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  2. Summer Insights Newsletter - Resilience | United States Institute of Peace
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  4. Summer 2014 Insights Newsletter - Resilience
  5. Get e-book The World and Darfur (Arts Insights Series)

Bashir has long enjoyed the support of China and Russia. But despite repeated requests to the government of Sudan, they have been unable to even get to the conflict zones of Jebel Marra, said a spokesman for United Nations peacekeeping, Nick Birnback. One measure of the violence is the exodus of those who once lived there. The United Nations estimates that nearly , people have been displaced since the beginning of this year. For over a decade, different parts of the vast region of Darfur have been convulsed by fighting between government forces, pro-government militias and rebel groups, producing a death toll that could be in the tens of thousands and displacing more than two million people from their homes.

The Amnesty report is based on what the group said were interviews with survivors and witnesses of attacks on villages in Jebel Marra. The mere cohabitation and collaboration that allow a group of people to go on with their lives, although essential, are not enough for a community to become resilient. Indeed, true resilience requires a redefining of the collective rules, some form of reacceptance of those rules via a new social contract , and, many times, the peaceful coexistence of former antagonists.

This dynamic returns a sense of safety and predictability in what an individual can expect from the community and in what the community can expect from the individual. This supposes, among other things, the re-creation of mutual trust, and penalization for wrongdoing, which is the way communities handle the justice component of addressing past wounds as a complement to psychosocial recovery. Broad and inclusive forms of governance. The mechanisms here also include institutional capacities for resolving the problems between members, and the conflicts that may arise from day to day, and for absorbing shock and preventing further violence.

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Needless to say, this requires the system also to address old grievances that may be the source of new emerging conflicts. Resilience is a multifaceted concept that shows promise because it encourages both researchers and practitioners to understand the dynamic mix of fragility and resilience present in societies that must cope with violent conflict.

Ultimately, societal resilience depends on a balance of risk and opportunity factors. These are culturally constructed; they rest as much on subjective meanings as on external events. But what counts is how, subjectively, they feel it and explain it. In that sense, the notion of resilience is adaptable to various contexts, but in different ways. The framework suggested in this article—to conceptualize the notion of resilience—still needs further testing.

At this stage, it should be considered as a series of entry points, both to assess existing resources and capacities in any given peacebuilding context in particular, the forms of endogenous resilience mechanisms and to measure, through the life cycle of any peacebuilding project, its actual contribution to supporting local resilience. Resilience is a long-term process. If it is to be taken seriously, resilience cannot be postponed to a distant future; it has to be supported from day one of any peacebuilding project, even in the most adverse circumstances.

Summer Insights Newsletter - Resilience | United States Institute of Peace

Finally, resilience offers a promising way to address the more intangible dimensions of peacebuilding—an area where both our analysis and our practice remain weak. Our "Peace Arena" presents a central debate or different schools of thought in peacebuilding. It offers USIP and its partners the unique ability to contribute to and advance the thought leadership of critical topics for the peacebuilding sector at large.

Triggered by an introductory quote, two experts discuss the merit of the presented argument as it relates to the featured topic. Both contributors also receive an opportunity to respond, offering a rebuttal or furthering a key point. Resilience is…slippery to define, and … susceptible to the political economy of re-branding, as various actors scramble to ensure that their programmes hit all the right notes in order to secure funding in a field that seems exceptionally susceptible to new trends and buzzwords.

One fundamental implication is that resilience forces programs to put risks, shocks and stressors more central to their strategies. People working on conflict tend to get this. Perspectives on resilience among peacebuilding experts commonly emphasize the capacity to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflict.

This focus on reducing the likelihood or severity of shocks is important. However, by placing conflict reduction as the end goal, this view risks relabeling peacebuilding work as resilience building. In contrast, the latest thinking among development actors stresses resilience as the capacity to maintain development outcomes—such as food security or psychosocial well-being—in the face of shocks.

This perspective also has limitations; notably it may leave the causes of violence and vulnerability unattended. An alternative approach adopted by Mercy Corps bridges these two views by examining how effective conflict management can strengthen resilience to the causes and consequences of climatic, economic or political shocks. Our research across the greater Horn of Africa indicates that resilience and peace share common roots. In Somalia, expanded social networks and community cohesion underpin both. During the crisis, families with greater social and economic interaction across clan lines maintained, or more quickly rebuilt, food security.

Conflict management can also enhance resilience to natural disasters. In Ethiopia, peacebuilding programs built trust between conflicting groups and increased freedom of movement. The greater access to distant pastures enabled communities to better manage the drought. However, not all approaches to conflict management contribute to resilience.

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Forced disarmament and settlement of pastoralists had curtailed their ability to migrate with livestock—a vital coping strategy during drought. Greater engagement of the peacebuilding field is required to advance the resilience agenda in fragile and conflict-affected states, where the biggest investments in resilience are being made. But to add value, peacebuilding actors must bring two qualities: the awareness that some things in their toolkit will have greater efficacy in impacting resilience than others and a commitment to figuring out the conceptual and programmatic differences between resilience and peacebuilding.

Nevertheless, humanitarians, peacebuilders and development practitioners will seek different manifestations of resilience and bring different lenses to the concept. What is more important now is for scholars and practitioners to adopt an ecumenical approach that allows us to see how a wide range of factors—social, economic, political, cultural, environmental and historical—come together to create resilience to specific shocks in specific contexts. The challenge will be to understand the dynamics at play and correctly interpret their implications for what external actors can and cannot do to build resilience.

With the help of good research, our community will eventually fashion workable definitions and plausible approaches to building resilience.

However, our ability to operationalize them under a results-based aid system that militates against the kind of long-term, contextualized and locally-responsive interventions that a resilience approach requires will be the greater obstacle to success. For peacebuilding, resilience revolves around communities and groups preventing, mediating and constructively managing conflict in their midst. The reality is that communities do this all the time, but international outsiders rarely take time to observe or understand these dynamics. We need to find the resilience that exists, consider new ways to spread effective practices and avoid instrumentalizing them for our own purposes.

I have a few suggestions to consider. Mary Anderson and Marshall Wallace essentially do this in Opting Out of War , where they chronicled the stories of communities that demonstrated diverse ways of exempting themselves from the violence around them, from flexibly employing ethnic identities to create safe space to sophisticated negotiating strategies with belligerents. Once these resilient communities are located, the question becomes how to proceed. It is very difficult for outside NGOs to capture the nuance, trial and error, and perseverance that went into community strategies and to translate them into universal programs.

Greater use of community-to-community contact and dialogue can help here. Allowing communities to process the positive experience of others into their own practices can be a more effective learning strategy while building solidarity and cross-communal ties. International actors must avoid instrumentalizing communal resilience for their own purposes.

In creating local police forces in Afghanistan, the U. Instead, in places like Wardak Province, the military used these local protection groups in offensive counterinsurgency operations. The effort failed and was abandoned after considerable cost in lives, resources and trust. Resilience can hold promise by supporting the organic development of new political and social bargains among groups emerging from complex emergencies and conflict, but those entities funding resilience-based approaches will need to realign their funding and incentives to avoid a rush to rebranding.

Jason Calder rightly identifies the risks of instrumentalizing resilience.

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Summer 2014 Insights Newsletter - Resilience

One of the most worrisome forms I see this taking is in the U. While community-based approaches may be important for CVE, referring to this as building community resilience distorts the concept in a way that jeopardizes its potential to transform how development and humanitarian agencies work. Whereas resilience, as defined by major aid agencies, is inherently about safeguarding the long-term development prospects and well-being of communities at risk of conflict and other crises. This distinction underscores the need to be clear about what exactly we are striving to build resilience to.

It also highlights the importance of pushing back when resilience is co-opted for instrumental purposes. The voices of peacebuilding actors would be much welcomed in this effort. The "In Practice" section presents the scope of peacebuilding activity in a specific country, in the form of a short 'case study. But how do we apply some of the lessons from recent practice? This section of Insights highlights the diversity of peacebuilding initiatives by the full range of actors: from local community leaders to international organizations and everything in between.

The Summer edition of Insights features Lucy V. Moore and Kenneth Menkhaus discussing resilience. Armed conflict in Western Darfur has destroyed basic infrastructure, leaving communities without access to essential services. Violence may occur at any time—weapons continue to circulate and are easily accessible.

Tensions rise as the aid is limited to IDPs, despite host communities demonstrating the same needs.

Civil society actors, religious leaders, community elders and the media pursue a wide range of activities to increase community engagement and promote peace. New mechanisms for dispute resolution are less likely to have deep impact; disputes arising over water are referred to police adjudication, but this process does not reduce the number of reported incidents. Throughout history, faith has provided an enduring motivation for behavioral transformation.


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Working with local faith communities offers a solid foundation for societal change in diverse contexts. Subcommittees now maintain water facilities and negotiate grazing routes between nomads and pastoralists. The number of disputes sharply reduced as a result, allowing close relationships to form between community members who would not have greeted each other previously. Disputes still arise given the layers of tension in Western Darfur.


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Wajir, Kenya is the site of a remarkable case of local resilience in the face of powerful conflict drivers. In the mids, spillover from the Somali civil war produced dangerous levels of clan clashes and armed criminality across Somali-inhabited northern Kenya at a time when the Kenyan government had only a nominal presence there.

In the town of Wajir, a lethal interclan clash erupted in the market. In response, the market women met and agreed to enforce a zone of peace in the market. Critically, the appointed district commissioner saw this informal governance arrangement as an opportunity, not a threat, and actively worked to amplify its capacity. The committee even engaged in cross-border diplomacy with Somali communities inside Somalia.

Wajir district has had a few setbacks since the mids, including a recent violent communal clash over new county borders. But the community has demonstrated an impressive degree of resilience in the face of powerful conflict drivers in the wider region and is a testimony to the capacity for peace that committed local coalitions can generate.

The relationship between corruption and violent conflict is complex and significant. Corruption affects access to basic services, contributes to resource scarcity, and fuels organized crime. It was included on a European Commission checklist for the root causes of conflict, and it was cited as a potential driver of extremism in the report of the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States.

Focusing on several social movements in Kenya, this report reviews the efforts of collective civic action to combat corruption and advance transparency, accountability, and good governance. Type: Special Report. Drawing on extensive field research in Kenya and Liberia around the elections in those countries, this report uses local survey data to evaluate the effectiveness of seven prevention measures thought to reduce the risk of election violence.

Its recommendations, directed primarily to the international community but offering Type: Peaceworks. Electoral Violence.

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Evidence suggests, however, that they also play active and valuable roles as agents of positive and constructive change. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on the most extensive visit to Africa by a senior official in the Trump administration. He will also travel to U. S security and trade interests can only be served if the national challenges for peace and stability in each country are also addressed. Type: Analysis and Commentary. We provide analysis, education, and resources to those working for peace around the world.

Resilience Thinking: A Logical Successor The experiences of the last decade of war have also provided some hard-won lessons learned, many of which point to the utility of resilience as a conceptual framework for peacebuilding work. Ami Carpenter. In this definition, societalresilience has three key characteristics: The capacity to adapt and, therefore, undergo some change in the process is a distinctive feature of the notion of resilience. Assessing the Key Components of a Resilient Societal System While resilience may take many forms, some functions seem to be central in supporting the ability of a community or a society at large to develop and sustain its resilience.

Using the existing literature across disciplines, together with a comparative analysis of indigenous resilience mechanisms documented in conflict and post-conflict environments, in many different cultural and sociopolitical contexts, we find five core functions of community-level resilience: Psychosocial recovery of individuals and communities.

Applying the Resilience Framework as a Guiding Tool for Peacebuilding Resilience is a multifaceted concept that shows promise because it encourages both researchers and practitioners to understand the dynamic mix of fragility and resilience present in societies that must cope with violent conflict.

Writing in response to Dr.