“Dialogue on Positive Peace” / Peace and post-conflict
The “Dialogue on Positive Peace” examines the causes and conditions shaping conflict and post-conflict situations, as well as structural violence in these processes. The programme grasps social and political struggles together with civil society and activist structures and processes as the basis of efforts towards conflict prevention. Our conflict resolution and peace policy commitments are grounded in the concept of “Positive Peace” put forward by Norwegian peace researcher Johan Galtung. His work looks into forms of structural violence rooted in political, economic or social conditions and exerted indirectly – in contrast to the open, personal violence unleashed in the context of war and terror. According to Galtung, a situation is dominated by structural violence whenever people are excluded from or even deprived of political and social justice as a result of an unequal distribution of power; this also includes isntances of structural oppression, disenfranchisement and exploitation. Positive Peace thus means realizing social justice and equality and ensuring the political and personal freedom of individuals and social groups, particularly minorities, which includes their rights to participation and prosperity. The programme office’s focus is on rendering visible the processes of structural violence and supporting struggles to overcome them. The programme will encompass a comparative dimension and address both the programme countries as well as other countries burdened with a history of (civil) war, in order to examine their peace movements and initiatives as well as their post-conflict strategies and realities.
The violent conflicts and wars scarring the Middle East have turned large parts of the region’s population into refugees or internally displaced persons. The number of people fleeing wars, conflicts and persecution has never been as high as it is today. By the end of 2014, almost 60 million people worldwide were on the move. This rise between 2013–2014 marked the steepest annual increase ever recorded by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The countries in which the Beirut office is active are part of a complex situation, with vast numbers of refugees and migrants arriving in or making their way through Lebanon, Syria and Iraq while others, in turn, are forced to leave. According to estimates, more than 50 per cent of the Syrian population are currently on the move. More than 4.5 million of these Syrian refugees are distributed across Middle Eastern countries, primarily Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. On top of this, there are an estimated 450,000 Palestinian, 40,000 Iraqi and 2,000 Sudanese refugees living in Lebanon, alongside a population of 200,000 migrant workers. Our work on issues relating to flight and migration in the region is focused on addressing the social conditions and impacts of flight and migration facing affected groups and giving refugees and migrants access to social, economic and human rights. Another pillar of our work focuses on issues of political subjectivity and initiatives aimed at supporting refugees’ and migrants’ emancipatory or self-organizational efforts. Across each of these pillars, the programme’s main target groups are refugees and migrant workers.