Always Key to Peace Impact: People-centered Vision and Impact
Thinking and working in the peacebuilding field has become more nuanced and complex while every day is full of richness. After ten-weeks engaged in the Rotary Peace Center Fellowship Program with Chulalongkorn University, I have learned there is an important inter-relationship between different areas of thematic work and also sometimes confrontations between them. Based on this growing knowledge, I have several questions I would like to share with all of you.
When speaking about innovations in the peacebuilding field, a great deal of focus seems to be placed on the “technical project” where the focus is placed on efficiency. Therefore, my first question is: Does such a technical approach lose the people centered vision and intended impact? Yes, “peacebuilding must have results,” as detailed by Professor Kai Brand-Jacobsen. From my perspective, with too much of a predominate results oriented focus as driven by requirements from many donors, the “before and after” for me misses the longer-term social process that is required for a people-center vision and nuanced impact.
As a person with a business background, it is easy to understand that peacebuilding projects need to be efficient, with an important focus on innovation and resulting impact. Impact, from my point of view, should always be considered when we talk about peacebuilding projects regardless of the intersectionalities: peace and environment; peace and security; inclusive peacemaking; etc. Further advancing my thinking, when we explored “community peacebuilding”, Professor Zahra Langhi emphasized not looking at peacebuilding as a series of “projects”, because we are working with people. People who are living and suffering from stressful situations, and this goes beyond a “project”. Peacebuilding work is about people foremost, and must always be advanced with a “people-centered” vision, must be inclusive, participatory, and representative, taking into account local contexts, self-organization, etc. Furthermore, from this perspective, any peace engagements will interact with the conflict and such interactions may also have positive and negative impacts.
As a Rotary Peace Fellow with Class 32, I want to highlight our focus on these methods and the challenges we will face as we continue to advance the design and implementation of our Social Change Initiatives (SCIs), any and all peace work that we do now and into the future. From my perspective, a “people-centered” approach is vital to ensuring a vision and impact that is nuanced, respectful and impactful – and ensuring more durable peace. This is even more important now as human relations appears to be becoming more dehumanized, social media environment contributing to further divisions.
Peacebuilding as a field of study and engagement remains young, and growing; we must assume ourselves as part of its development in the near future.
Alba Purroy – Venezuela
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 32