Training and Capacity Building for Peacebuilding and Development


School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development

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Political Science and International Affairs

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“Training,” whether for civil society organisations, diplomats, conflict parties, military, police and security forces, or other stakeholders in the field, is widely implemented in peacebuilding and development contexts. Recent years have seen tremendous innovations and advancements in training methodologies and approaches, and there has been an increase in the number and breadth of trainings and topics covered, as well as a shift away from a training mindset to one of developing capacity. However, many practitioners still lack some of the core competencies for engaging effectively in peacebuilding, stabilisation, and prevention, demonstrating a need for capacity building. However, existing capacity-building efforts do not always use methodologies and approaches that successfully develop these needed competencies to the level needed for practitioners to use them effectively in the field.

An October 2018 conference on Shaping the Future of Peace Training in Europe and Beyond held in Vienna1 concluded that whilst ongoing training and capacity development is critical for long-term peacebuilding success, a number of challenges remain, including a disconnect between the competencies of trainers and those receiving training (i.e., mismatch between the focus of the training and local needs and/or lack of context sensitivity), the lack of local ownership, unclear mandates, the need for more gender sensitive approaches, and the diversification of training approaches and actors involved in training. Indeed, international agencies are increasingly aware of the need for peacebuilding training, and thus organisations like the Barcelona International Peace Center are building such courses to try to address this need.

This special issue of peacebuilding and development emerged out of a recognition of the importance of training and capacity building within the field; the topic also reflects an area of potential synergy between the scholarship and practice of peacebuilding and development, a key part of this journal’s mandate. Capacity building can be defined as the increasing ability of an organisation’s systems and people to accomplish its mission; however, measuring the effectiveness of capacity building can take years (Wing, 2004). Ideally, training should be conceptualised with such a view towards improving capacity. Diamond (1997, p. 357) argues that training has three main purposes, which are “to develop new skills; to explore attitudes, values, wisdom, behaviours, and interactive patterns; and to consider how participants may integrate learnings on these subjects and apply them to back home situations.” Brand-Jacobsen et al. (2018) suggest that “training may catalyse participants to explore theories, devise strategies, understand local contexts and develop an understanding of self.” Further in the peacebuilding context, the goal of training is often to “facilitate a change from the participants’ narrow, exclusionist, antagonistic, or prejudiced attitudes and perspectives” to more tolerant and open-minded ones (Abu-Nimer, 2001).

Peace institutions and other international NGOs use a range of methods and techniques to build capacity in peacebuilding and development skills and techniques. E-learning and games are methods used to train and educate people in situations where face-to-face meetings are not possible (Brynen & Milante, 2012). Serious games can enable participants to retry, relearn, adapt, and develop new ways to better understand the complex challenges they face in the real world whilst also recognising the limitations of their existing strategies, thereby facilitating learning (Brand-Jacobsen & Shiroka, 2018). However, many challenges exist for such training in peacebuilding and development contexts. For example, managing expectations is critical, for when participants complete a training and return to their societies, the high expectations that might be generated during training may not be supported in their own environments. Further, training exercises and gaming applications are often geared towards Western examples and audiences and do not always correlate with the real-life needs of peacebuilders from other parts of the world (Vukosavljevic, 2007).

The authors in this volume identify several key issues involved in training and capacity building, including the need to engage in complexity, the importance of gender sensitivity and following the lead of local partners in identifying training and capacity building needs, and the importance of thinking beyond “training” in traditional formats.

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Journal of Peacebuilding and Development





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