November/December Newsletter in Summary

Thank you for journeying with us in 2014 and we look forward to sharing with you again in 2015

Welcome to the final 2014 edition of the Newsletter. With 2014 drawing to a close, we are able to look back on a year that has seen the launch of several successful initiatives as well as the strengthening of existing projects. One of the highlights of the year was the launch of the African Solidarity Caravan in May, which was first conceptualised in 2012. The Caravan activities culminated in the Peace and Human Security Festival in Ethiopia, which is reported on in this issue. However, due to the success of the campaign, it will not end here, but will continue to be developed as an on-going initiative to build people-to-people solidarity in Africa. The ASC also contributed towards the organising of the War Resisters international conference in Cape Town on the theme of “the continuum of non-violence”, which attracted world-wide attention. In October we held the Conflict Transformation Encounter, which drew delegates from across Africa and the world for a unique learning experience intended to expose participants to Conflict Transformation in a hands-on, experiential manner.

The Local Peace Committee (LPC) initiatives have continued being strengthened, with the Diepkloof LPC now established as a separate entity, as you will read about in this issue. In celebration of the work of the Local Peace Committees, we have invited you to the Gauteng Local Peace Committee Awards Ceremony, which is being held on Friday 12 December 2014 – our final event of the year. Work with Making All Voices Count has also continued to develop with research trips to Zanzibar and Uganda, the latter of which is reported on in this issue. We have also seen the official launch of the South African Somali Women’s Network (SASOWNET), the launch and development of a strong Support Team who have assisted with ASC events and initiatives, as well as the opening of a Cape Town office to provide a regional base for those based in Cape Town. Finally, the Applied Conflict Transformation course has continued to attract participants from all over the world, and the Drums of Change publication has increased its audience through both print and digital media.

We look forward to continuing to build on these initiatives and pioneering new projects in 2015.

In this issue we are pleased to share with you reports on the final activities of 2014, which ASC members have continued to be busy with, even as the year comes to an end.

This issue features 2 pieces that explore the relationship between religion, conflict and peacebuilding. The insights are drawn from a course and consultation attended by the ASC, which analysed this relationship in depth in order to help participants build a more nuanced understanding of the complex dynamics of religion-related conflicts, as well as the critical contributions that faith based actors can make to transforming conflicts.

Immigration issues were a recurring theme in the meetings that ASC members contributed to. At a meeting hosted by the City of Joburg, representatives from Toronto discuss lessons about immigration that can be learned from Canada’s experience, where economic migration was identified as a factor beneficial to the economy, and in turn attitudes and legislations changed to ease the process of integration for immigrants. These issues have also been addressed with the Local Peace Committees in Soweto and Diepkloof, where workshops have sought to challenge misconceptions about immigration by equipping people with information and facts about immigrants.

Another theme that featured heavily is the importance of strengthening civil society movements and the relationships between civil society and government. The joint CIVICUS and Making All Voices Count meeting focussed on how to promote citizen engagement in a way that would transform them from passive recipients of government services to active contributors. In the CIVICUS World Assembly, a key issue addressed was how CSOs can build movements that effect fundamental change, rather than ‘dabbling in incremental change’. The MAVC Community of Practice meeting also highlighted the need for platforms that facilitate on-going engagement between civil society and government.

In this issue we get a glimpse of the challenges confronting communities and their efforts to address them – from the streets of post-LRA Gulu in Uganda, where citizens are managing to transform city life, to the Local Peace Committees in Soweto and Diepkloof, who are engaging with youth and community concerns, such as unemployment and service delivery problems, and developing strategic responses to address these challenges.

Finally, we have a report back on the last Applied Conflict Transformation course of 2014, which highlights how capacity building, training, learning, sharing and developing a solid grasp of conflict analysis is equipping peacebuilders from around the world to return to their communities with new tools and renewed inspiration to take action.

We welcome all feedback from our readers, and we wish you all the best for the festive season.