Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders is Peace Direct’s new award recognising the best emerging local peace organisations in conflict-affected countries. It looks for innovative ways to promote peace, led by local people in their own communities.
Four winners will receive an award of $4,000 each, plus the opportunity to attend an international peacebuilders’ conference hosted by Peace Direct, and promotion of their work online. The competition was open to any grassroots organisations, from anywhere in the world, and judged by an international panel of experts.
We were amazed at the response to the call for applications. 244 organisations entered, many more than we had anticipated. Applications came from 54 countries, from Azerbaijan to Zambia, with all continents except Australia represented. The problems these organisations were addressing, and the solutions they had found, were as varied as the countries they came from - from the use of the arts to rehabilitate ex-child soldiers in Uganda, to grassroots mobilisation of women in Nepal.
But one trend does emerge. The vast majority of local peacebuilders are working with young people as a key part of their programme. The entrants we spoke with all emphasise the key role they see young people playing in building peace. Again and again, they talk about working with young people to counter propaganda and prejudice, and creating opportunities for young people to prevent them from being drawn into violent groups.
A good example of this is the rehabilitation work with former child soldiers from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, which is being done by one of our award winners. They stop these former fighters from drifting back into war, by settling them in villages, training them to earn a living, and giving them micro-loans to start a business. This is innovative grassroots peacebuilding of the kind that promotes sustainable peace.
From the 244 applications, a shortlist of nine was sent to a panel of international experts to decide the winners. The judges were chosen to include the wide array of voices in peacebuilding – local practitioners, academics, international policymakers. They were: Dishani Jayaweera (Sri Lankan peacebuilder), Lord Jack McConnell (former UK Special Envoy on Peacebuilding and former First Minister of Scotland), Bridget Moix (US academic and consultant on conflict prevention), Michael Ryder CMG (Chairman of Peace Direct, former UK diplomat), Nathaniel Walker (Liberian peacebuilder). Full profiles of the judges are available here.
The winners represent the diversity of applications we received – from already well-established groups, with international recognition, to small community organisations that have never received funding from outside their country.
All have in common a local approach to peacebuilding - one that could only have been developed by local people drawing from their own experiences. Each is an example of the power of local people to find innovative solutions to conflict.
Community Network for Social Justice, Uganda
Community Network for Social Justice (CNSJ) is working not only to rescue child soldiers kidnapped by Joseph Kony’s LRA but to ensure they have a meaningful place in communities they come home to. The legacy of conflict has left a generation bearing the physical and emotional scars of war. Many young people feel they little hope for a better future, and risk falling into life of crime or returning to violence. CNSJ gives them the skills and confidence to build a new life. Read more about their work.
Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó, Colombia
Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó is a community dedicated to showing the people of war-ravaged northern Colombia that peaceful cohabitation is possible even amidst the violence. For 15 years, the community has stood firm in their commitment to peace and non-violence, even when violence has been directed towards them. More than 250 members of the community have been killed since 1997. Read more about their work.
Kapamagogopa counteracts prejudice between Muslims and Christians in the insurgency-affected province of Mindanao, Philippines, by introducing Muslim volunteers into community organisations run by Christians. By empowering Muslim volunteers to apply their talents helping Christian communities, Kapamagogopa bridge the deep-rooted religious divides between them. Read more about their work.
Peace Solutions International (Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo)
Peace Solutions International (PSI) taps into the acting talents of refugees in Uganda to shoot and air low-budget films that educate people how to build peace motivating them to return home ready to do so. Uganda has a substantial refugee population. Each community of refugees often bring with them their own divisions, prejudices and psychological wounds from the conflicts they have fled. As different communities compete for the scarce and limited resources on offer, tensions between them have invariably flared. PSI brings communities together to build trust, understanding and peace. Read more about their work.
Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders 2014
We plan to run the competition again in 2014. Applications will open in spring 2014. If you are a local peacebuilder, interested in entering, please sign up here be kept informed.
We would like to thank the generous supporters of the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders competition. Funding has been received from The Rockwool Foundation, the Blandford Lake Trust, the Serve All Trust and the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation.