“Peacebuilding challenges are not technical, they are inherently contradictory”, writes ACCORD’s Advisor for Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding, Cedric de Coning, in a recently published article in the quarterly journal, African Security Review.
Does peacebuilding have ‘inherent contradictions’ in its design? De Coning argues that there are “unrealistically high expectations of coherence, unity of purpose and cooperation among peacebuilding actors.” The phrase ‘why can’t we all just get along?’ comes to mind as De Coning outlines why human behaviour will consistently intervene. “There is a tension between different approaches and different policy choices”, he says, “and this is not only normal but necessary”. Human behaviour requires these tensions and conflict in order for the system to function at an optimal level.
Peacebuilders have competing interests and mandates which come into play once they start collaborating on projects. They may agree to work towards a common goal but there will always be a different hierarchy of importance when it comes to getting down to work. The changing dynamics of the field also complicates decisions.
ACCORD holds a number of peacebuilding workshops and forums across the African continent. Our African Peacebuilding Coordination Programme operates in Libera, DRC, Burundi and Sudan where we hold regular workshops on conflict management attempting to coordinate peacebuilding stakeholders in the field. ACCORD commends Cedric de Coning on his comment piece which tackles a prominent issue of debate amongst practitioners.
Cedric De Coning’s article, Moving Beyond the Technical: Facing Up to Peacebuilding’s Inherent Contradictions, is published in African Security Review, Volume 20, Issue 1 March 2011. Routledge, p. 116-121.