President of CDA (Collaborative for Development Action), Inc.
Topics: networking, conflict analysis, intervention, peace processes
Interviewed by Julian Portilla — 2003
Listen to Full Interview
Listen/Read Selected Interview Segments on the Following Topics
- Complimentarity and Networking
- Some Elements of Conflict Analysis
- Designing Intervention Strategies
- Success of Interventions
- Peace Timelines
Q: What is the RPP project?
A: The RPP project stands for Reflecting on Peace Practice. It began a little over three years ago as a collaborative learning effort on the part of a number of different peace practitioners worldwide. The question that the project was designed to address was, "Can we by looking at our experience over many years and in many different locations and with different approaches, by looking at those in some systematic way, can we get closer to understanding what works and what doesn't work under what circumstances and why?"
Q: That's sort of how I should have to do this project in the beginning, but in a less systematic way.
A: There's much experience out there and if we don't take it seriously and look at it in some ways we can just keep repeating the same unknowns, keep reinventing wheels and keep making the same mistakes. It just makes a lot of sense to take a hard look at it.
Q: Are there specific questions that your project was looking to answer?
A: It was a big general question at the beginning, but as we went on the question got much tougher as a question in that we began to realize that people regularly put lots more effort into what they considered their peace practice then they felt they got in terms of results and that there was a great frustration and disappointment with how ineffective so much of the work appeared to be over time. So the question we ended up with, which is really what focused the project towards its end was, "How can so much hard work by so many intelligent and dedicated people, often under dangerous circumstances amount to so little?" and "What goes wrong and why?" We really did focus much more on trying to understand why it doesn't add up in the way people thought it would.
Q: You know as much as I do that complimentarity and networking are sort of the buzzwords in the field of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. However, you think simple complimentarity and networking without a purpose aren't that interesting?
A: It turns out that they aren't that effective. We just plain looked at it to see and as you know there is this enormous variety of things that people do under the rubric of doing peace work or peace building or peace practice. We use the word peace practice just because of the range of activities that people engage in is so large that we decided not to try to define it more clearly than that. Rather we let everything in when people explicitly said we are working on conflict. As we looked across that huge variety which even goes in the explicit peace field: it goes all the way from peace education, to conflict resolution, to mediation, to track-two issues. We did not look at track one. We stayed at the track one and half and two level in terms of our own looking and we didn't look at official government activity.
In other words we looked at the things that were below that in the hierarchy. As well as the inter-positioning and the non-violent direct action. You know there is this huge variety of stuff and we ran into constantly. I am sure I have said it myself but the very frequent mantra used by people in peace work is, "Peace is very complicated, very long term, and it takes lots of people doing lots of things to build peace and so I'm doing my piece of work and over time I have to assume that it will all add up." Yet the evidence is really quite powerful that it doesn't all add up. It just simply doesn't. So we started trying to look at why because there are lots of people working at lots of levels and they are smart and dedicated and so on. So why is it not adding up? What we found was much greater clarity about networking than we had known before.
just to say "let's network and lets work at different levels and our work will be complimentary" without some explicit attempt to make it so. To make things add up in some strategic sense-- and you know you might have to push me on what I mean by strategic, but anyways, in some strategic sense, without that attention to that, it doesn't add up. People need to be much more conscious of how they focus their sets of work and make explicit linkages to work in other spheres. Otherwise they are just sitting there doing a little piece of work that's just a drop in an ocean that isn't doing any good at all.
Q: The way that you described people's understanding of it as being "it will all add up" makes it sound like they are not networking. When I hear networking my image is of people going out and making linkages to people that are useful to them?
A: Well it depends on what kind of linkages though because in certain ways we observed that people spend a lot of time in meetings with each other and telling each other what they are doing and actually don't spend quite enough time honestly telling each other what they are doing. There is a kind of tendency to show and tell, but not a real tendency toward very deep and analytical discussion about why we chose to do this in this circumstance, what we intend to have happen and why we see this happening with that and so on.
They are telling each other at one level what they are doing, but not, I think, as thoroughly as they should. But that aside, they spend time in some ways engaging in and joining networks and creating networks, as if in making the networks they are making peace. In all actuality, it really is what the network is around and what it is about, why they are doing this network at this time with these people and for what purpose are they putting their work together is much more important. Just to create a new organization, which you are all on the same mailing list and exchanging information; doesn't mean you are actually working on the same issue in any concerted, strategic way.
Q: Did you see a network that actually worked in the way that you would say is a positive example for other people? You can also contrast that with one that didn't?
A: I would not use the word network about what we saw that worked. I would say we say campaigns that worked. That is, we saw people undertaking a series of activities that by the way they were constructed created a certain momentum and brought in additional people at two levels and ended up having a significant discernable impact on the problem that they were addressing at the time. It's kind of a strategic campaign issue and it meant that they were in communication with and doing joint activities with people, but they didn't spend a lot of time calling those things networks. Let me just give a bit more of the content of what we found if this is the right time to do that.
A: We found in terms of how people think about thier work in relation to what is going on around them, that peace practitioners are very clear that they need to know a lot about the context in which they are working in order to do good peace work. And they are quite clear that doing context analysis matters a lot. When we looked at the kind of context analysis that most people do we found that it was at best partial. That is to say that most people looked at the context where there was a conflict going on, or a potential conflict, and asked themselves the question of the following sort: "What do we know how to do well and could that be useful in this context?" They could almost always answer yes. Sometimes with good integrity they could answer no and therefore didn't go into that situation, but almost always they could say, "Yes that would make a contribution."
What we looked at when we tried to figure out what else was missing was all the different kinds of approaches people take to context analysis like stakeholder analysis, or you have root causes analysis, or you have this variety of different kinds of analysis that people use. What we found was that not one of those showed that it had any better results than any other. That knowing more was always better than knowing less, but that not any one of those turned out to be the key to why good work always, or better work always happened here and less good work happened with another kind of analysis. Then we turned the question around and we asked "Does the work of people miss the mark when there are certain things that people don't know about the context?" When we looked systematically at all the efforts and all the people involved in this efforts and
I should just say after ??? that there were over 300 peace agencies involved and well over 1000 people involved in this process by the end we went up ???. So it was a very broad spectrum of people and lots and lots of people in their own local environments where there were conflicts and then the international partners to that. So anyway, when we looked at whether there was some minimum that if it was missing the work missed the mark. We found three questions that people regularly failed to ask that mattered a lot because if they didn't have an answer to these questions then they would do a program often that simply didn't connect to what was going wrong. So here are the three questions.
The first one is, "What is the war not about?" This question has two elements to it. One, is if you make an assumption that the conflict is about injustice and therefore you work on human rights and in fact it's about creed instead of injustice. Then you are simply working on injustice which is an important thing to work on, I know none of us would object to making the systems of the world more just, but it would not end that particular conflict if it is not being driven by some explicit injustice that you are working on. The second element is that if you don't know what it is not about, you miss the opportunities with working with places and events and structures in the society that are not in contention. Those are the things for people to stay connected to each other and they provide a good base on which to try to build the peace in the future. By not asking that question you can just miss those and you can undermine them. So they are two elements that ??? are not about.
The second question is, "What needs to be stopped?" Again we found very pleasant bias on the part of all of us in the peace practice regarding the philosophy that we tend to believe that we can build the happy alternative for all the ??? that isn't built that is justice and truth and so on. And if we build it well enough it will just overwhelm the bad things and everything will go happily forward. There is no evidence of that at all. If there are people whose interests it is to continue conflict; we can create alternative participatory systems and communities right and left and we can train people in non-violent mediation right and left and still the war will continue because people have an interest in perpetuating it. So there has to be some hardheaded analysis of what has to be stopped.
Then the third question is "What are the international or regional dimensions of the conflict?" Again peace practitioners tend to have a bias towards doing the work of conflict resolution, conflict management, or transformation in the location of where the conflict is. In many wars, I would say every war, really, has regional or international dimensions to it. Sometimes the most effective peace work would be outside the region instead of in the region where the actual conflict is occurring or at least to ignore the regional or international dimensions might mean you might spend a lot of time getting people in one community to know and love each other, but something else continues to drive conflict from outside. So these three questions have to be considered.
Then once you have considered and understand those minimally about the context plus everything else that is possible to know because more assessment earlier always seems to be better, then, this goes back to your earlier question about networking, then what we found is people can then plan a campaign that addresses those different elements that are driving the conflict in a certain way, where some people are doing part of the work and some people are doing other parts of the work and then that can add up.
A successful example of this is the Ban the Land Mines Campaign, which took personal experience of people who had a leg or an arm blown off by land mines and highlighted that in a systematic way that became a kind of public information and awareness campaign. It addressed legislators internationally in countries. It addressed the corporations and producers of land mines. It addressed the media. It had people engaged in removing land mines from areas where they were buried in the soil and causing danger to immediate people, but also lifted up the whole attention to the process to the international sphere. So it concentrated in the areas where there was the problem but it also concentrated in the areas way outside the problem the international dimensions of the issue. As you can see it built a momentum that actually moved things quite far forward. It did not ultimately get rid of every land mine in the world but it certainly did a powerful campaign in terms of stopping one of the aggravations for conflict and one of the mechanisms for conflict in the world.
Q: That is a very interesting example of sort of an advocacy campaign and maybe almost a fight against sort of the vestigial heart of a raging conflict. Do the same lessons apply to conflict between groups of people fighting as we speak?
A: I think so in the sense that having the same lessons, the same lessons being that you need to look across the situation to see where different things are driving this process and where are there openings for moving in on that and taking care of parts of it. And if you are taking care of a part of it that has to do with the immediate experience of war fare in a village somewhere; how are you making that particularly your work which is probably getting the people on different sides of the conflict to know each other and talk to each other and so on. How do you link that to the fact something else somewhere else is driving this conflict too and this is a manifestation of it, but not the cause of it, these people talking to each other. I should go on and then say that the one other thing that we learned and let's see if I can do this with words rather than pictures.
Q: Right. One thing that I wanted to tell you, are you about to talk about your little four square diagram because we will have that up there.
A: When we looked at the work there is this huge variety of work around the world that is called peace work it seemed impossible to see how to compare it for a long time till suddenly we realized that there was a way of putting it on a simple map; a four square matrix that would capture the approaches that really seemed universally to be used in peace work. Here's what they are; we found that agencies in general worked with two different strategies, two different approaches. One was the "more people" approach, which is based on a belief that you need to have mass movements and you need to get lots of people engaged in order to bring peace. The second approach was the "key people" approach and these make the columns of the matrix. The key people approach is based on the assumption that you have to get those particular warlords together or you won't bring peace. Or you have to get those particular boys of draft age or of fighting age to get somehow removed from the conflict or you won't get peace. So you identify some key part of the process that needs to be addressed and then go ??? .
Q: Which doesn't just mean leaders, I had originally understood it to mean leaders.
A: Well it's a lot of different kinds of key people. In fact the key people strategy approach is really needed to be unpacked a lot more then we have done it, in the sense that there are some negative key people, as in the warlords who are driving it, or the person who is making profit off the war. Then there are positive key people, which would have to do with those political leaders who can get the attention of the populations to bring people along and sign agreements that people will live up to. So you have that kind of leadership issue in the key people. You have some international key people and some local key people obviously going back to my point about regional and international dimensions. You also have key people who might be, as I said, in the sense of fighting age young men, might be just structurally key as an entry point to get something to happen. Then there is another category of key people which is the entry point category whom we best start with and if we start here how can you move beyond that to the next sets of people.
So you see what that means, sometimes you have to start with the easy to start and try to keep pushing beyond the boundaries of that and you have some key people because they are more inclined towards making peace then others are. We found that peace practitioners very often work with the easy to reach and then don't ever push beyond on that. So you keep on having the same people who are already inclined to talk to each other coming again and again to the same things when they are not going to the harder to reach parts of the populations either among the more people or the key people. The easy to reach was the mistake that we have lots of people making.
So those are the two columns of the four-cell matrix. Then we found that people work at two essential levels. One is the individual personal level based on the belief that bringing peace is a matter of changing hearts and minds and values, teaching new values, teaching a new culture of peace. They believe that is where the true resistance to peace comes from is in people's minds and hearts and attitudes. Then the second level is at the socio-political level where people say no, no it is not in peoples minds and hearts only rather you have to create institutions and structures in society that are out in the social-political sphere in order to ensure that peace is achieved and maintained. So those are the rows of the four-cell matrix.
What we found was when people worked at the individual personal level above the line of two rows and don't do anything to establish a linkage into the sociopolitical level that their work can be good work it, can make a big difference to the people who are engaged in it, it can make them happy it can make them have deeper understanding and a more meaningful life, but it has no discernable effect on achieving peace or stopping conflict.
Q: Ouch that is a big one!
A: It is a big one. So if one is working on that level and that is really challenging to many of our programs because lots of the trauma programs and lots of peace education programs and so on are at the personal level unless they can go into some structural or institutional manifestation, they sit there and they do good, but they don't bring peace.
One of the most telling ways that we got our information about this was through a conversation with one of the Israelis who has been involved in a number off the record and on the record dialogues over the years with Palestinians and as leader in this process over time, has become quite prominent. She made the point that when she has been in dialogue groups, with Palestinians, where they were off the record they were there to get to know and understand each other and they were there to hammer out agreements with each other. But off the record, they were staying in what she would call the upper right hand quadrant which is with key people because they are key people. They are doing it at the personal individual level that she has established extremely warm and good contacts and good friendships with certain Palestinians through this but it has had no discernable impact on peace because they have done nothing to take it out in the sphere in the institutions and politics of society and they stayed only in their own setting. When they have taken what they have done in a dialogue and translated it into public statements, demonstrations, articulated principles of negotiations, used it to pressure the political leaders of their society and so on, then they have had a more discernable impact on progress towards not yet achieved peace. So that shows self analysis on her part and she said this in a session we were running with a number of people who had been involved in dialogues in different conflict areas and they all agreed and said you are absolutely right that when, this is a group of
Greek and Turk Cypriots and Eritrea Ethiopians who were in the room and they said that is absolutely true when we are off the record and we don't do anything to go outside the doors we make good friendships and have a good time but it makes no impact because it doesn't go out of that personal, individual level where were just getting to know each other. So that is quite significant.
Then the other thing we found was that if you undertake a more people strategy without doing anything to affect key people or if there is a key people strategy that does nothing to affect more people then it doesn't add up to the momentum that is needed to make a significant change towards peace. And again the example that I just shared about the Israeli women gets to that in a way because she said so here we are some key people getting to know each other but if we don't translate that out into the institutional realm and bring it to the more people so that people are ready to come along with an agreement, we can make an agreement but nobody is going to go with us because they are not ready for it in any sense.
Then also we have seen campaigns where lots of people demonstrate but if you have a couple of key people who have an interest, I mean look at Angola--a country in which we were told year after year how many people hated the war and wanted it to end and yet it went on and on because certain people were driving it and gaining from it. So it is not just a matter of changing the attitudes and minds of those people; they wanted it to end, they couldn't have cared less, but it was still being driven so one had to get into the institutional realm and affect the key people as well.
Q: One of the things I wanted to ask you about that little matrix was "Is it difficult to move the individual personal level on to the sociopolitical institutional level, if you are trying to create a safe space where it is so contentious for people to speak in the first place that to have any sort of institutional commitment after a personal change is almost too much?" And because a lot of the principles of basic dialogue and peace building are that it is all confidential and nobody is going to have to know about this otherwise people wouldn't come to the dialogue in the first place. How do you reconcile that?
A: Strategically, in the following sense. Sometimes this group of people who had been particularly involved in dialogues had their own conclusion that sometimes it makes sense to have off the record sessions, but rarely. They said they think it is far over used and over blown as important to get people to come and very often people who are willing to go into dialogues are willing to be publicly seen to go into dialogues.
The information often leaks out very quickly anyway and you know one of them said you see your picture on the front page of the paper coming out of a session that you thought was a secret meeting any how. So in some ways, you probably should be public from the beginning. So they put far less emphasis on the need to have secrecy then we typically do in the field.
A: Even so they said well yes there are sometimes when the dangers involved are so great or it is just illegal in a context, sometimes you need to have some privacy and some place in which you can do this off the record and quietly. But if it stays there, it is just not doing any good. They said maybe you want to start there but if you don't have a plan from early on about how to translate that out into the more people and into the institutional realm then why do it?
Q: I wonder if some of those people might have said we should have been more public about it after they went through the process and I wonder if they would have had that same attitude going into it?
A: It's a good question. We explored it a bit and it is hard to say. I think it would vary in those settings because of how much danger would have been involved when they were getting started. In the terms of the people of the room I guess the real challenge that I took from their reflections was that we shouldn't have an automatic assumption that you have to start with off the record and even if we do judge that in a given situation in order to get people there you really need to do that, that built into the system should be the question always on the table, so now what, where are we going to go next, what are we going to do to make the change that needs to be made other then knowing and loving each other. And I think this is up to people who bring people together for dialogue.
I think very often we have to take that more seriously than if they are just struggling to get together to have the first conversations they won't be thinking and so what do we do next. They will just be thinking how can I listen to this person who has been my enemy or how can they listen to me. So it is up to the dialogue organizer to say very early on that experience shows that at some point if we are going to do anything with this and if we make any progress, we have to make some linkages across those other quadrants.
Q: Interesting. That would be a very interesting shift from everything that I was taught in grad school, but very exciting.
A: I think it is exciting too because it makes sense doesn't it? One of the things that somebody said to me the other day was well Mary you give all this information and it all just makes logical sense and I said yes that's right. I am always really happy when people say that because if it was counter intuitive and it didn't make sense then you would think that you had discovered something that just wasn't true. But if it makes sense and it rings true then that means that you have just finally captured something that we have all known in some sense but we had to get it out there by looking at it comparatively at different things, in order to get to it.
Q: Finally, the criteria for success? How do you measure what you have just done?
A: There's the real kicker. Well we actually worked and worked and worked as a project with all of these thousand people and agencies to ask that question. So how do you know whether you are making some significant impact at all because if you say that you don't know that you have made a significant impact until you are living in a world of perfect peace then you know...
A: Long time.
Q: Well it may be a long time but it may be faster then we think sometimes. On the other hand you know we can't hold every small limited resource project against the achievement of ultimate peace.
Then the question becomes how do you know if you are making any kind of significant impact along the way given this framework that we have just laid out and these four cells. We came up with what is now a six criteria of effectiveness, there were four at one point, and I think the six are okay for now but I think people are still working on this. We are going to learn more about this over the next three years because we are going into another phase of using these lessons and trying them out in the field again and again to see how we learn more through this.
Here are the criteria that we came up with. The first one is that the effort does something to address what needs to be stopped. It does something to take that on in someway or another. That could be a publicity campaign. That could be a personal visitation. It could be an external political power to bear on somebody who is acting badly within a country. I don't know, but that's something to address that. The second one is that the effort causes local people to take up initiatives of their own that address the issues driving the conflict because that could be either stopping things or building on what the war is not about.
Q: That second one to take on initiatives of their own would that mean starting dialogues on their own or starting some sort of advocacy campaign?
A: Whatever you have done in your program and this is mostly for outsiders but it could even be for insiders. If an insider peace agency gets something started and the people who have been engaged in it start doing things on their own; it's a momentum issue. You see they are not waiting for someone to come up with the ideas and joining what someone else is organizing; rather they are taking initiative on it. But those initiatives should be focused on what the war is about, not what it is not about. Sometimes we find people come along and say we have done a great job here because people here are just doing all sorts of additional activities here in terms of training themselves in x y z and yet it really is irrelevant to what the war is about. It is not bad programming but it is not peace programming.
The third one is that the effort either contributes to the reformation or the development of institutions that address those grievances that are relevant in this conflict. That is on the assumption that there are some grievances that are relevant in the conflict and if there are not then that institutional level addressing grievances is not as critical. Sometimes people spend a lot of time trying to make a good institution where in fact that is not really the issue.
For example some peace agencies work on curriculum and those are institutional programs so they are saying lets institutionalize in the educational systems the teaching of peace values. Those can be very useful programs but if the people already have peace values then that's not really the issue and people wish for peace but there is something else driving the war. Then by doing that it is not going to address that specifically. It may contribute to its maintenance once you have gotten rid of what needs to be gotten rid of in terms of stopping the war. But unless that links strategically to somebody trying to do something to stop the war or what's driving the war, it could go on and on and you could teach value after value and you could institutionalize those values and still not make a significant contribution.
Q: In other words what is the conflict not about?
A: Exactly. The fourth one is the effort is effective if it reduces violence and or helps people resist the manipulation to violence. This one grows directly of experience. It is very often the reoccurrence of violence that continues to drive action-reaction reprisal to such a degree that it is hard to stop. So if one can simply stop the violence at various points it opens up space for doing some of the other things. Number five is if the effort is effective it increases people's security and their sense of security and it's not just one or the other. People can be more secure and if they still feel deeply insecure they will not be able to get on with life or if they feel secure but they aren't and they go out and go to that market and they get bombed it won't be good either. So it has to be able to make some significant contribution towards security, again that's the attempt to create a momentum towards non-war normalcy.
Q: I think at the conference you said when people can wake up and go to sleep without the threat of violence or injustice.
A: Yeah that was a good way to put it. I think that was when somebody asked me how I would know peace were at large. I think that's exactly what it would be; you could just wake up in the morning and go to bed at night knowing you are not going to encounter it, so that's pretty good. Anyway, number six is the effort is effective if it does something to address the international or regional dimensions driving a conflict. Again that's either in stopping them or reaching the key people in that dimension who can make influences on people inside the conflict or you know I mean it has a whole sort of subtexts that one could put into these. It would help describe what they look like when you see them.
Somebody asked me the other day do we have anything in our criteria of effectiveness that links the key people/more people, you know more people strategies need to link to key people strategies link to more people. And we don't at the moment and that's a real lack. I think we have to keep working on these criteria of effectiveness and see how one captures that notion into the criterion.
Q: I had asked you at the conference a little bit about number six in terms of connecting to the international and regional contacts. Tell me again if you are a local organization working on a conflict locally, how do you make those connections to regional and international contacts, I mean it seems so broad and maybe beyond the mandate of the local institution?
A: You may be right in some places but of what we found when we looked at this, because we began by thinking we would do case studies, which is how we started it and adopted it, by looking at experience and we thought we would do case studies of three types. One would be local organizations that worked entirely on their own or maybe had some support by international agencies. Another would be initiatives started by international agencies. And another would be kind of contextual case studies where you looked at all sorts of different activities going on at one location and looked at them comparatively in that location over a certain time span.
We found that we came across no local peace initiatives that didn't have international linkage. Now that could be because of what we came across, not because it doesn't exist. In a way because we are international and this was an international project and lots of people from lots of areas were involved. I guess maybe that determined it already by the time we ran across it and had international contacts. I don't mean to ???. But it turns out that almost all the activities that we looked at had some way in which they crossed this line between local and international agencies working together. They either received funding or they knew somebody or they had an idea from or somebody trained them or you know something it's back to your networking idea that there is some way in which people do find each other in the networks of people concerned about stopping conflicts and building some kind of peace.
And so in that way it seems that even the most local organization working on something even if it's just a village conflict and it doesn't have any regional or international dimensions don't make them up. I mean you can imagine having a conflict in the neighborhood or something like that, that really isn't driven bigger than that. That's okay, people can work on that and work on that in that area. If we are really talking about warfare then the linkage to the local activity to the bigger picture becomes clearer and whether the local group doesn't have to do the international work. But it could be looking at how it can help make to inform that international work so that it is taking the experience that they have in-depth in their village and helping translate that into the international sphere in a way that makes it an impact back on the village.
Q: Yeah. I just wonder if it's hard to knock on the right doors and get people to listen to your own experience, coming from the local setting?
A: Can you think of an example where you would find that hard?
Q: I am just sort of wondering out loud here, is it hard? I imagine that everybody has a point of view and wants to tell their story and can think of you know lots of places where people have a point of view and they have their own sort of advocacy organization or there is a place working towards peace, but they might think that it is precisely the regional or international contacts that don't pay any attention to them and actually works against what they are trying to work for. I am just making this up.
A: I am just trying to think about an Afghan village finding it's a way to getting the attention of the world, but when I think about that, the number of Afgan people I knew back during the civil war after the mojahedin kicked the Soviet Regime out, so during the civil war days they sort of found and there may well be people who didn't find each other, but I know of a number of people who found each other the people who were against that war and trying to find ways to stop it. And they began in a way by talking to each other and that kind of networking I think does begin to build momentum but if they start to communicate with each other and then find a way to get the message and in their international NGO community becomes a real condiment for getting images out. As do the press if you have them there.
Q: Okay well, last question Mary, you are more impatient then other self-declared peacemakers?
A: I am. (laughs) Let me just tell you a piece of evidence that we found and that was we tended to find and I think this is pretty much a hundred percent but we didn't do real statistical analysis so I don't know for sure, but let me tell you our strong impression when we looked back at it was that you are more apt to hear an international peace worker/practitioner say that peace takes a long time and we learn as much by our mistakes as we learn by our successes and we have to ??? and we have to keep working at it. Then you hear a local person who will be much less patient with that process and much more suspicious of making mistakes and learning about mistakes through mistakes and they will far more likely say you know we can not afford the time that people say it takes.
One impact we found sometimes and it's at least enough to be hint to be cautious of it, was that sometimes when the expert, the international peace practitioner comes into a region where there is a conflict and tells local people that it takes a long time to achieve peace and it is very complicating and a slow business, it allows people in a region to lower their expectations about success and to say this expert knows this and therefore they must be right. So in a way they are not as urgent with getting on with coming to solutions that then just happen quickly. The issue about you know being patient with how long it takes can have all sorts of insidious effects and therefore I just think we ought to wake up every morning on the assumption that we could get it done by tonight if we just work the right way.
Q: Yeah. At the same time you hear people as you mentioned couldn't talk about how it takes longer and especially that funders aren't willing to stay in the game long enough and I don't mean to call it a game but in the peace process long enough for anything to happen?
A: Yeah, well I think that is the other side of my mouth that I want to talk out of, which is to say that there was fairly strong evidence that if you had short term funding that you can't projectize peace. It isn't just done through projects, it is really done through campaigns and momentum and that you need to build across enough of these linkages that I described earlier that does take some time and some staying power to make that happen.
Q: Great. Well Mary thank-you so much.
A: It's my pleasure.