Category Archives: Course Content

Conflict in Thailand, Reconciliation & Lessons Learned

One of the final weeks was spent looking at the conflicts in Thailand.  We focused on the aftermath of the 2008-2010 political crisis and the ongoing difficulties in the South of the country in the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat.  I felt that the lectures gave a comprehensive synopsis of the complexity of the issues facing modern Thai society.

Dr. Sukree Langputeh from Yala Islamic University, deconstructing the Southern Conflict in Thailand.

A representative from the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand

Mark Tamthai, Director of the Institute of Religion, Culture and Peace at Payap University giving a motivational talk about his lessons learned as an experienced mediator and peacebuilder

Conflict Transformation & Building a Sustainable Peace

The last two weeks have been full of beneficial lectures from topics ranging from International Humanitarian Law to the role of religion in Peacebuilding.

Kishu Daswani, A Professor of Law in Mumbai delving into questions around “Just War Theory

Dr. Chaiyan Rajchagool on the Moral Component of Peacebuilding

Some more conflict analysis tools by USAID from Jenn Weidman

An inspiring  morning with Mr Bhichai Rattakul talking about lessons from his time as Thai foreign Minister dealing with the Vietnam War & Pol Pot…

As the overall theme for this final module was Conflict Transformation I  found it really useful to hear past Rotary International President Mr Bhichai Rattakul emphasise the power of “the small things” when dealing with people but yet how to always hold onto to the bigger picture of how things will work out in the longer term 10/20 years down the road.

Transitional Justice

The United Nations defines transitional justice as “the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempts to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.”

As an example of one of these processes we watched a film about the Gacaca courts set up in Rwanda after the genocide; In the Tall Grass.  I’ve watched “Hotel Rwanda” and “Shooting Dogs” many times before, which are both about the events of the Genocide but this particular documentary conveyed just how difficult the transitional justice process can be  after such a horrific event on such a massive scale:

Post-war Recovery

We had Dr David Connolly looking at Post-war recovery for three thought-provoking days this week.  David is originally from Belfast (and still has the brogue!) and he specialises in the theory and practice of post-war recovery and peacebuilding at York University.

A clip David used to talk about the traditional approach to Post-war Iraq

We examined many of the theoretical principles behind exclusive and more holistic inclusive post-war recovery/reconstruction.  The overall aim is to bridge the gap between conflict transformation and a society after conflict with a more sustainable, social, economic and political order.  David used examples from his precious research in Yemen, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland to back his proposals.  One of the quotes which stood out to me was actually from a report he published a few years again from home:

“I could cope with the war; it’s the peace I cannot manage” West Belfast Resident in 2007. (At a Post-conflict Juncture: An Assessment of Mental Health and Developmental Needs in Whiterock, Corpus Christi Services)

We also examined “Fragile States” and how conflict can play a part in this fragility.  What interested me the most was the models of international development/relief which “grafted” new practices onto existing local processes. Such as the example of the Community Development Councils (CDCs), in Afghanistan (which are part of the National Solidarity Programme) which use the pre-existing Shura, “consultation” process to disseminate funding and manage local projects etc.  Overall, David suggested using the term “Integrity” to replace the ideologies behind current “Good Governance” procedures to help maintain accountability, competencies and corruption control in post-war countries.

Dr David Connolly finishing up his final lecture on “Integrity”

There was a great deal to take in over the last few days and to be honest, this entire topic deserves its own blog and I don’t feel like I’m doing it any justice in this post.  More than ever though, I am appreciating the benefits of a Systemic Peacebuilding approach to this work (more to follow)

For more information on Post-war Recovery please check out the MA at York University.

DDR: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration

One of the most interesting days of the course so far was facilitated by Bobby Anderson on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) processes.  Bobby is the Deputy Chief of Party at International Relief and Development (IRD) and currently works in Indonesia.  He has strategic and programmatic responsibility for one of the largest peacebuilding program in Southeast Asia.  As you can imagine he brought a wealth of knowledge to his workshop and I liked his realistic but pragmatic view of the world.

It would have been great to have spent the whole week on DDR as it’s something I’m personally very interested in.  It did strike me however that although this process clearly happened at home as a direct result of our “Peace Process” (prisoner releasesdecommissioning etc)  the formalistic language associated with the ideology of DDR never really made it’s way into the general vocabulary of people in NI.  Maybe this is because the modern terminology associated with DDR has only really emerged in the years following a large part of our formal process or perhaps it’s a good example of adapting the accepted discourse of peacebuilding to fit a cultural context (a rose by any other name etc.)

A United Nations peacekeeper from the Indian battalion of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) takes stock of weapons and ammunition collected during the Demobilization process in Matembo, North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2006). Source: UN Multimedia

We then spent Friday examining Security Sector Reform (SSR) from Arie Bloed.  Arie has worked extensively Internationally and he focused particularly on Police reform in the afternoon.  Not surprisingly we also discussed the transition from the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Mediation and Negotiation

Last week was spent with Jan Sunoo and Pat Dunn from the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service in the USA.  It was an intense week and we looked at tools and techniques for third part interventions including an Interest Based Negotiation model.

Pat demonstrating some active negotiation skills

Many of the skills were similar to that of TIDES’s OCN courses in Conflict Management (active listening, summarising, paraphrasing and re-framing etc.) but the process itself differed in the fact that it focussed very much on negotiation and not on mediation as a form on conflict resolution (i.e. the ability of the third-party to offer potential alternative solutions was much greater).  I was able to co-facilitate a full day role play with Jan which allowed to me an insight into the more subtle nuisances of the process itself. We also looked at other facilitation techniques such as Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space Technology.

Jan looking at Issues and Criteria in an Interest based Negotiation situation.

Conflict Analysis cont.

It’s been a pretty intense couple of days working through various conflict analysis models (see below).  In particular I’ve found the systematic analysis of interlinking connections between Attitudes, Structures and Behaviours to be a useful process and I can see how I could practically apply this model to work at home.  Which is no bad thing as I now have a 10 page analysis due for next week revolving around a conflict in NI that must be relevant to my work at TIDES.  At least I know what I’m doing this weekend…

Hybrid of Galtung’s Conflict Triangle with Do No Harm principles.

Conflict map of a situation in Darfur (terminology taken from the scenario)

Some light reading handed out today in preparation for the field trip.