The Alliance for Peacebuilding held its annual conference last week. With more than 600 attendees at an open day at the United States Institute of Peace and more than 300 at two more days for our members, it was by far the largest such event we’ve ever put on. We also learned more than we have in any other year. Some of that came in larger sessions, some of which had keynote speakers. These will appear on the AfP web site sooner rather than later.
In 2013, Mary Anderson and Marshall Wallace published Opting Out of War. The book chronicles and analyzes thirteen places where average citizens and their leaders consciously decided not to take part in a war that was swirling around them. Last week, Doug Irvin-Erickson had his introductory students work with their ideas, and they came up with some ideas that we all should consider because they can be applied back to countries in crisis today, including the United States.
Peacebuilders have historically shied away from the fact that our tools and techniques won’t and can’t solve all of the world’s problems. Because we will be covering the topic in our textbook and our students are already asking us, here’s a first look at the circumstances in which peacebuilding doesn’t work and an even more worrisome discussion of what happens when we don’t use peacebuilding principles in our actions.
This week, my friend Doug Irvin-Erickson is off in Norway for a conference on genocide prevention, so I get to teach his class on the nature of conflict. Since he actually covered much of that topic the first session, I decided to cast a very broad net to set the analytical and political agenda for the course—and for the rest of the students’ lives.