In the evening of 1 June, one week into nationwide protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, US President Donald Trump left the White House and made his way to nearby St. John’s Church. He stopped in front of the church and posed for the media holding a Bible.
In the context of COVID-19-related discussions about moving mediation training online, this blog reflects on key strategic and operational questions one should ask to make this decision. Takeaways include: 1) online training is not better or worse than in-person training, but they each have their own strengths and weaknesses; 2) developing quality online training requires intentional design rather than just the “shoveling” of existing resources onto the web; and 3) any decision to develop online training courses should be part of a long-term strategic decision rather than a short-term improvisation.
Mediation Perspectivesis a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Teamand occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.
A new guide published by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) aims to help peacebuilding practitioners integrate religion into their conflict analysis and program planning. In this blogpost the authors offer a brief introduction to the guide.
The adoption of a new Tunisian constitution at the end of January has been hailed as a major milestone in the country’s democratic transition and a welcome piece of good news amid concerns about the direction of transition processes in other countries in the region.
From a mediation perspective, the national dialogue process that brought Tunisia to this point is noteworthy for at least two reasons. First, the mediators in this case were insiders with a stake in the outcome. Second, changes in context, beyond the control of either party, significantly altered the strategic calculations of the negotiators and opened the window to an agreement.
How can policymakers and conflict mediation practitioners effectively engage with religion? Indeed, how can practitioners mainstream such engagement with religious actors and organizations? And, what do we even mean when we ask these questions? These were just some of the questions posed at Religion, Foreign Policy and Development: Making Better Policy to Make a Bigger Difference a recent conference held at the UK Foreign Office’s Wilton Park that brought together policymakers, academics and practitioners for two days of wide-ranging and intense discussions.
Opportunities to engage with fellow practitioners are undoubtedly important for a number of reasons. Like gender and other cross-cutting themes, religion also runs the risk of being compartmentalized by experts and given little systematic consideration by colleagues in the same institution working on other topics. This is a challenge that those of us working in the field of mediation and conflict transformation also face: how do we make sure that religion’s role is adequately addressed by those who are working to resolve and transform conflicts?