Guiding Principles

Principle One:

We are one before we are different. Leadership requires mobilizing people to transcend the tribal mindset.

Children born into the hatred and intolerance of their parents and ancestors, quickly internalize a tribal mentality that differentiates itself from all “outsiders”. We grow up hating and demonizing other people, based purely on tribal identity and group affiliation. This is the negative side of tribalism.

A major task of leadership for peacemaking is helping parties in conflict transcend these tribal mindsets and the “them” vs “us” enmity system dynamics that result.

Principle Two:

People only take responsibility for what they help create

Traditional peacemaking processes tend to only engage elected authority figures and to be carried out behind closed doors, and so not transparent to the community.

One complicated result is that authority figures end up having to “sell” an agreement to their constituents who, not feeling included, will resist. In that case, the authority figures may lack the understanding and courage and be unable to contain the enormous pressures on them to withstand and revert to the status quo of polarization and enmity

Principle Three:

For lasting peace, the legacy of collective trauma must be addressed

Collective memory of conflict suffered in the past by a group’s ancestors may give rise to a chosen trauma dynamic that is passed on from one generation to the next. This trauma undermines a fundamental sense of security among second and third generations of survivors.

They display heightened individual and collective fear, feelings of vulnerability, injured national pride, humiliation, a crisis of identity, and a predisposition to react with heightened vigilance to new threats, such that the pain of past generations is conflated with threats facing the current generation.

Principle Four:

A peace agreement is not the end. It’s just the beginning!

Too often, reaching a peace agreement is viewed as success and third-party mediators leave, thinking their work is complete. This leaves the parties in a vacuum, facing a challenge that they cannot accomplish on their own.

From a context of trauma and hatred, the parties must now engage in a process with each other in building a new relationship for which they have no experience, no understanding, and no vision – a relationship that threatens views and values and norms that each party has clung to, perhaps for centuries, in order to avoid engaging with the “enemy”, the demonized “other”.