Want to Build Peace? – The Work of Mediators Beyond Borders
BY AGNIESZKA ALBOSZTA
Agnieszka Alboszta’s article offers a short overview of the work carried out by Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI). With a focus on building local skills for peace and promoting mediation worldwide, MBBI collaborates with experts to integrate trauma awareness into conflict resolution practices. Through partnerships with organisations globally, MBBI empowers peacebuilders to address trauma effectively, fostering successful conflict resolution and resilient community development.
Operating since 2007 with the mission to build local skills for peace and promote mediation worldwide, Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI) has long recognized that peacebuilding intersects with the field of trauma. For well over a decade, MBBI has collaborated on various programs that enhance peacebuilders’ awareness of potential effects of trauma on affected individuals as well as on themselves, and provided a robust toolkit to be utilized in interactions with individuals who have histories of trauma.
Leading experts – Lederach , Lange & Quinn, Reilly, McDermott and Coulter, J. Gilligan to name just a few – have urged that the role of trauma must be integrated into conflict resolution applications as well as in education of practitioners. Why? Because unresolved trauma leaves people vulnerable to future conflict, to passing trauma down the generations, and ultimately to perpetuating a cycle of violence. These experts’ recommendations are supported by discoveries in brain science, and both helped shape MBBI’s belief that trauma is a barrier to trust, resolving conflict, attending school, and sustaining livelihood, the very things needed for a united, prosperous society.
Without trauma awareness and tools, peacebuilders’ efforts can be hampered and possibly contribute to setbacks or outright stalling of conflict mitigation processes via re-traumatization of the very people they are trying to assist. Derailing of processes can also occur when peacebuilders themselves are affected by stories and behaviors that trigger their own fight, flight, or freeze responses. Thus, existing rifts might go unaddressed even as old wounds are reopened. Certainly, this is not the desired outcome of any process whose aim is to mitigate friction and come to a respectful mutual understanding. The more the ADR field recognizes and has knowledge of trauma’s impact, the more it will be able to utilize appropriate approaches when working with individuals who have been affected by trauma, and to provide an overall more effective handling of conflict.