobsen works as the Director of the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) of PATRIR – the Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (www.patrir.ro). He has experience working in mediation and peace processes, violence and war prevention, and post-war recovery and reconciliation, as well as training, strategy and organization of civic engagement and nonviolent actions around the world. He is an advisor to governments, UN agencies and missions, and civil society organizations, and is passionate about Romania – a country he calls home.

 

I see that you are very engaged now on the issue of Roşia Montană. Tell me, what’s your opinion about what’s happening right now with Roşia Montană?

 

I think at this point it’s essentially about two issues: a community’s, and a people’s demand for dignity, and to be treated with respect; and a country and people around the world standing up for the environment. To tell you the truth – what’s happening now in Roşia Montană and across Romania is beautiful. In Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara, Iasi, Baia Mara and cities, towns and villages across the country, citizens of Romania are getting involved and standing up for their country, for themselves, and for each other. People are taking part in demonstrations, celebrations, concerts, workshops, writing articles, discussing and sharing together. There’s a new energy, a new spirit to the engagement. What you feel everywhere is a sense of commitment, a sense of solidarity, and most of all a sense of hope and confidence. And they’re not alone. There have also been solidarity demonstrations and events all across Europe and around the world, and many politicians across the EU are stating their concerns and opposition to the RMGC project.

What’s happening now in Roşia Montană, in Romania, is at it’s heart about the fundamental desire of people in Romania to have good governance, to hold politicians accountable, and to do away with decades of abuse, corruption, bad governance and broken promises. It’s also a sign of change. People aren’t simply complaining anymore. They’ve gone beyond pessimism and cynicism, and are instead asking and discovering themselves what they can do and how they can get involved.

It’s about all Romanians – every grandparent, every entrepreneur, artist, student, worker, teacher, doctor, journalist and even every politician…about every citizen in this country, asking ourselves: what type of country do we want to live in? How do we want to be treated and to treat each other? What do we want for the future of our country?

Good governance, environmental protection, and economic development don’t just happen, especially in a context of often substantial corruption and bad or misgovernment. But they can happen, from people becoming involved, standing up for what’s important, and being part of shaping what they want for the future of their country. That’s what’s happening now in Roşia Montană and across Romania.

 

What’s your position about this project, about people vs. politicians’ reactions?

 

I’m skeptical of the project. I’m not against mining. Anyone who uses computers, phones or other products would be hypocritical if they were to say they’re against all mining. I do, however, believe 1. That we need to dramatically improve the environmental standards of how mining is done; and 2. That when mining is implemented, the resources and profit should principally benefit the population of the area and the country. In the case of this project, I believe the track record of RMGC and Gabriel Resources Ltd. in Romania over the past 10+ years has involved too much dishonesty, lying to the Romanian population, manipulation and disinformation, and fuelling bad governance and corruption. I can understand and have profound sympathy for the many people and families in Roşia Montană who want the project. And this is the reality. Many families there do want the project. They want it because it promises them jobs, opportunities, and a better standard of life. I think this is a challenge we need to honestly engage and address. It’s also a challenge that affects much of Romania, particularly the countryside, and not just Roşia Montană. There is a profound need to develop a real, robust plan for improving standards of living, infrastructure, and social, cultural and economic, employment opportunities across Romania’s rural areas. The RMGC project though is not the answer. If a country with a responsible record, from Romania or internationally, and practicing good practice, sustainable mining techniques wants to engage in cooperation with the local population and national government, and with integrity and the highest standards, this should be supported. This company has not done that.

I don’t think though that it should be about ‘people’ vs. ‘politicians’. Politicians are elected by people. They are, or should be, the servants of the country, doing a service that should be honoured and respected. Today unfortunately that’s not always the case, though there are many wonderful politicians and public servants across the country that are doing their best. I think sometimes there are differences because people have different, legitimate points of view. It’s hard to see how to best address the challenges of economic development, overcoming poverty, creating jobs, and protecting the environment. When there are legitimate differences based on legitimate points of view, we need dialogue, mutual respect, and collaborative leadership. A reality today though is that too much of our political class is, effectively, corrupt, dishonest, abusive and incompetent, and does not act in the best interests of their constituents and the country.

Politics though isn’t just about voting. It’s about the life of the community, the country, what type of society we want, and the decisions and actions we take to create it. Today, real politics in Romania is happening in people’s lives, and in the streets and piatas of the country where these demonstrations are taking place.

 

You followed the demonstrations. What do you think about Romanians’ protests? Are they doing it right?

What I saw on Sunday and in the lead up to the demonstration was powerfully inspiring. I think Romanians across the country and internationally, if they saw the demonstrations, spoke with those involved, take the time to know why people are coming out onto the streets – they would be proud. What we’re seeing now is a creative use of social media to mobilize and engage people. People across the country discussing and engaging their friends and colleagues. Coordinated efforts to reach out to and engage the media to provide better and proper, honest coverage and reporting of what’s taking place. In some areas we’re seeing musicians getting involved. On Sunday in Cluj you could see entire families, grandparents, people walking their dogs, pregnant mothers and parents with their babies. This is definitely a very good, and very beautiful way of protesting, because it’s a way that’s fundamentally built on creating a respectful, inclusive space where all the citizens of this country can take part. Together with this, workshops, discussions and events are being organized in many towns and cities across the country.

The dedication, commitment, courage and integrity of those who’ve been involved in the Save Roşia Montană campaign in Romania for more than 10 years now has been an inspiration to many across the country. As more and more people become involved in the coming days, I think it’s important to take the time for dialogues – to listen to people’s questions, concerns and their opinions, and talk to each other to engage more and more people. If we’re saying we want a better Romania, a Romania with good governance, with respect and dignity – we need to also manifest that in the way we’re engaging. For example, I think it would be wonderful to reach out to teachers and professors and encourage them to hold ‘dialogues’ and discussions in their classes, so that students and the new generations of Romanians are deeply thinking about and engaging on these issues. It would also be good for national media to hold public dialogues – respectfully – with those supporting and those opposing the project, and giving space for informed discussion so that people in the country can form their opinions.

I would also strongly encourage those engaged in the movement or those concerned with what’s happening in Roşia Montană to:

be creative. What’s happening now in Romania is extraordinary and beautiful. This is a wonderfully creative country. Let’s use the arts, music, theatre, and creative forms of expression to reach out to and inspire people.

use our government. Whatever we think about the government and political system in Romania, it should – it needs – to be there to serve us. Romanians all across the country should be speaking to their local city halls, elected authorities and prefectura to get them to oppose the project, and should be writing to their representatives in Bucharest and to their MEPs to state their opposition

be visible. The demonstrations are important moments to come together and show an incredible democratic unity and engagement. It would also be great to stores to put up signs in support of Roşia Montană, to put posters and pictures in our windows, on our cars. Let’s encourage engagement and celebration of this incredible movement across the country.

In other demonstrations and democratic movements around the world we’ve also seen the importance of organizing workshops and training programmes which create a space to bring people together, create links, inspiration, and improve peoples skills for democratic organization and participation. Modeling what people want to see (as I wrote above) is also very important. If we’re saying we want to be treated with respect, we should treat others with respect, even if we don’t agree with their policies or approaches.

I can only respect and appreciate the engagement and dedication that we’re seeing across the country – and do all I can to engage and support it, as someone who considers Romania home, and believes in the beauty and potential of this country.

I know that you’ve been involved in what’s happening with citizens’ risings in other countries like Turkey and Brazil. Can you compare this with what these things that are happening right now means for Romania?

I’m a firm believe in the importance of solidarity and learning from people’s movements and struggles around the world. What we’ve seen in Turkey and Brazil are expressions of the deep challenges and contradictions those countries are facing and going through right now – just as Roşia Montană is an expression of these in Romania. Some of the things we can learn from these movements – from both their success and challenges – include:

–       generate hope and inspiration, and help people identify with what’s happening. People become involved when they feel there’s something worth becoming involved for.

–       Unite people – don’t demonize. One of the major challenges in Turkey and Egypt today is the deep polarization and seeing anyone who doesn’t agree with you as an ‘enemy’ or ‘terrorist’. This often happens in Romania and around the issue of Roşia Montană as well, with insulting, demonizing or belittling those who don’t have the same opinion. I think Roşia Montană and Romania deserve and need better. We can stand up for what we believe in while treating every human being with dignity and respect.

–       Fundamentally – it’s about coming up with real solutions to real challenges. Demonstrations can be sustained from a while. From days to weeks to even years. At the end of the day though – there are also significant, real challenges and contradictions facing the country. We need to find the way to mobilize the intelligence, capacity, and engagement of the people of Romania to address these. The politicians have shown for the last 20+ years that they can’t. At least not on their own. It’s also not only their job. It’s a job for all of us.

Like Brazil, Turkey and many other countries, what’s happening now in Romania is fundamentally about governance and how we, as a society, as human beings, want to live – to be treated and to treat each other. It also links with the global movements we’ve seen around Occupy over the past two years. This is an incredible moment in the world. In the face of economic crisis, of increasing gaps between the rich and poor, of escalation of wars and violence by a few countries, people – every day people – are saying they want something better. They’re rejecting pessimism and the message that there’s nothing they can do except surrender to the interests of corporations and abusive elites, and celebrating our amazing capacity as a species to create, to innovate, to solve problems. We can definitely compare – even if the situations in each country are quite distinct – and, more than that, we can learn from and support each other.

What do you think Romanian people who are against RMGC project should do?

 

Stand up. Get involved. Raise your voices. Have the courage to take part. Join the demonstrations. And more than that – bring your neighbours, your friends, your colleagues. Especially that section of society that reads Boulevard, that travels to Greece and across Europe and internationally for holidays, that has relatively good jobs or believes in art, creativity, good cooking, design…come out and join the rest of your country! Harbouring hopes for a better future in our hearts and reading about it in magazines is wonderful. This is a time when you can do more and you should expect more from yourself. Harvey Milk, an amazing human being, campaigner and politician from the United States used to start every speech saying, “I’m here to recruit you”. What’s happening now, this moment, is here to ‘recruit’ every Romanian, everyone who lives in this country, to stand up, get involved, and allow yourself…for one moment, for a life time…to hope, and to be part of making something better.

 

In our first interview, you told me that you would like to see in Romania a movement of masses, with the entire population standing up and becoming involved for what they love. I would like to think that this is happening now. Not with all the people, but thousands. What do you think?

I agree. In part that’s exactly what’s happening now. This movement, this becoming involved, won’t happen just in one moment or one place or one issue. It will happen in thousands and thousands of moments across the country. It’s taking place in schools when teachers are doing their best to educate and inspire. It’s taking place every time a journalist sits down to really write about what’s happening in the country, and to inform and encourage people to take part. It happens when people are coming together, discussing, standing up for their rights, creating, making something better. At the heart of the movement around Roşia Montană isn’t just saying ‘no’ to what people oppose and reject – bad governance, corruption, an abusive company. No. At the heart of what’s happening today around Roşia Montană, across Romania, is an extraordinary, wonderful, inspiring yes! To hope. To self-confidence. To solidarity. To mutual respect. To knowing that it is possible to be the change, and to make what you really love and believe in come true. This is what’s happening today in Romania.

Thank you!

Note: Together with many thousands of others across the country Kai Brand-Jacobsen is involved in promoting and encouraging people to take part in a day of action and celebration on Sunday, September 8th. Events will be taking place all across Romania and around the world (https://www.facebook.com/events/175025629350851/?notif_t=plan_user_joined). The aim is to bring more than 100.000 people out into the streets of Romania in a celebration of the country and in support of Roşia Montană. If you’re in a town, city or village where an event is happening come take part. If you don’t know of anything planned in your area, perhaps you can help to organize something.

Românii iau atitudine – pentru demnitate, respect și un viitor mai bun pentru țara lor

[Every now and then I’ll have posts in Romanian]All generations coming out to support good governance in Romania and stop the RMGC project

            În jurul lumii, cetățenii încep să ia din ce în ce mai multă atitudine împotriva autoritarismului, împotriva abuzului de putere larg-răspândit la nivelul oficialilor aleși, alături de proasta guvernare și încep să ceară politici raționale de care să beneficieze nu doar o mână de oameni sau câteva corporații străine. Strâns legate de acestea sunt cererile de a pune capăt corupției și necesitatea de a trata cetățenii cu respect. România este cel mai nou front în această mișcare globală pentru o bună guvernare, democrație și demnitate, iar poporul român este cel care – prin creativitate, solidaritate și devotament – ia atitudine, trăgând la răspundere guvernul său și cerând un viitor mai bun pentru țara sa.

            România este o țară cu o cultură extraordinară, frumuseți naturale incredibile și o istorie bogată, deși deseori tragică. Mulți oameni care au căutat dincolo de titlurile știrilor din străinătate și au avut oportunitatea de a călători în această țară s-au îndrăgostit foarte repede de ea. Din nefericire, căldura, cultura, ospitalitatea și energia uimitoare, inovația și creativitatea acestei țări sunt mult prea rar întâlnite în străinătate.

            Acasă, de aproape 20 de ani, cetățenii români au trecut prin diverse perioade de proastă guvernare și corupție larg-răspândită. Chiar și după aderarea la Uniunea Europeană, în multe părți ale țării, serviciile de bază și infrastructura lipsesc, în timp ce pentru copiii din zonele rurale și zonele urbane sărace, sistemul educațional se prăbușește la nivel elementar și secundar. Milioane de români au plecat în străinătate pentru a munci.

Totuși, aceasta este doar o parte din imaginea de ansamblu. Cetățenii, oamenii din fiecare pătură a societății, se luptă cu ceea ce se întâmplă în țara lor, în societatea lor și în viețile lor, încercând să găsească un sens. Deși nu a existat niciodată un dialog răspândit, deschis și inclusiv la nivelul țării – despre ceea ce s-a întâmplat în România, despre ceea se întâmplă acum și despre ce fel de societate, ce fel de țară vor oamenii în viitor – mii de discuții încep să apară de-a lungul țării. Discuții – și măsuri.

Încet – și ca rezultat al implicării multora, de la artiști, la organizații ale societății civile, de la antreprenori, la uniuni, jurnaliști și alții – românii încep să-și dea seama că pot construi un viitor mai bun. Și că totul depinde de ei înșiși pentru a face aceasta.

Oricine a petrecut timp în România a dat peste un popor primitor și minunat. Un popor inteligent, integru și activ, o țară în care expresia artistică și culturală se dezvoltă și înfloresc, în care organizațiile societății civile – câteodată în contexte dificile – sunt active și se implică. Deși guvernarea este deseori, per ansamblu, slabă sau groaznică, sunt mulți – de la autoritățile locale, la ministerele naționale – care fac tot ceea ce pot pentru a aborda provocările specifice și a îndrepta lucrurile în țară. Per ansamblu, este o țară care în mod sigur se dezvoltă – prin energia, creativitatea, inovarea, speranța și munca din greu a poporului său. Totuși, golul cel mai bătător la ochi este absența continuă a integrității și a bunei guvernări transparente din partea liderilor politici ai țării.

Este de datoria noastră… părinți, artiști, antreprenori, studenți, muncitori, lideri politici, cetățeni ai țării.

Asta e ceea ce face atât de importante recentele demonstrații care au loc de-a lungul țării. Nucleul campaniei „Salvați Roșia Montană” („Save Roșia Montană”) este derulat de mai bine de un deceniu. Obiectivul său principal este protejarea frumuseții istorice și naturale ale Roșiei Montane, pe care Roșia Montană Gold Corporation (RMGC), deținută majoritar de compania  canadiană Gabriel Resources Ltd, caută să distrugă, prin exploatarea de mine deschise la scară largă (inclusiv folosirea cianurii pentru extragerea aurului). Proiectul RMGC are un istoric uimitor de corupție, mituire a jurnaliștilor pentru promovare pozitivă, „influențarea” liderilor politici, precum și neputința de a respecta standardele legale de mediu naționale și internaționale. În vreme ce multe dintre aceste greșeli din trecut au fost oarecum abordate, afișarea uluitoare a aroganței, a lipsei de respect pentru oamenii țării, abuzul exagerat și corupția, au făcut ca RMGC și Gabriel Resources Ltd să nu mai fie bine-veniți în țară.

Pentru acest motiv, precum și sătui și dezgustați de afișările continue de incompetență, aroganță și lipsa unei bune guvernări de bază din partea elitei lor politice, românii din toate păturile sociale, de orice profesie și convingeri politice, au ieșit în stradă și au recurs la mijloacele media pentru a protesta și a se opune măsurilor recente ale guvernului de a derula proiectul. Cererile lor sunt deopotrivă simple și profunde:

  • Să fie tratați cu respect de liderii politici aleși pentru a servi poporul;
  • Să apere moștenirea naturală și culturală a României;
  • Să construiască o țară mai bună;

La demonstrațiile de la 1 septembrie au participat zeci de mii de români, care au ieșit în stradă, în orașe și în sate în toată țara. Puteau fi văzuți părinți cu copii, mame însărcinate cu copii nenăscuți în pântece, dorind să protejeze moștenirea țării pentru generațiile viitoare. Oamenii își plimbau câinii. Bunici și trecători s-au alăturat. Important, totuși: fiecare a știut pentru ce era acolo. Aceștia sunt oameni, bine informați, care fac o alegere – și exprimă o cerere. O alegere de a deveni implicați, de a lucra pentru ceva mai bun în țara lor, de a-i trage la răspundere pe oficialii aleși, de a-i opri pe RMGC și Gabriel Resources Ltd în țara lor. O cerere de a fi tratați cu respect.

România își găsește drumul. Conversațiile – odinioară – pline de plângeri, cinism și disperare, se transformă în discuții între oameni despre ceea ce fac ei și despre ceea ce vor să facă. Speranța devine vizibilă pe zi ce trece, prin noi afaceri,  noi evenimente culturale și noi inițiative. De către oameni care aleg să-și trăiască viețile în mod diferit – să fie schimbarea pe care vor să o vadă în țara lor și în lume. Poporul român a decis să ia atitudine. Duminica aceasta zeci de mii de oameni au fost pe străzi. Duminica viitoare vor fii zeci de mii mai mulți. Țara s-a săturat de abuz, corupție și incompetență în rândul liderilor politici. Din fericire, ea are o bogăție incredibilă, care constă în milioanele de cetățeni, care acum se implică în construirea unui viitor mai bun – pentru ei înșiși și pentru generațiile care vor urma.

Oameni din lumea întreagă, alăturați-vă românilor în lupta pentru mediu și demnitate – „România, suntem alături de tine! Salvați Roșia Montană!”

În Aarhus și Copenhaga, Danemarca; Amsterdam și Maastricht în Olanda; Berlin, Bonn, Munich și Freiburg în Germania; Bruxelles, Belgia; Budapesta, Ungaria; Chișinău, Republica Moldova; Fair Isle și Londra, Marea Britanie; Geneva, Elveția; Helsinki, Finlanda; Madrid, Spania; New York și Washington, SUA; Praga, Cehia; Varșovia, Polonia; Vilnius, Lituania; Oslo, Norvegia, și oriunde altundeva, zeci de mii de oameni s-au alăturat pentru a sprijini poporul român și Roșia Montană, în demersul lor pentru demnitate și bună-guvernare și opoziția față de practicile abuzive și exploatative ale Roșia Montană Gold Corporation (RMGC) și Gabriel Resources Ltd (Canada).

„Aur murdar”, de Der Spiegel

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/romanian-mine-a-symbol-of-new-push-for-resources-in-europe-a-896857.html

 

„În cazul în care mina este oprită, va fi o victorie pentru mediu împotriva tuturor sorților. Alături de numărul crescând al grupurilor din întreaga Europă care luptă pentru cauze similare împotriva giganților minieri, exemplul României ar stabili precedentul pentru ceea ce poate fi obținut chiar și prin cele mai limitate mijloace.

Este întocmai această perspectivă cea care l-a motivat pe Victor Boștinaru să lupte de-a lungul anilor. „Acesta este un proiect de pionierat. Dacă nu-l oprim, cine știe ce va însemna pentru viitorul mineritului de aur.”

Alte zeci de mii de oameni se alătură

Duminica viitoare, 8 septembrie, alte zeci de mii de oameni se vor alătura într-un al doilea șir de demonstrații și celebrări pentru România care vor avea loc peste tot în țară. Oamenilor din lumea întreagă, cărora le pasă de mediu, Drepturile Omului și buna guvernare, sunt rugați de asemenea să-și facă auzite glasurile, să se alăture și să ceară  Parlamentului României să oprească proiectul RMGC și Gabriel Resources Ltd (Canada) în Roșia Montană.

Notă din partea autorului: Kai Brand-Jacobsen

Am extraordinara plăcere și onoare de a locui în România de aproape 12 ani. O consider casa mea. A fost însuflețitor să văd ieri bucuria, angajamentul și dedicarea și implicarea a mii de oameni aici în Cluj, și să văd fotografii ale unor evenimente similare în București, de-a lungul Europei și în întreaga lume. Oamenilor din România: aceasta e o țară minunată. Voi sunteți oameni minunați. Aveți dreptul să luați atitudine: pentru voi înșivă, pentru un viitor mai bun, pentru viața și societatea pe care le doriți. Nimeni nu vă poate lua aceasta – decât voi înșivă. Iar dacă într-adevăr luați atitudine, vă veți alătura altor zeci de mii și, ulterior, altor milioane. Alături de oameni care cred și vor un viitor mai bun pentru această țară – și care vor ca oficialii guvernamentali și deputații aleși să-și folosească timpul astfel încât să servească interesului României, și nu intereselor abuzive și ilegitime ale unei companii miniere străine. Pentru voi, pentru copii voștri și pentru nepoții voștri, veniți în stradă pe data de 8 septembrie. Aduceți prieteni, vecini, bunici, copii. Chiar dacă nu ați mai participat la o demonstrație publică, alăturați-vă acum și luați parte la scrierea viitorului țării voastre. Și… vă mulțumesc, pentru ultimii – mai bine de – 12 ani, pentru că m-am îndrăgostit de țara voastră și pentru multe altele care vor urma.

Infrastructure for Peace (I4P): A Critical New Frontier in Peacebuilding

INFRASTRUCTURE FOR PEACE (I4P)

Putting in place capabilities for peacebuilding & prevention – locally, nationally, regionally and globally

Break the Cycle - War - Revenge - Violence - Terrorism

Briefing Paper: Department of Peace Operations

 (DRAFT – To be published shortly by the Department of Peace Operations – DPO. Comments welcome. Please feel free to share further))

Author: Kai Brand-Jacobsen, Director, Department of Peace Operations (DPO)

                        Jacobsen@patrir.ro

In nearly all countries, identifying actors and institutions with mandated responsibility and capacity for addressing conflicts, preventing violence, facilitating mediation, peace talks and peacebuilding programming, and helping to plan, implement and support peace consolidation after war and violence, is difficult. That is, where they even exist.

I4P is about building effective capabilities and institutions for peacebuilding and prevention of violence within communities, countries, regionally and internationally. Thinking about this, it’s important to understand what is necessary for I4P to function effectively, how does it fit in to our broader concepts and understanding (landscape) of peacebuilding, and, if it is a valuable contribution to the field, what do we need to know as scholars, practitioners and policy makers to improve and strengthen I4P in practice.

Greater rigor in identifying and distinguishing what we mean by I4P, deepening systematic study and evaluation of experiences with I4P including different types, functions, capacities and what can be learned about what it takes to make I4P effective, is needed. This contribution seeks to explore why I4P is relevant, giving greater rigor to the definition and conceptualization of I4P, and identifying some questions and directions relevant for further work and research.

Context: 3 Lenses – why I4P matters

This section looks at why infrastructure for peace is needed by taking a quick glance at three critical ‘contexts’:

  1. The State of the Field of Peacebuilding;
  2. Peace and Conflict Dynamics;
  3. Costing the Failure to Prevent

1. The State of the Field of Peacebuilding: Moving Beyond 14th Century Medicine

Peacebuilding is a continuously developing and evolving field. While our capacities today may be nowhere near where they are needed to be able to address the broad range of conflicts and challenges to peace – whether in communities, countries, or globally (witness current events in Syria and elsewhere) – they are developing significantly. Johan Galtung (an early leading contributor to the field) when discussing the ‘state’ of peacebuilding and conflict transformation work in the world in 1996 compared it to the state of western medicine in the 14th century.[i] Since then, the field has grown exponentially.[ii] There are not only more organizations, agencies and practitioners working in the field, there are also a great range of sectors working in peacebuilding and programming to address conflict factors, drivers and impacts (including but not limited to civil society organizations, state institutions, inter-governmental agencies, and many more).

Today, it is not unusual to find governments with strategies for peacebuilding, violence prevention, or post-war recovery and peace consolidation – as well as with units, departments, secretariats or agencies mandated with implementing them.[iii] Whereas graduate programmes on conflict resolution and peacebuilding were relatively few and far between in the 1970s, 80s and even into the 90s, today there are estimated to be more than 400 graduate programmes in the field world-wide.[iv] There are still, however, many challenges. Several key evaluations and reports on peacebuilding – including evaluations of the quality, sustainability and impact of peacebuilding programmes – have identified that:

  • many programmes are ad hoc, short-term, and with little or no sustainable impact;
  • too much peacebuilding is done as ‘projects’ and ‘activities’: there are very few capacities for sustained, medium and long-term work and engagement to support cumulative impact;
  • the quality of peacebuilding work leaves much to be desired. Many staff mandated and with ToRs making them responsible for peacebuilding often have had little or no training or preparation at all;
  • there is often little coordination or coherence between different peacebuilding initiatives;
  • far too little is done to learn lessons from peacebuilding engagements and ensure that some of the most obvious gaps and problems resulting from how programmes are designed, developed and implemented will not be repeated;
  • even when peacebuilding is done well, the scale of peacebuilding programmes often does not fit to the scale of the complexity and challenges of the conflict and violence;
  • there is still limited understanding of peacebuilding and how to do peacebuilding amongst key actors and sectors, including: government, political and conflict party leadership; state institutions; donors; a significant number of people working in peacebuilding programming and organisations;
  • a preponderance of resources and support still goes to external intervention based approaches, with institutions and organisations in the global ‘north’ and ‘west’ still receiving the lion’s share of funding, resources, and substantially larger salaries, and ‘intervening’ into countries/communities affected by conflict from abroad[v]

All of these dynamics are also being challenged – and changed. Work by Search for Common Ground (SFCG) and the Designing for Results publication; research and programmes on reflective peacebuilding by the Collaborative for Development Action (CDA) including Mary B. Anderson’s and Lara Olsen’s Confronting War; training by the International Peace and Development Training Centre (IPDTC) and programmes of the Department of Peace Operations (DPO); opportunities for practitioners to share, exchange and improve their work such as those created by the Action Asia Peacebuilders Forum; John Paul Lederach and colleagues Reflective Peacebuilding Toolkit; and the work of hundreds, and hundreds more, including Berghof’s Handook and Dialogue Series, publications by the OECD-DAC, the work of the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) of the UN and UNDP’s BCPR; Mediation Support Units at the UN, EU, OSCE and the AU’s roster of mediators; ACCORD and WANEP’s publications and programming in Africa and abroad, etc. All of these are gradually deepening and improving the quality, rigor and impact of peacebuilding work.

Still: in most societies and countries in the world today, and at the regional and global levels, while we have grown our capacities for working with conflicts, preventing violence, and supporting peace consolidation after war, our capabilities today are not where they need to be to deal with the scale of the challenge. Gaps and shortcomings remain. While there are efforts to support and strengthen national ownership, to address the sustainability, impact, coherence, gender and policy gaps and challenges, much, much more needs to be done – and can be done – to improve the quality and effectiveness of peacebuilding, and to strengthen our capacity within communities and countries to handle conflicts effectively and constructively, and to prevent violent conflict. Infrastructure for Peace is a key part of this. It is, in essence, about putting in place effective capabilities for peacebuilding, prevention of violence and armed conflict, and post-war reconciliation and healing – at every level (local communities, nationally, regionally and internationally).

2. Peace & Conflict Dynamics: Help Wanted – and needed

Peacebuilding scholars and practitioners  – and many cultures and civilizations around the world – have long seen conflict as something normal. It doesn’t matter what our age, race, gender, profession, religious, ideological or political beliefs and convictions, or where we come from in the world, all of us have conflicts. This includes both countries that may be experiencing or have experienced war and armed conflict, as well as those which have not – or which may be participating in wars abroad in other countries.

Critical to the field of peacebuilding – and to finding how to deal with conflicts more effectively in our societies – is the recognition that ‘conflict’ and ‘violence’ are not the same thing. Conflicts may exist for years or decades before violence breaks out, and may continue after wars and violence have ended. If left unaddressed this may lay the foundations for future rounds of violence. The World Economic Forum’s 2012 Global Risks insight report identifies many conflicts and challenges that will confront countries, societies, and humanity globally in the years to come.[vi] In many cases, they already are. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Major systemic financial failure;
  • Severe income disparity;
  • Failure of climate change adaptation
  • Mismanaged urbanization
  • Irredeemable pollution
  • Water supply crisis
  • Food shortage crisis
  • Rising rates of chronic disease
  • Mineral resource supply vulnerability
  • Pervasive entrenched corruption
  • Global governance failure
  • Entrenched organized crime
  • Critical fragile states
  • Terrorism

To this could be added conflicts over land use and unequal land distribution. Publications by OECD-DAC, the Norwegian Government, and the Secretariat of the Geneva Declaration point to the fact that more people are being killed from armed violence (murder, homicide, gang violence, police brutality, etc) than from ‘war’ and armed conflict. The numbers of people dying from suicide are much, much higher still.[vii]  In this context, there are five critical facts essential for governments, policy makers, practitioners, and citizens broadly to understand:

  1. Current Methods and responses often don’t work, are not enough, and frequently make the situation even worse: From the micro to the macro levels, current response to conflict (whether within or between countries) often rooted in militarized-security approaches frequently fail to adequately or effectively address and transform conflict dynamics, and, in many cases, may even intensify and worsen conflict and directly fuel violence.[viii]
  1. Root causes, structural fragility/vulnerability, and drivers of violence can often be identified long before the outbreak of actual violence. In many contexts, specific ‘triggers’ or ‘at risk moments’ can also be identified. Violence doesn’t simply happen. There are root causes, drivers, and proximate factors that shape and affect conflicts and drive them towards violence. In most cases these factors can be identified long before the actual outbreak of violence. Frequently, it is also possible to identify several ‘moments’, events or triggers that may increase the likelihood for potential outbreaks of violence – such as elections.

 

  1. There is a critical shortcoming / gap of expertise and capacity to deal with conflicts and violence effectively – within communities, countries and globally. This extends to a lack of capacity in many contexts for taking appropriate action before conflicts escalate into violence: within governments, at societal levels and within the United Nations and inter-governmental organizations there is still a critical shortage of real, deep expertise and capacity on effective approaches to working with conflicts and peacebuilding. While many governments, if they want a war strategy or options for dealing with a conflict situation through the tools of violence, diplomacy or trade can turn to a Ministry or Department of Defense / Foreign Ministry, few governments know where to look for more rigorous, effective and appropriate identification of strategies for engaging with conflicts;

In this context:

  1. Many communities and states remain affected by or at risk of armed violence and violent conflict
  1. The failure to address conflicts, prevent violence, and build sustainable peace after war has severe negative impacts at the human, societal, economic and political levels

At the same time:

  1. We know from experience that it is possible to deal with conflicts more effectively, to prevent many (or most) cases of violence / war, and to strengthen good governance, sustainable development, and protection of human rights through more effective peacebuilding and prevention

To do this, however, we need to strengthen our actual capabilities for peacebuilding, prevention and peace consolidation – within communities, countries and globally. Again, Infrastructure for Peace – a critical component in enabling communities, countries and regional and international organizations to deal with conflicts effectively and prevent – or at least dramatically reduce – incidents of violence, war, and recurrence of violence.

3. Costing the Failure to Prevent: The Disease of Violence and Its Impact

In many ways, violence is to peace what disease is to health. The same way we exert efforts to improve health and overcome disease, we can do the same to strengthen peace and overcome violence and war (see below for further exploration of the medical parallel). The failure to do so is costly. Armed violence – which is in all cases a direct result of policies, actions, attitudes, behaviours, and conflict factors which contribute to violence – has human, social, economic, political, cultural and other impacts. These can be both short and long-term. The visible and invisible impacts and effects of violence may scar individuals and countries for years. According to DFID’s Preventing Violent Conflict[ix]:

  • 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by political violence, organised crime, exceptionally high murder rates or low intensity conflicts;
  • Of the 34 countries furthest from reaching the MDGs 22 are in the midst or emerging from violent conflict;
  • The average cost of one conflict is nearly equivalent to the value of annual development aid world-wide;
  • Almost all 39 countries which have suffered civil wars since 2000 also had one in the previous three decades

IANSA, OXFAM and Saferworld, in their 2006 report on Africa’s Missing Billions, estimate that armed conflicts in Africa between 1990 – 2005 cost the continent approximately $284 billion – an amount which exceeded all international aid flows from major donors.[x] According to the World Bank’s World Development Report in 2011, poverty rates are on average 20 points higher in countries where violence is protracted than in other countries, while the average civil war costs a country approximately $65 billion dollars.[xi] Kenya’s leading business association assessed economic losses from the few short weeks of violence that followed the disputed election results in 2007 at US$ 3.6 billion.[xii] Making visible the costs and impact of violence – and the policies and measures which may make violence more likely, including the failure to take appropriate preventive action to address and constructively transform conflicts before they escalate – is one crucial pillar in raising understanding and awareness of states, societies, policy makers, and practitioners. The other, is making visible what can be done to prevent it.

While these three lenses provide brief background and context, the following sections will make visible why I4P is needed and place it in context – conceptually and operationally – in the peacebuilding field.

Towards Understanding and a Definition of Infrastructure for Peace

There have been a growing number of publications on infrastructure for peace over the last 5 – 6 years. The Department of Peace Operations’ (DPO) special Peace Praxis newsletter on I4P identified 75 key publications including: case studies (single case and comparative); research papers; government policy, planning and strategy papers; UN publications, etc. Authors including Chetan Kumar and Ozonnia Ojielo of UNDP-BCPR, Paul van Tongeren, and Andries Odendaal have written several seminal works.[xiii] The Journal of Peacebuilding and Development (JPD) has prepared the first major journal publication fully dedicated to I4P including case studies and framing papers. A Handbook on I4P, building on the model of International IDEA, UNDP, CIDA’s superb Democratic Dialogue Handbook, is being prepared.[xiv] More, however, is needed.

Understanding the concept of ‘Infrastructure’

Peacebuilding is not the only field to engage with the concept of infrastructure. Practitioners and scholars can usefully draw upon how others understand the term to give greater rigor to our own use. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines infrastructure as[xv]:

  1. the underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization);
  2. the permanent installations required for military purposes
  3. the system of public work of a country, state, or region; also: the resources (as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for an activity

Wikipedia includes the “basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise” as well as “the set of interconnected structural elements that provide framework supporting an entire structure of development.” It’s often taken to refer to “the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, bridges, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, telecommunications, and so forth.” [xvi] The US Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines it as “the buildings and permanent installations necessary for the support, redeployment, and operation of military forces.”[xvii] A US National Research Council used the term to refer to both “specific functional modes” and “the combined system these modal elements comprise. A comprehension of infrastructure spans not only these public works facilities, but also the operating procedures, management practices, and development policies that interact together with societal demand and the physical world….”[xviii] Other useful distinctions include those between hard and soft infrastructure, with hard infrastructure referring to “large physical networks” while soft infrastructure refers to “institutions which are required to maintain the economic, health, and cultural and social standards of a country, such as the financial system, the educational system, the health care system, the system of government, and law enforcement, as well as emergency services.”[xix] Gloria Mark, Ban Al-Ani and Bryan Semaan, in their joint article on Repairing Human Infrastructure in a War Zone, add two more levels of distinction[xx]:

  1. Physical, technological and human infrastructure: with physical referring to physical foundations, technological to IT and computing infrastructures, and human “to be the underlying foundation of a social system constituted by the pattern of relationships of people, through various networks and social arrangements.”
  1. Critical infrastructure: which addresses “those infrastructure elements that, if significantly damaged or destroyed, would cause serious disruption of the dependent system or organization.”

Applying this to peacebuilding we could suggest that, infrastructure for peace refers to:

  1. the underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization) of peacebuilding;
  2. the permanent installations required for peacebuilding purposes;
  3. the system of public work of a country, state, or region for peace; also: the resources (as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for peacebuilding activities;
  4. the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of peacebuilding and prevention; as well as
  5. the set of interconnected structural elements that provide framework supporting an entire structure of peacebuilding and prevention; this includes both
  6. specific functional modes; and
  7. the combined system these modal elements comprise. It is also
  8. the buildings and permanent installations necessary for the support, redeployment, and operation of peacebuilding capabilities

When planning infrastructure for peacebuilding it is also necessary to look at the operating procedures, management practices, and peacebuilding policies and practice of that infrastructure and to identify the physical, technological and human components. The concept of critical infrastructure can also be helpful to assess: what institutional capabilities and framework / system of organization of peacebuilding are critically necessary in a county to prevent conflicts from becoming violent?

Therefore, infrastructure for peace can:

  1. refer to government infrastructure as well as civil society infrastructure.
  2. refer to infrastructure within a community / country, as well as infrastructure at a regional or global levels.
  3. refer to infrastructure to support, facilitate and enable a peace process as well as to implement and sustain peace consolidation after the process, to support reconciliation and healing and to infrastructure to prevent wars / armed conflict from ever breaking out in the first place;
  4. be an overall ‘national’ system or ‘architecture’ for peace as well as specific functional modes and components of that system
  5. be a permanent, standing system or institution or be a temporary system developed specifically to enable a necessary peacebuilding activity

Illustrating each of the above, infrastructure for peace can include (letters below link to the letters in the section above):

  1. Ministries and Departments of Peace, Peacebuilding Support Offices, National Peace Councils, which may be partially or wholly part of government structures, are all examples of infrastructure for peace, as are peace institutes, peace universities, local, national, regional and global civil society platforms for peacebuilding, etc.
  2. Local Peace Committees and National Peace Structures as well as the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, the Conflict Management Directorate of the AU Commission, the Panel of the Wise, and the AU’s continent-wide early warning system, UNDP-BCPR, the inter-agency team on prevention, the UN Communities of Practice, the Peacebuilding Commission, Peace Support Office, and the UN-wide Operations and Crisis Centre to be established in 2013.
  3. Peace Secretariats, Common Space Initiatives, Peacebuilding or Negotiation Support Offices in governments or for conflict parties, Peacebuilding Coordination Units as well as early warning systems and standing mediation teams or Peacebuilding Support Offices in government which can advise on how to prevent measures, legislation, and policies which may contribute to conflict and support those which may assist in strengthening state and societal resilience and transforming underlying structural causes and drivers of violence;
  4. Comprehensive national or continent wide ‘systems’ such as those developing in Ghana and the AU or the UN system as well as individual training centres such as the International Peace and Development Training Centre (IPDTC) or individual peacebuilding organisations and networks such as WANEP and ACCORD – all three of which bring critical capacities and expertise to strengthen and support peacebuilding engagements;
  5. Many of the above, as well as rapid response teams or ‘groups of friends’ deployed to address specific incidents or crisis, or multi-stakeholder dialogue and planning initiatives, commissions and other structures brought together to address specific moments in a conflict

What peace infrastructure is not, or not only

What peace infrastructure is not only are ‘networks.’ While networks – formal and informal – can be part of peace infrastructure, this is not the core or the end of the concept, neither is networking the point and the goal of peace infrastructure. Peace infrastructure is also very specifically not 1. Processes or 2. Strategies. The whole point of the concept is that peace infrastructure is the institutional / organizational framework / body which implements processes and strategies.

The critical heart / core of the concept: learning from medicine, education and military

As stated above, too much of peacebuilding over the past 20 – 30 years has been implemented as projects or activities, often by well meaning – and sometimes extremely dedicated and capable – individuals, frequently coming from outside of countries. These initiatives are almost always fundamentally unsustainable. They also represent dramatically less than what we are capable of. Take, for a moment, the examples of medicine and education. Rather than waiting for a foreign NGO or UN system to set up a medical unit or health center, most countries would prefer to have well functioning health systems in place within the country. Rather than waiting for an international charity to set up a school, most countries would prefer to have a quality education system in place. In order to enable military capability, countries put in place standing national structures and forces (capabilities). These include: command, communication and control, training institutions, military instruments and technologies, actual armed forces, centres for the study of war and development of doctrine, etc. Last year, more than 1.63 trillion US$ was invested in the maintenance of these systems and production of weapons. This comes to more than 3 million dollars per minute.

Health systems also involve elaborate ‘infrastructure’, including: hospitals; mandated government authority from local to national levels; universities and training centres training medical professionals; national school systems teaching health education; national media and awareness raising systems promoting public health knowledge; the world health organization globally; local, national and international health associations, platforms, civil society organisations, etc.[xxi] Still people fall sick and die, wars are won and lost, and many children receive good education while many do not. Infrastructure is not meant to be a ‘magic wand’ solution to all problems. It is, however, the result of recognizing that: if we want to address conflicts more effectively – or to enable any significant capacity in any field of human activity – we need to build, develop, support and strengthen critical organizational and institutional capacities – the framework and foundation. It is more than ‘activities’, ‘processes’, ‘strategies’, or even ‘networks’. It is the institutional expertise and organizational architecture and capability needed to do the work.

Major Challenges

There are many critical challenges to development of infrastructure for peace including:

  1. Shells & Potemkin Villages: The idea of ‘infrastructures for peace’ has in some ways become the ‘flavour of the month’ for some organizations and agencies and a few governments. This is leading to ‘infrastructure’ such as Ministries, Peace Secretariats and Peace Committees being set up, which may often lack the actual necessary capabilities to function effectively. Some of the major challenges they face include:
    1. Lack of Clear Mandate: not knowing exactly what they should do;
    2. Lack of Capacity: staff may have little or not background, training, confidence or capabilities for doing peacebuilding, mediation, prevention or the work they’re mandated for;
    3. Lack of Authenticity, Legitimacy and Acceptability: imposed created from above (governments) or outside (governments, foreign organizations, national organizations from outside the community), they may not have established authentic trust, relationships and acceptability;
  1. Artificial: Linking to the above, there is an inherent challenge of externally supported or government imposed architecture in that the programmes to support strengthening of state and societal capabilities are often not well thought through, not well implemented, and frequently managed by people who may themselves have little or no background and experience in peacebuilding. Milestones and targets are created, ‘infrastructure’ is set up, but it is affected by many of the challenges listed above;
  1. Unsustainable: A huge challenge for I4P is sustainability. When infrastructure is created as part of foreign donor or NGO funded activities, it often ceases to function / exist when the funding runs out. Very few programmes to create I4P effectively engage with how to develop/build sustainable institutions and structures rooted within a society/community. Government established infrastructure may also be shut down – as was down in South Africa – if there’s a lack of understanding and recognition of why it’s of value;
  1. External Models & Infrastructure: Very little has been done to try to map, identify and understand traditional infrastructure for peacebuilding, prevention and conflict management. While it has been popular since the mid 90s to speak of ‘local capacities’ and local approaches, much more could be done to try and understand and identify what structures and institutions already exist for handling conflicts. Importantly: it shouldn’t simply be assumed that strucures designed for one purpose (handling cattle and land disputes) can morph to address another (genocide). Traditional structures (as well as cultures and approaches) within societies should be drawn and learned from however, and are a critical component of work on I4P;
  1. Scope breadth (horizontal) and depth/heights (vertical): Even where I4P is well-developed and well-functioning, there is often a challenge with scope: if local peace committees have been set up by an NGO initiative in 60, 70, or 80s villages or districts, what if there are hundreds or tens of thousands more? If local peace committees are established to handle conflicts within communities and local disputes, what is put in place to address national and regional dynamics and impacts?
  1. Abuse: In many countries and communities, ‘peace committees’, ‘peace secretariats’ and ‘peace ministries’ have been open to many forms of abuse, including: corruption; use of resource to fund party supporters; use of structures to enable processes supporting constituencies; mobilization of ‘peace structures’ to support one parties war aims and mobilization;
  1. Failure to Perform: Do to all of the above and more, there are also times when I4P is needed, in place, and fails to perform (either overall, or at the level necessary). In 2007/2008 Kenya had elements of ‘infrastructure for peace’ already in place. The extraordinary work done on managing the crisis and preventing escalation by several examples of I4P – from the Concerned Citizens mobilization and initiative to regional and international engagements – helped to prevent a worse crisis.[xxii] The national government structures in place, however, did not function as fully as it may have been hoped they would have.

So does it work at all?

There are literally hundreds and thousands of examples where institutions, organizations and structures put in place to deal with conflicts have worked effectively and contributed to the prevention of war and armed violence, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and strengthening of sustainable peace and post-war consolidation and recovery. Publications such as GPPAC’s People Building Peace (Volumes 1 & 2) capture many of these stories. Cases cited by van Tongeren, Odendaal, Kumar and others add to the evidence. In longer pieces, the evidence and how infrastructure for peace works / can work can be explored (and needs to be explored) in detail. The evidence is there.

Infrastructure for Peace: An Action Agenda for Making Peace Work

A Global Initiative on Infrastructure for Peace (I4P) is currently being developed. The aims of the initiative are to:

  • Create a shared platform for local, national, regional, and international organizations – state and non-state – to share experiences and improve common efforts and collaboration for the promotion and development of I4P;
  • To rigorously and systematically evaluate and gather lessons and experience on I4P, including examples of successes, challenges, and critical lessons;
  • To provide a ‘one-stop’ portal for resources on I4P to enable improved sharing of lessons and avoiding duplication of mistakes;
  • To develop a Handbook on I4P, similar to International IDEA’ superb handbook on Democratic Dialogue, which will go into the key building blocks and issues to consider when developing I4P, and be illustrated with practical cases and examples;
  • To provide practical operational support to governments, regional organizations, the UN, and local, national and international civil society actors;
  • To bring about a shift in how we approach conflicts, from war strategies and violence intensification/escalation and external-based interventions to effective strategies and measures, local and national ownership, and collaborative approaches

Much remains to be done, but this is the beginning of a critical new phase in peacebuilding – and in how societies and states deal with conflicts – which will develop significantly in the years to come.


[i] Johan Galtung. Presentation to participants from former Yugoslavia and internationals at the Democracy, Human Rights and Peaceful Conflict Resolution 10-week programme in Lillehammer, Norway, 1996.

[ii] Cf. Brand-Jacobsen, Kai, ‘Peacebuilding: The State of the Field’ in Ricci, Andrea, From Early Warning to Early Action?: The Debate on the Enhancement of the EU´s Crisis Response Capability Continues, (Vol 3) Publications Office, Brussels (2010) for an overview of some key dynamics.

[iii] This includes both those of donor countries (eg. Norway, UK, Germany, Sweden, etc) and countries with national strategies (eg. Ghana, Kenya and many more)

[iv]  In 2008 a report in the International Herald Tribune gave the figure of more than 400 graduate programmes in peace and conflict studies

[v] See for example Mary B. Anderson and Lara Olsen’s Confronting War, reports of the International Dialogue on State-building and Peacebuilding; publications of the Reflecting on Peace Practice project of CDA; the Utstein Rerport on German, British, Dutch and Norwegian funding of peacebuilding programmes; reports of the UN Peace Commission; and Brand-Jacobsen, et al. Searching for Peace in Iraq, DPO-PATRIR / NOVA, February 2012; and Brand-Jacobsen, Palestine and Israel: Improving Civil Society Peacebuilding Strategies, Design and Impact, DPO-PATRIR / NOVA 2010

[vi] World Economic Forum, Global Risks Report 2012: 7th Edition http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-risks-2012-seventh-edition

[vii]  Add source from DPO prevention work.

[viii] Eg. the impact of poor policing on many demonstrations which may lead to increases of violence; US response to September 11 2001 in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and growing global militarization

[ix] DFID Preventing Violent Conflict 2006

[x] IANSA, Oxfam and Saferworld, Africa’s missing billions, 2007

[xi] World Bank Reports World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development; The Costs of Violence, 2009; Breaking the Conflict Trap: Civil War and Development Policy, Paul Collier, et al, 2003

[xii] Discussed further in van Tongeren, Paul and Kai Brand-Jacobsen, Infrastructure for Peace: A way forward to peaceful elections in New Routes, NUMBER 1, 2012. Elections: Free, fair‐ and nonviolent?

[xiii] Add reference to all their major works included in DPO Peace Praxis newsletter.

[xiv] For the Democratic Dialogue Handbook, available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and other languages, please visit: http://www.democraticdialoguenetwork.org/ The Handbook on Infrastructure for Peace is planned for publication in 2013.

[xvi] Infrastructure, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrastructure Infrastructure, Online Compact Oxford English Dictionary, http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/infrastructure

[xvii] Infrastructure, JP1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, p. 260, 12 April 2001 (rev. 31 August 2005) http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA439918&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

[xviii] Infrastructure for the 21st Century, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1987

[xx] Mark, G., B. Al-Ani, and B. Semaan, Reparing Human Infrastructure in a War Zone, Proceedings the 6th International Conference on Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2009), http://vcp.ics.uci.edu/content/repairing-human-infrastructure-war-zone

[xxi] Towards an Effective Architecture-Infrastructure for Peace: Learning from Medical Health; Kai Brand-Jacobsen; Annex of Working Paper on Infrastructures for Peace (July 2010), GPPAC

[xxii] Add reference to George Wachira’s piece