Peace Infrastructure

Few would disagree: building peace is most likely to be successful if there are, in any given place, champions, processes and well known structures which take upon themselves the non-violent transformation of conflicts. This prerequisite is being discussed under various headings: “local ownership”, “local capacity-building”, or, indeed, infrastructures for peace.

What does a peace infrastructure look like and what does it provide? “It could be anything from a rugged shed housing a local peace council in a remote South American village, to the elegantly designed high-rise office of a national truth and reconciliation commission in the capital of an African country. Its organisations could include a ministry dealing with peace and reconciliation in Nepal, the office of a presidential advisor coordinating the peace process in the Philippines, or one of the many district peace committees in Kenya...” writes Ulrike Hopp Nishanka, lead author of Berghof Handbook Dialogue No. 10 which investigated peace infrastructures around the globe.

A working definition for us is that:

“I4P can be defined as a dynamic networking of skills, capacities, resources, tools and institutions that help build constructive social and political relationships and enhance sustainable resilience of societies against relapse into violence” (Embedded Peace, p. 10)

It is important to remain flexible in both concept and practice, rather than pursuing a one-size-fits-all approach. At the same time, in order to learn from peace infrastructures across different contexts, it helps to have a joint understanding of what their key aspects are and how they connect to other peacebuilding mechanisms and processes. Berghof Foundation’s practical support work and its conceptual endeavours have spanned this dual demand of flexible practice and conceptual clarity with a number of publications and projects over the years.

Key aspects

  • Peace Infrastructures are hybrid: they encompass formal institutions as well as informal settings, civil society as well as governmental actors, processes as well as cultures and norms.
  • Peace Infrastructures must be able to address short-term triggers of violence as well as long-term socio-economic structures, which often induce violence, and the socio-cultural discourses, which often legitimise them.
  • (External) support for local or national peace infrastructures must first and foremost be guided by the peace needs in the given context.

  • Hans J. Giessmann, with Janel B. Galvanek and Christine Seifert 2017. Curbing Violence. Development, Application and the Sustaining of National Capacities for Conflict Prevention. Berghof Foundation contribution to a UN World Bank Flagship study. PDF >
  • Hans J. Giessmann 2016. Embedded Peace. Infrastructures for Peace: Approaches and Lessons Learned. UNDP. PDF >
  • Marike Blunck et al. 2017. National Dialogue Handbook. A Resource Guide for Practitioners. 2nd edition. Hardcopy > {Also available in Arabic, French and Spanish.}
  • Mir, Mubashir & Luxshi Vimalarajah 2016. Tradition- and Faith-Oriented Insider Mediators (TFIMs) in Conflict Transformation. Potential, Constraint and Opportunities for Collaborative Support. Synopsis. Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. PDF >
  • Mir, Mubashir, Engjellusche Morina & Luxshi Vimalarajah 2016. OSCE Support to Insider Mediation. Strengthening mediation capacities, networking and complementarity. Vienna & Berlin: OSCE & Berghof Foundation. PDF >
  • Silke Pfeiffer 2014. Peace Infrastructure in Colombia. Berlin: Berghof Foundation. PDF > {Also available in Spanish [Infraestructura de Paz en Colombia].} Berlin: Berghof Foundation.
  • Vincent Verzat 2014. Infrastructures for Peace: A Grass-roots Way To Do State-Building? Handbook Dialogue Series No. 10, additional online comment. Berlin: Berghof Foundation. PDF >
  • Silvia Danielak 2013. External Aid Incorporated? Infrastructures for Peace and the Challenge of Coordination in Kyrgyzstan. Handbook Dialogue Series No. 10, additional online comment. Berlin: Berghof Foundation. PDF >
  • Jeannine Suurmond & Prakash Mani Sharma 2013. Serving People’s Need for Peace: Infrastructures for Peace, the Peace Sector, and the Case of Nepal. Handbook Dialogue Series No. 10, additional online comment. Berlin: Berghof Foundation. PDF >
  • Barbara Unger, Stina Lundström, Katrin Planta & Beatrix Austin (Eds.) 2013. Peace Infrastructures. Assessing Concept and Practice. Handbook Dialogue Series No. 10. Berlin: Berghof Foundation. Hardcopy >
  • Ulrike Hopp-Nishanka 2012. Giving Peace and Address? Reflections on the Potential and Challenges of Creating Peace Infrastructures. Handbook Dialogue No. 10, lead article. Berlin: Berghof Foundation. PDF >
  • Simon Mason 2009. Insider Mediators. Exploring Their Key Role in Informal Peace Processes. Berlin: Berghof Foundation for Peace Support. PDF > {Also available in Arabic and Indonesian.}
  • Norbert Ropers 1995. Peaceful Intervention. Structures, Processes and Strategies for the Constructive Regulation of Ethnopolitical Conflict. Report No. 1. Berlin: Berghof Research Centre. PDF >