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Trump in the White House: where next for the President and peacebuilding?


Yesterday, Donald Trump was elected as the next American President. As conflict continues around the world, the US will continue to play a significant role in security and development policy. And within the USA, a fraught campaign has fueled heated discussions of citizenship, gender and race, revealing divisions that maybe local peacebuilding could heal and reconcile. So before the results came in, we spoke to some of our Local Peacebuilding Experts about what they wanted to see from the incoming administration.

  • Published

    9 November 2016
  • Written by

    Kevin McCann

Yesterday, Donald Trump was elected as the next American President.

As conflict continues around the world, the US will continue to play a significant role in security and development policy. And within the USA, a fraught campaign has fueled heated discussions of citizenship, gender and race, revealing divisions that maybe local peacebuilding could heal and reconcile.

So before the results came in, we spoke to some of our Local Peacebuilding Experts about what they wanted to see from the incoming administration.

We asked them:

  • How the next President can improve how the US engages with the world.
  • What they would like to see the next President do to support local peacebuilding.
  • What message they would send to the next President.

Here’s what they said:

Edward Chinhanhu

The manner in which former US President Barack Obama reached out to Cuba and Iran warmed the hearts of many. We certainly would wish the same from the incoming President; not reaching out because they want oil or other resources, but doing so purely on humanitarian grounds, for people to feel free to interact. This would improve cross- cultural dialogue, tolerance and respect for diversity. The next President should continue building US internal and global peace. Africa would expect its relationship with the US to be mutually beneficial, with emphasis on improving the lot of grassroots people, human rights and equity.

There has been a serious glut in peacebuilding funding in Zimbabwe. Human rights defenders have drastically cut down on their activities as a result. This has led to massive human rights abuse by state functionaries, with very little publication and appeals. We therefore would appreciate more human rights protection through funding of human rights and peacebuilding organisations in Zimbabwe. Secondly, even though the current Zimbabwe government does not like it, Zimbabweans across the board would receive with open arms US election observers and monitors, whose observations and views we would appreciate alongside those of other international observers.

World peace is possible. Meaningful, sustainable world peace can be achieved by peaceful means. The first step to achieving world peace is to accept that differences are the essence of humanity, and we should love and respect human diversity; then promote dialogue, love and tolerance. Leading the most powerful nation in the world is a privileged responsibility, a responsibility to make the world a better place for all of God’s creation. It is not an opportunity to wage war and destroy. Always remember that ashes fly back into the face of him who throws them.

Edward Chinhanhu is Peace Direct’s Local Peacebuilding Expert in Zimbabwe.

Michael Femi Sodipo

The election is over! Congratulations to the new President of the United states – the world’s toughest job. The words spoken and actions taken in early January 2017 will send an important message and signal, not only to United States citizens but to the whole world. The new President should be more inclusive, adopt bi-partisan policies on national and global engagement, though not compromising homeland security. Moreover, the President should work assiduously with other world leaders to achieve global peace, disarmament, sustainable development and counter violent extremism, using the United Nations Peacebuilding architecture and other bilateral and multilateral groupings.

I would love to see the next President of the United States do more for local peacebuilding organisations in Nigeria in terms of engagement, capacity building support and providing best practice for community based organisations and the security sector in eliminating violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram. This should include a strategy that is focused on assisting the efforts of Nigeria and its neighbours in the fight against extremism and the factors that can lead individuals to radicalisation, and to address the underlying drivers of insecurity and the humanitarian needs of civilians affected by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.

The United States as an exemplary and leading model of global democratic values. The new President should adopt the principles of inclusiveness, fairness, restraint and responsibility in dealing with global issues, working toward the interests of the global community and humanity in general. Reaching out and engaging the support of other nations to resolve the prevailing global challenges such as the sustainable development goals, countering violent extremism, humanitarian crises, climate change, nuclear security, and strengthening collaboration on global health, among others, should be priorities.

Michael Femi Sodipo is Peace Direct’s Local Peacebuilding Expert in Nigeria.

Yemen Local Peacebuilding Expert

The US should revise the principles and goals of its strategic vision. It should work more with and within official international official bodies and pursue less solo ‘cowboy’ policies. Obama was good up to a point, but there are still so many chains. The US should not interfere in domestic policies and affairs unless it has the strong desire to improve and invest, or at least be a good fire fighter. Restoring and strengthening US public diplomacy would also be beneficial. Attempting directly or indirectly to launch fighting and clashes all over the world will always backfire.

In Yemen, international law and principles are so important to follow and implement. Sometimes it’s as if they don’t care. A humanitarian approach is better than following stupid strategic interests, most of which people can’t even explain. Winning hearts and minds, and supporting stability and development, are much, much better than arms sales and supporting loyal dictatorships and regimes. Intelligence tools to win unwinnable wars, and scaring everyone including American citizens, are useless.

Any future peacebuilding in Yemen needs massive and unconditional US political and developmental support, and if not, staying out of Yemen might be better. It could also change all its Yemen experts and specialists. The US should also stop its logistical and other support to the war, as well as that of arms companies inflaming the conflict.  It should work with the Gulf Cooperation countries, Saudi Arabia, France, Russia and the UK to try and understand why there is such a dilemma in Yemen.

Peace Direct’s Local Peacebuilding Expert in Yemen. 

Mirjana Kosić

The next president can improve how the US engages with the world primarily through a fundamental change in its portrayal and interpretation of Islam and Islamic terrorism, and the abandonment of its indiscriminate military interventionism around the world. Instead, by addressing the most pressing issues at home – e.g. rampant racism and anti-immigrant sentiments, class and social inequality, the gun culture that has transformed its own society into a hostage of fear – the future US President could better engage with the rest of the world by demonstrating that the US is willing to first make important reforms at home, that could ultimately have a positive effect on its relationship and engagement with the world.

Due to its crucial role in the wars of 1990s – in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Dayton Peace Agreement, in Serbia through military intervention, and in Kosovo by facilitating its independence, the results of the US elections are anticipated with a certain uneasiness throughout the Western Balkans. The next President should, therefore, demonstrate more consistent and long-term commitment of the US to locally- and regionally-led conflict transformation efforts, replacing its periodical “interest” in the Western Balkans by imposing certain processes and then abandoning them unfinished. Both presidential candidates have support among Balkans nations, and these elections have contributed to polarization and the “normalization” of offensive discourse that the US would otherwise condemn Balkans nations for.

The next president of the US should adopt the nuclear weapons ban; take the lead in a profound transformation of the UN and, though it may sound counterintuitive, allow for radical rethinking and reframing of dichotomous party politics and encourage the strengthening of other more socially-inclined political options.

Mirjana Kosić is Peace Direct’s Local Peacebuilding Expert in the Western Balkans.

Olga Dolinina

The next President should engage with the world at the same level as the White House has been doing during recent decades. In addition, a firmer position in relation with Syria should be taken, cooperation with China could be strengthened, and the situation with Turkey more aligned. The US should take a more proactive position towards the expansion of Russia. The White House needs to engage more with Europe and create a free trade zone with European Union. The White House stimulated the creation of a new Europe, including Poland, Ukraine and other post Soviet countries, and a lot more can be done to continue this process.

It’s crucial that the next President provide even stronger support to the integrity of Ukraine, end the war in Eastern Ukraine and bring peace. Developments here will be largely influenced by the President, including ending the war in eastern Ukraine.

Due to the support of the White House, a lot of positive reforms and developments have happened. However, it’s crucial that the next President should not leave the process half way through, but further encourage and support reforming, including with more funding. The sluggish reform process can be speeded up by the US. The next President should continue to support governance reforms that could be instrumental to democratic and economic developments in Ukraine.

Olga Dolinina is Peace Direct’s Local Peacebuilding Expert in Ukraine.


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