Vijay Krishnarayan, Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, presents the 2017 theme of ‘a Peace-building Commonwealth’, and discusses some of the ways that listening to civic voices can reverse the trend towards terrorism and instability.
It is easy to get lost in the process of trying to define peace-building. I have listened to arguments about the relative merits of conflict prevention, conflict resolution, reconciliation and dispute resolution. These discussions have often generated more heat than light and irony pervades when colleagues fail to agree on this most germane concept. This piece will not enter that fray, but will instead explore the timeliness of peace-building as a theme, and set out a Commonwealth perspective. It is also a good time to reflect on the contribution that the Commonwealth Foundation is making.
It is right that the Commonwealth’s theme for 2017, ‘A Peace-building Commonwealth’, follows from last year’s ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’. The explicit and logical connection between inclusion and peace is important. It takes on the notion that peace might be threatened by diversity and compels us to understand the relationship between pluralism and peace. It also encourages us to acknowledge the importance of governance in creating an environment for peace. Institutions that are not able to engage with the people they purport to serve are increasingly likely to get a loud wake-up call.
The events of 2016 put peace back on the agenda. The Global Peace Index (www.visionofhumanity.org) published its tenth anniversary report analysing the main trends. It charted the continuing deterioration in the overall global levels of peace. Among the 163 countries mapped, it found a widening gap between the most and the least peaceful…
Director of the Commonwealth Foundation