Peacebuilding in application of the work of NGOs in conflict areas

Essay, 2008

32 Pages



This paper illustrates the meaning of peacebuilding as a comprehensive sustainable process that aims at resolving the conflicts, which spread widely in the post Cold War era within different nations and among them. Peacebuilding as a sustainable process requires the intervention of different actors at the local, national and international levels and requires the cooperation between them to coordinate their roles in the post conflict situation. This paper also discusses specifically the role of NGOs as one of these important actors in the international community and the different actions that carried out by them that help in providing a healthy environment for sustaining peace and development at the same time. However, linking peace with aid by NGOs in most of the cases added more damage in the targeted post conflict countries instead of depleting it. Discussed within are the challenges that have been met by different NGOs at different levels when trying to incorporate peacebuilding into development and while intervening in the field.


When the cold war came to an end the world became characterised by a general state of disorder. The number of conflicts has dramatically increased and its nature has totally changed, as most of the recent conflicts have shifted from being focused on the struggle between the two previous polar superpowers, to be existent inside different states instead of being among them (Lilly, 2002).

Those who made these disasters paid a very costly price for the material, social, spiritual, political, cultural, humanitarian, ecological and psychological damage (Paffenholz and Reychler, 2001).ch conflicts that lasted for long periods caused the deaths, grievance, displacement and distress of more than 40 million people throughout the second half of the last century. All the previous efforts that have been done by nations to build up their economies and social and institutional structures have been destroyed as a result; these countries became unable to supply even the minimal basic needs for its population. Thus, the need for peace became necessary to start in rebuilding these damaged nations and to stop the human suffering. Peace cannot be achieved through signing peace agreements or drawing a road map for warring parties. It also cannot be achieved within a short time of period through peacekeeping missions. Peacebuilding is a comprehensive constructive process requires the participation and cooperation among different actors at different levels within the international community who have different roles and could apply different strategies in the long run as a trial for resolving the conflict, reforming the country, maintaining its security and strengthening peace (Ball and Halevy, 1996).

Most of the international community actors hesitated in intervening in such “intra-state” conflicts that either do not grab their interest or raise their worries for being engaged in the politics behind it. In contrast, the NGOs decided to intervene to stop the human misery in the world caused by these conflicts. They have become more attracted recently to intervene in complex hostilities because of the humanitarian principles that rule their intervention through providing humanitarian assistance in different emergencies, which made their involvement as peace-builders afterwards to be more acceptable than any other actors did (Wallace, 1999). Besides, their involvement is driven from their recognition that any conflict can destroy their developmental attempts that they were trying to accomplish for years. (Ball and Halevy, 1996). Nevertheless their role in peacebuilding is still questionable because of the historical background about previous NGOs’ interventions in different conflict resolving situations who favour acting in the situation and controlling it than to spend time in comprehending it and hence to learn how to deal with it. Moreover, the challenges that NGOs face while building peace made their initiatives for peacebuilding unsustainable, inequitable, unaccountable and illegitimatised. All that alerted the NGOs to revise their strategies of peacebuilding and to discontinue their competition among each others for providing funds and operating in the targeted areas by searching honest and valid codes of conduct and real humanitarian principles that can be accepted worldwide (Wallace, 1999).

Comprehending peacebuilding:-

Peacebuilding as a term was firstly revealed by Boutros B. Ghali in his Agenda for Peace when he was thecretary General of the UN in 1992(Boutros-Ghali, 1992). Peacebuilding stands for the interventions that achieve sustainable development, reform and building the structures and institutions of the nations. It includes building the capacities of NGOs as actors to be able to take part in the process. Peacebuilding engages a wide range of different approaches, processes and stages that are required for having a revolutionary shift toward more stable, non-violent relationships and diplomatic governance manners and structures. It also includes structuring the institutions of legal and human rights and establishes effective systems for fair governance and conflict resolutions. Its activities have to be built on participation of local people; commitment by all partners at all levels and the coordination among them. Peacebuilding gives more importance to healing the relationships that being affected by violence in different communities, it can be considered a policy concept that aims at improving the outcomes of the practices of deficient development (Morris, 2000).

Lederach (1997) claims that building peace is similar to being committed to building a long- standing house which involves investment in resources, collecting materials, designing the structure, setting a plan for the building process , coordination of resources and labour, setting concrete foundation, building walls and roofs, accomplish the process and plan for regular maintenances (Lederach,1997)

Generally, the main objective of peacebuilding is to resolve the conflict in a constructive way through addressing its major components, amending its problems and changing its strategic thinking, its opportunity structures and the different ways of interaction by different actors. At the same time, it aims at creating a sustainable environment for peace as it focuses on the different ways that creates peaceful regions, envisioning peaceful future and implement an effective peace plan that built on a comprehensive needs assessment (Reychler, 2001).

It is agreed that peacebuilding always creates positive peace. Nonetheless, Galtung (2007) suggested two different models of peace: negative peace, and positive peace. He claimed that whenever there is absence of violence, which is considered negative peace. On the other hand, positive peace is the case of having social stability in which the new disputes do not escalate into violence. His argument is based on the fact that social conflicts are expected in any community and as long as any conflict does not take violent forms, it may turn the society into a dynamic and an inventive one. This model argued that the main target of peacebuilding is to remove violence as part of resolving the conflict with the aim to make sure that all peace efforts will be sustainable (Galtung, 2007)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: (Galtung In Galtung and Webel, 2007)

In the beginning, peacebuilding thought to take place only in the post-conflict phase, but now it became commonly agreed that it could take place in all phases of the conflict including the pre-conflict situation. As stated in

An Agenda for Peace, peacebuilding can be preventive and should be endeavoured when there are any sign of conflict to prevent any violence before it takes place (Intern, 1998; UN 1995)

Figure 1: Different phases of any conflict that can be avoided through peacebuilding

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: (Brahm , 2003 from Beyond- intractability)

In conflict situations that end up by no absolute winner especially in countries with negotiated peace settlements, peace process passes through four main phases which differ from a country to another and the shift from one phase to the next require doing some initiatives to direct the situation towards peace. The main phases of peace process as taken from countries with negotiated peace settlements are illustrated in the following table:-

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: (Ball and Halevy, 1996)

There are different tools can be used in preventing conflicts and building peace which can be used in any “peace-conflict- peace” of the tools can be used by internal actors and the others can be used by the external ones. Moreover, more than one tool can be used in one context. Nevertheless, to make using any tool more effective, it is important to understand the conflict context and examine the appropriateness of the tool very carefully. Peacebuilding tools include different projects, procedures, programs, policies or methods that can be used by peace actors and especially the NGOs; Lund (2001) classifies the different peacebuilding tools in seven different functional categories in the following table:-


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Peacebuilding in application of the work of NGOs in conflict areas
University of Birmingham  (International Development Department- School of Public Policy)
Conflict, Humanitarian Aid and Social Reconstruction
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Peacebuilding, NGOs
Quote paper
Nabila EL-Gabalawi (Author), 2008, Peacebuilding in application of the work of NGOs in conflict areas, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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