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On Saturday morning, Mr. Kai F. Brand-Jacobsen, the director of the Department of Peace Operations of PATRIR, spoke to us about “Peacebuilding: Prospects & Challenges in the 21stCentury,” during his session.

For us, as citizens of the world, violence has become normal. If we turn on the news we can see the challenges the world faces and the result of conflicts which are often violent. Undoubtedly, we are facing challenges all over the world having to do with the environment, economics, politics and militarization. We are living in a world with a massive disparity in the global wealth distribution.

“Did you know,” Brand-Jacobson asks, “that the world’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%?” Furthermore, the power of private interest and the money which comes with it are dangerously influencing politics. Moreover, there is a rise of dysfunctional politics all over the world and in much of the world, the rise of extreme right movements.

Although we are facing these challenges in the world, in the last couple of years, according to Kai Brand-Jacobsen, good things have also happened and we, the common people, did make a change. The number of people who vote is increasing, more girls are going to school, health care is growing and scientific innovations are developing. Opportunities are improving and shared relationships are building!

During his session, Mr. Brand-Jacobsen also talked about the distinctions between peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding. The definitions are included below:

Peacekeeping. Civil and military, national and international, working to prevent violence.

Peacemaking. Political and diplomatic interventions directed for bringing warring parties to agreement.

Peacebuilding. Tools provided for resolving conflict without resorting to deadly violence.

During the session, a discussion about the use of the  word “conflict” also came up. “Conflict” as we use it in normal conversations seems to implicit at first a negative manner. However, conflicts are situational, emotional, they can be negative and positive. Mr. Brand-Jacobsen argues that everybody has conflicts, they are normal.

The conclusion of the discussion was to better analyze how we deal and define conflicts: A conflict does not equal violence!

In addition, my own personal take-away from the session was that:
Peacebuilding has to happen always!

Lisa Toczek