Interpreters: Keeping the communication alive is the key in peace-building. Today, the session with Prof. Jaclyn Harmer & Prof. Laura Burian on interpretation amidst conflict highlighted the importance of interpreters in peace-building. The interpreters can make the communication possible between two or multiple parties who do not speak the same language.
I have had numerous opportunities where I had to consecutively interpret for my work in Nepal. It was a challenging task. Although I was mindful that I am only an interpreter, it was difficult to let go your position in the organization that I was working. This highlights how important it is to be neutral as an interpreter. I also learned that if I am to interpret again, I will speak as the first person. Interpretation is like performing a dance with the speaker and one needs to consider the interpreter as part of the team.
Reconciliation: The session with Elizabeth Cole was very informative. She talked about how evaluation is becoming important in the peacebuilding field. Evaluating the reconciliation efforts or individuals and organizations is an incredible initiative as the individuals need to learn from the past and talk about what works and what does.
She talked about the Contact Theory that is widely used by the peace builders in the reconciliation process. The logic behind the theory is that when we bring people from different groups together, they will get along and understand each other that will increase the trust level among them. Bringing people together means bringing multiple stories and information that will challenge the existing narratives and mindsets.
It was interesting to go over the attributes/conditions and signs of reconciliation that are listed below:
- an increassed sense of shared future and national identity
- Trust and increased level of social cohesion among different groups
- It is a long-term process
- is multi-generational
- Re-humanization of others
- voluntary process (cannot be imposed)
- binary process (2 sides are involved)
- there is a tipping point
- respect for human rights
- commitment to nonviolent solutions
- We often say that peace building is a grassroots effort. The NGOs along with members of civil society can do a lot to shift minds and hearts, but leadership from the top has to shift as well. Once again, the political will has to be there.