Politics of Peace and Conflict Ending

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“Peace is rarely conceptualised, even by those who often allude to it” (Oliver Richmond).

Peace can be conceptualized as a communion of ideas, that when agreed upon, causes a state of welfare and well-being for self and others. In other words, peace can often be looked upon as a state of harmony that comes from the lack of conflict. Conflict, can be of different types, differing in intensity and casualties, whether on a local scale or international, spreading across a period. Conflict can be as simple as two people fighting over an orange, or as complex as religious austerity. The key to resolving conflicts lies in understanding what caused the tension and discussing the best ways to create a win-win situation for all parties involved, thereby ensuring minimum damage. Somehow, this theory seems easy to quote and difficult to put into action. External agencies often have to be involved in arbitrating and mediating such issues to ensure a gentle transition from a state of conflict, to a state of non-conflict (negative peace).

In the time of monarchy, the king was the highest authority and his word resolved all disputes. People had to obey. Some kings were wise, some were not. Corruption and foul play started creeping in and monarchy was done away with. Newer forms of governments gave rise to newer forums of justice. For long, indigenous communities have found their own methods of addressing and resolving conflicts in a peaceful manner. Panchayats in India, would call together for a group of elders (headed by a Sarpanch), would listen to a range of disputes and amicably resolve them. However, if they failed to reach a conclusion, the conflict would be raised to the Anchalik Panchayat (block), and then to the Zilla Parishad (district level). A similar setting was seen in ancient Jerusalem, where the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of judges, would discuss, question and resolve issues of any kind among the Jews. However, if they failed to reach a valid resolution, they would raise the issue to the king, who would then raise it to the governor. All around the world, different yet familiar forums of justice and peace were being established. Peace would prevail. The mantra was simple, if two parties could not resolve the conflict, get an external agent to help. Over time, conflicts became grave and started to threaten the lives of people. International agencies were formed to monitor, facilitate and control these conflicts and attempt to bring peace. Humanitarian interventions became necessary to achieve a state of non-conflict. As agents of change, these bodies seemed to gain a certain elite authority to conceptualize and bring about peace. With the vision of world peace, nations are called together to engage in and contribute to peace-building efforts. But not all efforts are successful.

One of the key concepts studied during this term was the approaches to peace-building. While peace is a highly coveted state of well-being for groups, it takes a lot of effort to achieve it. The transition from the state of peace to the state of war is quick, the efforts to transition back to a state of negative peace is slow and hard. A lot of compromise and forgiveness is involved. Often, the ones who agree to bringing in peace are unaware of the pain and hurt caused to the victims of the conflict. Agreements and peace treaties take a top-down approach, trickling from the agents of change, down to the victims of war. These peace agreements tend to neglect the needs of the victims and fail to address the underlying structural issues of the conflict, thereby making the prevailing peace very fragile. There is a constant fear of an outbreak and the tensions make safety and security of the people a real threat. When the peace agreements were made in Sri Lanka, they were primarily focusing on bringing the two disputing parties of UNP (United National Party) and LTTE (Liberation of the Tamil Tigers) together, failing to consider the underlying ethnic differences that caused the conflict in the first place. These underlying tensions then gave rise to newer conflicts and instability, causing the peace process to fail. Now, in a state of Victor’s Peace, monuments depicting the victory from war adorns public spaces which represent a symbol of defeat and sorrow for the LTTE.

Peace can be designed, discussed and regulated by many agencies, both international and local, but unless peace is built by the local community, and not by the elites, it is not sustainable. Pre-existing, deep rooted issues first need to be addressed before any conclusions to achieve peace is drawn.

Dynamics of Peace

Every conflict is unique. Every actor to that conflict is also unique. Therefore, every peacebuilding effort should also be unique. Different strategies to resolving conflict can be conceptualized and formulated based on the pain point of conflicting members.

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Actors to peacebuilding, based on Lederach’s model, indicate to first building a strong base, i.e., communities. Communities, are the basic unit of nation-building. Once communities are peaceful, the nation can be considered peaceful. Enlisted below are two strong examples of communities and their peacebuilding efforts.

Bolivia, a landlocked country in South America experienced something remarkable recently. For years their government was headed by an indigenous man - Evo Morales. It was the first time an indigenous man became the voice of the people. A lot changed since his first term. The people supported his work and re-elected him for a second time. Things were a lot more different this time around. Corruption became more prominent and political agendas became clear. Earlier this year, Bolivia had their elections. Many campaigns were created to encourage people to exercise their right to vote. Awareness was spread, candidates made their elaborate speeches and on the day of the elections, something terrible happened- voting booths were attacked, and votes were rigged. Evo came to power for a third time. From a bird’s view, the situation looked harmonious; the people loved the president so much that they re-elected him for a third term, but the truth was far from it. This breach in trust grieved the people massively. Peaceful protests started off as soon as Evo took office again. Although suppressed by the government, the people would not stop. For weeks the protests continued. People wanted a new and fair government. The military intervened. They supported the people. Evo, resigned. International media coverage indicated a coup. The people revolted. Evo is currently seeking asylum in Mexico and an interim president has taken office – Jeanine Áñez. Elections will be held in January (mechanical peace).

Bali, an island in the Islamic country of Indonesia, has a very strong Hindu community. Containing about eighty percent of the Hindu population, its people are very peaceful. Prayers are offered at various times of the day and every auspicious festival is observed with utmost reverence. The only conflict it has experienced in recent times is the terror attack of 2002, that killed about xx people, but even that did not wreck the harmony that exists in its community. Used as a model of peace in South-East Asia, Bali strong culture, faith and community is what sets it apart (energetic peace and moral peace).

‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ states that collective consensus is always closer to the right response than the response of the smartest person in that crowd. It is when the people come together to work in unity, stability, peace and harmony is achieved. Communities have always been central to peacebuilding.

A Collective Approach

Auroville is another thriving example of a self-sustaining peace centered community in India. A home for people of the world, this community was established in 1960s, focusing on the one thing that matters the most, peace. A prime example of nature-based peace approach, this village has grown to 2500 in 2019 and strives to attain and maintain peace and harmony with one’s self and nature. Every person is responsible for his action individually and collectively. This collective approach is what makes it so successful. When one realizes that his/her actions have a consequence that affects the others, they act more responsibly (energetic peace).

Conclusion

Every peacebuilding approach is unique just as every conflict is unique. Since no one approach can address all conflicts, it always helps to know the community – its culture and practices, before addressing the conflict. Peacebuilding agents should first focus on building trust with the local community, finding commonalities, learning from them their culture, norms and social practices, educating them about the peacebuilding efforts and actively involving them in the process. Peace is something that works inside out, unless there is peace on the inside - from the community, into the state, into the nation. The more a person is involved in building peace, the less likely they are to disrupt it. Unless efforts begin from the bottom and make their way up, peace will be hard to attain and maintain. All efforts need to be rigid, yet dynamic.

References

  1. http://visionofhumanity.org/indexes/global-peace-index/
  2. https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
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Politics of Peace and Conflict Ending. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/politics-of-peace-and-conflict-ending/
“Politics of Peace and Conflict Ending.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/politics-of-peace-and-conflict-ending/
Politics of Peace and Conflict Ending. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/politics-of-peace-and-conflict-ending/> [Accessed 18 Apr. 2024].
Politics of Peace and Conflict Ending [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Apr 18]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/politics-of-peace-and-conflict-ending/
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