The power of storytelling were harnessed, by the world’s broadest network of peacebuilders, alongside the tremendous quantitative analysis power of the Global Peace Index, to create the world’s largest collection of qualitative data, in the form of stories, aimed at helping to turn Positive Peace data into a broadly accessible and complete, 360° picture of world peace?
Peacebuilding is the challenge of our age. We have entered an era of conflict that is taking new forms, and spreading in ways that are outstripping the power of the international community to respond.
It is clear that we need new conceptual lenses and creative approaches for managing global violence. Underlying trends point to the need for dramatically new ways of thinking about conflict, peace and stability:
· Problems such as climate change, access to resources, and outbreaks of disease are increasingly linked to conflict and challenges of governance.
· Social compacts are coming into question globally with power shifting away from states and institutions to more amorphous networks.
· Extremist ideologies are finding fertile ground in countries where large segments of society feel marginalized.
· New communications technologies are changing social and governmental dynamics on every level, in unpredictable ways, e.g., civil society’s capacity to build coalitions and momentum against powerful elite interests using social media.
Conflict, security, human rights abuses, crime, and related global challenges are interconnected "wicked problems" -- not amenable to linear solutions. Just as the causes of violent conflict are complex and interwoven, the approaches to managing conflict must be equally sophisticated and adaptable.
Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for all nations to strive for peaceful, inclusive societies – a paradigm shift of the highest order from earlier aid architectures that ignored the role of conflict. The guiding principles for the World Humanitarian Summit call for peacebuilding and conflict prevention to be part of a “grand bargain,” in which all countries seek to avoid refugee flows by resolving the underlying conflicts that lead to mass migration. The New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States – calls for radical shifts in the aid process in countries like Burundi, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Somalia, recognizing conflict as “development in reverse,” and requiring aid processes to address key drivers of conflict like illegitimate governance, restricted access to justice, and predatory security forces.
While the emphasis on peace is deeply welcomed by communities around the world, we face a serious gap in how to imagine peace in specific local contexts.
Peacebuilding is ultimately an elastic concept, encompassing a wide range of efforts by diverse actors in government and civil society at the community, national, and international levels, to address the immediate impacts and root causes of conflict before, during, and after violent conflict occurs. Peacebuilding ultimately supports human security—providing freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom from humiliation. As global violence proliferates, a major challenge for us is to create systems of peace – to interconnect the full spectrum of norms, institutions, and formal and informal networks and agencies that can manage conflict before it escalates into the kind of fury that poisons future generations.
The Positive Peace Index provides a framework for thinking about peace not simply as the absence of violence, but as a series of actions that people can take to build societies that resolve conflict through negotiation, politics, and institutions rather than through deadly violence. The Pillars of Positive Peace are: a well-functioning government; a sound business environment; equitable distribution of resources; acceptance of the rights of others; good relations with neighbors; free flow of information; high levels of human capital; and low levels of corruption. The Positive Peace Index quantifies data relative to these pillars and gives data from a wide range of countries, each with its own balance of indicators from across the pillars.
The PPI is a tremendously valuable tool, but it is static, giving only a snapshot in time. These innovations of analysis can make the PPI more dynamic through systems maps that show the inter-related connections between the different positive peace pillars, and stories, which bring those connections to life.
This proposal focuses on how storytelling can be used to illuminate the complex dynamics occurring in each PPI country – and how citizens live the Positive Peace pillars. “Storifying” the PPI will serve the broader goal of peacebuilding in several ways:
1) Storytelling and micro-narrative mechanisms help people to better understand complexity.
2) Stories describe systems in a more nuanced and granular way.
3) Stories help bridge gaps, by highlighting the ways in which peace builders can engage horizontally with peers, and vertically with government and regional actors.
4) Stories bring to light the ways in which citizens move along and between the Positive Peace Index pillars, to weave a new tapestry in areas of conflict.
5) Stories connect the personal with the political– yet people have very personal experiences with the Pillars. Stories bring to light the lived experience of citizens in each of the pillars – connecting personal experiences of conflict with the development of new structures and positive frameworks for peace.
6) Stories allow a greater narrative of peace to evolve and will allow a new vision of peace to emerge. These collective narratives complement the data over time, and will provide a living picture of conflict transformation.