Cross-Conflict Participation: Advice of Experts
The Actors Page 5


Expert Advice
Page 2

Peace-Culture Consciousness
Page 3

Role of Trainers
Page 4

The Actors
Page 5

Education and Information Campaigns
Pages 6

The Difficulties
Page 7

Resources and List of Specialists Consulted
Page 8


Who should be the priority actors in cross-conflict participation? This question was debated a great deal by the specialists. On the one hand, it was emphasized that there are advantages to the engagement of recognized leaders of the community, both because their influence has a multiplier effect and because their opposition could prevent the Programme from taking place. On the other hand, it was also emphasized that women and young people, not usually represented among these leaders, can be the most effective agents of basic change, and that victims, rather than dominants, have more motivation to create a new culture of peace. Some of this debate will be given here in detail.

The importance of leaders is stressed most directly by Riitta Wahlstrom of the Institute for Educational Research in Jyvaskyla, Finland: "The role of politicians and mass media workers are most important. They are the real creators of public opinion and cultural change. I would create teams from politicians and/or parliamentarians and a team of journalists..." similarly, MacGregor suggests that "very early in the Programme a special team should be dedicated exclusively to the mass media, which are today the educators of the majority of people in the world, especially those who are younger." Bah stresses the involvement of religious people (priests of different cults) imam, marabouts, etc.), because all religions already have strong currents of peace in their teachings.

All the specialists agree that leaders need to be engaged in some way. As Hakan Wiberg of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Research at the University of Copenhagen reminds us, "culture in virtually all definitions of it is a collective phenomenon." In most societies "it is the family, the clan, the village etc. that are the individuals." "It is therefore first of all necessary to approach the gate-keepers of these collective individuals rather than arbitrarily chosen members of it." Kriesberg puts the matter similarly: "It is important to use existing institutions, insofar as possible. This can be a problem, but it needs to be faced --religious, educational, professional, business, and political leaders need to be engaged."

But it is also clear that others besides leaders must be given a high priority as actors. Both Morales and Reardon emphasize that youth should be the highest priority population. Morales also emphasizes the importance of involving people who are engaged in the process of production because they deal most directly with the basic questions of poverty and development. Sakamoto makes a related point:

Trans-group cooperation is likely to develop with less difficulty between the disadvantaged people -- i.e. victims --of the dominant structure, if their perspectives have been gradually reformed through the consciousness-raising process mentioned above, than between the dominant elites who are the beneficiaries of the system which gave birth to the violent conflict.

There are difficulties associated with many of the potential actors. As Fisher indicates, "elected officials are difficult actors in this type of process, since they are so tied to political issues, which through linkage, often kill peace-building initiatives." Fisher also believes that the involvement of demilitarized soldiers may be especially difficult "although I know there is often an immediate practical need to find some constructive involvement for them." And Wiberg reminds us that the involvement of youth and women may be difficult in many societies where roles are rigidly defined by local customs.

Taking all the remarks together, it is clear that cross- conflict participation needs to involve as wide a range of actors as possible, with the understanding that there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with each category. Again, the specifics must be worked out in practice, keeping in mind that, as said by Bony, a culture of peace must ultimately involve the entire society# including the family, the workplace, and the circles of friendship.

Heterogeneity of actors is needed within each team. Reardon suggests that teams should have an equal balance of men and women. Deutsch points out the importance of this heterogeneity for the proper development of peace culture consciousness:

When conflict arises within a team, one doesn't want polarization to occur primarily along conflict group identity. For example, if work groups are composed of both genders, different ages, different occupations, etc., then any person will have multiple identities within the group so that conflict, when it occurs, will not necessarily be ethnic or national conflict.

In this connection, it is important to recall that the purpose of the culture of peace programme is not to eliminate all conflict, but to develop non-violent ways to channel conflict into constructive action. As stated by MacGregor, "conflict is not the enemy of peace -violence is the enemy of peace."

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