Transforming Conflict to Coexistence

Programme Objectives:
This Programme highlights the transformative potential inherent in all conflicts and crises.
It has to interlinked focus areas: first transforming complex dynamics of war and second: addressing the challenges of global migration and the refugee crisis.
Programme activities honour and strengthen ordinary-extraordinary individuals and communities who have transformed crises to opportunities. The programme showcases and supports individuals who have transformed their suffering to strength, and built transformative justice and inclusive peace in situations of injustice and violence. Based on first-hand experience in warzones around the world, the activities in this programme provide diverse perspectives on the causes and consequences of war, terrorism, genocide, mass atrocities and refugee crises.
This programme offers safe and creative spaces to explore and develop innovative pathways to transform crisis and transcend conflict. It sharpens the ability of participants to transcend the conflicts we all face in our lives, organizations and societies. Participants discover their capacity to treat every crisis as an opportunity for personal growth and societal transformation.

 

Programme Activities
This programme consists of academic courses, policy and professional seminars, public performances on conflict issues, and transformative peace and justice missions. All activities seek to evoke new thinking about and creative approaches to conflicts and crises, and to generate transformative responses to them.

 

2. Public Performances on Conflict Issues
These performances are aimed at shaping public opinion and engaging members of the general public in dialogue and action on issues of war and peace. They are conducted in collaboration with musicians and artists who have dedicated their own lives to peace, justice and transformation. They always include a session of creative interaction and dialogue with the audience to provide an open space for audience members to contribute their valuable inputs and ideas and to get directly engaged in enacting peaceful transformation. This programme area is linked to the ‘Art of Transformation’ programme.

 

3. Transformative Peace, Justice and Solidarity Missions
The foundation of this programme is the regular transformative peace, justice or solidarity missions undertaken to countries in conflict, crisis or transition. The purpose is to empower courageous grassroots communities and organisations, and to initiate or support innovative peace and justice initiatives.
These missions are funded through the ‘creating circles of solidarity’ (link) philosophy of Theatre of Transformation, whereby all programme activities raise funds to support peace missions.

 

PARTNER ORGANISATIONS
• PCPD: Palestinian Centre for Peace and Development
• Women’s Studies Centre and Women’s Action Committee, Palestine
• Syrian Civil Defence, Syria/Turkey
Universities and Academic Institutes:
• Geneva Academy for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
• (Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative, Graduate Institute of Geneva – tbc)
• Lebanese University, Beirut
• Open University, Bangalore, India
• Vishtar Academy for Peace and Justice, Bangalore, India
• Women in International Security and Conflict Management (WISCOMP), Delhi, India

Time for Paradigm Change?
Transforming Enemies to Allies, and Crises to Opportunities
Lao Tsu said: ‘A great nation is like a great man…
He thinks of his enemies as the shadows he himself casts’
A majority of conflicts are caused and perpetuated by the common human weakness of blaming the ‘other’, and being unable to see our own part of responsibility. The reptilian brain is geared to respond to anything perceived as a threat by ‘flight, fight or freeze’. This is typically how most of us humans react to conflicts in our lives even today. In politics and economics, the old paradigm was to ‘fight’ and seek to crush the ‘enemy’ or competitor, to establish military or economic superiority over perceived enemies. This paradigm has proven futile and immensely destructive to people and planet, both in war – witness the campaign against the Islamic State, and in the economy, witness the degradation caused by competitive capitalism.
The new paradigm transforms our attitude towards conflicts in our lives, in politics and in the economy. It seeks to uncover the opportunities inherent in all crises, and to treat all enemies as potential allies. It shows us how our presumed foes help us to discover ourselves, and how crises help us turn our ‘shadows’ into strengths, and our pain into intrinsic power.

 

1. Academic Courses and Policy Seminars
• Geneva Academy for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (University of Geneva and Graduate Institute): Transformative Justice Course for MA students at Geneva Academy, MA on Transitional Justice and Rule of Law
https://www.geneva-academy.ch/masters/master-in-transitional-justice
• Open University, Bangalore, India: intensive course on Theatre of Transformation’s transformative methodology for social justice and peace activists.
• Geneva Centre for Security Policy: regular seminars on transitional and transformative justice, human security, conflict transformation to policy makers and diplomats.

 

Recent Public Performances on Peace and Justice in Collaboration with Academic and International institutions
• Human Rights Day performance on the ‘Transformative Power of Justice’ by MA students of Geneva Academy at United Nations Geneva with UN Library, World Future Council, UN Mission of Afghanistan and Cyprus.
• Dynamics of War and Peace: performances at Oxford & Geneva in collaboration with OxPeace, Centre for International Studies Oxford and Graduate Institute of Geneva, choreographed by Dr. Annette Idler, Oxford Changing Character of War Programme.
Oxford Geneva ‘Dynamics of War and Peace’ 1 June, 2016, intro film
Other Recent Public Performances on Conflict issues
• Refugee Centre, Presinge, Geneva, with musician Paul Grant
• Dialogues in Humanity Festival, Lyon, with musician Safi al Hafez
Etc.

 

Recent Transformative Peace and Justice Missions:
In 2016 missions were undertaken to
• Palestine: (February) organized by Zahira Kamal, SG of Fidah Party and former Minister of Women’s Affairs. Including dialogues, seminars, meetings, field visits and interactive performances with local authorities and partner organizations in Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah and Jericho.
• Lebanon: (March) organized by Dr. Leila Nicolas of Lebanese University, to offer a workshop to women political activists, a seminar in transformative justice to emerging scholars, and meet leading peace organizations.
• Turkey (May): to support and document stories of Syria Civil Defence volunteers; to meet unaccompanied minor refugees – facilitated by filmmaker-activist Elif Tibet.
• India: (Feb and Nov): to offer interactive performances and intensive courses for social justice activists with peace and justice organisations including Vimochana and Vishtar.