A major challenge in peacebuilding is its case for profitability. Unlike conflict, there is a resounding silence when justifying the economic benefits of peace. “The dominance of the securitized approaches may be attributed to much more consistent and powerful lobbying, by political and commercial interests in the defense sector. In contrast, the peacebuilding field has no strong and consistent governmental or private sector lobby in its support.” The economic dominance by defense sectors repeatedly overshadows peace at the table of policymakers. Peace is viewed as passive in its maintenance and its economic implications. This misconception fails to recognize the activity of peacebuilders who constantly practice conflict prevention and mediation to eliminate roots of conflict.
This ongoing activity, like most societal development, seeks to create behavioral change. However, project-based interventions fall short of the sustained efforts needed to foster change. Rather than the short-term provision of goods or services, peacebuilding efforts must remain continuous in stimulating dialogue and relationships.
The practice of HasNa Inc, a DC-based NGO focusing on conflict prevention, mitigation and resolution in Turkey, is an example of organic peacebuilding at work. HasNa facilitates communication between groups through sector-specific exchange programs that train participants in a particular skillset. This creation of a safe space during the exchange allows for the groups to interact and inadvertently disprove negative assumptions about each other. The continuous development of skills after the program’s end bridges groups together and allows dialogue to cultivate organic acceptance into social identities.
In order to help peace gain the traction it needs as a policy issue, HasNa and other peacebuilding actors must advocate for the sector-wide adoption of this ongoing organic practice. Equating peacebuilding to profitability begins with making the case for its sustained activity and how the cultivation of dialogue and relationships has direct economic implications, be it through the generation of income through these activities, the formation and fortification of new trade partners, or other avenues that prove to be successful in practice and lucrative in nature.
Richard Davis is HasNa’s graduate intern from George Washington University. As a second-year student in his final semester, he is currently studying International Education, specifically gender equality and community engagement, while also earning a Nonprofit Management certificate.