A Breakthrough Year for Peacebuilding: Reflections on 2012 and A Vision for 2013

Dear AfP Members,

This time of year naturally moves us to reflect on the past twelve months – what we have accomplished and experienced, and whether or not we have upheld those long-forgotten New Year’s resolutions.

Personally, I have been reflecting on the wonderful fourteen months I have had here at the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP). It’s been a joy and wonder to be here – and I am continually inspired by the doors that are opening for the peacebuilding field.

In a way I have never seen before, agents of social change are now mobilizing around peacebuilding. For instance, many fields, such as democracy, development, health, religion, and women, are now orienting their work very explicitly around peacebuilding. International organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank are intently focusing on active peacebuilding programs through the Mediation Support Unit at the UN, and the new Center for Conflict, Security and Development at the World Bank. Here in the United States, the government has directed many of its efforts to focus on conflict prevention, through establishment of the new State Department Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, and the Atrocities Prevention Board at the level of the National Security Council; the shift in military doctrine toward prevention and stabilization; and the concerted inter agency effort to train government officials in conflict prevention, conflict response, and mass atrocities and genocide prevention.

These developments – along with the internal growth of our field, have made this a momentous year for peacebuilding. As a field we’ve adapted, evolved and innovated to foster and support these changes – none of which would have been possible if we had not been working together as a community for the past decade.

At AfP, we are proud to build on a strong foundation of expert members, committed supporters and dedicated partners. Our whole-of-community efforts have resulted in AfP becoming the institutional home for peacebuilding – where we serve and foster the field in its entirety. This means that we:

AfP in 2012

In the past year alone, AfP has grown by leaps and bounds. By focusing on projects that help the whole field grow and expand, we have been able to raise nearly $800,000 in new grants and donations to date for 2012 and 2013. This has allowed AfP to significantly increase its organizational capacity – merging with 3P Human Security, and significantly increasing our staff by bringing on 3P Director Lisa Schirch, 3P Program Manager John Filson, Program Associate Roxanne Knapp, Melanie Kawano-Chiu as a full-time AfP employee, the Editor-in-Chief for our new online publication Building Peace: A Forum for Peace and Security in the 21st Century Jessica Berns, Senior Fellow Christopher Holshek, and a group of wonderful program interns. With our expansion as a team, we have moved and doubled our office space. Our growth has resulted in an increased capacity to strengthen our programs and services, and continue our advocacy for the field. It’s a pleasure to share with you our highlights from 2012 below.

AfP in 2012:

  • Expanding the Reach of Our Membership
  • Escalating Peacebuilding in U.S. & International Policies
  • Connecting Peacebuilders & Networks from Around the Globe
  • Changing the Narrative of Peace & Security in Washington
  • Fostering Field-Wide Innovation & Impact

Our Vision for 2013:

Building on Collaborative Success

Expanding the Reach of Our Membership

As a network, we have brought in 10 new organizational members and 82 new professional, individual or young professional members – creating more opportunities for collaboration and a greater capacity for generating positive change in peacebuilding policy and practice. To take a strategic advantage of this growth, AfP has adjusted its membership services by:

  • Establishing New Platforms for Engagement – This spring AfP launched the Affinity Group Pilot Program – giving AfP members an opportunity to engage together on specific focus areas – including education & training, women & gender, mediation and development. These groups are facilitating greater collaboration, joint learning and collective action for improved practices and increased impact.
  • Highlighting the Field – Recognizing the great and varied programs of our members, AfP reintroduced the Peacebuilding Post newsletter to recognize the work of AfP members around the world. With features that covered programs from South Sudan to Mogadishu, the first two issues included contributions from more than 30 AfP members.
  • Widening the Scope of the Peacebuilding Community – AfP’s 2012 Annual Conference, “Peacebuilding 2.0: Managing Complexity and Working Across Silos,” was our most successful Annual Conference to date, drawing more than 200 AfP members and other participants, including representatives from related sectors such as development, health and genocide prevention, and from the US government and multilateral organizations. For the first time, AfP had a high-level government official as its keynote conference speaker – Ambassador Rick Barton, Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations. Ambassador Barton’s speech was covered by C-SPAN, bringing more visibility to the issue of coordination and collaboration among government and civil society partners in conflict environments.

Escalating Peacebuilding in U.S. & International Policies

With the increasing domestic and global interest in peacebuilding, AfP and 3P Human Security, have intensified efforts to elevate solid peacebuilding practices and principles into US and international policies, and to bring the voices of civil society to policymakers in Washington, and around the world.

  • Informing US Policy – For the US to integrate peacebuilding into its core foreign policy, peacebuilders need to have a voice at the policymaking table. AfP and 3P advocate on behalf of our members and partners by regularly engaging with the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, Office of the Legal Advisor, and Regional Desks, USAID’s Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM), Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research. We carry on a robust dialogue with several branches of the military on the subjects of civil-military relations or post-conflict stabilization, and participate in the inter-agency process of training government officials in key areas of conflict prevention, conflict response, and disaster assistance.
  • Influencing Global Peacebuilding Structures – AfP and 3P have been actively involved in the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, a radical new program that mandates a combination of peacebuilding and statebuilding in fragile states, and brings civil society voices into the development of new institutions. Co-chairing InterAction’s Aid Effectiveness Sub-Working Group on Conflict-Affected and Fragile States, AfP has provided peacebuilding expertise to guide the US government’s efforts, led by USAID/CMM, to implement New Deal principles in Liberia (a pilot New Deal State). Internationally, AfP and 3P have been deeply involved with other Southern and Northern civil society leaders in the international civil society core group, working to build capacity and ensure effective implementation of the New Deal in the seven pilot states. The civil society core group is also working to ensure that a peacebuilding dimension is built into the post-2015 global development agenda. To this end, AfP co-sponsored a high-level, off-the-record meeting in New York at the opening of the 67th UN General Assembly, with key civil society leaders, UN agencies and Member States.
  • Ensuring Adequate Resources for the Field – Whether spearheading advocacy for the annual budget of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), working with InterAction’s Aid Effectiveness Working Group, helping to develop a policy brief for InterAction’s Foreign Assistance Briefing Book (FABB) that explains what US policymakers can do to support critical investments in better conflict prevention and development outcomes in fragile societies, or promoting adequate funding for State/CSO’s annual and USAID/CMM’s Complex Crises Fund, AfP has been at the center of ensuring that key institutions, structures and funding sources for the peacebuilding field remains intact and ready to address challenges in conflict-affected communities.

Connecting Peacebuilders & Networks from Around the Globe

As a connector in a field that can be diffuse and not conducive to collaboration, AfP creates links among peacebuilders, and with other fields and networks.

  • Bolstering International Partnerships – In the past year AfP has more than doubled the number of projects we are undertaking with strategic partners, moving from six to sixteen. AfP staff began working closely with Interaction on the CEO Task Force on Aid Effectiveness and the Task Force on Post-2015 Development Goals (see more below). We enriched our strategic partnership with USIP, joining their Science, Technology and Peacebuilding Roundtable, and International Education and Training Working Group (IETWG — which brings government agencies together to talk about training needs in the areas of conflict prevention). Partly as a result the higher visibility of AfP and its members, AfP is increasingly sought after as an important “back room” for dialogue in peacebuilding. In 2012 alone, AfP has brought together government officials and civil society experts on the world’s most difficult conflicts (sustained dialogue this year on Mali and the Horn of Africa; 3P delegations to policy makers from Mexico, Pakistan, and Somalia; program development in the Middle East).
  • Bolstering International Partnerships – AfP has expanded our engagement with international partners with a view toward building greater connectivity among peacemakers all over the world. Since the merger with 3P Human Security, AfP and 3P have strengthened our role as the US hub for the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). AfP has also collaborated on events and projects with the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO), the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, Cordaid and Saferworld.
  • Bolstering International Partnerships – AfP serves as a key channel for civil society voices – AfP’s leadership in the civil society core group of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, which developed in 2012, allows civil society to have a voice in joint peacebuilding and statebuilding in the world’s most fragile, conflict affected regions. 3P Human Security’s work on Security Sector Reform brings civil society voices to the difficult processes of reforming militaries and police forces in countries undergoing democratic transitions around the world.

Changing the Narrative of Peace & Security in Washington

AfP understands that as long as the notion lingers that we are in a state of perpetual war and peace is a soft response to national security threats, the peacebuilding community will only gain limited traction in its efforts to increase the profile of peacebuilding within the policy community. In response, AfP is addressing the root causes of these misconceptions and working to shift the narrative in Washington around peace and security – to legitimize peace as a core American value and important driver of national well-being and security – through a Strategic Communications Campaign. Along with partners from NAFSA and the Peace Alliance, AfP and 3P are focusing on developing messaging that fosters support for peacebuilding among key reachable audiences, and engaging unconventional validators and high-level thought leaders to foster a peace-oriented debate in Washington. This has included increasing civil-military dialogue and hiring Senior Fellow Army Colonel (ret.) Christopher Holshek to work with AfP on fostering initiatives between peacebuilders and the military. As part of the campaign, AfP is launching a new online publication, Building Peace: A Forum for Peace and Security in the 21st Century, to inform those who work in or on fragile or conflict-affected environments, of the impact and benefits of peacebuilding. The publication will feature innovations in peacebuilding programs and policy. The first issue, which features an interview with 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee, is set for a January 2013 release.

Fostering Field-Wide Innovation & Impact

AfP has developed new coherence in its programming this year, with all of our activities working to move our community towards what we are calling “Peacebuilding 2.0” – a more unified field that harnesses the collective energy of all peacebuilding interventions, collectively addresses joint challenges – like measuring impact, and generates joint impact that leads to more stable, resilient societies.

  • Cultivating Peacebuilding Evaluation Understanding and Practices – The Peacebuilding Evaluation Project (PEP) has seen exciting developments this year, especially in its goal to promote an evaluation culture of transparency, and to improve evaluation and learning practices in a collective manner. Our evaluation project is the only forum for donors and peacebuilders to come together to have honest conversations about the challenges and potential solutions in peacebuilding evaluation. The Evidence Summit, held in partnership with USIP in December 2011 served as a unique forum on evaluation methodologies, later summarized in “Proof of Concept” – Learning from Nine Examples of Peacebuilding Evaluation, by Andrew Blum and Melanie Kawano-Chiu. This report, made possible by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, reached thousands of practitioners and experts in the field through AfP’s own distribution channels, and the DM&E Learning Portal, the American Evaluation Association Blog, and on the Building Markets (formerly the Peace Dividend Trust) Blog. AfP and USIP subsequently drafted a set of voluntary principles that would guide support for evaluation activities. This whole-of-community initiative, called Guiding Principles for Peacebuilding Donors: Fostering Better Evaluation Practice, has received input from donors, practitioners, evaluation experts and local stakeholders in London, Geneva, Nairobi, New York, Washington, DC and San Francisco.
  • Improving Our Capacity for Complexity – AfP’s work on systems approaches to peacebuilding provides new models for sustainable peace in complex, chaotic environments around the world. In 2012, as an extension of AfP’s Peacebuilding Systems Project (PSP), staff began working with a large multidisciplinary team from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, George Mason University, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, the Center for Global Health and Peacebuilding, Group W, and several leading academics and practitioners in the field of complexity, systems and conflict management. This group conceptualized a learning-enabling architecture that would help peacebuilders develop more successful practices to deal with complex peacebuilding challenges. The innovative approach integrates field experience with complexity tools and extensive knowledge in data analysis in a structure that would allow practitioners to test theories of change and generate field-wide learning about how to manage complexity and magnify our collective impact.
  • Supporting Momentum in Washington for Conflict Prevention – This spring AfP and 3P Human Security launched the Prevention Initiative with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). This new program aims to help the conflict and genocide prevention fields take advantage of the growing emphasis on prevention in Washington, evidenced by the establishment of the Atrocities Prevention Board, the introduction of prevention language into military doctrine through the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, and the a new CSO Bureau at the State Department focusing on conflict prevention and civilian security. The Prevention Initiative has the dual goal of helping these communities inform the US Government about structural and operational prevention beyond crisis management when atrocities are imminent; and ensuring that implementation of prevention policy on the ground incorporates best practices from both the genocide prevention, and conflict prevention communities.

Our Vision for 2013: Building on Our Collaborative Success

Over the next year, we hope to consolidate our 2012 expansion, while continuing to improve our member services and help lead the peacebuilding field toward “Peacebuilding 2.0”. Our activities will be geared toward creating field-wide learning, strengthening internal cohesion and fostering joint impact. This will involve finding innovative, feasible and sophisticated ways to coordinate and cooperate both within the field and across sectors, and to inform domestic and international policy.We are proud of all we have accomplished in 2012 — we could not have done this alone! It took us working together as a community to get here. I hope that you have been able to benefit from our programs and are as energized as I am to keep moving forward in 2013. Please join us in that effort!

Alliance for Peacebuilding
1726 M Street, NW, Suite 401
Washington, DC 20036