News Type: Programme updates

Supporting marginalised communities in Georgia impacted by COVID-19

This report has been produced by PCi’s partner organisation in Georgia, IDP Women’s Association Consent. The report summarises quantitative and qualitative research carried out by Consent and their partners in isolated communities in three regions of Georgia on the way they were impacted by the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the report in English, click here. For the report in Georgian, click here.

Increasing awareness of a conflict aensitive approach to aid interventions in Syria

There are many groups and countries involved in Syria, who bring their own agendas to the context, making conflict dynamics extremely complex.  In 2018, Peaceful Change initiative worked to bring together International NGOs, UN agencies and donors, working in Syria to start a conversation on the delivery of humanitarian, development and peacebuilding assistance and explore understanding around the interaction of aid with the conflict, which can have positive and/or negative effects.

Two meetings were convened for representatives from 7 Syrian NGOs, from both government and opposition controlled areas and 13 International NGOs and UN agencies. In the meetings, the Syrian context was analysed to support increasing awareness of what drives peace and what drives the conflict in Syria. This helped implementing agencies to apply a conflict sensitive approach, when delivering aid, in efforts to minimise negative effects and the risk of exacerbating the situation – and maximise positive effects by identifying opportunities, to build peace.

A one one-day exploratory War Economy Retreat was also convened for 7 Syrian NGOs, alongside a parallel retreat organised for 9 donors and 15 international implementing agencies. Some examples of how assistance interacts with the conflict were explored with a couple of examples outlined below.

Distribution Effects

  • The benefits of assistance are distributed unevenly and reinforce existing social, political or economic divisions or tensions
  • Or assistance can reduce tensions between groups when assistance is delivered across existing tensions or divisions in a collaborative manner

Economic market effects

  • Intervention may distort the local economy
  • Or the intervention could build supply chains across conflict lines

Some key insights from these meetings include:

  • It is not the norm for projects in Syria to explicitly take conflict sensitivity into consideration and the development of conflict sensitivity tools could enhance the effectiveness of aid
  • Embedding conflict sensitivity into a project cycle may create challenges due to the monitoring limitations in Syria

The Peacemakers’ Network – Libya, launches campaign to counter hate speech on social media

The Peacemakers’ Network – Libya, has launched a campaign to counter hate speech on social media “Our difference does not separate us”. It is based on workshops that were held in 12 Libyan cities between February 27 and March 5 2021, with support from Peaceful Change initiative. The target audience included media professionals, activists and social media activists in the regions. A webinar was convened on 10 March (in Arabic with English translation) to support the connection of target audiences and to introduce the campaign and motivate the audience to be a part of it. For more visit Campaign Facebook Page  and/or The Peacemakers’ Network, Libya Facebook Page

The Peacemakers’ Network – Libya, gives Libyans from both sides of the conflict divide a vehicle to work together in an institutional way, to seek funding autonomously, and to amplify the voice of its diverse membership and is registered with the authorities.

Promoting understanding of conflict sensitive communications to international assistance providers working in Libya

In early March, Peaceful Change initiative (PCi) delivered a training on Conflict Sensitivity and Communications to international assistance providers working in Libya. The relationship between the communications environment and peace and conflict in Libya was explored including the polarised media and social media environment; the use of communications as a political tool and the expression of inter-group tensions online. Participants were able to look at how their communication activities may feed into the peace and conflict dynamics with negative or positive impacts and discussed how to manage such impacts. They also learned about how their communications could be used as a tool to support conflict sensitivity.

Conflict sensitivity comes from the recognition that humanitarian, development and peace-related assistance may have unintended impacts on peace and conflict. PCi works to promote conflict sensitivity in policy and practice within the humanitarian, development and peace fields.

The training is part of a broader training series provided through the Conflict Sensitive Assistance (CSA) in Libya programme, funded by the European Union and the Embassy of Switzerland to Libya. The training series provides different staff functions of international assistance providers working in Libya with the understanding, confidence and tools to apply conflict sensitivity to their work. For more information, send an email to libyacsa@peacefulchange.org.

Social Media youth campaign to strengthen the role of young Libyans in peacebuilding

Peaceful Change initiative, through the Social Peace and Local Development Programme has launched ‘Bader’, a social media youth campaign to strengthen the role of young Libyans as peace actors. Through amplifying the voices and experiences of young peacebuilders and civil society activists, Bader aims to inspire young people to take action and engage in peace, social cohesion, gender equality and social inclusion initiatives in their own communities.

The campaign will use social media to connect young peace leaders from across the country and facilitate knowledge and learning exchanges. This will support the strengthening of existing youth networks, as well as building new relationships among peace leaders with diverse experiences and backgrounds, challenging divisive narratives through meaningful interactions around peace and youth issues. The young leaders are being encouraged to tell their peace initiative stories and through the campaign, three of the participants will be awarded a grant to fund a new initiative. Please visit  https://www.facebook.com/bader.libya.pci

Libya: Promoting public engagement with the Constitution

The development of a new Constitution is a central pillar of a peaceful political transition in Libya. While the Peacemakers’ Network recognised the importance of the Constitution during the transition process, they had concerns that few communities across the country had access to credible information about the draft Constitution text, or measured debate about what the purpose of a Constitution is. Joint analysis by the Peacemakers’ Network members indicated an urgent need to foster constructive public debate about the Constitution to overcome citizen apathy and disengagement from a key part of the country’s transition process. Peacemakers’ Network member Ms Khadija Elboashi, Lecturer in Law at Tripoli University, said: “What was disappearing from the debate is any understanding of what a Constitution is and what role it plays in the life of a nation.”

To this end, two members of the Peacemakers’ Network, from different parts of Libya, took the lead in developing a campaign on public engagement with the Constitution drafting process. Due to the highly polarised nature of traditional media and social media in Libya, the Peacemakers’ Network opted for an approach of direct, face-to-face engagement with local leaders and influencers. The Peacemakers’ Network subsequently developed a set of tools and materials for facilitating workshops, town hall meetings and similar events focusing on the Constitution; trained Peacemakers’ Network members in how to use these materials; and embarked on an ambitious project to hold public engagement meetings in all parts of Libya. The Peacemakers’ Network engaged with the Constitutional Drafting Assembly throughout.

Ukraine: Local tensions addressed by Dialogue Initiative Group in Beryslav

PCi supported by the Institute for Peace and Common Ground, trained 12 dialogue facilitators in 4 communities of Kherson region. A Dialogue Initiative Group was established in Beryslav where two community members and a representative from the local authority were trained as dialogue facilitators. The Dialogue Initiative Group sought to explore the ways in which dialogue could be more firmly embedded as a formal approach to resolving differences, as well as enabling and promoting more participatory decision-making. 

In Beryslav, controversy had arisen from the Decommunisation Law that was passed by the Ukrainian Parliament in 2015, with some statues requiring removal, due to their connections with the Soviet past. Residents of Beryslav held different perspectives on Soviet history and there were varying attitudes towards the symbols. In June 2015, a monument to Lenin was destroyed by local activists, which increased tension and division in the community.

In order to reduce tensions around a remaining statue, the Beryslav Dialogue Initiative Group conducted a dialogue with individuals representing a range of opinions on:  “How to improve a memorable place taking into account the current legislation of Ukraine and the different views of the city’s residents?”  Common ground was found on the way forward with citizens representing different perspectives agreeing to work together on a project for the reconstruction of the remaining statue, that would fulfil the law of Ukraine but also take into account all historical periods of the city and opinions of its residents. The work of the Dialogue Initiative Group helped to improve understanding between the parties in the community and contributed to the removal of tension around the remaining statue, it also improved the interaction between groups with differing opinions in the city.

Ukraine: Using a Dialogue Initiative Group to build trust in Muzykivka village

Muzykivka village is located in the Southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, which borders the Crimean peninsula. When the government of Ukraine began to reform the system of territorial administration Muzykivka was an early adopter, uniting with four other villages to form a new amalgamated community in 2016. The reforms led to more decision making and budgetary power at the local level; this change required “creativity and responsibility” in the words of the community head.

The lack of power that local authorities had experienced in the past led to a situation where decision making was not responsive and this impacted services, but also resulted in a form of public disengagement whereby problems were not aired and discussed but rather remained pent up.

The Institute for Peace and Common Ground began working in Muzykivka in the summer of 2018, building up a Dialogue Initiative Group with facilitators trained to identify conflict issues, analyse them and design a process by which they could be addressed. People in the community also built the skills to engage people to take part in these dialogues: “All participants really like this approach”, said one of the trainees. “Some of them started to use dialogue principles in their work and everyday life. For example, a local government representative started to use the tools he acquired for communicating with people bound for military service and he has noted how relations have become better.”

Armenia: Youth as advocates for peacebuilding

Peaceful Change initiative worked with an Armenian NGO, Youth Cooperation Centre of Dilijan (YCCD), to promote youth participation in decision making related to peace and governance issues. This supports UNSCR 2250, which urges governments to include youth participation in local, national, and international institutions, in efforts to end conflict.

15 young activists from Yerevan, Tavush, Shirak, Lori, Kotayk and Ararat regions participated in the six-day training held in Dilijan in August 2019. They were equipped with the skills to become ‘trainers’ and take their skills back into their communities, to work with other young people to engage them in peace and governance issues.

The training was structured around a Training Manual that had been developed with support from PCi. It sought to improve understanding, among the youth, of peace and peacebuilding in Armenia, and explained the basics of conflict transformation.

Arman, a 28-yearold civil society activist, said: “It was useful to know that peace is not just a general term and that it can be used in both a positive and negative way.” It also sought to develop communication skills that support non-violent dialogue and outlined approaches and tools that support the development of action plans for youth engagement in governance in Armenia.

Following the training, Marika, a 26-year-old teacher, said: “Now I am ready to go back to school and to work with the new materials, the Training Manual will be very helpful!”

Download the training manual in Armenian here

First Media Consultation Dialogue tackles portrayal of ‘the other’ in Serbia and Kosovo

Peaceful Change initiative held the first of a series of Media Consultation Dialogue, conducted as part of the project: Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development. Media Consultation Dialogues look to engage media experts and professionals from a range of backgrounds and who hold different perspectives, to assess different elements of the media scene and propose new approaches to tackling conflict-generating narratives.

The first Dialogue took place over two separate online sessions on 17 November and 1 December 2020. It reflected on findings of a recent study on divisive narratives in the media in Kosovo and Serbia and discussed critical factors that enable unhealthy portrayals of Kosovo and Serbia in one another’s informational space. The discussions proposed:

  • Finding ways to give media outlets more and more diverse information about their neighbouring country, to help journalists move past worn-out narratives that dominate the present media space.
  • Finding ways to incentivise journalists and media outlets to research, produce and publish different types of stories.
  • Pooling resources, so that media representatives receive more information about one another’s societies on a more regular basis.

A summary of the discussions can be found here