Violent conflict is surging after decades of relative decline, and it is estimated that by 2030, over half of the world’s poor will be living in countries affected by high levels of violence. Drawing on experience from working on peacebuilding since 2007, trends and documented good practice in the peacebuilding field, and NCA’s global strategy, the programme contributes to building inclusive, cohesive and peaceful societies.

NCA’s Response

The goal of NCA’s Peacebuilding programme is to ensure that societies are more inclusive, cohesive and peaceful.

Within this programme, NCA and its partners aim to

  • promote social cohesion and counter violence
  • prevent and transform conflict with peace structures
  • make peace processes inclusive
  • protect social action of peace

Peacebuilding in Humanitarian Responses

Peacebuilding facilitates comprehensive humanitarian responses and nexus programming by, for example, strengthening social interaction and trust among groups and enhancing non-violent local conflict management. It also provides a set of complementary analytical tools to better understand and respond to conflict dynamics. 

Peacebuilding in Long-term Development Work

NCA works in peacebuilding in some countries that are not facing open conflict, but where internal divisions are a source of violence and represent a high risk of escalation to a conflict. NCA’s efforts to reinforce social cohesion and to provide communities with tools to address conflicts in a non-violent manner contribute to reducing the impact of those divisions and the risk of armed conflict.

NCA and partners work to counter prejudice, dehumanisation and other negative attitudes and behaviours by combined action on three spheres: promoting alternative, positive narratives anchored in belief systems, cultural values, and social norms; generating spaces for direct positive interaction; and taking action for appropriate regulatory frameworks. Changing the narrative of how religion is seen in relation to violence and extremism is a crucial element. The interventions address the following dimensions: life skills of individuals (for example stress management, non-violent communication, conflict and problem-solving); capacities of individuals and groups to promote social cohesion; spaces for interaction; and alternative value-systems.  

Peace structures, such as peace committees, community peace groups, etc., play a critical role in conflict resolution, mediating interpersonal and inter-group conflicts over, inter alia, natural resources, gender relations and social norms. NCA strengthens formal and informal (customary, traditional) peace structures at all levels, making them inclusive and facilitating the creation of linkages among them  (infrastructures for peace). When working with these structures, NCA considers interaction with other local structures (water committees, community development councils, women’s groups, etc.) where they exist and the role that religion and religious actors play in them.

The women and youth peace and security agendas are central to NCA’s peacebuilding work, not only by accompanying female religious actors and youth of faith. The programme also recognises the multiple identity marks (class, gender, age, ethnicity, faith, etc.) that individuals carry with them, and that come together to form their identity, and embraces an intersectionality approach to explore and act upon sources of conflict and exclusion.

Peacebuilding in Advocacy

In order to promote social cohesion and counter violence, NCA and partners advocate towards religious actors to influence norms and practices and for relevant legal reforms and implementation of existing laws and norms.

The inclusion of women and youth in peace processes have been paved by UN Security Council resolutions 1325 and 2250 respectively. NCA promotes women and youth participation at all levels in all phases of the peacebuilding process working with religious actors: empowering women and youth of faith as negotiators; challenging stereotypes and social norms that preclude meaningful participation; and inclusion of women and youth from different groups and backgrounds. Where relevant, NCA will advocate for a negotiated solution to conflicts and work for the inclusion and meaningful participation of civil society actors in all phases of the process.

NCA partners with and supports human rights defenders and peace activists, developing strategies and approaches for navigating closed civic spaces in the legal, financial, public, and physical domains. NCA also advocates on drivers and root causes of conflict (for example access to arms, economic interests, extractive industries), tapping into existing processes, such as The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the Human Rights Treaty Bodies Reviews.

Collaborating with Faith Actors and Civil Society

When violent conflict erupts, NCA can advocate for a stronger protection environment and for a peaceful resolution and sustainable peace. It also can also advocate towards religious actors and other stakeholders to transform norms and eliminate the root causes and drivers of conflict.

Building on the trust and legitimacy that religious actors enjoy, they can serve as channels between groups in society. While some are spoilers for peace, respected religious actors can also act together to contribute to peace processes, peaceful coexistence and fight extremism, encourage community dialogue, diffuse tensions when they arise, and strengthen formal and informal networks for peace.