In the past two sessions of the YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation Peace Work Institute (PWI), the participants dealt with the topic of peace in various ways. We learned that peace work is a complex task that needs to be tackled sensitively. In order not to cause any damage in the implementation of a peace project, attention should be paid to different – undesirable – effects during its planning. The “do no harm” approach was developed by the American social scientist Mary B. Anderson. Her central idea is to pay attention to dividers and connectors in conflicts. These may be people or situations that either further divide the conflicting parties or bring them together.
External participants should try to strengthen the connectors and focus on bringing the conflicting parties closer. Therefore, it is important to develop a method during the planning process of a project to assess the positive and / or negative aspects of one’s actions.During the PWI`s 2nd session we not only got to know this approach theoretically, but also by applying it while planning the peace projects mentioned above. In different working groups we discussed which positive or negative effects our projects may have and what we can do to avoid negative effects. We´re looking forward to continuing the planning processes of the peace projects and, of course even more so, their implementation next year.
By Mona Hein, EJW Germany