‘Quality peace’ requires inclusive societies in which human security and dignity are respected and safeguarded. Furthermore, it is crucial to find ways for more meaningful collaboration between local and international actors in order to strengthen inclusion and sustain peace, in particular building on already-existing initiatives at the local level. Participants shared these and other common reflections on what is need to sustain peace, despite coming from vastly different contexts.
Gathering training alumni
For 30 years, the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University has been running international trainings in the field of peace and security, in recent years with a focus on dialogue and mediation. Peace researchers, policymakers and practitioners have come to Uppsala from all parts of the world to take part in the trainings, which since 2017 are co-organised with the Foundation. An alumni network has been created to facilitate continued exchange between former training participants and a series of regional alumni seminars is organised by the University and the Foundation.
Following the first alumni event in Bogotá last year, this seminar took place in Amman and brought together thirty alumni from Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Georgia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
From country experiences to global policies and trends
The seminar was highly interactive with the aim to explore peacebuilding challenges particular to the regions represented, and also to put emphasis on experience-sharing and networking among participants. Through the Open Space methodology participants themselves identified, prioritised and led discussions on various topics related to the event theme. Session topics ranged from the role of media in peacebuilding and strengthening the inclusion of civil society, religious groups, youth and women to measuring ‘quality peace’.
The opportunity to contextualise these discussions through examples from various country contexts “was an enriching experience that sparked sharing and inclusive reflection”, said Zahid Anwar, a University Professor from Pakistan who participated in a training in Uppsala in 2003.
In addition to the creative participants-led discussions, presentations were given on conflict trends and the developments in peace research by Professor Peter Wallensteen, as well as on the role of the UN in the region by Anders Pedersen, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan. One session was co-facilitated by the Jordan-based organisation Generations for Peace and focused on the implementation of SCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, highlighting the importance of strengthening youth engagement in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustaining a network for peace
The event gave participants the opportunity to reflect on how they have applied their knowledge from the training programme in Uppsala. Marijana Markotic, a UN worker from Bosnia and Herzegovina who participated in the training in dialogue and mediation in 2018, reflected on how it has provided her with a network in which to share and draw on experiences: “The training provided me with a group of friends and contacts that support me in my work, and I support them and their work.”
In an attempt to amplify the benefits of such connections, the event ended with fruitful discussions on ways to develop and sustain the alumni network, which is intended to re-connect as many as possible of the 750 former training participants. By connecting peacebuilders locally, regionally and globally, the network will be a platform for further exchange and learning among the members themselves, as well as with the organising institutions in Uppsala, to find inspiration, partnerships and innovative approaches to sustaining peace.