Foto by Kristian Svendsen, RIKO
© Rådet for International Konfliktløsning (RIKO) 2018

This article is written by Anne Kristine Raunkiær-Jensen from RIKO, on behalf of the Network for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding.

At the Network for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding’s workshop on conflict sensitivity held on the 5th of December 17 professionals from various civil society organisations gathered to learn about and be trained on conflict sensitive programming. During the full-day workshop facilitated by Global Advisor for Armed Violence Reduction Programming at DRC/DDG Line Brylle, the participants were introduced to important concepts and got to practice a selection of interactive and practical tools for ensuring conflict sensitive programming. The workshop presented an opportunity to exchange experiences and practices between different organisations inducing reflection on own programming and learning from others.

Working in conflict
As many civil society organisations working in conflict-affected areas without working directly on solving or intervening in conflict, ensuring conflict sensitivity ought to be paramount to programme planning and implementation. To illustrate, let us take the example of humanitarian aid delivery.

Delivering humanitarian aid effectively means transferring resources to people who are in need typically in a conflict-affected setting. Humanitarian aid assistance then introduces new and valuable resources to communities where resources are scarce. This resource transfer invariably has an impact on the local economy and can thereby strengthen the war economy or the economy of peace. If distributed unevenly it can fuel further conflict or it can have an economic or political substitution-effect freeing up resources to fuel war or replacing political responsibilities to care for civilians pushing local leaders to practice authority through control and violence. Finally, the resources provided are susceptible to theft or manipulation by conflict-parties or others in struggles over power.

Practising conflict sensitivity in conflicts can have positive impacts on conflict
Amidst such complexities, conflict sensitivity refers to the practice of understanding how aid interacts with conflict in a particular context, to mitigate unintended negative effects and to influence conflict positively wherever possible. Practising conflict sensitivity transcends avoidance of negative effects as prescribed by the do-no-harm principle by including an aspiration to have a positive influence. Working in conflict therefore often also comes to entail some degree of working on the conflict by trying to mitigate negative impact and maximize positive impact.

Conflict sensitivity measures such as joint conflict analysis tools can be used with our own colleagues working in the field and with different stakeholders on a regular basis. This can ensure that programming is relevant, adapted to the context and that the right type of activities is implemented with the right timing, which can prevent or reduce further tensions or contribute to influencing the conflict positively. It is important to do conflict analysis before starting programming but as important to do it regularly, considering changing conflict dynamics.

Conflict sensitivity can have preventive effects
Essentially conflicts are dynamics that evolve between people and must, therefore, be resolved through interaction between those people. Doing conflict analysis interactively with communities and/or providing training in conflict management can be a way of allowing different perspectives to be discussed and reflected on, without having to directly address or resolve the conflict. Learning about conflict management can also help people affected by or engaged in conflict to reflect on their own role in the conflict and might enable an opening towards thinking of how to address the conflict differently. For civil society organisations working in conflict-affected contexts, it can also be a conducive way to identify information gaps and unearth novel information that is valuable for the effectiveness and impact of programming.

Training on Humanitarian Mediation
If you want to learn how to use mediation and dialogue tools and to apply them to programming then join the Network for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding ‘s 5-day training on humanitarian mediation in January facilitated by Line Brylle. We subsidize the training so you can learn these valuable approaches at a minimum cost. Read more and sign-up here.

If you want to learn more about the Network for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding  and stay attuned for future events read more here.