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Innovation in Peacebuilding: Leveraging Polarities

There are at least two critical tensions in peace-operations: achieving peace and justice and advancing executive and advisory functions in protecting civilians. 

These tensions were the focus of a session delivered by the GCSP-CCL Leadership Alliance during the EAPTC annual meeting.

How can we advance more innovative ways for governments, the private sector, and civil society to join forces in building peace? How can we strengthen the impact of tomorrow’s civilian, police and military field missions? These questions framed the 6th Annual Seminar of the European Association of Peace Operations Training Centres (EAPTC). Co-hosted by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), this event brought together over 100 leading experts and practitioners on peacekeeping and peace operations, from across the globe. Representing more than 45 organizations, these peace-building professionals convened in Geneva on 22-24 May 2018 to discuss innovative approaches to conflict prevention, leadership development and training cooperation.

One of the keys to sustainable peace rests in constructively leading ‘polarised forces’ in peacebuilding. The capability to see and constructively leverage opposing yet interdependent pairs of values, strategic objectives and forces (like peace and justice) is an aspect of leading that is overlooked in most peace operations training.  As part of the EAPTC annual meeting, the GCSP-CCL Leadership Alliance led an innovative session on leading in the presence of polarising forces, interests and objectives. Christina Orisich, Deputy Director, GCSP, kicked-off an interactive session that sparked engaging experiences among the audience members. Participants gained a clearer awareness of what polarities are and learned a bit on how to leverage them. In small groups, participants were encouraged to apply mapping techniques introduced by Peter Cunningham (Co-Director GCSP-CCL Leadership Alliance), identifying steps to advance the upsides and neutralise the downsides of a chosen polarity. The session was rounded off with the accounts of two seasoned peace-building practitioners — Major General Adrian Foster and Brigadier General Beat Eberle — bringing into focus two major polarities facing peace support operations: the tension between securing peace and justice, and the conflict between advisory and executing functions. The session resonated well with the audience members, who left it better equipped to preserve what they value most and avoid what they fear in their relentless effort to promote peace (see brief below).

Editorial written by: Ines Gassal-Bosch

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