You may be wondering, “What exactly are ‘peace processes,’ and why should I learn about them?” I asked myself the same questions when I began my internship with WorldLink. My goal is that this chapter will not only spark your interest in peace efforts worldwide, but also provide information that can carry over to your day-to-day interactions.
When you search the word “peace” in the Internet, the countless number of sources available may be overwhelming. Furthermore, after reviewing even a few articles on the subject, I discovered that each expert analyst, each culture, each nation defines peace differently. Therefore, this chapter will introduce a definition of peace that extends beyond just the absence of conflict. “Positive peace,” as it is called, includes all aspects of society. Peace is the economic opportunity to rebuild a society. Peace is a state of mind free from insecurity and fear. Peace is justice but also reconciliation. Ultimately, cease-fire is only the beginning of a peace process.
I have attempted to take a critical look at this broad topic by dividing it into four categories. The ‘Overview’ section explores what peace processes are and how peace can be attained. ‘Peace Talks and Negotiation’ includes successful and unsuccessful case studies from Colombia, South Sudan, and Indonesia. The ‘Peace through Justice’ category highlights the challenges of establishing justice systems in a post-conflict region, and how justice can sometimes impede peace efforts, or vice versa. Lastly, ‘Reintegration’ addresses the aftermath of a conflict, in particular the return of male and female ex-combatants to their homes.
But why does this apply to you? Why should you care? You may not pursue a career related to peace studies. You may not even come across another report by the United Nations in your lifetime. However, the lessons that I have learned from my research are not only applicable in the deserts of Africa or in the jungles of South America. They apply in the classroom, in the workplace, and even at home. Researching peace processes has taught me about the importance of strategic planning, of not imposing old solutions on new problems but familiarizing myself with an issue in order to come up with creative solutions. There are no textbook answers when it comes to attaining peace. Peace is more than statistics. There is a human element. It’s about earning trust, consolidating opposing cultural values, religions, or expectations, and eliciting mutuality and empathy.
It is my hope that from this chapter you will gain a greater appreciation for the complexity of peace efforts, and apply what you learn to your everyday relationships. How we treat the people around us can affect how communities, political parties, and even nations treat each other.
Thank you for taking the time to read and reflect, in the hope that you will choose to act.
Chi Chi Chang, The Bishop’s School
WorldLink 2013 Summer Intern