The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons


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Even if at a minimal degree, the study revealed that there were divergent intra-group views expressed in relation to the Sharia debate. This underscored the fact that identity even among a dominant group is constructed along variant layers or points of reference. In other words, there is always a plurality of competing interests within a group or subgroup and this includes the elite ranks as well and the articulation of particular interests at any point does not preclude opposition or competing interests. The implication of this is that even among northern Muslims, where the all encompassing nature of Islam- Islam as a total way of life complexly mixing culture, religion and politics- makes it difficult for dissident or opposing views Human Rights Watch, , identity is not always homogenous or monolithic.

Underlying the often projected unified position is the different and sometimes conflicting viewpoints and multiple interpretations reflecting the variation in the character of local Muslim populations and civil society groups, and the perceptions of civil society leaders. Some examples will suffice. In Kaduna State for example, civil society groups responded, sometimes in a conflicting way, to the signing into law of the modified Sharia legal system in Kaduna in November This contradictory group identity construction and projection is more poignantly reflected in the perception of Muslims in the state.

In addition, Makarfi was accused of pandering to the dictates of President Obasanjo, a Christian and labeled a stooge of the President Human Rights Watch, Another prominent internal opposition to the implementation of Sharia came from Shehu Sani, an outspoken government critic and leader of the Civil Rights Congress, a human rights organization in Kaduna. For instance, in , Shehu Sani was reported to have criticized the introduction of Sharia through a radio interview he granted in Kaduna where he accused politicians of using Sharia to increase their popularity and to insulate themselves from the people they governed.

He claimed that this interview pitted him with other radical Muslims who were urgently desirous of Sharia and were doing everything within their powers to see it implemented in the state even without the government. The Kaduna state commissioner of police later stated that they had taken this action in order to avert a breakdown of law and order. They had reportedly written to the Kaduna state governor and commissioner of police threatening to unleash chaos if the conference went ahead Human Rights Watch, ibid.

In the manuscript, Sani offers a scathing satire of Sharia Law and its key actors- lawyers, judges, hisbah, ulamas, and politicians. The Sharia court was acting on the petition by a group called Concerned Sharia Forum, a group supported by the Kaduna government who argued that the play could incite the kinds of religious violence the Kaduna has worked so hard to quell [38]. Just like in Kaduna state, the criticisms against Sharia by Muslims in Kebbi were not against the code per se, but against the absence of a conducive socio-economic environment for the implementation of Sharia.

Governance itself is part of Sharia and poverty alleviation should be at its core. So if you have widespread poverty as we have in Kebbi state which is believed to be the second poorest state in the federation, then Sharia cannot work. Look this is fasting period and the price of orange is N30 each. If I a Director consider this exorbitant to purchase for my family as I would want to, how much more a poor rural dweller who does not earn up to a day but has a family of 12 people to feed.

Tell me, how can such a family fulfill the Islamic junctions enshrined in the Sharia effectively? This is partly why they cannot amputate hands of those who have violated the Sharia code. Others were categorical in accusing politicians of using Sharia to hoodwink the people and pilfer the public resources. The Sharia in Kebbi is not being practiced correctly.

How Cultures Work

Sure the governor Aliero tried his best to put in programs that will lead to the spiritual and moral upliftment of Muslims, but he left himself and his executive out in the process. Using Sharia as a cover, these politicians, led by the governor, have amassed stupendous wealth, coveting properties here and there and this includes a gigantic mansion owned by governor Aliero in Birnin Kebbi.

This is contrary to the life of moderation and selflessness that Sharia advocates [39]. In fact, some of these internal critiques went as far as deriding governor Aliero for turning the state into a personal empire administered by him and his brother [40] while others instituted court cases against the governor for alleged diversion of state funds. Muslims do not reproduce a monolithic Muslim identity. However, in spite of some similarities, there are divergent politico-legal responses to the re-introduction of Sharia in Kaduna and Kebbi states.

While mobilization against Sharia was reflected in public protests in Kaduna Kaduna city and Kebbi Zuru town , the outcome of the protests differ, in that it was peaceful in Zuru, while it turned violent in Kaduna city. To be sure, the protest in Zuru also provoked a counter opposition from some Muslim youths who threw stones at the protesters and wounded three of them. However, these youths were prevented from further carrying out such acts by some other Muslims, and the Emir of Zuru. On the other hand, the Kaduna riots reduced Kaduna city and some other parts of the states such as Kachia to rubble, left at least persons dead and led to the displacement of over 63, people within Kaduna and its surroundings International Displacement Monitoring Centre, The Kaduna violence also led to a major religious re-structuring of the town with people congregating in areas where their religious faith had a majority of inhabitants Ibrahim, Finally, the violence provoked reprisal attacks in the southeastern parts of the country such as Aba, Owerri, and Umuahia.

At the heart of the violence in Kaduna are issues related directly to the planned implementation of Sharia. To start with, reflecting the relatively higher level of ethno-religious heterogeneity in Kaduna state, the degree of freedom from the application of Sharia is higher covering Christian dominated areas of Kaduna town, federal government and the various southern Kaduna local governments than that of Kebbi where freedom from application of Sharia is merely restricted to Zuru town, the headquarters of Zuru Emirate. This divergence is also reflected in the legal system.

Under the Kaduna model, the pre-existing Area local or native courts were abolished and replaced with Sharia and Customary courts designed to apply Islamic and customary laws to Muslims and non-Muslims, respectively. These two systems of courts co-exist with federation-wide common law courts system, including the magistrate and the High Court. In Kebbi state, on the other hand, the Area courts have been abolished and replaced only with Sharia courts as part of a comprehensive agenda of Sharia implementation, but their jurisdiction is now limited to persons professing Islamic faith as well as consenting non-Muslims.

The common law Magistrate and High Courts would serve other non-Muslims in the state. The divergence in the vigour with which Sharia is implemented in the two states is further reflected in the differential impact of Sharia on the Muslim population or the society in generall.

While in Kebbi state there is what could be described as an increasing Islamization or what Turner cf. The outcome of these rigid regulations affected both Muslims and Christians in the state. To avoid this situation, co-educational public secondary schools were segregated along gender lines through the introduction of the shift system whereby girls attend schools during the morning session and the boys during the afternoon session, and the introduction of trousers for girls in schools to prevent indecent exposure.

Also, there was the dismantling of brothels and disco houses. Alcohol or the sale of liquor was also prohibited [43]. In Kaduna on the other hand, the role of Sharia in sanitizing society of immoral behavious in setting acceptable moral code has proved daunting as a result of the diversified moral system in place in the state. Under the modified Sharia system, implementing any form of religious laws was explicitly foreclosed in the mixed parts of Kaduna city and other principal towns.

In Muslim majority areas the eventual application of Sharia laws, such as restriction of the sales of alcohol, was ceded to the local governments in these areas. However, while licentious behaviours are prohibited in Muslim-dominated areas, the potency of this prohibition is rendered tenuous by the easy availability of alternative moral code which many Muslims can easily draw from. The role of government in the implementation of Sharia is more pronounced in Kebbi than in Kaduna state, where Muslim civil society organizations play preponderant roles in organizing Islamic activities.

Given the ethno-religious diversity of Kaduna state which is more pronounced than that of Kebbi state, the government was careful not to give the impression that it is favoring one group above the other. As a result, the role of government on Sharia was tentative and reduced. For instance, unlike Kebbi state were Sharia was formally launched with fanfare, the coming into effect of Sharia in Kaduna was done unceremoniously.

The reduced role of the state in organizing Sharia in Kaduna state, could be attributed to the almost balanced demography between Christians and Muslims in the state, its status as a borderline urban centre and also the fact that Kaduna had for about years been the metropolitan headquarters of Northern Nigeria which opened it up to a wave of immigrants from different parts of the country, and which by implication made it a beehive of civil society organizing and activism.

Also the history of the state as a tinderbox of ethno-religious conflicts has sharpened civil society activism in the state. Given this reality, the Kebbi state government was not constrained from spearheading the implementation of Sharia in the state. The only challenge for the state government was how to give the non-Muslims population some concessions, and to mediate peace between them and the Muslim population while it plays at the same time a leading role in the Sharia project for the Muslims.

To reiterate, besides a leadership that was sensitive to the challenges of diversity, a critical factor that moderated the role of the Muslim—led executive of Governor Ahmed Makarfi in Kaduna state on Sharia was the history of violent conflict which the state is known for.


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Suberu ibid. This history has radicalized and politicized the civil society in the state, and made it vulnerable, necessarily or inadvertently so, to violence that the Kaduna state governor would have overlooked to his own political peril. This reality is consistent with the literature on the civil society in conflict context. Being characterized by a higher degree of politicization and a less institutional setting, conflict situations may generate a more intense mobilization of civil society. Contrary to peaceful contexts, in conflict situations the existential nature of politics and the securitizations that follow generate different societal incentives to mobilize.

The cross-sectional nature of existential politics and securitization thus yields a quantitatively higher degree of public action spanning across different groups in society. The different understandings of the causes of conflict and their adequate responses may in turn lead to the formation of civil society actors and ensuing actions that can either fuel conflict, sustain the status quo, or build peace.

On one hand, In Kaduna state, the ultimate task of peace building was deflected to civil society where it has proven, at the same time that it fuels conflict, to be relatively positive in generating local capital, trust and consensus building. A key part of this peace building effort was the collaborative civil society groups or institutions such as the Interfaith Mediation Centre and the Kaduna Peace Committee which not only mediated between the inter-religious groups but also collaborated with the state government to foster peace.

To demonstrate publicly their agreement to renounce violence, these leaders together unveiled a centrally located plaque of their agreement for all community members to read and celebrate The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding Program on Religion and Conflict Resolution, On the other hand, in Kebbi state, the government was the decisive factor in this task. To reiterate, this difference can be attributed to the development of the civil society as relatively autonomous institutions in Kaduna state. In particular, the existence of large, diversified pluralized and autonomous civil society organizations has implications for the formulation of public policy as it seems to prevent exclusivist politics.

As mentioned earlier, partly due to its history as a relatively advanced urban conglomeration accommodating various groups and institutions, when compared to other states in the north, and partly as a result of its recent history as a state known for violent ethno-religious antagonism, Kaduna has a flourishing civil society which has been the site not only for violent contestation but also the construction of normative consensus. Lubeck and Britts, Abdu, H, and Umar, L.

Albert, I. Abdulsalami Abubakar. Alger, C. Amadi, S. Augi, A. Studies in the History of Zuru Emirate. Bitiyong, Y. Blench, R. Thursday, 09 November. Brubaker, R. Calhoun, C. Social Theory and the Politics of Identity. Chukwuma, I. Egwu, S. Ethnic and Religious Conflicts in Nigeria. Enwerem, I. A Dangerous Awakening. The Politicization of Religion in Nigeria.

Falola, T. Giddens, Anthony. Gutmann, A. Harnischfeger, J. Howarth, D. Norval A. Hogben, J. The Muhammadan Emirates of Nigeria. Human Rights Watch. July Political Sharia? Hunwick, J. Africa in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. History of West Africa. Ibrahim, James. Ibrahim, Jibrin. Ibrahim, Jibrin Ibrahim, J. International Displacement Monitoring Centre. International IDEA. Ismail, S. Jega, J. Joseph, R. Kastfelt, N. Kazah-Toure, T. Kazah-Toure, Kenny, J. Islam and a Secular State. Kirwin, M. Kisca, R. Kruks, S. Kukah, M.

Religion, Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria. Retrieved July Kuper, A. The Social Science Encyclopaedia. Laitin, David. The Journal of Modern African Studies. Vol 20, No. Larsh, S. Modernity and Identity. Lewis, P. Afrobarometer Paper No. Afrobarometer Working Paper No. Lederach, J. Washington D. Loimeier, R. Lubeck, P. Ludwig, F. Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

Maier, K. Marchetti, R. Marshall-Fratani, R. Moyser, G. Politics and Religion in the Modern World. Muazzam, I. The Management of the National Question in Nigeria. Muhammed, K. Nigeria Federalism in Crisis. Nathaniel, D. Natufe, I. April 11 — Nnoli, O.

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Ethnic Politics in Nigeria. Nzongola-Ntalaja, G. Omolewa, M. Certificate History of Nigeria. Osaghae, E. Structural Adjustment and Ethnicity in Nigeria. Nordiska Africa Institute. Research Monograph No. Osaghae, E and Suberu, T. Ostein, P. Volumes I—V. Otite, O. Ethnic Pluralism and Ethnicity in Nigeria. Paden, J. Ruby, R. Shah, T. March Sambo, B. Sanneh, L. Smith, M. Government in Zazzau Smyth, M. Soludo, C. Preserving Stability and Accelerating Growth. Suberu, Rotimi Ethnic Conflicts and Governance in Nigeria.

Suberu, R. Federalism and Ethnic Conflict in Nigeria. Federalism and Territorial Cleavages.

Religion and Peacebuilding

Pp — Democratic Rebirth in Nigeria Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Tyoden, S. The Middle Belt in Nigerian Politics. Human Development Report Department of State. Annual Report of the U. Commission on International Religious Freedom Wuye, J. The Pastor and the Imam. University of Leuven , Belgium, July Yip, A. Young, C. But all analyses concur that no intractable conflict can really end without some kind of reconciliation process if the parties to the conflict are going to interact again in the future.

Indeed, "if the patterns from the past that produced and sustained violence remain unchanged, they will eventually produce the same outcome. Reconciliation must therefore be supported by a gradual sharing of power, an honouring of each other's political commitments, the creation of a climate conducive to economic justice and a willingness among the population at large to accept responsibility for the past and for the future. Political, social and economic justice is a foundation of durable reconciliation. It also explains how, for those who define peacebuilding as 'conflict transformation,' reconciliation actually encompasses all dimensions of peacebuilding.

In other words, every single activity engaged through the conflict transformation lens can be understood as reconciliation. Reconciliation and conflict transformation John Paul Lederach , a key scholar in the field of peace studies, speaks of conflict transformation as a holistic and multi-faceted approach to managing violent conflict in all its phases. The term signifies an ongoing process of transformation from negative to positive relations, behavior, attitudes and structures. Re building trust The issue of trust is central to the idea of transforming relationships. Transforming beliefs and attitudes As Karen Brounus, psychologist, explains, "violence, fear and hatred during war result in the modernization of old myths and stereotypes to explain one's own or some other groups behaviour and thereby justify whatever gruesome atrocities are committed.

After the war, the societal and cultural fabric is drenched with these beliefs. They can be seen in how history is described, how the language is used, in education, the media, theatre, etc. In order to live in peace, these beliefs must be questioned and transformed. But this transformation process is also at the heart of all aspects of the peacebuilding agenda as social, political, economic and cultural rules are being transformed and new forms of relationships and social identifies are being produced. Three of them deserve particular attention: The link between reconciliation and trauma healing; The link between reconciliation and history and memory work; The role of religions and religious actors in reconciliation processes.

Reconciliation and trauma healing Academics and practitioners insist on the fact that healing and reconciliation need to go together, "especially when the groups that have engaged in violence against each other continue to live together. The beginning of healing is generally considered to enhance the possibility of reconciliation, while reconciliation furthers the possibility of healing.

The processes of reconciliation and healing actually appear to be cyclical and reinforce each other, from one generation to the next, ultimately contributing to the prevention of future violence. First, reconciliation processes can be demanding both cognitively and emotionally.

Hence, it is important that immediate emotional needs are attended to. Indeed, some analysts stress the fact that for reconciliation to take place, "perpetrators and members of the perpetrator group who may not have engaged in violence also need to heal. Several mechanisms may be at play here. First, the reconciliation process generally increases the feeling of security, which facilitates further healing easier. Go to Trauma, mental health and psycho-social well-being History, memory and reconciliation History and memory work undertaken in the context of peacebuilding is meant to support reconciliation processes and the construction of a re-imagined political community.

Indeed, "various studies have shown how much that memory is intrinsically linked to identity and the transmission of memory and history in a post-conflict period can play a significant role in evolving new identities of citizenship," 22 a process at the root of reconciliation. Having a sense of a shared history is a central component in the formation of identities and what is generally referred to as the reconciliation process. National and international researchers generally agree that a fundamental goal of history education is to "transmit ideas of citizenship and both the idealized past and the promised future of the community.

This entails a distinct two-fold process that nurtures and constructs positive inter-group relations while marginalizing and deconstructing negative inter-group relations. Many faith-based NGOs support peace education programs comprising specific training in conflict resolution, democracy or human rights but also the development of peace curriculum for schools or the training of educators on issues such as justice and reconciliation. Different religious organizations and networks are also engaged in training programs to educate religious leaders on these relevant issues.

There are also increased numbers of religion-based citizens groups focused on bringing about reconciliation. Reconciliation, the restoration of a political community, and civil society Political reconciliation is about building a re-imagined political community. In other words, it is not about restoring a pre-existing community or an ideal image that would already be available. Religious peacebuilding is typically of the type associated with Lederach, [79] namely community-oriented processes that are relationship-centered and participatory.

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Still, religious peacebuilding is a developing concept. Most of the literature regarding religion and peacebuilding is in the form of case studies, that is stories of specific events, groups, and individuals. There is much work to be done before there is an adequate academic understanding of what a religious approach to peacebuilding might entail. While efforts have begun, this is difficult, in part, because of the sheer number and diversity of actors often involved, [81] and also because social scientists are in need of better tools for holistically engaging religion and its effects.

On the one hand, religious peacebuilding is simply peacebuilding done by religious actors. This has a variety of social and political implications but does not involve a distinct set of activities. On the other hand, religious peacebuilding is an endeavor to work within religious traditions and religious contexts through unique activities, such as intrafaith and interfaith dialogue and education. While acknowledging the importance of both types of religious peacebuilding, this essay focuses on that which religious actors, often working with secular partners, engage in with religious and secular groups in contexts of religious and non-religious conflict.

The first part of the definition is a subjective description that is difficult to quantify or evaluate, but which is significant nonetheless. Its presence may be manifest in many different ways, some more or less discernible. Peacebuilding with the benefit of access to religious communities and institutions is significant, according to the particular relationship of a religious tradition with its host society. As explained previously, the identity of religious actors is integral to the character of religious peacebuilding. However, it is important for categorical explorations to focus on peacebuilding as a process, rather than focusing on the religious peacebuilders themselves.

A limited typology of religious peacebuilding includes methodology, motivation, legitimacy, and connection to context; the category of methodology is further divided into philosophy, tools, level of engagement, and length of engagement. What philosophical underpinnings distinguish religious peacebuilding? It can be said that religious peacebuilding works within, rather than adjacent to or opposed to, spiritual elements of culture. Taken to the extreme, this can lead to fatalism and paralysis. Taken in measured doses, it leads to an understanding of the importance of determined, small steps and the futility of the grandiose.

In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. Religious peacebuilding operates with different tools than does secular peacebuilding because of its inclusion of spiritual issues. Similarly, religious peacebuilding may be more likely to employ tools of imagination in envisioning new possibilities and facilitating empathy.

Level of Engagement. In terms of levels of engagement, religious peacebuilding can be located in the grassroots, middle-level, and elite levels of organization. Potentially, it can involve all of these levels, which are likely to be linked through religious networks. Religious peacebuilding can be compatible with or the same as indigenous peacebuilding. Length of Engagement. In terms of length of engagement, religious peacebuilding is markedly different from the efforts of many secular NGOs and of the international community, as described by Cousens and Kumar.

Religious peacebuilding has the capacity to function long-term because it can potentially operate from the base of and integrate into a permanent presence within a community. Some local peacebuilding programs are directly and exclusively funded by local churches, mosques, and temples. National and international RNGOs are more susceptible to the attention span and priorities of international donors, [] yet even they can be partially or completely funded by national and international religious networks.

This is significant because religious leaders have different time horizons than donor governments. Bishops, for example, retain their office for life, whereas politicians must be responsive to electoral constituencies and annual budget cycles. In addition, the fraternal and structural ties of religious networks raise the probability of interaction, which can increase mutuality and consistency of priorities and expectations.

The second category in this typology is motivation. For instance, how is the Mennonite mandate for peacebuilding different, in effect, from the Marxist mandate? This is a question that demands further research, yet one might begin by considering the practice of religious martyrdom. However, one could also refer to the hunger strikes of Mahatma Gandhi or the self-immolation of Buddhist monks in protest of the Vietnam War. For this typology, it may be more useful to consider, instead of the strength of motivation, the ways in which motivation is transmitted and renewed.

In this respect, religious peacebuilding is distinct because of its relationship to myth and ritual. As a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people. The image of a priest shot at the altar while celebrating Mass, the primary sacred ritual of the Catholic tradition, galvanized not only local but also international outcry regarding human rights abuses in El Salvador. Romero has become a mythical figure who remains a source of motivation for Catholic and non-Catholic activists worldwide.

In the methods of Catholic tradition, he is the unofficial patron saint of the region and official canonization processes are moving forward. The third category of this typology, legitimacy, depends on many cultural and historical circumstances; yet, some generalizations can be made. To the extent that spirituality is accepted and deemed important, communities and conflict parties may perceive religious peacebuilding as legitimate because it addresses spiritual elements of conflict.

This may be compounded if peacebuilding actors are perceived to have purely social and spiritual—and not political—intentions. In addition, religious traditions claim moral authority. If this claim has currency, it can facilitate an embrace of peacebuilding processes. The tendency to invest legitimacy in religious actors is often exhibited not only by those within a specific tradition, but also by the larger community, especially when leaders are charismatic and institutions are competent.

Finally, the last category in this typology of religious peacebuilding is connection to context. Obviously, when peacebuilders are working within their own communities or with communities of the same religious tradition, they will benefit from pre-existing knowledge of at least some aspects of the religious and cultural context. The same may be true to a lesser extent when actors adhere to different religions but share a religious worldview.

Communicating using religious texts and traditions can make it easier to introduce or strengthen concepts of peace. It does mean that all actors must overcome varying degrees of unfamiliarity and be willing to facilitate peacebuilding within the context they are working. In addition to connection to philosophical and cultural context, religious peacebuilding benefits from a connection to personal, communal, and institutional networks.

This is especially true of indigenous religious peacebuilding, but also true for interventionist religious peacebuilding. Listing this multitude of factors begins to illustrate the complexities that determine the impact of religious peacebuilding. The cumulative effect may be one in which religion plays a significant role in portions but not all of society, or, as can be the case with large, transnational traditions, religion may permeate every level of society—institutionally, socially and culturally. In that case, the significant elements of authority, ideology, spirituality and fraternity are all at the disposal of religious peacebuilding.

Yet, impact is still determined not only by the degree of religious presence, but also by the degree of experienced peacebuilding capacity. To delineate the possible environments that might shape peacebuilding, Appleby describes three modes of action: crisis mobilization, saturation, and external intervention. In the first instance, existing religious presence is inexperienced but spontaneously adapts to peacebuilding necessities.

In the second, an indigenous peacebuilding community of offices, programs, and professionals has emerged and persisted over time. Part of the institutional and social landscape, this peacebuilding is shaped by prevailing political and social conditions and external actors, but not wholly dependent on them.

In the last mode, external actors intervene in conflict situations, usually at the invitation of one or more of the conflict parties, to work with existing capacity in the service of present needs and the sometimes distant goal of eliciting and enabling an indigenous peacebuilding community. Religious peacebuilding has at least four strengths. First, religious peacebuilding is a vehicle for addressing the spiritual aspects of conflict experience. This strength lies in the perception of spiritual need on the part of those affected.

Third, religious peacebuilding offers a moral alternative during times of state collapse and times of war, especially when the peacebuilders are from a religious tradition that has a large and stable presence in a society. This was the case, for example, when the Roman Catholic Church joined in the advocacy for democracy and human rights reform in Brazil, Chile, Central America, the Philippines, South Korea, and elsewhere. He writes:. Because we in modern society have walked away from institutions that stand outside the state to find moral guidance and spiritual direction, we turn to the state in times of war.

The state and the institutions of state become, for many, the center of worship in wartime. To expose the holes in the myth is to court excommunication. Of course, religious traditions are often a more or less willing accomplice in the justification of war. Nonetheless, when they find it necessary and are able to oppose a nation-state heading to war, religious peacebuilding can offer people the power of an alternative, often combined with the comfort of affiliation with a long-standing authority.

Fourth, because of their numerical significance and multi-level presence, religious traditions offer vehicles for internationalizing peacebuilding and conflict resolution. This is possible through the networking and sharing of best practices among peacebuilders [] and through religious education, which takes daily form in preaching and school teaching.

The ambivalence of religion, among other factors, dictates that the latter may be problematic; however, to the extent that local manifestations of religion accept and teach the peaceful doctrines of their traditions, they can contribute to the development of indigenous peacebuilding, or what Appleby calls the saturation mode of peacebuilding. Herein, perhaps, lies the greatest potential of religious peacebuilding: the capacity to transcend the boundary of peacebuilding as a field of external expertise.

The greatest challenge to religious peacebuilding is the ambivalence of religion. Ambivalence undermines the perception of the enterprise and enables intra-religious sabotage of its progress. The challenges of religious violence not withstanding, however, there are many points of criticism within the developing processes of religious peacebuilding. Literature on the subject commonly refers to four obvious challenges. First, some religious peacebuilding situations require additional skills and knowledge of contemporary peacebuilding theory and practice. Like others in the peacebuilding and NGO sectors, religious actors would do well to advance professionally, [] increase accountability to people on the ground, [] and continue to limit the potential to do harm.

To the extent that local groups are more likely to approach such leadership to facilitate peacebuilding, religious actors may join the field more often without the benefit of professional training and experience. Second, some individuals and groups will be hesitant or averse to working with actors of a different religion or categorically opposed to the intersection of religion and peacebuilding.

It is often cited as an example of an explicitly religious organization that is adept at using non-religious discourse, or second-order language, in creating a space where religious affiliation is not a factor in partnering with secular actors. However, the success of such models not withstanding, at times religious actors will simply be unwelcome or inappropriate. In conflicts where religion plays a major part, religious peacebuilders may have an advantage in understanding the context, yet be unable to gain sufficient confidence from conflict parties. A third challenge is the potential perception that religious peace actors are proselytizing, actively seeking to attract religious membership or to induce conversion.

While there are times when it is appropriate to use religious and spiritual tools, they are only beneficial and effective when applied with acute sensitivity to context.

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It is difficult to generalize about the ways religious actors negotiate this challenge. During this evolution, World Vision retained its evangelical character, while CRS minimized its religious identity. This is illustrated by the fact that World Vision requires acceptance of a statement of faith as a condition of employment, [] while CRS generally lacks such a requirement.

The CRS model of religious peacebuilding makes it easier to dismiss accusations of proselytizing. Human resource practices and capacity building within a religious tradition are not necessarily indications of proselytizing. One of the inherent challenges of being a religious organization in this field is that both unwarranted and valid accusations of proselytizing raise challenges to peacebuilding.

One can note that academics and policy experts continue to debate the potential and form of universal application of western liberal norms of gender equality, especially because attempting to force culture change can have unintentional negative effects on relationships and peacebuilding efforts. Religious peacebuilding is a relatively new focus for scholarly research and reflection.

Nevertheless, numerous authors from the conflict resolution field note the considerable spiritual and theological resources for peacebuilding that can be drawn from the major religions.

The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons
The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons
The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons
The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons
The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons
The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons

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