Turning research into action for a safer world  
UC Irvine logo  

Conference on The Role of Citizen Peacebuilding
in Conflict Transformation

June 1-4, 2000,
University of California, Irvine

The conference convened thirty researchers and practitioners, both "outside" facilitators, and "insiders," to compare experiences working in public peace processes and to analyze their impact. Most participants came from areas where there has been violent conflict, slow progress toward peace, and numerous initiatives in official and unofficial diplomacy. They are peacebuilders in Kosovo, Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia/Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Moldova/Transdniestria. Other participants came from the Korean and African-American communities of Los Angeles who have been working on bridge building before and since the riots, and from various ethnic communities in Orange County who are interested in finding ways to prevent interethnic violence in neighborhoods where tensions have been rising. They examined and compared their experiences, along with people who have been working with these initiatives as outside facilitators and researchers, and an official diplomat with experience in several of the cases.

We know much about how outside facilitators go about their work as intervenors, and less about how the people who participate in the initiatives perceive these efforts and how their communities are impacted. Therefore participants traced the link between these citizen peace initiatives and change, or the absence of change, in the communities. They discussed better ways to get information from these interventions up to the policy makers, as well as down to the ordinary citizens who can form stronger peace constituencies.

Conference participants presented case-specific in-depth knowledge about citizen peacebuilding initiatives. We are now evaluating these case studies using comparative methodologies to help identify recurring patterns of effective and ineffective citizen peacebuilding, and to separate general principles of action from idiosyncratic features. This will help to uncover what does and does not work in such strategies, and lead to more effective initiatives.See conference report.

Toward this goal participants addressed the three research questions below:

(1) What if any changes have occurred over time in the attitudes of the participants, the various sectors of the public, and the political leaders, internal and external, toward official and unofficial peacebuilding?

(2) How have the official and unofficial activities interacted and influenced each other?

(3) What have been the processes and paths through which attitudes have developed and moved through the communities?

We expect that this effort will assist us to further develop theory on conflict transformation. These case studies and the comparative analysis will be published in an edited volume.

An important result of the conference was the development of the Program in Citizen Peacebuilding at UCI that is engaging the conference participants and other outstanding peace researchers and practitioners around the world in innovative and collaborative research, education and practice that will advance more effective, citizen based problem-solving relations between groups and nations to prevent, mitigate and resolve violent conflicts.

To view the complete report, click here: Conference, June 1-4, 2000
Back to Programs