Promoting Lasting Peace Through Conflict Transformation

Written and Created by: Lia Ferrante

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace through justice and faith by improving the stability and security in communities around the world.

This isn’t the only international organization that is using conflict resolution.

Peacemaking and conflict prevention is active around the world by helping to bring conflicts to an end and to prevent new crises from rising and increasing. The field of conflict has increased and grown dramatically in the last 20 to 30 years; “between 1945 and 2000, there were over 300 international conflicts and more than 3,750 cases of mediation.”

“The objective is to reduce the local impact of violence that the youth is facing in their own communities,” Fabiola Flores Munoz, Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee in Guatemala, said. “It is essential to include local community leaders, civil society organizations, public officers, and the community in general. In this level, the community awareness plays a very important role.”

They build peace by enhancing the relationships between people and their communities. There are four steps to conflict transformation that is involved in helping these countries overcome the crisis and devastation they have faced since conflict has occurred. These steps are involved in a process that has helped youth organizations come together to fix changes that need to be made.

“It is important to have good policies because they are specific to our youth’s needs,” Flores said. “There are external factors, root causes, cultural issues and financial issues that we can’t control. It will take a lot of time to change.”

The four levels include: personal, relational, structural, and cultural level. The personal level is when changes are experienced to individuals in a physical behavior. The relational level occurs between individuals after the conflict has occurred. This level is involved when a conflict has developed into a prejudice, stereotype, or dehumanizing between individuals.

The structural level occurs when the society is unbalanced after the devastation. This is  between the relationships among groups in a society as well as communities, public and private institutions. Lastly, the cultural level involves the changes in the foundation of the community in their beliefs, practices and values.

These changes can cause damage in the actions that can occur amongst the community as a whole. The four levels of conflict transformation will help a community discover peace by transforming personal attitudes, overcoming devastating events, and re-learning how to form relationships amongst one another. Real peace is more than the absence of war. We need to change the culture, situations and systems that lead to violence. (AFSC.org)

To learn more about the American Friends Service Committee, go to: AFSC.org.

     
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