Peace cannot be achieved when there is no space for dialogue. This is a basic principle of diplomacy that is true at all levels including when two villages have been at each other’s throats for years. The mission of WPDI is to provide spaces for dialogue in those places however remote they are or entrenched their conflict may seem to be. The point in organizing these local conferences and workshop is to be in tune with local realities and to take all the time necessary to listen to everyone.
This is why the responsibility of community dialogues is mostly with our peacemakers. They are insiders who have an intimate knowledge of local situations and can gain the trust of local populations and leaders more easily than external or foreign players. With the skills and tools we provide them, they are therefore uniquely positioned to mediate conflicts and seemingly intractable issues that have plagued relations among communities for years. Besides this work on actual conflict, community dialogues also serve for prevention purposes or even educational ones. In some circumstances, peacemakers will realize that some key human rights issues – such as gender-based violence – must be addressed in a given community and take action to address it.
Our peacemakers work to achieve a multiplier effect. For this, they will ensure that their conference and workshops are attended by local influencers, whom they invite to disseminate the results of the community dialogue among their constituencies back home. Another key vector to propagate peace is local radio. When they set up a community dialogue, our peacemakers will often hold talk shows on local channels to introduce their work and present the results they have gained.
A Community-Wide Impact
By promoting openness and transparency in the resolution of conflicts and challenges, dialogues prove instrumental for building resilience and self-confidence in communities. By conducting community dialogues, WPDI’s youth peacemakers are also able to strengthen their presence into their communities. This, in turn, reinforces the ownership of our programs on the ground and, therefore, their empowering effect.