New research sheds light on what Syrians do for peace
Bern/Helsinki: 7 January 2016
A new report entitled “Inside Syria: What Local Actors Are Doing For Peace” has been released today. The report maps out local peacebuilding endeavors in Syria. Despite their importance for any future peace solution they have largely remained untapped. The report is based on research conducted by swisspeace, Conflict Dynamics International and FarikBeirut.net commissioned by Finn Church Aid.
Local peacebuilding actors have an intimate understanding of conflict dynamics in Syrian cities, towns and villages that should be addressed to resolve the conflict and foster sustainable peace at the national and even the regional level. These local peace actors are critical for any future peace process. In the case of Syria they have received far too little attention. Current conflict resolution approaches lack a thorough analysis of local actors’ peacebuilding capacities.
Based on a series of consultations, 143 in-depth interviews with peacebuilders inside Syria and two focus group sessions in Lebanon, this report sheds light on assets, opportunities and challenges for peacebuilding in Syria. Among the diverse set of peace actors identified are community leaders, women’s groups, youth groups, NGOs and community-based organizations, local councils, and reconciliation committees. These actors have been involved in activities that range from working on negotiations for the exchange of detainees or truces, to mediation, relief work, development work and human rights activism. In Daraa, for instance, a community leader was involved in an exchange of detainees between the government and an opposition battalion. The negotiations nearly failed if it was not for the pressure exerted by a few elders who facilitated the deal. After three weeks, a dozen of detainees were released.
This new substantive overview of local peace actors in Syria should lead to an increased understanding of their needs, challenges and priorities as well as to their better inclusion in future peace efforts.