By Michael Oche, Abuja
Experts in peace and conflict resolution have said the design and implementation of any post conflict intervention located from the past experiences of victims and survivors of violence has the potential to engender sustainable peace building processes.
The experts who spoke during a webinar on the “impact of historic trauma and violence on peace building: community based approach” organised by Charis Healthcare Initiative with support from Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, agreed that studies and experiences have demonstrated that post-conflict environments always nurture new behavioral patterns towards parties within the first five years of cessation of violence.
Dr. Juliet Yop Pwajok in her presentation during the webinar said to end the cycle of violence and engender a sustainable peace building programme, there is need to first address trauma.
According to her, it will be safer to state that so long as victims/survivors of violence live with the pain, hurt and sense of guilt without the ability to tell their stories, violence in the country may continue to recycle.
She suggested that some healing programs which are typical after conflict situations to improve peace building should include Truth Telling Approach, Forgiveness as an Approach, Symbolic Actions and Commemoration Approach, Reparative Justice Approach and Economic compensation
According to her, it will be important to note that multidimensional support activities that empower victims and survivors become key components of post violence peace building.
She said, “Often times, trauma studies pay emphasis on the historical trajectories of the violence or war, this is basically to unbundle the very conditions that gave rise to violence in the first instance, be that as it may, it will be important to note that confronting a violent path filled with human rights abuses, a history of devastation and moving peacefully into the future is not easy at all; neither at individual and community levels.
“The recipes within the other studies to undergo this process include a variety of options ranging from dimensions of political, economic, legal, cultural, spiritual, as well as a change in thought patterns and identity change: reorganization of devastating, negative and extreme views among the population.
“However, one of the fundamental questions that preoccupy students of conflict resolution as well as the international community is how to overcome the psychological barriers that are a major obstacle to peacebuilding in post-conflict societies.”
Feelings of grievances, bitterness and insecurity along with destructive attitudes and beliefs constructed during the period of conflict serve as an impediment toward attaining sustainable peace and peacebuilding programs.
In his presentation, the director Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace (DREP) Center, Jos, Fr. Blaise Agwom James, recommended more invest in the strengthening of local analytical capacity, stressing that the most important capacity required for effectively addressing violence and traumatic problems resides not at the level of the international community, but within the societies facing these challenges.
He also recommended investment in strengthening local facilitation/mediation capacity. According to him, the success of peacebuilding strategies reaching out to engage violent actors in violence mitigation and transformation processes requires local expertise in the design and implementation of action research and dialogue processes.