Our latest annual report reflects on some of the achievements we had but also on the challenges we faced building peace in the last year.
With programmes in North Africa (Libya), Western Balkans (Serbia-Kosovo) and Europe/Switzerland (Syria) we also maintained contacts with different stakeholders in Ukraine and the South Caucasus. Our work in the year is detailed in our Annual Report, below, alongside our financial statements. Our key charitable programme activities in the year are highlighted below.
In Libya, through the Social Peace and Local Development Project (SPLD), we:
Continued to support more than 20 Social Peace Partnerships (SPPs) comprising 563 members, strengthening social cohesion across Libya;
Deepened the development of a cadre of 20 peacebuilding professionals who provide support to the SPPs as well as disseminating the SPLD approach;
Strengthened the approach to women, peace and security through implementation of a new project component focused on gender in six municipalities;
Created Livelihood opportunities through a new project component that addressed economic stressors, including conflict and COVID-19, that negatively impact on community relations, gender equality and social inclusion;
Supported a network of 36 peacebuilding practitioners who carry out peace actions involving 26 communities across the country.
In Serbia-Kosovo, our key achievements included:
Five Media Consultation Dialogues brought together media professionals from Serbia and Kosovo to work to end divisive narratives;
A Rapid Response mechanism was established in Kosovo to assess the impact of COVID-19 on non-majority communities, to support an advocacy strategy and increase awareness amongst government stakeholders on challenges facing these communities.
In Switzerland, we engaged with the UN-led peace negotiation processes concerning Syria by providing capacity-building support to the political opposition delegation representation in Geneva. No activities took place inside Syria.
Our work in the year is detailed in our Trustees’ Report, below, alongside our financial statements. Key charitable programme activities in the year were:
Continued delivery for our Libya projects, which now sees the social peace model adopted across 40 towns in the country. In the reporting period we have had a particular focus on combating hate speech which has arisen between different ethnic groups in Libya as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working with partner organisations in Serbia and Kosovo to amplify local voices, especially those of marginalised groups, in support of equitable development. PCi’s own particular contribution has been to work with media organisations in both countries to address the way in which conflictual narratives are perpetuated.
Support to schools in conflict-affected parts of Georgia, Abkhazia to maintain education during COVID-19 disruptions. PCi facilitated the sharing of experiences between teachers across conflict divides on how to address challenges to education posed by the pandemic.
PCi’s trustee Joan McGregor and Senior Peacebuilding Advisor Raj Bhari have been working with ILO to produce a new guide: Promoting Social Cohesion and Peaceful Coexistence in Fragile Contexts through Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
The guide is aimed at TVET practitioners to consolidate their role as active promoters of social cohesion and peaceful co-existence.
The guide seeks to strengthen the role of skills development policies and programmes in peacebuilding efforts through inclusive learning methodologies and training in relevant core skills.
It also provides practical guidance on how to adapt training, to mixed community groups, embed conflict resolution skills, cooperation, and other relevant core skills into training curricula, and create conflict sensitive, inclusive, and diverse learning environments for all.
In 2022, violent conflict was at its highest since World War II, leading to record levels of forced displacement and global humanitarian needs. In this light, the imperative for building peace has become ever more urgent.
As a result of escalating civil and political unrest, “peacefulness” deteriorated for the third consecutive year, according to the Global Peace Index. Two billion people live in conflict-affected areas around the world due to ongoing and new conflict outbreaks. Further, conflict and violence have displaced an estimated 84 million people.
Peaceful Change initiative works on programmes in North Africa, Europe, the South Caucasus region, and more recently in Mozambique. We are witness to the deterioration of peace and the need for peacebuilding in these contexts.
For example, in Europe, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, one in four Ukrainians are now either out of the country or displaced within its borders. The number of refugees from Ukraine seeking safety and support is just under the eight million mark.
In Mozambique, the armed conflict in Cabo Delgado affects thousands of families. More than one million people have been internally displaced due to violence perpetrated by non-state armed groups. The severe food shortage, a direct impact of the climate crisis, which is gravely affecting Mozambique, has worsened this conflict.
But, in the darkness there is light. After 10 years of working alongside others to build peace in Libya, we can see the positive impact of peacebuilding first hand. In 2022, the country recorded the largest increase in peacefulness in the North African region and the largest improvement globally.
Building peace means encouraging better, more inclusive governance, strengthening, and supporting social cohesion, resilience, and trust within and between communities. The work of peacebuilders is critical to breaking the cycles of violent conflict and building the institutions and relationships that support long-term and sustainable peace.
As we look back at 2022, we are proud of the work of peacebuilders everywhere. This has been a year marked by achievements and challenges for Peaceful Change initiative, which you can read more about in our Annual Report. Here, we want to highlight a few of the lessons we have learned through building peace in 2022.
Integrating gender into community-level peacebuilding is not a linear process
Since 2013, Peaceful Change initiative has been supporting community-level peacebuilding initiatives in more than 40 Libyan municipalities. Last year, we launched a report which captures our experience and lessons learned from nearly 10 years of integrating gender into our peacebuilding programme in Libya. Some of the key lessons learned are highlighted below.
Talking about gender in context-sensitive ways through approaches co-designed with Libyan project participants and partners is key. In practice, this means, for example, using cultural and religious references and role models to make the case for women’s participation and leadership.
Working with both men and women ensures community buy-in, support from men who act as ‘allies’, and mitigates potential risks arising from challenging social and gender norms. Additionally, providing opportunities and support to women, with grants and training for example, to strengthen and practice leadership skills is key to increasing their participation, confidence and visibility.
Our gender mainstreaming approach has been successful in increasing the number of women participating in project activities, improving the quality of their participation, and ensuring the representation of women from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Progress, however, has not been linear; whenever a crisis occurs we see setbacks in women’s participation. Additionally, projects designed and carried out by women are not always transformative with regards to gender roles. Building on the learning we have gathered to date we will continue to integrate gender into our peacebuilding programmes in Libya.
Solidarity can be forged even in times of high tensions
Through 2022, Peaceful Change initiative’s Western Balkans team has been working with a diverse group of civil society organisations from Kosovo and Serbia in order to develop a Rapid Response Mechanism capable of reacting to instances of divisive rhetoric or destabilising incidents which can negatively affect relations within and between communities.
By sharing perspectives on specific issues, the mechanism has helped deepen understanding about the sources of grievance within particularly communities, whilst reducing the scope for a lack of awareness or misinformation.
Additionally, the joint stances developed and adopted by the group demonstrate how solidarity can be forged even in times of high tensions. Some examples of such solidarity include a call for new constructive voices and an expression of profound concern about the impact of a lack of progress in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue on local communities.
Conflict sensitive aid is paramount in Northern Mozambique
In late 2022, we visited Mozambique for the first time, at the request of one of our partners in the humanitarian and development sector. Visiting the conflict-affected Cabo Delgado region gave us first-hand experience of the difficult and complex situations that international organisations there must navigate when delivering aid, and the vital importance of a conflict-sensitive approach.
Many humanitarian and development organisations have been working in northern Mozambique for decades, but in recent years have found themselves working amid a fast-moving and unpredictable security situation. We have been working to generate a conflict analysis, including an assessment of conflict-related risks that aid agencies may encounter, and strategies they can take to mitigate these risks.
We are providing conflict sensitivity training and guidance, as well as guidance on adapting aid programmes so that they can measurably contribute to better social cohesion. We will look to expand this work in 2023 to meet a growing demand.
Ukrainian civil society inspires action amidst tragedy
Peaceful Change initiative last worked in Ukraine in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, working with communities in Kherson and Donetsk who today find themselves at the frontline of the war or in areas under occupation. At the time we took great inspiration from the participants in our work, for their determination to contribute to building a democratic post-Maidan Ukraine and to their preparedness to transcend differences and seek to understand compatriots with different views about the past, the present, and the future. Their painstaking efforts to rebuild relationships after the military violence of 2014 took a definitive setback with the Russian invasion of 24 February 2022. This is in addition to the incalculable loss of life and physical destruction that we see every day.
Our Ukrainian partners, remain an inspiration re-affirming again their commitment to build a united country, at the foundations of which will be an active civil society that brings represents and serves all parts of its community also applying the skills and values of peacebuilding.
We will join efforts with our partners in 2023, working on social cohesion issues in some of the communities that, while untouched by the military invasion, have been at the forefront of upheaval as a result of the war. Peaceful Change initiative will also work to develop models of engaging citizens for inclusive recovery in those places that have felt the full brunt of Russia’s assault.
Looking ahead to 2023
Looking ahead to 2023, we will continue to ensure our peacebuilding work is locally driven as we expand our Conflict Sensitivity work to Southern and Eastern Africa region. We also aim to support civil society and peacebuilders across Europe and South Caucasus region to address the heightened risks and vulnerabilities in the wake of the Russian war in Ukraine.
Above all, we want to thank the organisations we work with, our team and our funders, without which our peacebuilding work is not possible.
This is the first discussion note in a series intended to inform development of a new tool for conflict sensitive decision-making related to international humanitarian, development and peacebuilding assistance. The tool is intended to help decision makers determine whether an action is conflict sensitive before it is taken and consists of 5 tests, or questions, which should be considered. Click here for the discussion note.
This discussion note introduces and provides an overview to the tool. Subsequent discussion notes will look into particular tests or aspects of the tool. The discussion notes have been prepared as part of a consultation process with conflict sensitivity practitioners, donors and implementers to test and develop the tool.
Our work in the year is detailed in our trustees report below alongside our financial statements. Two objectives have been to build resilience in fundraising and grow our expertise and we are pleased to report that we supported 10 separate donors across 15 programmes in the year. We also met our goal to build six months of operating costs as financial reserves and carry a healthy cash balance.
In brief our programme highlights are;
In Libya, PCi has delivered actions that contribute to local peace, development, and stabilisation through the 14 Social Peace Partnerships supporting conflict management at the sub-national level and through the Peacebuilding Network supporting a Network of 44 Libyan peacebuilding practitioners from 26 communities across the country. A number of Social Peace Partnerships have also played an important role as consultative and conflict sensitivity mechanisms to support the implementation of UNDP’s ‘Strengthening Local Capacities for Resilience and Recovery’ and ‘Stabilisation Facility for Libya’ interventions.
In Syria, PCi has delivered actions to strengthen the capacity of a group of Syrian youth in transformational leadership skills and how to apply these across conflict lines. In addition PCi has facilitated a Conflict-Sensitive Assistance for Syria retreat in November 2017 (and April 2018) and subsequently published a report on the Conflict-Sensitive Assistance for Syria Retreat in April 2018.
In Ukraine, PCi has worked with civil society organisations working along the line between Government and Rebel-controlled Ukraine to build their skills as dialogue facilitators and accompanied community groups to deal with practical issues in constructive ways. At the international level PCi has commissioned research and convened discussions to inform the international response to the crisis in Ukraine and how assistance can contribute to addressing underlying drivers of conflict.
On the organisation front we have recruited to strengthen our capability in finance and operations, communications and expanded our outsourced services for managing Human Resources and Payroll. Looking ahead to 2019 we are aiming to complete a strategy review, an upgrade of Finance capabilities and investment and training for improving our programme and business development frameworks.
Our work in the year is detailed in our Trustees’ Report, below, alongside our financial statements. Key charitable programme events in the year were:
Continued delivery for our Libya programmes across a number of governmental and institutional donors;
Completion of our programmatic work in Syria and the winding down of operations to support this work;
Development of proposals and operations for the Black Sea region including Ukraine and Armenia.
A decision was taken by the Board in 2018 to wind down all programmes for the Syria region and halt taking on new work. This was due to PCi’s judgement that prevailing operating conditions inside Syria are not conducive to meaningfully deepening the organisation’s work. Also, despite some governmental and institutional interest in our proposals for Ukraine, we were unable to secure new programme work for this country. We remain in communication with donors regarding the delivery of work for 2020 onwards. However, the Board decided to open up programming in Armenia, and PCi successfully fundraised for a new project there.
On the organisation front we continued to refresh and refine our strategy and business planning and improve governance of risk management, and prepared for new financial accounting and reporting systems from April 2020. Our reserves policy for the year was executed as net-neutral in that we neither added to nor deducted from our cumulated reserves; however, we achieved our goal of £250k reserves, which broadly represents 6 months’ operations. A new reserves policy will be set at the AGM in 2019.
In this webinar, PCi’s Senior Advisers Lesley McCulloch and Anthony Foreman shared the key findings of a new PCi report on the challenges and opportunities of, and lessons learned from, mainstreaming conflict sensitivity in remote programming contexts. They discussed the evolution of the remote programming model employed in Syria and Libya, where PCi works to support and build the capacity of local leaders to manage conflict.