1. Update
  2. Peacebuilding

5 Opportunities for Peace in 2015

By Allyson Neville, Maiya Zwerling, Sean Langberg, January 9, 2015


Last year was rife with deadly conflict. Rebellions, violent extremism, and state violence killed many and displaced more. However, there are numerous opportunities for peace in 2015. The Obama administration has shown it is willing to pursue diplomacy in some cases and peace-builders are proving that there are alternatives to war. Below are five examples where civil society and governments are working for a more secure and peaceful future.

Gaza. Yemen. Libya. Ukraine. Mexico. Iraq. Afghanistan.

2014 was a year rife with deadly conflict. Rebellions, violent extremism, and state violence killed many and displaced more. However, there are numerous opportunities for peace in 2015. The Obama administration has shown it is willing to pursue diplomacy in some cases and peace-builders are proving that there are alternatives to war.

Below are five examples where civil society and governments are working for a more secure and peaceful future.

Burundi

Elections are historically violent times in Burundi. Conflict in 1993 left 300,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced. The 2010 election, the first since the conclusion of the Burundian civil war, was marred by human rights abuses, corruption, and intimidation. Now, in preparation for the elections this year, Burundian Quakers are using grassroots peacebuilding to prevent further violence. INAMA is an exciting group of civilian reporters working together to build an early warning network. The network will bear witness and alert voters and media outlets of instances of conflict leading up to and during the elections. FCNL is facilitating collaboration calls with peace-builders and advocates in the United Kingdom, Kenya, New York, and Washington, DC along with the leaders of the INAMA network to ensure that grassroots efforts are robustly supported in the coming months.

Central African Republic

2014 was a violent year in the Central African Republic. Conflict gripped the country in late-2012 after a coalition called Séléka launched a violent rebellion against the sitting president. Fighting during the next two years left thousands of people dead and many more displaced, leading some advocates to warn of genocide. However, a diligent commitment to diplomacy by the international community, led in part by U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, and moderate Central African politicians contributed to the signing of a ceasefire in July 2014. Shortly following the ceasefire, the U.S. re-opened its embassy after 21 months of closure due to security concerns and a U.N. peacekeeping mission began. Moreover, grassroots efforts such as the Quaker-led Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities program are beginning to repair the social fabric and restore trust within Central African communities. In 2015, FCNL will lobby for a long-term strategy for CAR in support of broad, effective engagement in order to prevent a relapse to violent conflict.

Iran

After more than three decades of hostility, which led the U.S. and Iran to the brink of war, the tide has begun to change. The two countries are engaged in intensive, multi-lateral negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program that, if successful, will guard against a nuclear armed Iran and the risk of another devastating war in the Middle East. But, some in Congress could derail the talks by introducing new sanctions or other saber-rattling measures that would violate U.S. obligations. Thanks, in part, to outreach from FCNL’s grassroots network, Congress shelved a similar sanctions bill last January. This winter and spring, FCNL will work to mobilize even bigger efforts to tell Congress: let diplomacy work with Iran.

Nigeria

In 2014 alone, the death toll in Nigeria has more than doubled that of the previous two years. Despite the numerous challenges that lie ahead for Nigeria in 2015, including potentially contentious national elections, communities across Nigeria are coming together in unprecedented ways to build peace. In northern Nigeria, during Christmas celebrations in the city of Kaduna, more than 200 Muslim youths protected Christians amid the ongoing attacks, bombings and kidnappings by the extremist group Boko Haram. In the Middle Belt, Boko Haram bombings are failing to incite an all-too-common tailspin into intercommunal reprisal killings; instead communities are working across divisions to respond and quell tensions. Finally, in the Delta, Bayelsa State created the Multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) on oil spill management to reduce tensions related to degraded water and land. MSP will act to monitor and regulate oil spills and assist local governments in managing resource-related grievances. In 2015, FCNL will continue to advocate for reductions in military expenditures to abusive regional security units while urging Congress to dedicate resources to local peace-builders.

South Sudan

This July will mark South Sudan’s fourth year of independence and tenth year of autonomy from Sudan. Since fighting broke out in December of 2013, nearly 1.5 million people have been displaced internally while 3.8 million are in need of assistance. Despite a cessation of hostilities agreement between rival leaders, the President and Vice President, intercommunal tensions remain high, and violence continues to break out. In April of 2014, armed protestors forced their way into a peacekeeping base sheltering displaced persons where they opened fire. Unarmed civilian peacekeepers from theNonviolent Peaceforce (NP) were able to directly protect five women and nine children during the attack. The U.S. Agency for International Development is now providing NP with $500,000 “to send protection rapid response teams to complement other humanitarian activities in conflict-affected areas.”

With your help, we can make these changes and more in the coming year. Together, with persistent lobbying and tireless advocacy in Washington D.C. and around the country, we can seek a world free of war.

Allyson Neville

  • Legislative Manager for the Prevention of Violent Conflict

Allyson Neville coordinates the Prevention and Protection Working Group (PPWG), a coalition of human rights, religious, humanitarian and peace organizations dedicated to the reduction of violent conflict, prevention of atrocities, and protection of civilians. Since its creation in late 2008, PPWG has successfully advocated on these issues through outreach to Congress and various administrative agencies.

Maiya Zwerling

  • Past National Organizing Manager (2013-2018)

Maiya Zwerling served as the National Organizing Manager for FCNL Advocacy Teams (2013-2018). She founded the FCNL Advocacy Teams, a network of hundreds of Quakers and friends lobbying to build congressional champions for peace and justice.

Sean Langberg

  • Former Program Assistant, Peacebuilding Policy

Sean Langberg was a program assistant for peacebuilding policy from 2014-2015.