For us, peacebuilding means preventing and stopping violence at its source – and that starts with local people, in their communities. Anyone working to prevent violence and promote lasting peace and cohesion is a peacebuilder. Local peacebuilders work to carve peace into their daily lives, sowing the seeds of peace for future generations in their own back yards. Learn more about our peacebuilding partners.
Peace Direct supports local peacebuilders. We believe local people are the best placed to know what is going on in their communities, because they live it. But they shouldn’t have to build peace alone.
Building peace begins with trust. It sounds obvious, but historically, local peacebuilders haven’t always been trusted by international peacebuilding organisations. Through our partnerships with local peacebuilders and local peacebuilding organisations, we are working to change that trend, for good. Our partnerships are trust-based and designed to make sure that as an international organisation, we shift as much power to local peacebuilders as possible. We do this by building partnerships based on shared principles of mutual accountability, flexibility, local leadership, and sustainability.
We weave these principles into how we end our projects and partnerships. Ending a partnership means passing on full ownership and leadership to our partners and their local communities sustainably, and building this transition into any project plan or partnership.
We actively talk about and confront our own hidden biases, in whatever form they may take. As a primarily anglophone organisation with offices in the UK and the USA we are susceptible to falling into cultures of working that perpetuate structural violence and prejudice. By being open to having difficult conversations, asking questions, and being vigilant about the assumptions we make, we work to live our principles of trust in local peacebuilders.
Life is unpredictable. And when disaster strikes, those who are most vulnerable are hit the hardest. When a crisis hits, local peacebuilders are the first to respond, leading and supporting their community while assistance is on the way. In such moments, it helps to be prepared.
Often, international funding doesn’t give local peacebuilders room to prepare for the worst. Money is earmarked for specific purposes, like installing a water pump, or funding workshops, rather than allowing local peacebuilders the flexibility to spend that funding on disaster preparation, or community resilience. On top of that, local peacebuilders are expected to fill out long application forms in English, and spend hours writing up reports for donor organisations in order to secure funding in the first place. We don’t think that’s right – it takes local peacebuilders away from their work and prevents them from preparing in the way they know is best for them.
Working with partners, we’ve developed ways to make international funding quick and flexible, and minimise the burden of paperwork and reporting for peacebuilders on the frontline.
Historically, peacebuilding missions in conflict-affected regions of the world have worked like this: a Global North organisation sends people to a location for a short amount of time, they ‘build peace’, and they leave. Local citizens and organisations, as well as conflict and peace researchers, have clearly stated that this approach doesn’t work.
To be effective and impactful, peacebuilding processes need to be sustainable, and they need to have local ownership. Sustainable peace isn’t just about signing peace treaties and asking people to put down their weapons – although this is important, too. Sustainable peace includes every part of local life: from access to the essentials like water and healthcare, to building the means for a community to thrive, such as community centres, schools, and meaningful job opportunities.
We don’t just invest in stopping violence. We invest in sustainable peace that lasts for generations. We also invest with a vision to ensure that local communities hold the power to collectively solve their own conflicts and preserve their peace.
Local peacebuilding has been invisible on the world stage for too long. Our sister platform, Peace Insight, makes the invisible work of local peacebuilders visible. Peace Insight maps local peacebuilding organisations and publishes articles from local peacebuilding correspondents across the globe.
You’ll see stories from local peacebuilders and communities across our social media and website, and in our reports. We only share stories that have cleared an informed consent process that is agreed and documented with those that gift us their stories.
Most research around peacebuilding is focussed on peacebuilding missions led by international organisations in the Global North. Although local peacebuilders have been doing incredible work for many years in their communities, it is very rarely documented or researched. Our research team works with our partners to produce high-quality data on the impact and value of locally-led peacebuilding. We use ethical and inclusive research methods, by adopting a decolonising approach, and by reflecting and challenging ourselves on the assumptions we hold.
All our research is co-created and designed in partnership with local organisations. We aim to be as far-reaching as possible in our research, and break the silos of Global North organisations and institutions. It forms part of our wider decolonising work, and we try to reintegrate and embed what we learn into our ongoing research practice ongoing to avoid repeating the patterns of harm from the past. We do all we can to remove barriers to participation in our research – from developing technology like Platform4Dialogue, to utilising translation software to open up participation across languages. These approaches aren’t perfect, but we’re constantly trying out, facilitating and supporting research studies that are locally designed and led, including indigenous research methods.
We focus on influencing governments and institutions which have a huge impact on local peacebuilders through their funding, diplomacy and security. With our partners, we speak truth to power in these spaces to shift policies and practices to centre decision-making power and resources with local peacebuilders.
We make space for our partners to speak directly with policymakers, such as government, UN and EU officials, politicians and large INGOs, and encourage policymakers to work with local peacebuilding organisations. We also actively build or join coalitions and take joint action like signing open letters, organise working groups, share recommendations with policymakers, and shape policies to push for more power and resources to go directly to local peacebuilders.