In order to achieve the mission of building sustainable peace, a community-led approach has proven to be highly effective and critical in achieving long-lasting impact and change. UNITAR has made it a goal to center a community-led approach through its work with local partners and Civil Society Organization (CSOs), further highlighting the inherent value of this approach. UNITAR has long since understood the value of bottom-up approach and has therefore endeavored to support local partners through promoting and enhancing local peace processes, knowledge sharing, capacity-building and providing up-to-date methodology on peace-related topics to local partners across various projects.  Community-led projects have demonstrated that it is imperative to build confidence among people through direct work with communities and their members in the field. It has additionally proven to be an effective use of resources and local capacity. One of the most effective strategies to achieve this is to strengthen local CSOs that are deeply embedded in the contexts in which they operate. It is especially important because, as time and efforts have shown, CSOs are not merely representatives of the community, they are the community.

The potential and impact of this approach is further displayed in the Stabilization Facility for Libya – Stronger for Libya (SFL2) project implemented by UNDP Libya with the support of UNITAR in the delivery of Output 3 activities on Local Peace Structures and Conflict Management Capacity to drive the SFL’s engagement in Libya through support for local stability. In the same Libyan context, UNITAR is currently implementing the project Towards Locally Led Stabilization and Reconciliation in Libya with the generous support of the Government of Japan. The objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of local CSOs to take ownership of their leading role in the enhancement of conflict resolution, resilience and reconciliation capacities of the local communities so that they can positively impact the Libyan social fabric and the sense of belonging of communities within their territory. Both these projects are demonstrating that working with CSOs greatly empowers communities, families and individuals to make a change in their societies.

CSOs who partook in the UNITAR Training Workshop on Designing and Implementing Community Dialogue Initiatives shared testimonials. 

One participant expressed that...

 “...with the right qualifications we can reach our objectives, get closer to achieving social reconciliation and peace in our communities... Inshallah” (Khadidja, Asser Organization).

Another participant shared that...

“...our trainings with UNITAR have helped us achieve considerable successes in conflict resolution” (Najet, Nana Marin).

The purpose of a community-led approach from a long-term standpoint is to equip local CSOs which operate in vulnerable communities with concrete tools and methodologies to be able to work towards sustainable peace, reconciliation, resilience, and conflict prevention. This approach is built on a comprehensive strategy that is composed of three mutually reinforcing project-oriented components, focusing on firstly supporting local CSOs to strengthen the conflict resolution, resilience and reconciliation capacities of the local communities; enhancing the formal and informal support mechanisms that allow the CSOs to function as sustainable local peace structures; and, lastly, supporting the individuals (not just staff of the CSOs but also community members, families, local leaders, etc.) involved to strengthen their own personal and inner peace, reconciliation, and resilience for outer contribution. This approach additionally aims to recognize that grassroots efforts are crucial for supporting lasting peace and the importance of empowering individuals, families, and community members to be stakeholders in peacebuilding efforts.

A project which has successfully implemented a community-led approach which centers youth in particular is the Youth-Led Peace and Reconciliation In Colombia: A Transformational Approach project implemented in Colombia. This project, designed by UNITAR with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office and in partnership with Ciudad Don Bosco (CDB), aims to contribute to the ongoing peacebuilding and reconciliation process in Colombia by working with the local community to strengthen resilience and conflict prevention capacities of at-risk youth, families, marginalized communities and the broader society. A highlight of this project is the inclusion of community level and family level protection mechanisms as part of the methodology and the focus on supporting local young community members in becoming empowered actors of positive change in their communities.

Share with