Global Crowdfunding Campaign: Please Help Support Youth Peaceworkers from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine

Personal Request for Your Support – from Kai Brand-Jacobsen, Director of the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) of PATRIR:
For Youth Peace Workers from Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Ukraine

Global Crowdfunding Campaign: Support Youth Peaceworkers from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine

Dear friends, colleagues and partners around the world,

We’ve launched a global crowdfunding campaign to raise support for amazing youth peace activists and peace workers from some of the worst war affected countries in the world today. These are young people working to stop the violence and killing in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine.

We’re trying to get support for them to take part in the 10-days International Youth Peace Forum: Global Youth Rising 2016, where they’ll receive deep training on concrete peacebuilding skills, be able to build alliances and learn together with others from around the world, and strengthen their vision, courage, confidence and abilities to work to overcome the drivers and impact of violence in their countries.

For many of us all over the world when we see what’s happening in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere we often feel powerless. We want to do something to help but we don’t know how. Here, we’re giving you a way. Even a small donation can be meaningful and make a major difference to the amazing activists and peace workers we’re trying to support.

Today there are over 300.000 children and youth in armed movements and conflicts world-wide. Over 30.000 have been recruited from 80 countries to fight for ISIS / Daesh. What we’re trying to do is something different: empower amazing and courageous individuals with the skills and tools to prevent war and violence, stop it when it’s happening, and help their countries and communities heal and recover after. To do this though, we need your help.

Please visit the “Empowering Young Peace Leaders” global crowdfunding campaign today and help make a difference the life of a courageous young peace builder – and for the future of their people and country. From $10 to $10000, every donation really does help. You can also help by sharing this appeal through your networks. It would mean a lot to us.

I’ve spent 20 years working in peacebuilding around the world. I started myself internationally when I was 17. I know and believe in the power and importance of helping courageous young people in communities and countries affected by war to find a better way. Your support can help make that possible.

If you have questions or want to know more about the International Youth Peace Forum: Global Youth Rising 2016 and what you’d actually be supporting you can write to me directly at You can also visit the website at or join us on Facebook at:

100% of all funds raised will go directly to making it possible for incredible and courageous activists and peaceworkers from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine and some incredible peace workers from other parts of the world to take part. If you have donated you can also let us know your preferences for where you’d like your support to go. We also give you the chance to meet together with those you’ve supported via skype or by phone, and to speak with some of the amazing peace workers taking part in the International Youth Peace Forum: Global Youth Rising 2016 as trainers, support, coaches and mobilisers. You can find out more about them by visiting and reading their bios at

Thank you for your support. It makes a difference.

In peace,
Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen
Director, Department of Peace Operations (DPO)
Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR)



Systemic Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation, Post-War Recovery & Reconciliation: Improving Quality, Effectiveness and Strategic Impact of Peacebuilding Policy and Practice

Systemic Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation, Post-War Recovery & Reconciliation: Improving Quality, Effectiveness and Strategic Impact of Peacebuilding Policy and Practice

June 20 – 24 2016 – to apply 

“I will not hesitate to unreservedly recommend this programme for all actors in the peacebuilding field. I dare say that without it you stand the risk of missing the mark, with it your chance of success in your endeavours are quite significantly enhanced!” Paul Ebikwo, African Union/United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Sudan


The PCTR is the only programme of its kind which draws on the latest lessons learned, tools, and methods in peacebuilding and conflict transformation from the practical experience of practitioners and policy makers on five continents to explore all three phases of violence and war – pre-violence, violence, post-violence – and what can be done.

The PCTR includes:

  • The development of practical skills, tools and methods for peacebuilding and conflict transformation;
  • Training in leading methodologies from the field from five continents
  • Review of lessons-learned and best practices in the field drawing from on-the-ground experiences in peacebuilding
  • Tools for strategic planning, designing peacebuilding engagements and conflict transformation strategies
  • Comprehensive Introduction to Conflict Mapping and Analysis and Conflict Intelligence
  • Linkages with gender, human rights, security, democratization, development and nation and state-building with peacebuilding and conflict transformation
  • Methods and strategies for organizations, governments and international institutions to improve and strengthen their ability to support peacebuilding, conflict transformation and post-war recovery, reconciliation and healing
  • How to strengthen sustainable national capacities in countries and areas affected by conflict and to enable a lasting peace

The PCTR is a five-day intensive programme which provides experts, practitioners and policymakers with a forum for reflection and targeted, relevant professional development within a dynamic and stimulating environment. The programme is relevant for those working in political, gender, security, human rights, development, and humanitarian fields, as well as donors and diplomats specialising in areas affected or threatened by war, armed conflict or in post-war situations.

The direct, needs-based skills and knowledge-intensive approach of the PCTR is suitable for senior and executive level field staff, and those in leadership roles in governments and organisations.



Day 1, Monday


Welcome and Introduction:
Programme Overview, Participant Aims and Objectives

Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation & Post-War Stabilisation and Recovery: Operational & Conceptual Framework


Conflict Analysis & Conflict Intelligence: Improving a Key Tool in Effective Policy Development and Peacebuilding Programmes

Conflict Transformation & Peacebuilding Outcomes: Developing Viable, Effective and Sustainable Outcomes which meet the needs of parties

Day 2, Tuesday


Systemic Peacebuilding: Improving Effectiveness, Coherence and Impact

Peace Profiles: Improving Coordination and Cooperation across Peacebuilding Sectors and Actors


Early Warning & Preventing Armed Conflict: Key Operational and Practical Developments in Making Prevention Effective

Scenario Planning in Peacebuilding: From Reaction to Risk to effective Peacebuilding and Preventing Violence and Crises

Day 3, Wednesday


Case Study

Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation During Situations of War/ Armed Violence/Conflict


After War: Key Lessons & Experiences in Stabilisation, Recovery and Reconciliation

Policy Makers’ & Practitioners’ Forum: Identifying Key Lessons

Day 4, Thursday


Strategic Planning and Design of Peacebuilding Engagements


Strategic Planning and Design of Peacebuilding Engagements (cont.)

Day 5, Friday


Working Groups: Key Issues in Peacebuilding from Participants’ Needs/Contexts

Moving the Field Forward: How do we do Peacebuilding,Violence Prevention and Post-War Stabilisation and Recovery?


Bringing it Together:
Developing Participants’ Peacebuilding Guides

Peacebuilding Intelligence and Next Steps: Implications for Policy and Practice

Systemic Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation, Post-War Recovery & Reconciliation: Improving Quality, Effectiveness and Strategic Impact of Peacebuilding Policy and Practice

June 20 – 24 2016 – to apply 

April 7: International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda

[This post was originally published on April 7 2015. It is being reposted because of how relevant it is today]

April 7th each year has been established as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda. It is a day when we are called upon to remember and reflect upon the horrible genocide which took place, costing the lives of some 800,000 human beings, while the world, all of us, did not do enough to stop it.

And stopping it – then, as now – was within our power. Today the killing is not taking place in Rwanda, but in the Congo, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Mexico and many other countries around the world. Today, this year, April 7th marked not only the International Day of Reflection for the Genocide in Rwanda, but also a day in which the world was called to show global solidarity and action for the people of Syria ( Planet Syria – كوكب سوريا) to show them that they are not forgotten. 

Yet we can, and must, do more. We can invest in, support and train practical peacebuidling and violence prevention capabilities for less than 2% of what is currently being spent on war. We can stop engaging in measures and policies which increase war, violence, terrorism and insecurity and instead courageously engage in the profoundly difficult but much easier task of addressing wounds, resolving underlying causes and drivers, and contributing to build real, meaningful, lasting and sustainable peace.

And that ‘we’ is all of us – you, me, citizens, governments. Like every major achievement in world history – from putting people in space to the abolition of slavery, ending apartheid, overthrowing the authoritarian and military regimes in Latin America, Eastern Europe and elsewhere – we as a species are capable of incredible and extraordinary achievement. But we need to engage. We need to dedicate our hearts, minds, passion, commitment and efforts to make it happen.

Today is 11 years since the genocide in Rwanda. We have come a long way in this time. We have not come far enough. A global mobilisation and campaign for peacebuilding has been launched. We are asking you to join it.

Let this day be more than a day of reflection. Let this be a day of decision. We will not sit back and do nothing in the face of war and violence which can be abolished. We will rise.

The time has come to make a difference in the world, and it is up to us – together – to be that difference.

There’s also Nineveh: a request for help contacting media around the world

To all my family, friends and colleagues in the world: I need your help. This is a personal request from me to you. It would mean a lot to me if you take a moment to read it. Thank you.

There has been Brussels, Lahore, Baghdad, Mosul…but there’s also Nineveh

We’ve all seen the terrible violence in Brussels this last week. Many of us have also seen the violence in Mosul, Baghdad and Lahore. Right now I’m in a city called Duhok, in KRG – Iraq. It’s a few kilometres from Nineveh – somewhere that has come to mean a lot to me. Over the past several months I’ve been working with people from Nineveh – people who are Muslim, Yezidi, Christian, Turkmen and more, men and women, young and old, tribal leaders, Presidents, youth, mayors, activists, journalists, survivors. Almost all of them have been displaced from the fighting and war here – the violence many of you think of connected to ‘ISIS’ / Daesh.

And these people that I have come to know, to admire, to respect, to love…are amazing. They are women who have been raped and survived or driven from their homes or had family members they love killed…and with their courage have created a Women’s Peace Alliance uniting women from all communities, working together for peace. They are young people who have seen genocide and killing and, again, been driven from their homes and had people they love killed…and have chosen to go into refugee camps and help survivors, to hold trauma recovery processes, to create themselves a youth peace centre, to take brooms and buckets and go back into their villages and towns destroyed by war and…clean up. They are President Bashar Kiki of the Nineveh Provincial Council who has become passionately involved and worked to create a Peace Council for Nineveh bringing tribal and religious leaders together – together(!) to work for peace instead of war. They are my brothers, my sisters, my family. They are courage, humanity, in the face of loss and suffering and pain few of us could even image in our worst nightmares, and instead of promoting more hatred or anger or violence, they are doing something incredibly brave, incredibly heroic, incredibly simple: they are coming together working for peace.

This week, this Wednesday and Thursday, there will be a Nineveh International Forum for Peace. More than 200 survivors, grassroots activists, NGOs, tribal leaders, religious leaders, community members, men, women, mayors, government officials, the UN, journalists, and every national and international organisation working in Nineveh will come together. They will look at the role and leadership of women working for peace. They will look at how youth are choosing not to join militias or fight but to help heal, overcome sectarianism and hatred, and build a future beyond war and violence. They will look at how we can deal with trauma healing, recovery and reconciliation, civilian protection, introduce peace education into schools, create local peace committees, build the Nineveh Peace Council…and in the midst of all the violence and war we are seeing, in Nineveh, in the world…they will work to help us find a path towards peace. Them. The people who have been most affected. They are the ones doing this.

And what I’m asking from friend, my family, my colleague, someone who knows me and has linked to me here, is this: please help us tell this story to the world. Please blog about it. Comment about it. If you know someone who is a journalist – if you’re married to them, friends with them, if you are one, if you know someone who knows someone – whether it’s for a local paper, a radio station, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, CCTV, the Guardian, or any, any, any other, reach out to them, talk to them about this, help them know, realise, understand how incredibly important this is. If you wonder what can be done to stop terrorism, to stop war, to stop what we’ve seen happening in Belgium, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, France, Turkey – this is it. This is an important and major part of it. This is people – practically, concretely – building peace.

And their story needs to be told.

And all of us need to know, there is a reason to hope – not just because it matters to, not just because we want to, but as a result of our choices and actions.

I’m asking you, I need your help: please help us get this story told.


The Brussels Bombings: What We Can Do


In the face of the attacks in Brussels and Mosul, the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, the attacks before in Paris, and what seems to be a constant barrage of incidents of violence, terror and war in so many parts of the world, many of us often feel powerless – left wondering what we can do and whether it will ever end or change. Many of us also – many, many millions and hundreds of millions – want and know that it must change – and that what is being done now, whether by governments or non-state actors like ISIS, isn’t the solution, but part of the problem we need to overcome.

Below are 10 actions we can do – short and long-term – to overcome the terror and war we are seeing – in Brussels, in Paris, in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere. There are 10. There are many, many more. We would invite you to add comments, suggestions, and additional ideas for action and practical steps. More than that: we would ask and invite you to join us and millions more, and work together to bring an end to cycles of war and violence intensifying rather than solving the very problems we need to address. PATRIR – the Romanian Peace Institute – is committed to practical action and work on the ground with our allies and partners in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen working to end the wars and violence in those countries, and practical action and work to engage governments and people in Europe, North America and elsewhere to change our own policies and actions which are both fuelling and part of the terror and war taking place in these countries and elsewhere. We know though that this can’t be done alone. That there are many amazing individuals, citizens, students, parents, journalists, artists, politicians, activists and others around the world who know that terror, war and violence as a response to terror, war and violence are not the solution but a continuing intensification and escalation of the problem. We know this – and so we are reaching out to you to see how we can do more together, and stop it.

10 Actions: Please share these broadly. This article may be reposted / reprinted. 

1. Campaign for a Ban on Weapons Trade & Sales to all countries in the Middle East and North Africa involved in funding wars and attacks on civilians in the area, including Saudia Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Israel and Egypt. Belgium has already led the way with a ban on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. This should be built on and extended in including a total EU-wide ban;

2. Development of an active, robust international solidarity platform with the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working to end the wars in their countries – including direct / active campaigning within countries in Europe, North America, and through the Middle East and North Africa to end policies of our own engagement in, contribution to and escalation of wars in those countries. The response of tens of thousands of citizens across Europe to provide humanitarian aid and support is excellent – and needs to be increased. In addition to this though, we need to go several steps further and begin i. active and practical, real support to courageous citizens IN Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working to end the wars in their countries; ii. engage IN OUR OWN COUNTRIES to change negative / violence and war escalating policies and actions which further feed into and fuel wars in the region – and which are themselves leading to wide-spread destruction and civilian casualties; iii. work actively to bring about real engagement at the diplomatic and political levels to bring about peace agreements in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq.

3. Citizens – and governments, media, and social, cultural, religious and other figures – can also do much more to put a narrative and practice of dialogue, celebration and respect for diversity and each other, and positively affirm the values and principles we believe in; and not leave the space principally or only to messages of ‘securitisation’, ‘terrorism’ or ‘us versus them’. This is not what most of us believe in. This is not what most of us want – in Belgium, in Europe, in North America…and in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere – but we need to be much more active, more creative, more…joyful, inspired, courageous in making that visible.

4. As part of 1, 2 and 3 above, it would be wonderful to hold forums in every major city and in schools and universities across Europe and internationally addressing exactly the issue of how do we address, respond to, and overcome the drivers, conditions and causes of intolerance, enemy images, and all extreme violence, terrorism and war – from states and non-state actors – across Europe, North America, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and more broadly. These ‘attacks’ are not happening just in Europe or the United States. European Governments and the US are ALSO themselves involved in carrying out attacks in Syria, in Iraq, in Libya, and in providing weapons for attacks in those countries and Yemen, responsible for killings tens of thousands of civilians in total. In the same way we had a global anti-apartheid movement to support the people of South Africa in the 1970s and 80s, in the same way we’ve built movements on environment, civil rights, women’s rights, and much more, we need a global movement now – and in all of our communities and countries – to transform how the world deals with conflicts, violence, war and “terrorism” – to end constant cycles of violence and policies and measures which are themselves violent and which escalate and intensify violence, and fail in any way to actually solve or address the real issues – and to bring forward real alternatives. It is our lives, our communities, our countries – all of us – that are affected, and it is time for us to change the policies and measures which are escalating this problem from all directions.

5. Creating a single web-site / web-platform which would bring together the best articles, analysis, speeches, videos, tutorials, and good information and sources that can help people ‘make sense’ of what’s happening and why, and also show what we can do – in our communities, internationally, together – and help people creatively share ideas, encourage action, inspire engagement, would also be an important step. There are SUPERB materials, videos, publications, articles out there, and a lot of good and great work being done, but all too often we’re simply not aware of it, or don’t know where we can find it or how we can get involved. A good, multi-lingual web-site which could be a resource for people in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, North America and more broadly would be a great platform to help support and catalyse efforts.

6. There’s also this summer a ‘Global Youth Rising’ gathering at which activists, movements, organisations and citizens passionately involved from across Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and all across Europe, North America and internationally are coming together for 10 days to look at what we can do in our own communities and countries and what we can do together globally to end these wars. People interested, passionate, engaged are welcome to come and be part of this ( You can also help by helping to fund those coming from Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen to make their participation possible.

7. Another great step, in our communities, schools and universities, would be to organise a global week of action in which we foster and promote events, discussion, sharing, workshops and training on how to deal with the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen; how to deal with our own countries’, militaries, and weapons companies’ contributions to these wars, and what we can do – as citizens, as students, as human beings – to help change these policies and end them.

8. Going further from this – it would be good to have an international forum before the end of 2016 to bring together organisations, activists, movements, peace workers to take our work on making all of this happen to another level.

9. And, for the immediate, medium and long-term: working to have peace education introduced as part of core curriculum into all of our schools and education systems world-wide.

10. A real challenge at this moment are also the ‘security’, ‘military’ and ‘academic’ experts, media and government officials, some / many of whom respond with ‘stock’ answers of increased securitisation, monitoring, restrictions on civil liberties and freedoms, and increased support for war and armed attacks in the region. Like hate speech and extremism everywhere, this should be actively challenged and not simply accepted as ‘expert’ advice – often by experts who have never been in the region, often promote quite extremist views, and who’s ‘recommendations’ have in many cases been proven time and time again to be the problem, not part of the solution.

We are not powerless. We are not alone. We do not have to sit back and feel that nothing can be done. We are each of us. We are all of us. We are many, different, beautiful and wonderful – in Syria, in Belgium, in Iraq, in France, in Libya, in the United States, in Yemen, in Italy, in….every home, school, office, community and country around the world.

We have as a species overcome incredible injustice, violence, tyranny and oppression in the past. Wherever there has been ‘wrong’ there have been those who with creativity, courage, love and passion have struggled to help overcome it and work for better. We can do this – with respect, with sound, intelligent, real solutions that actually address and solve problems rathe than making them worse. With action. Like marshalling our resources to respond to the outbreak of Ebola, we need to marshall our resources to respond to, overcome and transcend the war making, war intensifying, war fuelling policies of terrorist attacks – from airforces and suicide bombers, from politicians and ‘extremists’ of all shapes and stripes, whose answer to killing and war is killing and war.

This is the moment at which the candles we light…for New York, for Baghdad, for Paris, for Raqqa, for Misrata and Bengazi, for Ankara, for Sanaa, Mosul and Brussels, become lights that spread from heart to heart and mind to mind, and call us to rise, call us to stand, call us to have a dream and know that a world beyond war, hatred and violence is possible. Call us to act.

And not to stop, until we have changed and overcome this terror-war system. It can be stopped. It will be stopped. We are the ones who must stop it.

By Kai Brand-Jacobsen
Director, Department of Peace Operations (DPO) – PATRIR

Of Mosul and Brussels

In two days there have been bombings and death in two places close to my heart – Mosul and Brussels. In Mosul the university – used by ISIS as a headquarters but surrounded by residential areas – cafes and other areas were struck in what was described as a ‘massive daylight barrage’ of bombs dropped by the US-led coalition. In Brussels, as yet unidentified bombers carried out a suicide attack on the airport and bombing of the Maalbeek Metro station. At least 25 civilians were killed yesterday in Mosul, possibly (probably) many, many more. At least 13 people have been confirmed killed so far in Brussels. And all of these…are people who had families, who had mothers and fathers, friends, relatives, colleagues. They had hopes, dreams, fears. They woke up in the morning, and now they are dead. The point is the horror, the killing, on all sides, is wrong. ‘We’ can’t use ‘their terror’ to justify our bombing and mass killing, because ‘they’re’ also using ‘our’ killings to justify their bombings and indiscriminate killings. And who dies? People, dreams, hope, civility, all that is best in us. And in their place, a graveyard of bankrupt policies, escalation of fears, hate mongering, military expenditures, devastation, destruction. I much prefer the seed of life, than the sewage of hatred and violence. My heart, my mind, everything that I am…mourns..for the people in Brussels, for the people in Mosul. For those who have done the bombings – whether from state of the art planes we misspent millions or billions of dollars to create as instruments of death, or by strapping bombs around themselves and blowing themselves up. They weren’t born wanting to hurt, to kill. What did we do along the way, how did we fail them, to reach this moment. This is not something we can simply angrily blame on ‘them’. On ‘others’. ‘Them’ is ‘us’ if we were in that situation. Them is ‘us’ in our own governments and companies fuelling, funding, arming ‘that’ situation. ‘Them’ whether in a fighter plane or suicide vest is ‘us’, as long as we don’t unite and stop it. There is no christian, no muslim, no Iraqi or Belgium. There are human beings. Someone who woke up yesterday morning, or this morning, and won’t anymore. And the emptiness, the hole, the unspeakable sadness and pain for those who knew them, loved them, laughed with them, cared for them, at least some of whom may now want ‘them’ to suffer, to be bombed or killed for what they’ve done…and the cycle continues. Until we stop it.
Mosul. Brussels. Ankara. Raqqa. Sinjar. Paris. Not sites of bombings. Not sites of killings. Sites of…millions, millions of people. Of life. Of creativity, hope, diversity. Let us make them sites, and seeds, of change, so that no other cities, no other lives, will be added to this list.
*** This note may be reposted / shared further *** Please see also and share:
Brussels Explosion: We can do this. Not alone, but together”
We are working to build a global movement to overcome the policies, drivers, causes and dynamics fuelling war and violence in all their forms – in Mosul, in Brussels, globally. This summer there will be a Global Youth Rising international forum – gathering f0r 10 days, going in-depth into how to build and deepen our peacebuilding work globally, going into building a solidarity movement with the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working for peace in their countries; and for all of us, everywhere, to engage in real, meaningful change in our countries. You can find out more at:

Global Youth Rising
Facebook Group:…

We don’t need to just accept what is happening. We can change it. You can help – by joining and helping to develop and build the global movement, and by helping to share and inform people about the global gathering this summer.

Living Peace – Statement from the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

Final Statement
Living Peace Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates
Nothing is as antagonistic to peace as the human mind without love, compassion, and reverence for life and nature. Nothing is as noble as the human being who chooses to bring love and compassion into action.

This year we honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela. He exemplified the principles for which the Nobel Peace Prize is granted and serves as a timeless example of a truth he lived. As he himself said: “love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

He had many reasons to give up hope, even to hate, but he chose love in action. It is a choice we can all make.

We are saddened by the fact that we were not able to honor Nelson Mandela and his fellow Peace Laureates in Cape Town this year because of the refusal of the South African government to grant a visa to H.H. the Dalai Lama to enable him to attend the planned Summit in Cape Town. The 14th Summit, which was moved to Rome, has nevertheless permitted us to consider South Africa’s unique experience in showing that even the most intractable disputes can be resolved peacefully through civic activism and negotiation.

As Nobel Peace Laureates we bear witness that – as has happened in South Africa during the past 25 years – change for the common good can be achieved. Many of us have faced guns and overcome fear with a commitment to live with and for peace.

Peace thrives where governance protects the vulnerable, where the rule of law brings justice and the treasure of human rights, where harmony with the natural world is achieved, and where the benefits of tolerance and diversity are fully realized.

Violence has many faces: prejudice and fanaticism, racism and xenophobia, ignorance and shortsightedness, injustice, gross inequalities of wealth and opportunity, oppression of women and children, forced labor and slavery, terrorism, and war.

Many people feel powerless and suffer in cynicism, selfishness, and apathy. There is a cure: when individuals commit to caring for others with kindness and compassion, they change and they are able to make changes for peace in the world.

It is a universal personal rule: We must treat others as we wish to be treated. Nations, also, must treat other nations as they wish to be treated. When they don’t, chaos and violence follow. When they do, stability and peace are obtained.

We decry the continued reliance on violence as a primary means of addressing differences. There are no military solutions to Syria, Congo, South Sudan, Ukraine, Iraq, Palestine/Israel, Kashmir and other conflicts.

One of the greatest threats to peace is the continuing view of some great powers that they can achieve their goals through military force. This perspective is creating new crisis today. If left unchecked this tendency will inevitably lead to increased military confrontation and to a new more dangerous Cold War.

We are gravely concerned about the danger of war – including nuclear war – between large states. This threat is now greater than at any time since the Cold War.

We urge your attention to the annexed letter from President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Militarism has cost the world over 1.7 trillion dollars this past year. It deprives the poor of urgently needed resources for development and protection of the earth’s ecosystem and adds to the likelihood of war with all its attendant suffering.

No creed, no religious belief should be perverted to justify gross violations of human rights or the abuse of women and children. Terrorists are terrorists. Fanaticism in the guise of religion will be more easily contained and eliminated when justice is pursued for the poor, and when diplomacy and cooperation are practiced amongst the most powerful nations.

10,000,000 people are stateless today. We support the campaign of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to end statelessness within ten years as well as its efforts to alleviate the suffering of over 50,000,000 displaced persons.

The current wave of violence against women and girls and the perpetration of sexual violence in conflict by armed groups and military regimes further violates women’s human rights, and makes it impossible for them to realize their goals of education, freedom of movement, peace and justice. We call for full implementation of all UN resolutions addressing women, peace and security and political will by national governments to do so.

Protecting Global Commons

No nation can be secure when the climate, oceans, and rainforests are at risk. Climate change is already leading to radical changes in food production, extreme events, rising sea levels, the intensity of weather patterns, and is increasing the likelihood of pandemics.

We call for a strong international agreement to protect the climate in Paris in 2015.

Poverty and Sustainable Development

It is unacceptable that over 2 billion people live on less than $2.00 per day. Countries must adopt well-known practical solutions to eliminate the injustice of poverty. They must support the successful completion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We urge adoption of the recommendations of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons.

A first step to ending the oppression of dictatorships would be the rejection by banks of money arising from their corruption as well as constraints on their travel.

The rights of children must become part of every government’s agenda. We call for universal ratification and application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The widening jobs gap needs to be, and can be, bridged and credible action must be undertaken to give the millions of new labor market entrants a viable job. An effective social floor can be designed in every country to eliminate the worst forms of deprivation. People need to be empowered to claim their social and democratic rights and achieve sufficient control over their own destinies.

Nuclear Disarmament

There are over 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. As the recent 3rd International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons concluded: the impact of the use of just one is unacceptable. A mere 100 would lower the earth’s temperature by over 1 degree Celsius for at least ten years, causing massive disruption of global food production and putting 2 billion people at risk of starvation. If we fail to prevent nuclear war, all of our other efforts to secure peace and justice will be for naught. We need to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Meeting in Rome, we commend Pope Francis’ recent call for nuclear weapons to be “banned once and for all”. We welcome the pledge by the Austrian government “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal”.

We urge all states to commence negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the earliest possible time, and subsequently to conclude the negotiations within two years. This will fulfill existing obligations enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be reviewed in May of 2015, and the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice. Negotiations should be open to all states and blockable by none. The 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2015 highlights the urgency of ending the threat of these weapons.

Conventional Weapons

We support the call for a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons (killer robots) – weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without human intervention. We must prevent this new form of inhumane warfare.

We urge an immediate halt to the use of indiscriminate weapons and call on all states to join and fully comply with the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

We commend the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and urge all states to join the Treaty.

Our Call

We call upon religious, business, civic leaders, parliaments and all persons of good will to work with us to realize these principles and polices.

Human values that honor life, human rights and security, are needed more than ever to guide nations. No matter what nations do every individual can make a difference. Nelson Mandela lived peace from a lonely jail cell, reminding us that we must never ignore the most important place where peace must be alive — within the heart of each one of us. It is from that place that everything, even nations, can be changed for the good.

We urge wide distribution and study of the Charter for A World Without Violence adopted by the 8th Nobel Peace Laureate Summit in Rome 2007.


Attached hereto is an important communication from President Mikhail Gorbachev. He was unable to join us in Rome due to health concerns. He is the founder of the Nobel Peace Laureate Summits and we urge your attention to this wise intervention:

Mikhail Gorbachev’s Letter to Participants in the Nobel Laureates Forum

Dear friends,

I am very sorry I am unable to participate in our meeting but also happy that, true to our common tradition, you have gathered in Rome to make the voice of Nobel Laureates heard around the world.

Today, I feel great concern at the state of European and world affairs.

The world is going through a time of troubles. The conflict that has flared up in Europe is threatening its stability and undermining its capacity to play a positive role in the world. The events in the Middle East are taking an increasingly dangerous turn. There are smoldering or potential conflicts in other regions as well while the growing global challenges of security, poverty and environmental decay are not being properly addressed.

Policy-makers are not responding to the new realities of the global world. We have been witnessing a catastrophic loss of trust in international relations. Judging by statements of representatives of major powers, they are preparing for a long-term confrontation.

We must do all we can to reverse these dangerous trends. We need new, substantive ideas and proposals that would help the current generation of political leaders to overcome the severe crisis of international relations, restore normal dialogue, and create the institutions and mechanisms that fit the needs of today’s world.

I have recently put forward proposals that could help step back from the brink of a new cold war and begin restoring trust in international affairs. In essence, I propose the following:
• to finally start implementing the Minsk Agreements for resolving the Ukrainian crisis;
• to reduce the intensity of polemics and mutual accusations;
• to agree on steps to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe and rebuild the regions affected by the conflict;
• to hold negotiations on strengthening the institutions and mechanisms of security in Europe;
• to re-energize common efforts to address global challenges and threats.

I am convinced that each Nobel Laureate can make a contribution to overcoming the current dangerous situation and returning to the path of peace and cooperation.

I wish you success and hope for to see you.

This statement reflects the general consensus of the deliberations of Nobel Peace Laureates and Nobel Peace Laureate organizations gathered at the 2014 Rome Summit but does not necessarily bind any particular participant. For example, some organizations, such as the IPCC, by their constitution cannot endorse specific policy proposals.

* Participants in the Summit were the Dalai Lama, President Jose Ramon Horta, Lord David Trimble, Betty Williams, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman, Mairead Maguire and twelve Nobel Peace Laureate organizations: American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, European Commission, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, International Labour Organization, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, International Peace Bureau, International Physicians for the Prevention of War, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the United Nations.

Quotes and Reflections of a Peaceworker

Late December just before the holiday I had the opportunity to take part in a truly wonderful and inspiring programme with some wonderful, dedicated people from around the world – as part of the creation and development of IAHV (International Association of Human Values) new Peacebuilding unit. I was the trainer in the programme and co-worker with the participants and am a peace advisor to IAHV Peacebuilding. One of the participants took down a number of ‘quotes’ during the programme and sent them later to me and the other participants. This morning I had the chance to read over them, fixed a few to the exact wording used in the training, and added some further thoughts and context that had been brought out in the training but didn’t always make it into each ‘quote’. I’ve been encouraged to share them more broadly and hope they may be of interest. They are offered humbly and with commitment. Warmly, Kai 

Creating IAHV Peacebuilding

“Our words and how we behave as peaceworkers are the equivalent in our field to a surgeon’s hand when doing a surgery.” Continues: “Just as the slightest shake or mistake in surgery can cause harm, we also need to be intimately aware of how our words and behaviour are understood and perceived, and to ourselves model and manifest the values and practice we’re promoting.”

“Peacebuilders undertake to have nuanced understanding of the perspectives of all sides [of a conflict]”.

The Third Way (instead of Third Party) – referencing 1. that it’s not only about 2 parties, usually there are many; and also 2. that there are aways beyond (1) I’m right or (2) you’re right – hence a (3) third way: working to transform conflicts constructively and meet the legitimate interests and needs of all parties involved and work for (sarvodaya) well-being for all

“How can you improve any process/method/tool that you are using?” – promoting the idea of conscious and empowered practitioners – that every tool, method, model, approach has been developed at some time, and every tool, method, model, approach can be improved. Also: that they always need to be customised – ‘fit to purpose’ – for your needs and context, taking into consideration (in particular) culture, language, and people’s sensibilities, what has meaning, value, sense for them, and perceptions.

UBUNTU : Ubuntu (/uːˈbʊntuː/ oo-buun-too; Zulu/Xhosa pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼú]) is a Nguni Bantu term roughly translating to “human kindness.” It is an idea from the Southern African region which means literally “human-ness,” and is often translated as “humanity toward others,” but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.[2]

UBUNTU+: the way it is often described by people in South Africa and by Nelson Mandela during his life and Archbishop Desmond Tutu is “I am who I am because of you. We are who we are because of each other.”

“Empathy does not mean you support a situation or one side, but rather asks you to have the courage to engage with why and in what way it has meaning and significance for that person – why it’s important to them – and to be able to recognise, understand and respect that.” And yes – from that – asks how you can engage authentically with that, with that person’s needs and lived experience, to address needs, transform conflicts, and engage them in peacebuilding.

“[Solutions emerge from] the cumulative impact of our Pb efforts over time.” with the important caveat: solutions and ‘results’ do not always emerge. In fact: very, very, very often they don’t – because, while people wanting to do peacebuilding and wanting to engage to help are often well meaning and well intentioned, they often do not engage with the integrity, authenticity and honesty needed – ie. to learn how to actually do peacebuilding and to really make a difference. I would suggest conservatively that 90% + of ‘peacebuilding’ interventions or what is done under that name or claiming to contribute to peace: 1. make little or not contribution at all / in any way to actually transforming conflict dynamics (other than perhaps for a few individuals) and 2. have little or no (positive) strategic impact on the conflict and on real peacebuilding. The concept of ‘cumulative impact’ is that efforts at many levels 1. are required and 2. ‘add up’ – however: most ‘peacebuilding’ today is done so badly, with little strategy, poorly planned, poorly implemented, not ‘joined-up’/linked/connected. While it gives people engagement, uses money, and makes people feel they’re doing things that matter, the truth is that it very, very rarely does. That’s not because ‘peacebuilding’ can’t or doesn’t work, it’s because the people doing it don’t do it with the integrity, dedication, authenticity, honesty or responsibility needed. It’s not that they’re not well meaning. Many of course are; and many are very committed and work hard. It’s that:

1. we haven’t developed the culture of authentic professionalism and capability. ‘Professionalism’ doesn’t have to mean with ‘budgets’, donors, etc. Professionalism means craft(!), skill(!), capability(!) – knowing what types of interventions and activities done in what ways i. have a chance of working and/or ii. definitely will not. People will say ‘peacebuilding is not an exact science’ and that ‘we often don’t have the resources or scale we need to really make an impact’. However: well over 90% of what doesn’t work in the field isn’t because we don’t know what to do; it’s because we haven’t bothered to learn it – or to learn past lessons from similar efforts and attempts, and what worked, what didn’t work, etc.;
2. we maintain that ‘hope’, ‘good will’ and ‘intention’ are enough. Would we accept that in any other field? Would you go into a multi-story building if it was built by someone who ‘hoped’ they knew what they were doing – or would you want people who love what they’re doing enough that they’ve dedicated their efforts to understanding how buildings stand, how they resist shock, how to design and build them to ensure safety and well being; and to have safety standards and verification that they’re followed. Would you go into open heart surgery with someone who ‘loves you’ and ‘means well’ but hasn’t loved you enough to train and learn the skills of a surgeon?

If we are truly serious about peacebuilding, if we really want to make a difference, it is important today to recognise: there is a  massive amount of extraordinary, relevant, practical and concrete knowledge, expertise and experience that has been developed. This is empowering! Just as we can learn to be doctors, architects, and many other fields of activity – if people are truly serious, truly dedicated, truly committed to making a difference – we can learn how to do that effectively. That doesn’t mean we will succeed. It also takes skill and the will and determination to do it – and the ability to plan, organise, and work well with others, often in challenging and difficult circumstances. It is incredibly empowering and exciting though to know that: yes – today – we can learn how to transform conflicts and prevent violence effectively. [That said: over 90% of our graduate programmes in the field today do not effectively/competently address or teach this because the faculty involved have themselves never been involved, trained or exposed to doing peacebuilding. This is an important issue/challenge our field needs to address to improve the training, preparation and ‘education’ of people in the field’]

“What is extraordinary about Gandhi, is that he was an ORDINARY human being, just as Mandela was, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Malcolm X, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Martin Luther King, the ‘tank man’. They shit just like you do, they get tired just like you do. For some of them they’ve seen and lived through things no human being ever should have to. They have inspired us with the courage and dedication of their actions and lives, and they could all be bastards at moments as well. Gandhi and others are extraordinary not because they were ‘saints’ or perfect, but because they were ordinary people who found it within themselves to do extraordinary things. They were human! Alive! Just like you and I.” In the context of: we do a disservice to these people and to understanding how change occurs if we ‘glorify’ them or raise them as ‘saints’. That makes us believe that it takes ‘exceptional’ people. Unfortunately there are also some in the field who try to present themselves as ‘geniuses’, ‘creators’, the ‘sources’ of the field – often in ways very disempowering making people ‘excited and inspired’ by what ‘they’ can do but believing that only ‘geniuses’ and ‘gurus’ can do it. What would help: a field that respects, admires and empowers that which is within each of us – the wonderful as well as the terrible and the huge mundane and beautiful spectrum in between – and helps us (and where we help each other) to learn and see how, as beautiful, ordinary people, we too can engage and make a difference.

“Try breathing only in for 10 minutes”. In the context of: there are many people who say ‘you have to start from within’ and others who say you have to address what’s out there in the world. The reality is: the world is at its most fundamental levels relationship and interaction. Ideas of ‘starting from within’ to make yourself ‘perfectly peaceful’ or only working to address what’s without without also working on what’s within, are both disconnected and often deeply unhealthy. People do not need to be ‘perfect’ to make a difference. Of course it’s wonderful if people work to have healthy, balanced lives and inner peace, integrity and well-being, but one of the best mediators I know is someone who is a borderline managing alcoholic, who’s had suicidal tendencies, who’s divorced and had trouble relations with his children. This man, who’s had an exceptional, difficult life, is an artist and genius when he’s brought in the room with conflicting parties. His ability to bring them together is…exceptional. I’m not in my arrogance and self-righteousness going to deny his gift or ability and say ‘no(!), you should be a perfect model of peace’. You don’t need to have a happy life to know how to design an early warning system. You don’t need to be peaceful in all moments to be a tactical or strategic genius in nonviolence – as Gandhi, Martin Luther King and hundreds of others themselves prove! This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work for inner balance, well-being, and to be models of integrity. It does suggest, however, that:

1. we should perhaps be less self-righteous/judgemental of others and not hold people to standards we impose, but be able to honour, respect, admire, learn from what they do and, if we feel more should be done or done better, engage to do that and bring that contribution ourselves;

2. we live in the world; we are part of a sensual, breathtaking, beautiful, and at times hurt, violent world. We carry much of this within us. Our environment and context matter – just as for plants, just as for all living things. If human beings grow up in environments/contexts where they are safe, respected, encouraged, that is a tremendous difference than if they grow up brutalised, raped, disempowered, without opportunity to go to school, without proper nutrition, etc. Neither context is ‘iron bound’ dictating the lives people will lead – but they do significantly shape and create conditions and opportunities. They idea of ‘try breathing in’ for only 10 minutes is that: as human beings we exist in our relationship and interaction with the world. Many teachings say that ‘the body is the lowest form’ and the ‘spirit is the highest’. I personally believe: the body, our sensual world, are extraordinary, beautiful, amazing. It does not and may not necessarily need to be ‘either’ ‘or’. We don’t need to value and praise one by demeaning and denigrating the other. That itself may be a reflection of a…contradiction, conflict within ourselves. Perhaps being able to intimately celebrate and value the beauty of body, mind and spirit, of physical, emoltional and intellectual, of the wonderful world within and without…and seeing how intricately, intimately and beautifully they are interwoven and connected…could be…healthy.

“How you walk through life, how you live your life, will enable you to reach higher levels.”  In the context of a discussion on meditation – that meditation should not only be an ‘act’, a moment ‘separate’ from our busy lives – a sanctuary of ‘peace’ which enables us to survive/handle a busy, turbulent world, but that we should endeavour to make our being and every moment ‘meditative’; also reflecting the interesting connection between breathing as central to the practice of meditation and…central to life; and the point that ‘achieving higher goals’ for ourselves is not only about doing that in ‘set contexts’ (ashrams, yoga studios, etc) but how we are in our every moment, in our lives, how we rise and respond, engage with, the actual world around us – ie. do we speak about peace, harmony, beauty, while remaining silent about drones, violations of human rights, massive wealth inequalities, etc? Do we find the peace of the fortunate, middle class and comfortable to care for the luxury of my own happiness, or do I choose to be a human being in the world and work for well being within and without? Is my mediation a casket or escape for myself from a world I find difficult and challenging, or empowerment for me to manifest and engage in that world to be the change I want to see

“’Meditators’ can find an inner well being, and then ignore the world around them. This actually is doing violence. It is enabling those with the opportunity and luxury to ‘retreat’ to their personal harmony; while sacrificing those without that opportunity to violence and injustice. Violence happens, violence can exist, not only because of those who do it, or the structures and institutions which embody it, but because of those who do pilates and meditation. What I mean isn’t that pilates and meditation are themselves violent. They shouldn’t be. The opposite: they can be deeply healthy. But in reality, how we often do them is to create a ‘sanctuary’ for ‘I’, for myself from the world without. At times this can be absolutely healthy and necessary; but when it becomes a ‘path’ of praise and celebration for my own virtue and well-being while I can turn my eye blindly to what happens to the world and to others, then it is the gun shot which kills soldiers and civilians, it is the lever or button that floods gas into the gas chamber, it is the firing button on the drone.”

“By doing service you are not being Self-less…..  you are fulfilling and defining Who You Are…. and Self realising. You are making a choice about who you want to be in the world and the world you want to live in. This isn’t negative. This is incredibly fulfilling and beautiful.”

“This idea of “perfect” is actually, I believe, deeply violent and ugly. It is degrading. It makes people feel ‘less than’.  Think of the magazines that show women how ‘women’ should look? How does that make you feel? Often deeply unhappy and bad about ourselves. This is a major factor in many people’s unhappiness and, in many cases, in suicide: imposing the idea of what is ‘normal’, perfect or good and calling everyone, everything else ‘abnormal’. Here’s what I say: you are gorgeous. In all our flaws, all our foolishness, all our kindness and faults – you, who you are, all of us, are beautiful. We are…an amazingly funky, absurd and wonderful species, and we would go a long way if we recognise and celebrate that, and don’t impose ‘models’, ideas of ‘perfect’.”

“When I practice, I watch videos of my best shots, and try to reproduce those best practices.” a quote by Tiger Woods

Kai Brand-Jacobsen
Director, Department of Peace Operations – (DPO)
Co-Leader and Head of Peace Operations & Integral Development, Global Peace Institute Hacettepe University International MA in Peace Studies
Skype: kai_jacobsen
Telephone: +40752295555

This November 11, let us not dishonour those who died

This November 11, let us not dishonour those who died

Kai Brand-Jacobsen

[This note may be shared, reprinted or reproduced freely as long as proper citation/reference is made]

Across Britain today at many sites commemorating the First World War and 100 years since that terrible slaughter began, there are seas of red poppies laid down as part of November 11 “Remembrance Day”

Commenting on this picture people spoke of its beauty, that it is overwhelming and graceful in commemorating those who died. It was also asked if this way of commemorating "Remembrance Day" (November 11) properly recognises the loss of so many lives in the First World War. This note was written initially in that context.
Photo by Bente Brandt. Commenting on this picture people spoke of its beauty, that it is overwhelming and graceful in commemorating those who died. It was also asked if this way of commemorating “Remembrance Day” (November 11) properly recognises the loss of so many lives in the First World War. This note was written initially in that context.

ceremonies and the dedication to “never forget.” Commenting on these displays (see picture), many people have spoken of their awesome grace, dignity and beauty – that they are almost “overwhelming”.

And yet, at the same time, there’s something very sad about this. The official state sanctioned commemoration of November 11 has gradually transformed from an honouring and recognition of those killed to a legitimisation of state sanctioned violence. While being touched by the ‘gracefulness’ of honouring and remembering we forget: these millions who died in World War 1 did so not for great causes, not in ‘defence’ of homes and freedoms otherwise ‘under attack’, but because of the ineptness, incompetence and, by and large, criminality of state and political ‘leaders’ who could use the resources of their countries not to generate well being and opportunities, invest in education, health, roads, and actually improving quality of life for citizens, but into war. Those who died where fathers, sons, brothers…as well as many civilians including people of all genders and ages. They died for a war that need not have been fought, for interests which were not theirs. And thus, sadly, the way in which most of us practice or reflect upon these seas of red poppies actually…does a disservice and dishonours the memory of millions of men as well as many women sent to slaughter and be slaughtered. It fails in our own moral and human duty to ask the question: why? Was it a ‘heroic’ sacrifice? In some cases actually yes – under savage, barbaric and horrifying circumstances, many, many human beings showed extraordinary camaraderie, humanity and courage – including those soldiers that famous Christmas who reached out across fighting lines and refused to fight with each other, sitting down instead to celebrate Christmas and play football together in the midst of a ‘war’; including those who had the courage to refuse to be ‘soldiers’ and refuse to kill and slaughter others and be conned into the criminal and brutal agendas of leaders who themselves – on all sides – should have been held accountable and tried for murder, war crimes and crimes against humanity, not celebrated and learned about later as ‘statesmen’ by future generations so removed from slaughter that we can find ‘war’ heroic and exciting and forget that seed of humanity within ourselves to actually empathise with and grasp its horrifying reality; and those who rose up…in Germany, in France, in Russia…against brutal states and ‘leaders’ sending them to kill and be killed, and who had the courage to say no. If you want to ‘honour’ those who died, go one step further, not by disgracing their memories with red poppies which treat war as a heroic act, but by remembering that those people who went to kill and be killed were human beings – sons, fathers, brothers by and large – who might have lived another day, who might have gone on to be poets, engineers, teachers, or simply woken one morning to feel the sun upon their skin, to fall in love, to cry, to do any of the thousand things that we do daily and take for granted…but which they can’t, because they were sent to war. We say that November 11 is so that we will ‘never forget’, and yet, almost by definition, how most of us commemorate and reflect upon November 11 is the act of forgetting. We “honour”, “remember” and “recognise the heroism” of those who died – making us think somehow that war is actually about honour and heroism. No, it’s not, no more than rape, domestic violence or murder are. War is simply that: institutionalised murder. It does not solve the conflicts from which it in part arises. It does not contribute to meeting the needs of all the parties and stakeholders involved. To study, learn about, honour, respect or celebrate war would be like celebrating, promoting and spreading the plague or ebola instead of studying medicine, wellbeing and health – for yes, by our complicity acceptance and unquestioning, we perpetuate and allow dangerous “leaders” and decision-makers to continue war-making and dropping missiles from drones rather than the difficult and challenging task of finding actual solutions to real issues and needs. In almost every book store in the UK, and to nearly the same degree in the US and Canada, ‘history’ sections are filled with books on war – 95% plus celebrating, glorifying, legitimising war and its ‘heroism’. Would you sit silently by or do the same if books did the same about rape and other forms of brutalisation? Would it not be so much greater of us, if instead of accepting false certainties such as ‘war is necessity’, ‘war is normal’, ‘it’s human nature to go to war’, ‘people have always fought and they always will’, we actually apply the extraordinary capability, creativity and intelligence of our species to find clear, concrete, practical and effective ways of addressing, transforming and dealing with conflicts without the use of violence? The fact that that concept seems so outrageous or in some cases ‘naive’ or ‘idealistic’ to people shows how little most people even know about, understand or have been exposed to peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Believing that war is inevitable and that to ‘conceive’ of (let alone do) peacebuilding and conflict transformation is idealistic is about as intellectually solid as to believe that ‘death’ is inevitable so to study and learn medicine would be idealistic. No. We study medicine not because we believe in ‘world health’ or that by studying medicine we’ll cure every human being or people will never fall sick again. We study medicine because we know, see, understand and are aware of the scale of the problem – and will do all we can to solve it, or at least work to improve health, well being, and ameliorate pain and suffering. Not believing that healing is valid only if there is ‘world health’, but recognising that if we can abolish a disease, or save one child from cancer, or assist in healthy birth, or any number of the millions of achievements that medicine has accomplished and accomplishes daily for the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world – it is part of what it is necessary for us to do. The same is true for peacebuilding, conflict transformation, violence prevention and post-war reconciliation and healing. We do not need to train soldiers. We do not need to simply commemorate and ‘honour’ soldiers as we so often do – forgetting also the many, many millions more who died as well. We need, today, to truly honour those men and women around the world….by abolishing war, by abolishing the incompetence, arrogance and bad decision-making which leads to and fuels war, and by training human beings – men, women, girls, boys, grandparents – in how to deal with conflicts effectively, constructively and by peaceful means. We need peace education in schools. We need peaceworkers professionally trained, equipped, and supported, not soldiers and trillion+ dollar investment in weapons most people cannot conceive of or comprehend. We need governments and non-state actors developing effective conflict and peace intelligence, early warning systems, joined-up approaches to addressing societal conflicts and addressing root causes, and transcending, overcoming demonisation, stereotypes, enemy images and hate-mongering, war-fuelling propaganda..that leads ordinary men and women to extremism and violence, whether in or out of uniform.

There are very, very many people, who on November 11, pay dignified, solemn respect to those who gave their lives, who took lives, who had their lives taken. There are those who commemorate and remember the many who died, the many who fought – sometimes spouses, sometimes parents, grandparents or great grandparents – and we reflect and think upon those through the last decades and beyond who have made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’. If this be your case, if you choose to respect, to honour, to remember and commemorate, then do so truly – not by dishonouring the memory of those who died by accepting the lies of those who sent them to be killed, but by stopping, reflecting, and asking yourself “where does our responsibility truly lie”. We live in a world today in which there is far, far too much violence. So much that it has become normal, that we have grown to accept it, to believe that it is ‘inevitable’ or the way things are – or the result of some of us being good, and some being evil. It is no more the ‘way things are’ than the earth is flat – another belief that went far too long without being challenged.

As long as we continue to accept media which demonises and distorts, showing others as “the enemy” who intrinsically hate us and want to carry out violence and atrocities; as long as we accept the use of trillions of dollars and the investment of our scientists, resources and capacity in development of weapons and instruments to kill; as long as we maintain university programmes called ‘security studies’, ‘political science’ and ‘international relations’ in which students/people are often unquestioningly taught not to question and to accept the ‘legitimacy’ or inevitability of war while never learning about peacebuilding and proven and effective policies, methods and approaches to deal with conflicts, in fact, instead often having these derided by professors themselves who have never studied, learned of or taken upon themselves the challenge and responsibility to understand them; as long as people like Blair, Bondevik, Bush, Obama, Mobutu Sese Seko, Kim Jong-Un, Omar al-Bashir, Bashar al-Assad, Cameron, Benjamin Netanyahu, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are allowed to be ‘leaders’ and to promote and fuel demonisation, war and hatred of others and not be held accountable – legally accountable – for war crimes and crimes against humanity; as long as we do all of these things and more, then wearing and commemorating November 11 with red poppies is not honouring, commemorating, remembering or respecting those who died, it is actively condoning the decisions, decision-makers and systems which sent them to their deaths. Which killed them, and which continue to kill people today. This November 11, please, let us stop commemorating and passively accepting the systems, ideologies, leaders, decisions and glorification of war and violence – or the false belief and acceptance that they are necessary and inevitable – and take up the true responsibility that we all have: to honour those who have died, by refusing to allow any further to be killed; by refusing to accept so gullibly and unacceptably the myths and bad policies pushed upon us by small cohorts of ‘leaders’ engaging in militarism, war and aggression; by refusing to be complicit as tax dollars and human and societal resources are used for wars, rather than addressing and actually solving the factors which drive them. This November 11 let us finally recognise and understand that there will not be a ‘war to abolish all wars’. There simply needs to be the abolition of war. That, is how you truly show respect. That is how we commemorate, and ensure – never again.

[Note: I have spent much of the last 17+ years in war zones around the world. I have worked in Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Colombia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Lebanon, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine, Burma-Myanmar, southern Thailand and elsewhere. I have spent more time in war zones than the overwhelming majority of soldiers in the world today. I have had and seen friends and colleagues killed. I have had a gun in my mouth and held a 9-year old boy in my arms as he died. I write, not from naivete, idealism or ignorance of war, but from profound and deep dedication, experience and engagement with it – and with peacebuilding. To those who can conceive/utter/believe that to work to address war, to prevent violence, to engage in peacebuilding is naive or idealistic: it is not naive or idealistic to see that there are challenges in the world and to honestly engage to see how to address them, nor is it ‘realistic’ to unquestioningly accept the inevitability of what is obviously wrong. It is, however, realistic and responsible, to recognise that we must, as societies and as a species, find better, more effective ways of dealing with and addressing conflicts. There is a field that does that, and it needs to be studied, learned, developed and improved, just a we have done and continue to do with medicine. This is what needs your intelligence, your engagement, your mind, resources, capacities and effort. This is what we need to train men and women in around the world. This is not a ‘sacrifice’. It is, however, an ultimate responsibility.]

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.



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.).


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.


[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.