Mobilizing for Peace: Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and South Africa

Mobilizing for Peace: Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and South Africa

Mobilizing for Peace: Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and South Africa

Mobilizing for Peace: Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and South Africa

Synopsis

Mobilizing for Peace brings together the work of international experts to provide an in-depth study of thirty-three peace/conflict organizations in Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Israel/Palestine. The contributors show how the sociopolitical and cultural context of the conflict in each region has shaped the type of resolution organizations that have emerged and their conception of the conflict and its resolution. By promoting more humane images of the contestants and by offering alternative peaceful approaches to resolve the conflict, the organizations have successfully galvanized previously weak or non-existent pro-peace political forces to become important players in the political struggle for peace.

Excerpt

The place and role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated to the promotion of peace and the resolution of intractable social conflicts is a newly emerging field of study to which we aim to make a contribution with this book. We hope to add to existing empirical studies— especially those from a comparative perspective—that inform us about the nature of these organizations, their accomplishments, and how the various social systems in which they operate influence their functions and structures.

We chose to study organizations that were trying to promote peace, reconciliation, and coexistence between peoples in societies that have known fighting and bloodshed for many years. The impetus for the study arose when significant breakthroughs in three major violent international conflicts occurred: the first cease-fire between the Protestant and Catholic paramilitaries in Northern Ireland (1993), the unbanning of the ANC that led to the first democratic elections in South Africa (1994), and the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO; 1993). In all three regions these historic agreements were preceded by intense activity from nongovernmental/civil society groups and organizations, which advocated for peace, reconciliation, and resolution of the conflicts through nonviolent means, primarily during the 1980s. Some of these groups, such as Peace Now in Israel, Black Sash in South Africa, and The Peace People in Northern Ireland, often gained the attention of the international press; the founders of The Peace People, Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976. In all three locations, we quickly discovered that these more famous organizations were at the forefront of a broader phenomenon that included a wide range of groups, which we termed “peace and conflict-resolution organizations” (P/CROs). These third sector/civil society organizations, many of which were initiated and managed by concerned citizens, shared the same general goal of promoting peace and an end to the violence but found different organizational means to express this objective.

It did not take long for us, working with our in-country research partners, to discover that we were on to something. In each of the three regions, we discovered evidence of what one P/CRO leader called “magic moments.” Syl . . .

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