In recent years, much attention has been focussed on the need for devising and implementing more effective ways of recognising when and where conflicts might occur and of intervening to prevent these from happening.
Structures and mechanisms have been developed and implemented in various parts of the world for carrying out “early warning”, by monitoring key indicators of impending conflict and violence. Ideally, any resulting predictions of impending crises will then be acted upon through some kind of conflict prevention mechanisms.
In fact, conflict prevention is somewhat of a misnomer. What we actually aim to prevent is the escalation of conflict to the point where it becomes destructive and violent. In the normal course of events, conflicts occur quite regularly in interactions between individuals, groups and nations. Conflicts, as disagreements and conflicting interests between individuals and groups, are inevitable. In most cases, these conflicts are dealt with non-violently in ways that lead to some kind of peaceful resolution and possibly to an even more positive change in the situation.
World Vision aims to play a role in preventing the escalation of conflict to violence in the communities where we work around the world as well as in our international work with governments and inter-governmental bodies.
As a child-focussed organisation, we put particular emphasis on preventing and mitigating the effects of violent conflict on vulnerable children and youth.
Globally, the World Vision partnership has been lobbying governments and inter-governmental bodies to establish and strengthen mechanisms for preventing the outbreak of violent conflicts.
We advocated for the establishment of the UN Peacebuilding Commission and are now monitoring its implementation and are lobbying for the strengthening of its mandate, capabilities and resources.
World Vision recognises the importance of doing comprehensive analysis of the various factors that might lead to rising levels of instability and violence. We have adapted and devised a range of tools for carrying out such analyses, in connection with our programming. At the community level, we have adapted and regularly use the Local Capacities for Peace/Do No Harm (LCP/DNH) assessment tool.
For national and international levels, we have developed a set of tools known as MSTC (Making Sense of Turbulent Contexts) for analysing the involved parties and their relationships and historical trends, as well as the relevant political and economic factors, in order to build scenarios for how the situation might progress and change.
Based on these scenarios, we then consider the potential impact on the communities in which we work and other implications for our future programming, so that we are able to play a role in preventing the escalation of conflict and violence.
Civil society peace efforts are no panacea, but they are indispensable - not sufficient but necessary. Grassroots peacebuilders have shown over and over that conflict is NOT inevitable and that development and peace are complementary not competitive.
From Bosnia to Colombia to Sri Lanka courageous and unarmed civilians - often children and youth - are subverting the power of the gun simply by talking to their neighbours. From Kosovo to Indonesia to Sierra Leone, ordinary people are building peace by risking their own lives to save others from the curse of conflict.
Click here to read 'Grassroots Efforts to Prevent and Resolve Violence'