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Summary of Building Peace By John Paul Lederach Summary written by Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium Citation: John Paul Lederach, Building. Book Review: John Paul Lederach, Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Lederach, John Paul. Building peace: sustainable reconciliation in divided societies / John Paul Lederach.

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Please Support Our Fundraising Drive. Lederach argues that dealing with contemporary armed conflict requires new approaches in addition to traditional diplomacy. Chapters One and Two examine the nature of contemporary armed conflict. A global overview of conflict shows that contemporary armed conflicts are primarily internal conflicts, occurring between different identity groups within a state.

These conflicts tend to arise within poor, developing nations.

Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies – John Paul Lederach – Google Books

Lederach argues that contemporary armed conflicts are more similar to communal and intercommunal conflicts than they are to international or interstate conflicts. Such conflicts are fueled more by psychological or cultural factors than by substantive issues. Contemporary armed conflicts also tend to be long-standing. These features, compounded by a setting of underdevelopment and poverty, makes peacebuilding peacd enormous task.

Summary of “Building Peace”

Unfortunately, international peacemaking remains oriented to interstate conflict. It is still rather poorly suited to respond to the features and dynamics which give rise to contemporary communal-type conflicts. Given the nature of contemporary armed conflict, peacebuilding faces four main challenges. First, it must transform the international culture which accepts and promotes the global sale of weapons. Second, peacebuilding approaches must take a very long-term view elderach order to build enduring peace.

Third, peacebuilding must take a broader, more comprehensive view of the people and contexts which produce conflict. Finally, we must focus on preventing minor conflicts from escalating into open warfare.

In subsequent chapters Lederach develops conceptual frameworks for conflict and peacebuilding. Modern peacebuilding should focus on reconciliation, and on rebuilding relationships. A focus on reconciliation recognizes that conflicts are essentially types of relationships.

It also makes allows us to address the psychological components of conflict. In Chapter Four Lederach describes the actors and issues in conflicts in terms of levels of leadership and nested foci. Ledrach occurs at three different levels: Top level actors consist of political, military or sometimes religious leaders.

The middle range consists leerach people whose positions of leadership are not directly dependent on the power hierarchy of the top level, builidng as respected heads of business, education or agriculture. The grassroots leadership operates in direct connection to lederacn masses of people and includes refugee camp officials, NGO workers, and health workers.

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Different peacebuilding activities are possible and appropriate lederxch different levels of leadership. Lederach adopts researcher Maire Bui,ding nested foci paradigm for relating the immediate issues within a conflict to the larger buildng aspects. Issues arise within relationships, which exist within the larger context of subsystems, and ultimately society-wide systems. To fully understand conflicts, issues must be understood in relation to these larger contexts.

In Chapter Five Lederach adopts mediator Adam Curle’s matrix for describing the progress of conflicts in terms of the balance of power between the parties, and the degree to which the parties are aware of their conflicting needs and interests. Conflicts progress from situations of unbalanced power and low awareness, or latent conflict, to situations of unbalanced power and increasing awareness, or overt conflict.

Negotiations attempt to bring overt conflicts to a situation of balanced power and high awareness. When this situation is stable, Curle calls it peace.

Peace building activities should focus on increasing awareness and balancing power. Chapter Six integrates these models of conflict into a process-structure of conflict. In this view the goal of peace building is not merely to get rid of an undesirable situation. The goal is to generate “continuous, dynamic, self-regenerating processes that maintain form over time and are able to adapt to environmental changes.

Lederach describes peace building resources in Chapter Seven. Peace building resources include not only financial and material support, but also socio-cultural resources. People in the conflict setting should be seen as resources rather than recipients.

Peace building should also draw on existing cultural resources. Lederach argues that the systems which assign responsibility and accountability for financial and material support are as important as the material support itself. These systems can themselves contribute pro-actively to the peace process.

Chapter Eight describes methods for coordinating the various levels, actors, and resources in peace building. Generally, coordination should focus on “creating strategic points of contact and coordination rather than rigid, centralized control. Coordination can also be improved by creating clearer channels of communication between top- and middle-level actors, and between first and second track diplomatic initiatives.

Peace-donor conferences provide an opportunity for interested and involved agencies to identify needs, match needs to resources, and coordinate their activities. Proposed conflict interventions should be reviewed by strategic resource groups, composed of experts from a variety of disciplines.

Finally, external peacemakers should try to link their activities with internal peacemakers. Chapter Nine discusses training and preparation for peace building. Lederach argues that contemporary conflict resolution training focuses too narrowly on “the cognitive skills of analyzing conflict and the communicative skills of negotiation. In this approach, who participates in training becomes a more central issue, and training is seen as integral part of the peace building process.


Transformative training seeks to supply people with transformative frameworks of inquiry which they may apply to their understanding of their own situation and context.

Lederach discusses the difficulties in evaluating peace building initiatives in Chapter Ten. His approach to conflict and peace building suggest a strategic, responsive approach to evaluation. Rather than measuring final results, evaluation should be seen as a tool for learning and feedback, and so an integral part of the peace building process.

Summary of “Building Peace” | Beyond Intractability

Evaluation should begin by attempting to sketch the “big picture. Lederach suggests six sets of inquiries. Generally these inquiries seek to assess coordination between the various actors and levels, to assess the responsiveness to the interventions to lederachh context of the conflict, and to identify long-term and provisional goals.

In his concluding chapter Lederach summarizes the key points of his approach.

The text concludes with four African case studies, contributed by John Prendergast, which illustrate peac of the Lederach approach to conflict and peacebuilding.

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