The process of realizing project objectives and launching developed activities is the project implementation stage, which requires regular progress reviews and adjustment of activities as needed.
In order for the implementation process to have a culture of peace approach it should be sensitive, participatory, accessible and transparent. Some of the actions that can be practiced here are adoption of non-violent approaches and sustaining of nonviolent behaviour throughout the implementation process. Often the implementation phase includes logistical arrangements (where, when/how many days, how, who, why (methods)), coordination and communication between all relevant actors and the community, facilitation, and ongoing monitoring of set events/meetings/conferences/trainings/etc., and a risk mitigation strategy.
A project implanted with a culture of peace approach will:
The methods chosen for implementing specific activities must be chosen with context sensitivity in mind so as to ensure that respect toward the diversity of all participants/community is taken into account. It is also equally important that project coordinators create safe space for all parties of the project ensuring the adoption of a nonviolent approach where all can have room to freely express their feelings, thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment or violence. In some cases when choosing the environment where a particular activity will take place (especially if it entails staying overnight) it is important to arrange participants stay in such a way so as to create comfort for all, respecting the fact that participants made an effort to leave the comfort of their homes to contribute to a given event/activity/goal of a project.
The details of planned activities must take into account the space where an activity is taking place and ensure that it is accessible to all participants in terms of mobility, time of day, duration and security. In order to establish inclusive and accessible participation it is important that people with disabili- ties can physically access the space and be able to follow what is taking place in terms of language accessibility (this can also imply the need for inter- pretation from one language to another, including sign language). Accessibility must also be ensured for people coming from far places, which implies that the relevant travel costs to make an activity accessible to a diverse contingency of people must also be included in the budget.
Logistical arrangements must also take into account the security and safety of those attending, which implies that not only must the physical space where an activity is to take place be chosen in such a way as to not hinder participants from coming due to security concerns, but that the participants’ backgrounds are also evaluated prior to selection (for example, citizens of particular countries can face serious legal risks if they happen to be in the same space as citizens from other particular countries due to their state’s legislation). All of these precautions must be based on an in-depth knowledge of different contexts that are relevant for a particular activity/event.
In terms of making calls/applications and a selection process of participants for certain activities it is important to have transparent and accessible outreach, including gender consideration. This may include arranging of informational meetings, supporting people who may not have access to computers/internet to still have the opportunity to participate in projects, empowering young women to apply even if they don’t feel confident. Some- times an applicant may not be the best writer, but that does mean they are not motivated. In this case, more resources may be required to have inter- views with potential participants to ensure that an assessment is not solely based on an individual’s writing/language abilities, but on their willing- ness/motivation to contribute to change. Selection of participants should also ensure that there is a diversity of participants, including diversity of opinions as well as gender balance.
As part of the commitment to a culture of peace approach to project implementation, it is important to maintain transparent and continuous communication between all relevant actors and the community. This means that the times, dates, locations, and details of a program should be accessible to the people implied in the program prior to an activity taking place keeping in mind what information may be sensitive and maintaining confidentiality where necessary in order to ensure the security of all involved in the project. Such an approach will also contribute to increased trust between the project team, partners and the community. During the actual activity, this is again an important tool to keep in mind. In order to make the project more participatory it is also important that there is space to receive feedback from the community where a project is taking place and adapting it accordingly.
Facilitation is a big part of the implementation process for many activities that may be planned and a culture of peace approach is crucial to ensure that the values of peace are maintained throughout the facilitation process. When there is a diversity of participants regarding social backgrounds and ideological convictions, it is important that the facilitation process creates an opportunity of sharing, exchanging and learning from one another in an environment free of judgment. In some cases, breaking of stereotypes will be a major part of the facilitation process and in order to ensure that dominant mentalities are not marginalizing specific groups of people, facilitators should encourage and stand up to any discriminatory remarks, attitudes and behaviours. This often implies that facilitators encourage people to ask questions, as opposed to making comments/judgments based on assumptions. The tone can be set from the beginning so that participants are aware that there is a zero-tolerance attitude to discriminatory language, attitudes and behaviours. If a particular participant is unwilling to change their oppressive ways of relating to others, then the facilitators must take measures to ensure that a transformation of attitude can take place.
If the situation does not change, it can be a possibility to ask an oppressive participant to leave the project in order for the ones who are in a more vulnerable position to have the possibility to feel safe and build trust within the group. Furthermore, the facilitators should acknowledge that there is a certain power dynamic in which they have a particular power over the trajectory of an activity and in situations where conflict arises, facilitators can create an opportunity for a transformative process to take place. Such a process should take into account a reflection of values, beliefs and norms, adoption of nonviolent approaches and sustaining of nonviolent behaviors. If a destructive conflict arises, the facilitation must ensure that dialogue, active listening, self-awarness, not projecting onto others and empathetic listening are tools practiced by the project team and participants as a way to transform destructive conflict into a constructive change.
Monitoring can be seen as one of the most important components for bringing a culture of peace approach to the implementation process, because it allows room for observation and reflection on what is taking place. In this sense, the cultural, conflict and gender sensitivities of a set activity can be monitored throughout the implementation process to ensure that there is a relevant response to a process moving in a direction that values culture of violence over culture of peace. First of all, agreements can be made from the beginning regarding ways in which actors/individuals involved in any activity will relate to one another, which often means that active listening is key, respect and a general rejection of any violent modes of relating should be adopted.
Second of all, project implementers can monitor whether there are any cases of gender roles being reproducing among individuals, groups and other actors involved in the activity and bring it into the awareness. Often times during particular activates it is usual for women to take on the role of caretaker, cook, cleaner, etc. whereas men take on the role of protector, builder, etc. The project team should be aware of the fact that gender roles can be reproduced and bring awareness to this, creating space to discuss the how’s, why’s and strategies to transform these rigid societal roles places on individuals based on their gender presentation/identity. Similarly, awareness of differences in culture and contexts can also be part of the process of monitoring, where project implementers can bring to light the ways in which within a set group certain differences are given value while others are rendered less than in comparison to the dominant norm.
Finally, monitoring also implies the work of being aware when a set activity is not relevant, even if it was carefully planned. A culture of peace approach to such a process would be to take the risk of shifting, rearranging and making an activity relevant for the process in the here and now. In this way it is about respecting and trusting the project process, rearranging activities where necessary in order to address harmful processes and being open to less visible and/or direct effects that need to be changed for the project to maintain its relevance. An important tool in this process is to continue to engage the community/ies implied in the project and to ask for their feedback on a regular basis. This is a part of a longer process where the project team is in constant dialogue and communication with the given community the project is in, making it possible to adapt the project in accordance to changed needs and priorities. In this regard it is also useful to have a risk mitigation strategy to have action plans in place for how to respond to unexpected changes in a planned activity once it has already started to take place. Monitoring the process is the first step to being able to recognize when some- thing is not going according to plan. This does not always mean it is going wrong or failing, in fact without straying from a planned trajectory, there can be no true learning. It is especially in the process of how change is responded to that a culture of peace can take shape.
What to ask yourself (and within your team) to implement a culture of peace sensitive project
- Is there clear and transparent communication regarding planned activities, including both the logistical aspect of activities as well as the content?
- Has the facilitation process succeeded to create a space for open dialogue, critical reflection and a safe environment for the expression of a diverse range of ideas, thoughts, feelings?
- Are conflicts that arise given the proper space to be dealt with and transformed if possible?
- Have agreements been made regarding how a group is willing and ready to relate to one another from a culture of peace based value system?
- Is there space for participants to give feedback regarding the project process and is there space/time for the project implementation group to respond to any particular needs/chal- lenges that come up?