Paul van Tongeren (2013): Potential cornerstone of infrastructures for peace? How local peace committees can make a difference, Peacebuilding, 1:1, 39-60
Paul van Tongeren
Co-founder, International Civil Society Network on Infrastructures for Peace, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
(Received 9 October 2012; final version received 28 November 2012)
In many conflict-affected countries local peace committees (LPCs) have an impact on local communities by keeping the violence down, solving community problems and empowering local actors to become peacebuilders. Of course, committees like these are confronted with many challenges; the biggest challenge is that they are very dependent on the broader, political or conflict environment. If that environment becomes very polarised or violent, they will be gravely affected. LPCs are committees or structures formed at the level of a town or village with the aim to encourage and facilitate joint, inclusive peacemaking and peacebuilding processes within their own context. The article describes 10 examples of LPCs in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and Afghanistan. It is remarkable to see that in those countries hundreds of LPCs exist, with in most cases limited impact. The article describes as well a broader framework of infrastructures for peace, as it is implemented in several countries, such as Ghana and Kenya. This is a promising approach. The article concludes with some conclusions and proposals to enhance LPCs and infrastructures for peace nationally and internationally.
Keywords: local peace committees; local peace communities; infrastructures for peace; local peace building