From Argentina to Zambia, Zimbabwe to Azerbaijan, 224 local peacebuilders from 53 countries entered this year’s competition to find Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders. Out of hundreds of entries, our international jury of experts have selected the groups which best represent the strength of locally-led peacebuilding in 2014.
The winners offer a snapshot of what local peace organisations are doing across the globe, from resettling child soldiers in Uganda, to preventing violence in Burundi ahead of elections, to preventing tribal violence in Papua New Guinea. Common to all is a commitment for building peace in their own communities.
The prize winners
Bosnia-Herzegovina: peace for the generation growing up after war, Centar za Izgradnju Mira
Twenty years after Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II, Bosnia continues to suffer from ethnic division which threatens the next generation growing up in the aftermath of hostilities. Founded in 2004, Centar za Izgradnju Mira (Centre for Peacebuilding) have worked with thousands of young people to combat ethnic tensions and mistrust. Founded by two Muslim men who survived war camps and displacement, it is based in Sanski Most, a town on the faultline left by war, on the troubled border between Bosnia-Herzegovenia and the Serb-dominated Republic of Srpska. This is a region tragically scarred by war crimes and past atrocities.
Centar za Izgradnju Mira bring together young people from hostile ethnic groups and religious faiths, to build understanding and tolerance. They host peace camps, provide non-violence education in primary schools and run an inter-faith choir. For the first time since the war, they encouraged a peaceful dialogue between the main imam of Sanski Most and two local Christian priests: as a result, local mosques delivered aid to churches during recent floods.
Burundi: ‘zero violence’ campaign in post-genocide, pre-election Burundi, Dagropass
Burundi faces elections in 2015 that may revive the violence of its past, 21 years after genocide. The war shattered rural and vulnerable communities and left a huge number of weapons circulating among the population – particularly in the remote province of Bubanza. Close to DR Congo and the dense Kirbira Forest, this region has been the epicentre of armed violence between five rebel groups.
With a mandate to promote peace, security and socio-economic rights, DAGROPASS is tackling the country’s tragic past head on. Since 2007 it has been removing weapons from civilians in the Bubanza region, assisting government operations to collect and destroy weapons, signing up communities to observe the International Arms Trade Treaty and providing education around this sensitive issue. Its aim is to secure a weapon-free community.
Just as war left thousands of weapons, it also severely damaged infrastructure and the economy– particularly in rural areas destroying communities and intensifying gender-based violence. As people rebuild their lives, it’s become clear that empowering the social and economic rights of women is essential to stability. They provide medical assistance to widows, orphans and vulnerable children. DAGROPASS run regular information session, informing rural women about their human rights and offer them training in small business activity.
Papua New Guinea: preventing inter-tribal warfare, United Nauro-Gor
For three decades Papua New Guinea has suffered from inter-tribal warfare that has claimed hundreds of lives, destroyed entire villages and hampered development. This was halted in 2002 with inter-tribal peace talks which established United Nauro-Gor, an organisation that brings together all the tribes to work in partnership for peace and development. In 2003 the leaders came up with 22 community-based laws and introduced the concept of ‘community policing’. As well as agreeing codes of behaviour, United Nauro-Gor believes that violence can be reduced if people have greater opportunities to make a living, so it organises projects including farming and skills training.
Uganda: assisting former child soldiers from the Lord’s Resistance Army, War Affected Youth Association
Former abductees of the Lord’s Resistance Army face stigmatisation and are often rejected by the villages they return home to. War Affected Youth Association was founded to support these former abducted children. It campaigns against child abuse and the stigmatisation of returning LRA child soldiers. The organisation has worked with some 10,000 villagers and abductees.
In Gulu, WAYA have organised radio talk shows to help the release of some children by the LRA, reduced stigmatisation of children through dance and musical activities in villages, and offered psychosocial support for the children. So far they have worked with over 10,000 villagers and abductees. Music, dance and drama are central activities, creating an opportunity for former returnees and community members to socialise and create together. Through a mixture of campaigns, education and support work, WAYA work to produce change, giving former combatants a better future back in communities.
Technology and peacebuilding prize
The roots of conflict often lie in mistrust and misunderstanding. Heartbeat aims to help the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians to understand and respect each other, by bringing them together to make music. Over 100 youth musicians from Haifa, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah have participated in Heartbeat retreats, workshops, camps, field trips, overseas exchanges and musical ensembles.
Heartbeat are winners of the technology part of the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders competition. They will receive a scholarship to attend the ‘Build Peace 2015’ conference.
The competition winners were selected by a jury of international peacebuilding experts.
Mariam Barandia founded Kapamagogopa Incorporated, winners of the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders prize in 2013. After after a successful career in banking, she founded KI to provide opportunities for Young Muslim graduates who were facing the same prejudices as she experienced. As well as being a committed peacebuilder, she is also leading light in the promotion of national volunteering in the Southern Philippines.
Bridget Kendall MBE
Bridget Kendall MBE has been BBC diplomatic correspondent since 1998, and has worked in TV and radio. She chairs ‘The Forum’, a World Service radio programme on Sundays that discusses big issues with eminent panellists. In 1992, she was the first woman to win the James Cameron Award for distinguished journalism.
Lord Jack McConnell
Lord Jack McConnell is the longest serving First Minister of Scotland. He served as First Minister from 2001 to 2007. He served as Minister for Education, Europe and External Affairs from 2000 to 2001 and he was Minister for Finance from 1999 to 2000. He was the MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw from 1999 to 2011.
Gay Rosenblum-Kumar worked with the UN for 25 years. Most recently in the past five years, she led the Secretariat of the UN Framework for Preventive Action (FT). Prior to joining the UN, Gay worked with several international NGOs on anti-apartheid, refugee and development issues.
Michael Ryder CMG
Michael began his career in diplomatic service with the British Foreign Office in the 1980s. Recently, he was the UK’s Special Representative to Sudan and South Sudan during the period of South Sudan’s independence; the UK’s Senior Civilian Representative in Helmand, Afghanistan; and Deputy Ambassador in Kabul.
Stephen Oola is a Uganda National, an Advocate in the High Court of Uganda. He heads the Conflict, Transitional Justice and Governance Programme at the Refugee Law Project (RLP), a leading Centre for Justice and Forced Migrant, based at the Makerere University School of Law, Kampala. A Pre-doctoral scholar at University of Antwerp, Belgium, Oola holds a LLB (Hons) Degree from Makerere University and an MA in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame, USA.