Confronting War: Critical Lessons for Peace Practitioners




Anderson, Mary B.
Olson, Lara

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The Collaborative for Development Action


This working paper reflects the work and lessons learned from the Reflecting on Peace Practice Project. Over an eighteen month period, RPP conducted twenty-six case studies on a wide variety of types of peace efforts, undertaken in a range of geographical settings, in different stages of conflict, at different levels of society, and with varying forms of connectedness to local, indigenous peace efforts. These case studies were done at the invitation of the agencies involved, to capture their internal reflections on their work, as well as the views of a wide range of counterparts – participants, partnering local and international NGOs and other agencies, communities affected by the work, representatives of relevant levels of government, etc. The cases were conducted through field visits to the areas where the programs were undertaken. There were also a series of consultations bringing together more than eighty peace practitioners—both those who live in conflict situations and those who work outside their own countries. These practitioners reviewed and reflected on lessons that emerged from the cases were telling us. A number of issues emerged as central to effective peace practice but around which there remain significant differences of experience and belief. These linkages between levels in peace work, the roles and relationships between “insider” and “outsider” peace agencies, and the relationship between context analysis and strategy development. Additional areas of focus included tradeoffs between working for the reduction of violence and for social justice, dealing with deliberate disruptions of peace processes, and assessing Inadvertent negative impacts.



Peace Processes, Inclusion, Do No Harm