Democracy and Peace-building: Re-thinking the Conventional Wisdom

By
Howard Wolpe and Steve McDonald

This article, which is a systematic analysis of the practical experiences of theauthors in facilitating workshops to help resolve African conflicts, argues that we need to think again about how we both conceptualize and operationalize peace-building techniques. As the Iraq debacle may be said to show, to impose a peace settlement and democratic government institutions on a state and people after a war does not, by itself, work. What is needed is a much deeper understanding by the parties to the conflict that they have shared interests, a common vision and must learn to work in collaboration with one another. In their work in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia, the authors and their team have developed new training techniques that are based on experiential learning. They organize workshops that bring key leaders together in a long-term process designed to resolve the tensions and mistrust that are the inevitable by-product of conflict and war, and to build (or rebuild) their capacity to work effectively together across all of the country’s lines of ethnic and political division.

 

 

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