War tears at every fiber of society, but conflict doesn't have to be violent to harm communities. Mercy Corps works to help families rebuild after the destruction of war and engages citizens to find mutually beneficial solutions for change.
Especially in post-conflict settings, we facilitate collaboration between government officials and the people they serve, leading to more accountable and productive leadership. Addressing the root causes of conflict today can help avoid tomorrow's wars and other crises.
Even in the world’s most violent places, there is always room for hope. Since the late 1990s, Mercy Corps has implemented more than 70 peace-building programs in 20 war-torn countries. Our programs strengthen local communities’ negotiating and conflict-management skills so that they can come together to address the underlying causes of violence, such as competition over natural resources, youth alienation and unemployment, and unequal development.
Mercy Corps’ 2004 merger with the Conflict Management Group strengthened our ability to implement conflict programs worldwide. Over its 20-year history, the Conflict Management Group developed a widely acclaimed reputation built on interest-based negotiation methodology. By blending their vast experience in negotiations theory and practice with Mercy Corps’ global experience in conflict and post-conflict settings,
the merger created possibilities that were not possible as separate organizations.
<b>Local Iraqis Promote Peace</b>
Since 2005, Mercy Corps has been training local leaders in the predominantly Shiite and Kurdish regions of Iraq about consensus building and negotiation —cornerstones of good governance in conflict-affected societies. The program has trained 100 influential Iraqi religious clerics, tribal elders, provincial council members and civil society leaders to take the lead in identifying and resolving over 30 complex disputes. The accomplishments of this group include negotiating a local ceasefire between the Sadr militia and the central government, resolving a tribal conflict over water, ending a 25-year land dispute between the government and local citizens and negotiating a truce between feuding local security forces.
<b>Resolving Violence over Land</b>
Since 2003, Mercy Corps has been working to mediate land disputes between farmers and large landholders in the Alta Verapaz region of
Guatemala, an area with the highest rate of deadly land-related violence in the country. The project works with a local association to mediate land disputes, helps the local government develop skills to support land mediation and case management, and provides small farmers with access to loans and technical assistance to improve agricultural production. The project has resolved 85 land-related conflicts to date and is now being extended to six other regions.
<b>Somali Clan Elders Reach Out</b>
In northern Somalia, Mercy Corps is working with tribal elders, local government officials, women and youth to reduce clan violence. To
date, we have brought clans together through seven regional dialogues to find solutions to issues fueling violence, such as competition over firewood and water, youth unemployment and drug use, and environmental degradation. The program has implemented over 50 small
community projects, including tree nurseries and other income-generating activities. It also prompted clan elders to develop binding tribal
laws that regulate competition over water and ban the environmentally harmful practice of charcoal production. In addition, Mercy Corps has helped establish an information sharing system between these powerful clan elders and the government of Puntland to help avoid violence arising from clashes over competing authorities.
<b>Reconciliation in the Rift Valley</b>
In Kenya, Mercy Corps and its local partner, the Youth Agenda Consortium, are working to promote peace and reconciliation in Uasin Gishu and Kericho, two districts in the Rift Valley that were deeply affected by election-related violence in early 2008. Mercy Corps will train 400 tribal elders, religious leaders, local government officials, women and youth from the Kalenjin, Kikuyu and Luo tribes in negotiation and conflict management. The training will focus on giving participants the skills and support they need to address issues that have led to violence in the past (e.g., competition over land, widespread youth unemployment and political tensions). The program will also help communities identify projects that tackle these problems. Examples include youth employment programs, public information campaigns on land reform and activities that build on traditional practices of reconciliation and forgiveness. A large part of the program will help young people in the region – who played a central role in the violence – find ways to build a more constructive political and economic future.
<b>Reducing Youth Violence in Nepal</b>
In Nepal, Mercy Corps has worked to reduce the likelihood that violence will reemerge after a 10-year civil war. The program helped to build relationships between youth from different ethnic groups and castes and has helped to strengthen ties between youth and their communities, making them less vulnerable to being recruited by military groups. The program also provides young people with the negotiation, mediation and consensus building skills that allow them to resolve conflicts peacefully. Our program mobilized 32,622
Nepalese youth into 820 multi-ethnic Village Youth Clubs. By the end of the program, youth were more likely to be an active part of their
communities through participation in community decision-making bodies. They were also 43 percent more likely to interact with youth from
different backgrounds and 94 percent more likely to resolve conflicts through nonviolent means.