Peace Direct, April 2021
“As an international peacebuilding organisation based in the UK and U.S., we bear a responsibility to work internally and 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.”
– Peace Direct’s solidarity statement by Organizations and Individuals Against Racism and Discrimination
Where we are now
At Peace Direct, we believe that local communities should be the drivers of sustainable peace. Partnering with them is at the heart of everything we do.
In recent years, a growing tide of activists have pushed for ‘localisation’ in development and peacebuilding. Structural inequalities and a legacy of colonialism remains. We believe this prevents local people from truly leading change and ultimately undermines community efforts towards peace across the world.
We exist to challenge the status quo. To rebalance relationships and power in favour of local people and communities rather than international agencies.
Our approach differs from the mainstream international models for development, peace, and security, which are often rooted in neocolonialist thinking, and actively discriminate against the people and communities of the Global South.
At the same time, we recognise that much of our work still operates within these systems, and in many ways supports and benefits from them. We also recognise that we have made mistakes in the past, that we are still learning and that we have a long way to go. But we fight for change everyday.
What we are doing
We believe in a future where local peacebuilders are the lead decision makers for peace, security and development. We see a future in which they actively influence the system to create change. They will lead efforts to build sustainable peace in their communities. As we work towards this vision, we continue to navigate and work within the current systems, seeking to influence reform.
Here are some ways we are challenging ourselves, and the sector:
- In 2019, we set-up a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) internal working group. This group works with our Senior Management Team to address and challenge internal structures, policies, and our culture. The group is supporting all colleagues to consider the impact of their work through the lens of DEI. You can read more about this in our five-year DEI strategy:
- We joined Shift Power for Peace (SP4P), an initiative with Conducive Spaces for Peace and Humanity United. As a group, we believe that the current global peacebuilding model, where power and decision making is held by people furthest away from conflict, is not working.
In 2020, as part of Shift Power for Peace, we worked together to distribute 230 grants supporting peacebuilders to purchase equipment, software and online tools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the fund, we developed online resources for local peacebuilders, and have shared the findings of our work with policymakers in Europe and the USA.
- In recent years, we’ve sought to radically shift the dial in how we partner with organisations. Our work has evolved and now includes the ‘Youth Action for Peace’ and the ‘Local Action Fund’ programmes. This work supports 11 partners in 8 countries. Working with local advisors and ‘hub’ organisations, the model makes funding more accessible, by devolving decision making to local communities and groups.
This means, local people make decisions, and money gets to where it’s needed most. We place trust in local peacebuilders so that they can lead their own work. Adapting to more micro-grantmaking means we can provide swift and direct support; vital in times of escalating conflict or unrest. In addition, this approach strengthens civil society connections and supports community resilience.
- In 2020, Peace Direct launched a Global Advisory Council to help guide our decision-making and ensure that lived experience of violent conflict informs our leadership and strategy. Members are primarily from the Global South and offer advice and support as we continue evolving to serve our mission and help decolonise the sector.
- Also in 2020, we joined Organizations in Solidarity (OIS), a group led by Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security. The OIS group is an alliance of non-government organisations working in the peacebuilding and security sectors, who pledged to make their sectors more inclusive and diverse. Peace Direct signed on to the 12 commitments outlined by the OIS to help the peace and security sector be more open to diverse backgrounds and talents. Read the statement in full here.
- We conducted an external audit of our communications through the lens of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The audit was completed by a communications specialist and strategist who specializes in developing strategies centered on empowering marginalized voices. We are now implementing an action plan based on the audit recommendations to improve the diversity of our communications and fundraising. We hope this will ensure that we continue to champion the agency and dignity of local communities.
- Our report, “Time to Decolonize Aid” is a product of a three-day consultation hosted by Peace Direct, Adeso, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security. The online consultation included over 150 practitioners, journalists, and academics from all parts of the world. It shares findings on the prevalence of neocolonialism in the peace and development sectors. It also provides recommendations on how organizations and individuals can improve their work to reduce harm and discontinue discriminatory practices.
At Peace Direct, we recognize that an enormous amount of work and effort is needed to transform our partnerships, the peacebuilding sector, and ourselves. We remain committed to advancing locally-led peacebuilding and welcome your feedback and suggestions.
Please send your thoughts here: [email protected]