Innovative Solutions to Promote Peacebuilding: A Case Study Analysis of the Social Entrepreneurship for Peacebuilding Model in Pakistan and its Application in Iraqi Kurdistan

Malik, A.F. & Szutkowski, K. 2014. ‘Innovative Solutions to Promote Peacebuilding: A Case Study Analysis of the Social Entrepreneurship for Peacebuilding Model in Pakistan and its Application in Iraqi Kurdistan’, International Symposium on Peacebuilding & Education,  University of Duhok, Iraq, organized by the UoD in partnership with UNICEF, Center of Global Affairs New York University (USA) and the US Embassy in Iraq.


“Peacebuilding involves a range of measures targeted to reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacities at all levels for conflict management, and to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development. Peacebuilding strategies must be coherent and tailored to specific needs of the country concerned, based on national ownership, and should comprise a carefully prioritized, sequenced, and therefore relatively narrow set of activities aimed at achieving the above objectives.” UN Secretary-General’s Policy Committee, May 2007 [1]

In the past decades, peacebuilding and its role in fostering peaceful societies has received increased attention.  Introduced by Johan Galtung, in Three approaches to Peace: Peacekeeping, Peacemaking and Peacebuilding,[2] and recognized in 1992 by the UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in Agenda for Peace, peacebuilding emerged not only as conflict preventive action, but also as vital transformative process that strengthens nations’ capabilities and emphasizes stabilization of economic, social and cultural development.[3]  Since, peacebuilding assumed various applications among institutions and practitioners extensively contributing to post-conflict recovery debates. Yet, the understanding and application of peacebuilding goes beyond diplomacy and policies. In conflict-prone and conflict-affected regions it also requires understanding of social drivers, local dynamics and institutional capacities to that will foster sustainable and well-grounded development initiatives.[4]

Improving social structures also requires understanding of existing gaps as well as opportunities, thus peace education may prove to be critical for long-term results.  Maria Hantzopoulos in Encountering Peace, The Politics of Participation when Education for Co-Existence suggests that although still difficult to define, most scholars, practitioners and researchers understand peace education as “education policy, planning, pedagogy, and practice that can provide learner – in any setting- with the skills, and values to work towards comprehensive peace.”  The comprehensive peace should be understood in the realm of both “positive” and “negative” peace that addresses direct and structural violence. It aims to eliminate social inequalities and increase peaceful co-existence. [5]

Gavriel Salomon and Baruch Nevo, editors of Peace Education, The Concept, Principle and Practices Around the World[6] define “peace education” as “an attempt to change the individual’s perception of the other’s corrective narrative, and consequently of one’s own social self, as well as to related practically less hatefully and more trustingly toward that collective other.” In other words, through peace education it would be expected to critically examine one’s own behavior, to be open to challenge your own feelings, demonstrate empathy and trust towards the others.  These, are not new concepts, but necessary to outline in the absence of clarity of what peace or peace education is.

Salomon recognizes three distinctive categories where peace education takes place: peace education in intractable regions, peace education in regions of interethnic tension and peace education in regions of experienced tranquility. The proposed project here is discussed in the sphere of interethnic tension region, where tensions, hostility and conflict-related emotions are present. In such context we aim to create a space where a face-to-face contact will translate to that peaceful co-existence. We aim to bring the peacebuilding principles along with promotion of strategies and skills for youth empowerment, so that these young people can become active participants in successful nonviolent transformation promoting sustainable peace.


In the past decade the social and political climate in the autonomous Kurdish region of Northern Iraq has undergone a significant transformation where progress towards democracy, stability and peace remain to be at the forefront of nationalistic agenda.  While the immediate effects of this post-conflict state building are evident, the region still faces severe structural, cultural, and at times direct violence. Gender relations remain unresolved and half of the region’s human resources, women, are often excluded from the processes of reconstruction, political and economic development.  Iraq’s neighboring Muslim country in the region, Pakistan, has a majority of educated women face a number of social restrictions impeding them from contributing to progress at the highest official levels in the country.

Under such circumstances, the Seed of Education, Policy & Legal Awareness Association (SEPLAA) Foundation, a Non Government Organization in Pakistan[7] has been working in creating peacebuilding activities such as positive talks and educational awareness workshops created in partnership with the Workshop in Peacebuilding being held at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, since 2011.[8]

After several communication exchanges through email, Skype and social media, the SEPLAA Foundation has moved forward to create a concrete platform to produce further outcomes of peacebuilding activities. As a result of deliberations and research since 2011 in peacebuilding and women empowerment in Pakistan, the resultant Social Entrepreneurship for Peacebuilding Incubator: the Impact Change Xcelerator (ICx) SEPLAA was launched in November 2013. [9]  ICx is one of the innovative solutions to the problem of conflict in the region: a solution which has the potential to be replicated in the Kurdistan region or Iraq which experience similar problems to Pakistan. This makes the case for having such an Incubator promoting Peacebuilding very strong.

[1] United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office. The Secretary-General’s Policy Committee, May 2007

[2] Galtung, Johan. Three Approaches to Peace: Peacekeeping, Peacemaking and Peacebuilding. 1976, pp. 282-304.

[3] Boutros-Ghali, Boutros. “An Agenda for Peace: Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking, and Peacekeeping.” A/47/277 – S/24111 17 New York: United Nations, 1992.

[4] UNDP, 2008, ‘Strengthening the Indigenous Drivers of Post-Conflict Economic Recovery’, Chapter 3 in Post-Conflict Economic Recovery: Enabling Local Ingenuity, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR), United Nations Development Programme, New York, pp. 48-105

[5] Hantzopoulos Maria. Encountering Peace. The Politics of Participation when Education for Co-Existence in Critical Issue in Peace and Education, Pericles Trifonas P. and Wright Bryan. Taylor & Francis, 2011. P. 22-37. Print.

[6] Salomon Gavriel, Nevo Baruch, editors of Peace Education. The Concept, Principle and Practices Around the World. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. 2002; 1-11.Print

[7], Web 20 April, 2014.

[8], Web 20 April, 2014.

[9], Web 20 April, 2014.

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