Creative Tent International, suppliers to US AID and other international response and development agencies, are very good at putting up tents in emergencies. Their “Technical Representative can direct your crew and equipment in the installation process… Install on concrete, asphalt, ground, or grass – No foundation required.” You can watch the video it’s really pretty impressive.
The organisations, technology and experience of emergency response are the trunk from which peacebuilding eventually and reluctantly branched out from. For a long time getting bogged down in the gritty, political, complicated world of institution building, democratic oversight and conflict resolution did not sit comfortably with many development donors. Only once peacebuilding processes had been wrought down into technical programmes did large scale international peacebuilding really start its now global crusade.
Today cultural and social aspects to conflict resolution are being given more attention within international peacebuilding objectives, toolkits and log frames. Yet the broad approach remains tied to the simpler days of technical and logistical prowess as the underlying method. Furthermore the softer (let’s say 'arts and humanities') aspects to peacebuilding are often the afterthought. The luxuries of developing sports leagues, internationally touring musicians and national theatre companies are seen as reward for successful security and bureaucratic reforms. Peace allows for culture. Or so it has been assumed.
National unity cannot be assumed to be a positive by-product of institution building. Yet nor can unity be established without institutions in place to articulate it. Neither entirely precedes the other. South Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia and the DRC may not be cohesive nations for many years, but a broader approach to institution building could support rather than tear apart their cultural unities. Without wide inclusion into cultural institutions, not just state and economic ones, they will be, and have been, used to subjugate rival groups.
Taking encouragement from this, arts and cultural development projects may start to show people being brought together at each stage of peacebuilding. These are the deeper foundations of comprehensive peacebuilding. Having started out with decades of expertise gained in emergency response and development, international peacebuilding still has much to learn about the full breadth and depth of its ambitions.