What is I4P
Two descriptions of 'Infrastructures for Peace' have gained traction over the years:
"A network of interdependent systems, resources, values and skills held by government, civil society and community institutions that promote dialogue and consultation, prevent conflict and enable peaceful mediation when violence occurs in a society. " (UNDP, 2013, Issue Brief: Infrastructure for Peace)
"A dynamic networking of skills, capacities, resources, tools and institutions that help build constructive social and political relationships and enhance sustainable resilience of societies against relapse into violence." (Giessmann, 2016, Embedded Peace: Infrastructures for Peace: Approaches and Lessons Learned)
Such infrastructure, which can also be stated as constituting a society's "collaborative capacity," can help a fragile, divided, or post-conflict society, or a society in rapid transition deal with, for example, recurrent conflicts over land and natural resources and find internal solutions through multi-stakeholder dialogue.
Infrastructures for Peace require key stakeholders in a country to adopt a co-operative, problem solving approach to conflict based on negotiation and non-violence.
Institutional mechanisms, appropriate to each country's culture and context, must be in place to manage this approach at a local, regional and national level. Components of these structures are often National, District and Local Peace Councils; comprised of highly respected and experienced individuals with the capability to bridge political divides and transform conflicts. It is crucial that these levels are interlinked and complementary.
Numerous individuals from various professions have worked on building Infrastructures for Peace to support societies to build collaborative capacity and have hereby accumulated over twenty years' extensive experience from different contexts. This has yielded growing evidence that it is an effective, valuable and promising approach to long-term prevention of violent conflict and constructive conflict transformation.
Establishing a national ‘Infrastructure for Peace' may include:
- development of institutional mechanisms, appropriate to each country's culture and context, which promote and manage this approach at local, district and national levels;
- adoption of a cooperative, problem-solving approach to conflict based on dialogue and non-violence, which includes the main stakeholders.
Such an infrastructure can help a fragile, divided, transitional or post-conflict society build and sustain peace by:
- managing recurring conflicts over land, natural resources or contested elections;
- finding internal solutions, through mediated consensus or multi-stakeholder dialogue, to specific conflicts and tensions;
- negotiating and implementing new governing arrangements- such as new constitutional provisions- in an inclusive and consensual manner.
Essential components of peace infrastructures can include:
- National, District and Local Peace Councils- comprised of trusted and highly respected persons of integrity who can bridge political divides and who possess competence and experience in transforming conflicts;
- National peace platforms for consultation, collaboration and coordination of peace issues by relevant actors and stakeholders;
- A Government bureau, department or Ministry of peace building;
- Passage of legislative measures to create national ‘Infrastructures for Peace' with appropriate budgets;
- Expanding the capacities of national peace building institutions, related government departments, Peace Councils and relevant groups of CSOs;
- Establishing an effective early warning and early response system;
- Renewing and using traditional perspectives and methodologies for conflict resolution;
- Promoting a shared vision for society and for a ‘culture of peace'.
- These components are not obligatory, but are amongst possible pillars for building ‘infrastructures for peace'.
Infrastructures for Peace can be established bottom-up, through governmental policies and coordination structures, or top-down via local initiatives such as peace committees that may or may not be connected to a national infrastructure. See the case studies to learn more about the practical experiences in diverse contexts.