Cross-Conflict Participation: Advice of Experts
The Difficulties Page 7


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


Cross-conflict participation is a new procedure, and it will face many difficulties. As Kriesberg says, we must "acknowledge the problems. The circumstances of trying to overcome a deep-rooted conflict, after bloody violence, even with UN peacekeepers around is not easy. See, e.g. Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel-Syria, etc. etc."

Professor Hyllke Tromp of the Polemological Institute in Groningen (Netherlands) suggests that cross-conflict participation may work in two types of situations: 1) where the fighting has been stopped, and the parties have come (or been brought) to the conclusion that they have no other real option than to negotiate; and 2) "a category of conflicts where no fighting and killing has broken out, but where, if nothing happens, this certainly will occur." It will not work if conflict has escalated to a point of no return where war has become inevitable.

Even under the best of conditions, the procedure will be difficult. Fisher reminds us that we must be concerned with "protecting the physical security of the actors you involve. You should assume hostile elements on all sides of a de-escalated conflict, until experience proves otherwise. Partly for that reason, I suggest you begin this work quietly, proceed slowly, and achieve some successes before you seek wide publicity." The same point is made by Wiberg: "How is it possible to avoid that local members of cross-conflict teams are seen as traitors by their own peoples, or that they get into unbearable dilemmas created by double allegiances?"

Wiberg lists the following additional problems that will need to be worked out in practice:

-Do people speak the same language, or will one have to use a lot of interpreters?

-Where can external volunteers be useful even without knowing the local language and where can't they?

-What are the types of cooperation projects that benefit from external assistance, and what types are better left to local actors to develop for themselves? To what extent are they to build on existing local resources, where do they call for external material assistance, and how can they survive when this ends?

Whose interests will be threatened by programme activities, and how can this be avoided or how can they be persuaded to cooperate?

How crucial is it that there is electricity, printing paper, road transportation, telephones, etc., and how can the programme be revised to make up for these things?

-What categories of people in a village have to be involved in a programme for it even to get started, and what are the social restrictions that have to be observed, e.g. in terms of age, gender, and religion?

Like any new approach, cross-conflict participation will need to be revised and improved. As Kriesberg puts it, "ongoing self-assessment and action research are needed. The evaluation and monitoring should be used to improve the quality of the work being done to build a culture of peace."

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