Tomorrow's Peacebuilders

Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders are the global awards for local peacebuilding. Awarded annually, they offer international recognition for grassroots peace activists in conflict-affected countries worldwide. These are inspiring individuals who are building a better tomorrow for their communities, in the world’s most fragile and needy places.

The awards

The Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders awards were launched in 2013 by Peace Direct. They are the only awards of their kind in the world.

The winners receive global publicity and cash prizes. They are chosen by an international panel of experts including distinguished practitioners, political figures and media.

In the last four years, 963 entries were received from 91 countries. The prize winners worked with ex-child soldiers in Uganda, young people in Israel-Palestine, villagers hit by drug wars in Colombia, tribal groups in Papua New Guinea and more.

Previous winner Vahidin Omanovic from Bosnia said: “It is a great honour for us to win a ‘Tomorrow’s Peacebuilder’ award. Ten years of hard work, influencing the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome their prejudices and hate, have been recognised and celebrated with the award. This is an enormous boost to our work.”

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The 2016 winners

The winners of the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders awards were announced at London’s Frontline Club, the home of international news journalism. Each will receive $10,000 in prize money to progress their life-saving peace work with local communities.

Environmental Peacebuilding Association Burkinabè d’Action Commaunitaire (ABAC-BF)

In Burkina Faso, conflict is growing between different rural communities over the use of land and other natural resources. In recent years this has been exacerbated by the effects of climate change. In the face of this, ABAC is working to empower diverse communities, particularly farmers and herders, by giving them the skills, resources and techniques to effectively manage conflict. This peacebuilding work includes providing training, facilitating dialogue, producing information materials in local languages, and working with local government.

Women-led Peacebuilding The Story Kitchen

Using an innovative, bottom-up approach, TSK partners with local women, and invites them to experience the power of narrative journalism, helping to share their stories nationally. TSK also focus on sharing the stories of women who are survivors of sexual violence, to highlight this issue. Training civilian Justice Reporters, these women are able to collect testimonies from other survivors, helping women to access Nepal’s transitional justice commissions, following the 196-2006 civil conflict.

Inter-religious Peacebuilding Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative (API)

In 2013, following a rise in tensions between Christians and Muslims in North-eastern Nigeria, a coalition of local faith leaders, business leaders, and civil society came together to promote peace and tolerance as API. The emergence of Boko Haram has led the initiative to focus more on its efforts on young people at risk of radicalisation. To do this, API uses sport and IT as mediums to foster peace, tolerance, and reconciliation amongst young people in conflict and post-conflict communities. API believes that, for some of the most at risk youth in the area, their programmes offer one of the few alternatives to joining Boko Haram.


The prizes

Three winning organisations will each receive $10,000 and online promotion of their work. One prize is available in each of the three categories below.

The jury

The three winners of the Tomorrow's Peacebuilders awards will be selected by an international jury of peacebuilding experts.

Sawssan Abou-Zahr (Senior Journalist at An-Nahar, PD’s Local Peacebuilding Expert for Lebanon)

Sawssan Abou-Zahr is a senior journalist at An-Nahar, a leading Lebanese newspaper. She covers issues related to the Arab Spring, women, Syrian and Palestinian refugees, radical Islamist movements, and Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. She has contributed to some editions of the IREX report on media freedom in Lebanon. She is Peace Direct’s Local Peacebuilding Expert for Lebanon.

Melanie Greenberg (President and CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding)

Melanie Greenberg is President and CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding. In her work on international conflict resolution, Melanie has helped design and facilitate peace processes in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and the Caucasus. She is a frequent writer, lecturer, teacher, and trainer in a broad range of areas related to international law, international security, and peacebuilding.

Laurence Khan (Head of Global Campaigns at Peace One Day)

Laurence is an award-winning strategist, campaigner and peace builder. He spearheads strategic partnerships and coalition building for Peace One Day, serves on the Board of Advisors for World Faith, and is recognized as an emerging global leader and Mediator by both Soliya (now part of Search for Common Ground), and the UNAOC.

Lord Jack McConnell (former First Minister of Scotland, Labour life peer in the House of Lords)

Lord Jack McConnell was First Minister of Scotland 2001-2007 and UK Special Representative for Peacebuilding 2008-2010. He was a Member of the Scottish Parliament 1999-2011, and has been a Member of the House of Lords since 2010. Jack is Vice President of UNICEF UK, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the UN Global Goals, and Chair of the McConnell International Foundation.

Dijana Pesic (founder of the Genesis Project, winner of the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Awards 2015)

Dijana Pejić is the founder of the Genesis Project, one of the winners of the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Awards in 2015. Genesis helps children and teenagers in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina to overcome ethnic segregation and the psychological legacy of war. Being responsible for program management, financial management, designing projects and human resources, Dijana has been successfully managing her team since its foundation, in 1995.

Jen Rubio (co-founder of Away)

Jen Rubio is the co-founder of Away, a premium travel brand designed to create special objects that are at home on the road. Before starting Away, Jen acted as the Head of Social Media at Warby Parker, and later worked as the Global Head of Innovation at AllSaints. In 2015, she was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Marketing & Advertising. The generous support of Away has been vital to the running this year’s Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Awards.

Richard Elliott (Pickwell Trust)

Previous winners

Combatants for Peace
Former combatants building peace in Israel-Palestine.
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Overcoming the psychological legacy of war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
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Rural Women Peace Link
Women’s network in Kenya working to stop violence.
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United Nuaro Gor
Preventing inter-tribal warfare in Papua New Guinea.
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Centar za Izgradnju Mira
Peace for the generation growing up after war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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‘Zero violence’ campaign in post-genocide, pre-election Burundi.
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War Affected Youth Association
Assisting former child soldiers from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.
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Bringing young Israelis and Palestinians together through music.
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Overcoming prejudice and religious divides in the Philipines.
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Community Network for Social Justice
Giving former child soldiers a life after war in Uganda.
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Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó
Showing coexistence is possible in Colombia.
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Peace Solutions International
Teaching people how to build peace in Uganda and DR Congo.
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Israel-Palestine: Former combatants from both sides building peace, Combatants for Peace

Combatants for Peace was founded by Israeli and Palestinian fighters who had renounced violence. It runs guided tours for Israelis to see Palestinian areas, encounters between Israeli and Palestinian youth, and peace workshops in each community. Storytelling and commemoration days are key to its awareness work. CFP also undertakes humanitarian aid projects in Palestinian villages such as laying water pipelines, planting gardens and playgrounds in villages, renovating schools and protecting workers’ rights.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Overcoming the psychological legacy of war, Genesis

Genesis helps children and teenagers in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina to overcome ethnic segregation and the psychological legacy of war. It is the only organisation working long-term in Bosnia’s segregated schools to bring together children from different ethnic groups in projects and workshops that combat prejudice and promote tolerance. In primary schools it provides peace education classes, and puppet shows on the dangers of landmines and other unexploded ordinance. For teenagers it offers training in film-making to youths from all sides, creating a vehicle for collaboration and the exploration of identities. Genesis was set up in 1997 to help children still living in refugee camps. It was featured in Michal Palin’s TV series ‘New Europe’.

Papua New Guinea: preventing inter-tribal warfare, United Nauro-Gor

For three decades Papua New Guinea has suffered from inter-tribal warfare that has claimed hundreds of lives, destroyed entire villages and hampered development.  This was halted in 2002 with inter-tribal peace talks which established United Nauro-Gor, an organisation that brings together all the tribes to work in partnership for peace and development. In 2003 the leaders came up with 22 community-based laws and introduced the concept of ‘community policing’. As well as agreeing codes of behaviour, United Nauro-Gor believes that violence can be reduced if people have greater opportunities to make a living, so it organises projects including farming and skills training.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: peace for the generation growing up after war, Centar za Izgradnju Mira

Twenty years after Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II, Bosnia continues to suffer from ethnic division which threatens the next generation growing up in the aftermath of hostilities. Founded in 2004, Centar za Izgradnju Mira (Centre for Peacebuilding) have worked with thousands of young people to combat ethnic tensions and mistrust. Founded by two Muslim men who survived war camps and displacement, it is based in Sanski Most, a town on the faultline left by war, on the troubled border between Bosnia-Herzegovenia and the Serb-dominated Republic of Srpska. This is a region tragically scarred by war crimes and past atrocities.

Centar za Izgradnju Mira bring together young people from hostile ethnic groups and religious faiths, to build understanding and tolerance. They host peace camps, provide non-violence education in primary schools and run an inter-faith choir. For the first time since the war, they encouraged a peaceful dialogue between the main imam of Sanski Most and two local Christian priests: as a result, local mosques delivered aid to churches during recent floods.

Burundi: ‘zero violence’ campaign in post-genocide, pre-election Burundi, Dagropass

Violence returned to Burundi earlier this year following a failed coup, 21 years after genocide. War has particularly shattered rural and vulnerable communities in the country and left many weapons circulating among the population. Since 2007, DAGROPASS has been disarming civilians in the remote province of Bubanza, which has seen large quantities of violence between five rebel groups. They have assisted government operations to collect and destroy weapons, signed up communities to observe International Arms Trade Treaty and provided education around this sensitive issue.

DAGROPASS also recognise that women’s empowerment, through social and economic rights, is critical to stability in the region. They run regular information sessions, informing rural women about their human rights and offer them small business training.

Uganda: assisting former child soldiers from the Lord’s Resistance Army, War Affected Youth Association

Former abductees of the Lord’s Resistance Army face stigmatisation and are often rejected by the villages they return home to. War Affected Youth Association was founded to support these former abducted children. It campaigns against child abuse and the stigmatisation of returning LRA child soldiers. The organisation has worked with some 10,000 villagers and abductees.

In Gulu, WAYA have organised radio talk shows to help the release of some children by the LRA, reduced stigmatisation of children through dance and musical activities in villages, and offered psychosocial support for the children. So far they have worked with over 10,000 villagers and abductees. Music, dance and drama are central activities, creating an opportunity for former returnees and community members to socialise and create together. Through a mixture of campaigns, education and support work, WAYA work to produce change, giving former combatants a better future back in communities.

Bringing young Israelis and Palestinians together through music, Heartbeat

The long-running conflict in Israel-Palestine continues to claim lives. In this deeply divided context, Heartbeat works to build trust from the ground up. Heartbeat brings together young musicians from across the area to make music, build understanding and promote peaceful social change. Working with Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Arab young people, it organises music-based workshops and camps, as well as developing performance ensembles in Haifa, Jerusalem and Jaffa-Tel Aviv.

Heartbeat’s staff are trained dialogue facilitators and professional musicians, and develop students’ skills in song-writing, music theory and improvisation. They also work on their communication and leadership abilities – helping them to engage with each other and the conflict issues that involve them, while quite literally amplifying their voices to help spread the message of peace.

Overcoming prejudice and religious divides in the Philipines, Kapamagogopa

For decades the Philippines has been victim to a bloody armed struggle between the government and Muslim separatists seeking an independent state in southern parts of the country. Kapamagogopa Incorporated (KI) is bringing the two communities back together in Mindanao, the region worst affected by the conflict. They counteract prejudice between Muslims and Christians by introducing Muslim volunteers into Christian--community organisations across the region. By empowering Muslim volunteers to apply their talents in other communities, Kapamagogopa bridge the deep-rooted religious divides between them.

This innovative approach to peacebuilding is having a powerful impact. By creating opportunities for Muslims and non-Muslims to work together towards a peaceful and prosperous Philippines, KI is transforming negative perceptions and encouraging interfaith harmony. To date, KI has supported 79 volunteers, who have contributed 180,000 volunteering hours, and impacted on the lives of as many as 700,000 people in Mindanao.

Giving former child soldiers a life after war, Community Network for Social Justice

Community Network for Social Justice (CNSJ) is working not only to rescue child soldiers kidnapped by Joseph Kony’s LRA but to ensure they have a meaningful place in communities they come home to. The legacy of conflict has left a generation bearing the physical and emotional scars of war. Many young people feel they have little hope for a better future, and risk falling into political or criminal violence. CNSJ gives them the skills and confidence to build a new life.

CNSJ has provided psychological support and offered economic opportunities, rehabilitating vulnerable people still suffering from conflict. As well as working to reconcile former child soldiers into civilian life, CNSJ has implemented a government-led agricultural programme, to teach modern goat rearing techniques to communities in Palukere, in the Attiak sub-county.

Showing coexistence is possible in Colombia, Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó

Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó (the ‘Peace Community’) is a community dedicated to showing the people of war-ravaged northern Colombia that peaceful cohabitation is possible even amidst the violence. For 15 years, the community has stood firm in their commitment to peace and non-violence, even when violence has been directed towards them. Unfortunately, the commitment to peace of the members of the community has not spared them from the violence of the conflict in Colombia, and they have been repeatedly targeted for attack by military, paramilitary and guerrilla forces. Since its founding, approximately 200 members of the Peace Community have been killed, including victims of 20 massacres by different armed groups, indicating the vital need for their work.

In the face of this challenge, the Community has rejected state, paramilitary and guerrilla powers and has adopted familiar concepts of international law which has gained them the recognition of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights via protection orders. The success and relative peace in the Community has led others around the country to emulate the model, adapted to suit their own distinct circumstances.

Teaching people how to build peace, Peace Solutions International

Uganda is struggling to deal with an unprecedented influx of refugees from neighbouring South Sudan and DR Congo. This has brought with it major challenges and further conflict within Uganda’s refugee community. Peace Solutions International (PSI), a peacebuilding organisation based in Kampala, works within the refugee community on issues of peacebuilding, human rights, and democracy largely through their performing arts and film projects. PSI’s work brings together refugees from different nationalities, tribes and communities to work together, and in doing so build friendships and understanding.

Their Unity Group for Movie Production recruits people from the disparate refugee communities and encourages them to collaborate in the production of films endorsing the themes of peacebuilding and human rights. Bringing these rival groups together on these productions helps to foster understanding and cross cultural relationships through the medium of acting and film production. These films have been shown both within Uganda, and in the countries in which many of the refugees originate, in order to help spread their influence further.