Thursday, April 15, 2010

Funding peace-building

Governments wage wars. They appropriate state resources to prepare for and to conduct wars. Taxpayers from around the world willingly or unwillingly bear these costs. Peace-building is usually left to the initiative of common citizens.
Rarely do peace-builders have resources of their own, to finance their work. Therefore, they usually depend on generosity of others.

It is not uncommon, in South Asia, for peace-builders to look for one or more prominent patrons, who have political, social or financial stature in the community. The prestige, and influence of and/or donations by the patrons facilitate the work of peace-builders.

But the patrons do not always have interest in peace-building. And their help is not unconditional. Therefore, limitations are imposed on what the peace-builders can do, and in what ways and how often they do it.

No matter how much or how little they appreciate the need for peace-building, common people are usually reluctant to contribute their money or time to the work of peace-builders. And without the sustained involvement of common people, the work of peace-building will not be successful in real terms, even though it may get some media attention.

The problem points to a serious difficulty peace-builders face. In order to help common people become a part of the process, peace-builders should communicate the need and the importance of peace-building to them in a way that makes sense to them.

Peace-builders need to do a lot of serious thinking about their goals and objective, and appropriateness of their methods to achieve them. Clarity about what they plan to do, why they want to do it, and how it should be done, is essential. Also they need to conduct periodic evaluations of what they have done, so that they can improve upon their messages, methods, and programs. Finally they must be creative and resourceful in these respects, but also in the ways to finance them.

Article by:
Dr. Pritam K. Rohila
Executive Director of the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia

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