March 17, 2017, 12:30 pm
By Jordan Ryan
Jordan Ryan is vice president, peace programs, at The Carter Center.
In this time of extreme polarization, when violence seems to be the “new normal,” we face a threat of escalating conflict at home and abroad. The task for peacemakers is urgent.
There are so many issues that impact global safety and security. Some we are only beginning to understand: food insecurity, water shortages, environmental stress, and climate change, to name a few.
In a series of posts here over the coming months, I will share some of the approaches to waging peace that The Carter Center and its founder, former President Jimmy Carter, have developed or learned over many years.
Principle No. 1: Gain perspective.
Peacemakers must attain a deep understanding of the problem or problems that led to a conflict in the first place. Beyond bloodlust or vengeance or a basic desire for power, what is the primary inequity or injustice (perceived or real) underlying the dispute?
We consider the issues from the perspectives of all the antagonists to gain an understanding of the context of the conflict.
To resolve the complicated conflict in Syria, for example, we must analyze its causes correctly. It is too easy to see it through a biased lens, looking only at narrow American interests and conventional wisdom. But understanding the interests and incentives of the other major powers and actors, including those of Iran, Russia, and Turkey, is just as important to achieving peace. We must also listen to the various perspectives of the Syrian people, those engaged in the conflict as well as those caught in the crosshairs; they are the ones who will have to build the peace we are all working for.
Understanding breeds better negotiation.
Next principle: One size does not fit all.
Posted in Peace