- The international community is spending billions, but failing to make peace self-sustainable in many places.
- The main focus is on structures and systems. There is a lack of implemented expertise on transforming integral, human aspects of peacebuilding
- Widespread anger, frustration, loss, trauma, alienation, depression, need to be addressed as driving conflict factors.
- The need to develop and deploy effective methods and approaches to transform emotional, psychological and existential conflict factors is urgent, profound and widespread.
The psychosocial dimension of peacebuilding has traditionally been on the margins of mainstream peacebuilding practice, reduced to an addendum to peacebuilding operations and overshadowed by economic, political, security or justice components. Current peacebuilding efforts focus extensively on external conditions and systems, while often failing to address a crucial dimension of peacebuilding. Namely: creating peace in the minds, hearts and attitudes of people. Anger, frustration, hate, depression, pain, and intolerance are key dimensions in many conflicts. Failure to comprehend or effectively address these powerful driving forces erodes the effectiveness of many efforts of mainstream peacebuilding.
The international peacebuilding community is increasingly recognising the necessity to work holistically and address the cognitive and emotional levels of people in conflict – including such issues as trauma, healing and reconciliation – in order to create a sustainable peace. At the moment, however, very few organisations actually implement effective psycho-social interventions on a scale significant enough to have an impact on conflict and peace dynamics.
Only when psycho-social aspects that work effectively with the inner lives of individuals, as the crucial locus of decision-making and behaviour, are integrated into peacebuilding thinking and practice, will these programmes be able to better contribute to sustainable and real impact and change. Working proficiently with psycho-social aspects of peacebuilding entails the promise of a strong psycho-social foundation for peace and increased impact of peacebuilding efforts on the ground.