As an international peacebuilding organization based in the U.S. and UK, we bear a responsibility to work actively within our own communities to build a society based on justice, nonviolent transformation of conflict, and human dignity for all. We recognize our own complicity within systems of oppression and injustice which have shaped our countries and the current global order, and we remain committed to working with local people to stop violence and build lasting peace.
The COVID-19 crisis already laid bare deep structural inequities in the U.S. and around the world which leave people of color, the poor, and marginalized groups more vulnerable to both the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. In this context, demonstrations against the killing of George Floyd, and against centuries of racism and violent oppression of communities of color, quickly spread around the United States and the world. While the protests remain largely peaceful, violence has erupted in a number of cities. We recognize the urgent need for concrete actions to both prevent more violence and address the long-term realities of institutionalized racism.
As the U.S. grapples with this latest wave of violence, the role of local peacebuilders will be more important than ever. In communities across the United States, peacebuilders, mediators, faith leaders, human rights advocates, activists, young people, and other local leaders are actively working to de-escalate violence, sustain nonviolent action, support mourning, rebuild relationships, and open pathways for a more just and peaceful future. These local peacebuilders are vital actors, often unseen and under-supported, in the immediate crisis and the long, difficult work ahead.
Despite the grief and anger we feel, we also remain hopeful that a just peace is possible. Local peacebuilders around the world – and the history of people power and peacebuilding in the U.S. – demonstrate every day that systems of oppression and violence can be overcome. We are reminded again, as Indian author Arundhati Roy has said, that “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.”