Beyond the bang-bang: Reporting from the front lines of peace
Dealing with the bang-bang and numbed to the carnage, there is a tendency in our reporting and others’ to accept conflict and the suffering it creates as somehow inevitable.
But it isn’t. Which is why we’re launching a new series, reporting from the front lines of peace. We’ll report on how atrocities can be prevented, how societies can be made more resilient, and how peace can be sustainably built.
In short, we’re looking at the flipside of humanitarian disaster: attempts at healing and redemption with a focus on the “triple nexus”: the fusion of peace work, development, and humanitarianism.
Below, we introduce you to some of the people our reporters have met, offering their unique take on what peace means for them. You can also click through a graphic that tots up the number of agreements around the world (the huge number is both positive and alarming). And take a look at our "war and peace, defined" section – explaining some of the ideas you might find in our coverage.
Meet the people on the front lines of peace
Instead of looking at what’s broken and what has gone wrong, our reporting will focus on what works, or might work – from community-driven approaches to international initiatives. We’ll follow clues as to why some societies resist falling into violence, and we’ll trace the steps to successful peace interventions.
We’ll marry the strength of our on-the-ground storytelling with the latest peace research to generate coverage that offers fresh perspectives, creates awareness around policy options, and ultimately momentum around positive policy choices.
Because no region holds a monopoly on tolerance or violence, our coverage will be global. We’ll focus on these broad themes:
Mediation – the art of a positive deal, creating inclusive and broad-based peace.
Resilience – managing fragility to transform conflict into opportunities for peace.
Reconciliation – building tolerance and helping people overcome the wounds of conflict.
Women in peace and security – turning a gender lens on issues of inclusion and sustainable peace.
And, yes, COVID-19 adds a new and as yet unclear dimension to both conflict and resolution. We’ll be looking at that, too.
Check back here to see our latest reporting – along with some of our best archival coverage. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter to keep up with all our peacebuilding coverage.
The following terms are likely to crop up in our coverage. They refer to the human toll of conflict, but also point to the transformational potential peace has on attitudes, institutions, and power structures within societies.
Atrocities: Refers to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. The first three are international crimes defined by conventions.
Crimes against humanity: A range of acts including murder, enslavement, torture, enforced disappearances, rape, and other sexual crimes if they are committed in the context of “a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population”.
Elite bargains: Peace deals that allow the distribution of power and the allocation of resources between select, high-profile groups in a society. Although these deals can offer initial stability, they are based on pre-existing configurations of power and often don’t address underlying grievances and conflict triggers.
Ethnic cleansing: The killing or expulsion of a group of people from a geographic area. It includes acts that are serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that may amount to genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.
Genocide: Defined as the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. That can include imposing measures to prevent births or forcibly transferring children within the group to another group.
Peacebuilding: Addresses the reasons for conflict and aims to prevent its re-emergence by helping communities manage their differences without resorting to violence. It is a long-term collaborative process involving changes in attitudes, behaviours, and norms.
Positive peace: Peace does not just mean the absence of conflict. If the seeds of violence are not tackled, it can revive. Positive peace addresses the political, economic, and social drivers to conflict. It is about creating inclusive, participatory, and equitable systems.
Prevention: Once violence takes hold, incentives kick in for it to continue. Effective prevention requires acting before grievances harden and the threat of violence limits the choices available to political leaders and affected communities.
R2P: The Responsibility to Protect is an international security and human rights norm adopted in 2005 to address the UN’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.
Women and peace: Women are largely excluded from the negotiating table, even though their direct participation increases the sustainability and the quality of peace. The vast majority of peace agreements fail to reference women and address their concerns, including empowerment and gender-based violence.
Peacebuilding Deeply, part of the NewsDeeply archive that is now hosted by The New Humanitarian, offers additional context. As we start this journey to the front lines of peace, tell us what you’re interested in reading about – or send us tips on people or initiatives or organisations we should know about.
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