Back to Basics: A Q&A Guide to Key Concepts in Education for Peacebuilding
August 21, 2014
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When we discuss topics revolving around education for peacebuilding, there are a certain set of key concepts that shape the conversation. This Q&A guide is meant to familiarize you with these terms, as well as clarify the terminology and common questions about the concepts.


Q: What does resilience have to do with peacebuilding?

Resiliency can be defined as “the ability of… [individuals], communities and systems to anticipate, prevent, withstand, adapt to and recover from stresses and shocks advancing the…[human rights], especially the most disadvantaged,” (UNICEF) therefore when we talk about “resilience” we are talking about programming that contributes to the resilience of individuals, communities, and institutions under the bigger context of peacebuilding work. The focus on or need of resiliency in peacebuilding programming comes from the idea that shocks (or lack of resiliency) are impeding and reversing development gains and creating greater vulnerability particularly amongst the already marginalized groups such as girls, children with disabilities, and children in indigenous communities.


Q: What exactly is peacebuilding?

When we discuss “peacebuilding” we are talking about the mechanisms involved in reducing the risk of conflict, or relapse of conflict, by addressing both the causes and consequences of conflict. Peacebuilding can be transformative, changing or transforming negative relationships and institutions, strengthening the capacity at all levels for better management of conflicts, and laying the foundation for supporting the togetherness of the society while also building sustainable peace and development. Peacebuilding is multidimensional, cuts across sectors, and occurs at all levels in a society, including governments, civil society, the UN system, as well as an array of international and national partners.

Education and Peacebuilding

Q: What does education have to do with peacebuilding?

Education is considered a neutral act that can contribute to both conflict and peace, but in terms of education and its impact on peacebuilding, it can be argued that “formal education systems have a vital role to play in building peace…[There are] a number of ways in which education is contributing to building the conditions for long-term, positive peace…[as well as] concepts that mediate the relationship between education and peace:

• Equitable educational inclusion within the formal education system can redress motivations and eliminate opportunities to engage in conflict.
• School socialization processes can impact social acceptance of and constraints regarding the use of violence. As a result of improved quality and safer, protective learning environments, individuals may have less motivation, as well as fewer opportunities, to engage in conflict.
• Building up trust and cooperation (social capital) through school-based organizations can rectify grievances over lack of participation and improve relationships between individuals and groups.
• The various social benefits of education (including hope and possibilities for the future, as well as improved levels of socio-economic development)”

Peacebuilding vs. Social Cohesion 

Q: What do we mean by social cohesion in the context of peacebuilding?
Social cohesion refers to the quality of coexistence between the multiple groups that operate within a society. In the context of peacebuilding, social cohesion is seen as one of the results that emerge from an effective peacebuilding intervention.

Human Security

Q: What is Human Security?
UN resolution A/RES/60/1 defines Human Security as “an approach to assist [UN] Member States in identifying and addressing widespread and cross-cutting challenges to the survival, livelihood and dignity of their people” and acknowledges that all humans are “entitled to freedom from fear and freedom from want, with an equal opportunity to enjoy all their rights and fully develop their human potential.” In more simple terms, human security represents a shift in focus from the security and safety of sovereign nation states to the protection of individuals and emphasizes security as more than just the absence of violent conflict.

Conflict Sensitivity

Q: How do conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding relate to one another?
Conflict Sensitivity is defined as the capacity of an organization to understand its operating context, understand the interaction between its interventions and the context, and act upon this understanding to avoid negative impacts (“do no harm”) and maximize positive impacts on conflict factors.

This blog is authored by Susan Bos.

MeLinkinINSusan Bos recently finished working for the Institutional Learning Team at Search for Common Ground (SFCG). Much of her career portfolio relates to project management, improving program quality, and cultivating and nurturing donor and peer relationships around the issues of human rights, conflict resolution, gender equality, and social justice.

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