Transformative peacebuilding involves working at multiple levels, both addressing the root causes of conflict and violence, and meeting the needs of vulnerable populations. Work aimed at these different levels shares a view of conflict as a dynamic process and peacebuilding as a diverse set of interdependent elements and actions that contribute to the constructive transformation of the conflict.
The interactions between MCC advocacy staff in the United States and MCC staff in Nigeria have led to advocacy capacity trainings with local partners in Nigeria alongside the sharing of program insights from those partners with U.S. policymakers. Another example of this influence can be seen through MCC Nigeria’s support of local partner Emergency Preparedness Response Teams (EPRT). EPRT teams work with student peace clubs in seventeen local government areas (counties) of Plateau State. The peace clubs aim to transform the mindsets of youth against all forms of bias and extremism and instead cultivate trust-building, positive attitudes and mutual relationships.
MCC’s work influencing holistic, reflective change through humanitarian relief, development and peacebuilding is shaped by a rich heritage of Anabaptist values, including trust and human dignity. EPRT advocates to policymakers, traditional and religious leaders, and teachers in Plateau State to implement peace education in the state’s school curriculum.
Parallel to this work with students, MCC staff in the U.S. advocate for a demilitarized response to violence and for increased poverty-focused development assistance.
Holistic change remains remote when government policies and other socio-political factors obstruct peacebuilding programming goals. A reflective advocacy that weaves together unique stakeholders, including religious actors, and facilitates an authentic space for shared power can influence peacebuilding policies and address the root causes of injustice. In the context of COVID-19, effective peacebuilding programming can prevent immediate outbreaks of violence, facilitate (re)building human relationships and heal traumatized and conflict-affected societies over the long term. A reflective advocacy enables peacebuilding to support public health and humanitarian responses by ensuring that they are conflict sensitive and do no harm.
Excerpted from an article in Intersections: MCC theory and practice quarterly, summer 2021, mcc.org/stories/intersections.