вторник, 31 января 2017 г.

Developing cooperation — training and practice in the Nansen Centre of Peace and Dialogue (Lillehammer, Norway, 2016)

The “Intensive dialogue workshop for practitioners”, organized by the Nansen Center for peace and dialogue in Lillehammer (Norway), has been concluded on the 26th of November 2016. Two new members of the Donbass Dialogue team — Yaroslava and Denis — got the opportunity to get acquainted with a systematic work on support of peace processes, which the Nansen Center has been carrying out for many years.

Below, we are happy to share their impressions.

So, being there, you realize how much justified was the decision to hold it in that small town in the south of Norway. This place has one incredibly magic ability to inspire and give hope. And this is exactly what is missing, when you are constantly living in the “24/7/365” stress mode in the armed conflict zone for almost three years now.

This year the organizers of the seminar, leading by the newly appointed Director — Alfredo Zamudio — gathered a pool of experts from the international humanitarian and human rights organizations. Each of them faces the challenges of different conflict situations in their professional and personal life. Among the participants there were representatives of the UN agencies (UNHCR, UNICEF), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), One Earth Future (Canada), the National Democratic Institute (Albania), CARE (Bosnia), Centre of Oslo (Peace, democracy, civil rights) and Donbass Dialogue (Ukraine).

Initially, the objectives of this workshop were to provide the participants with the knowledge and practical skills, developed by the Nansen Center, which afterwards could be used in real conflict situations. After the first exercises and presentations, it became vivid that participants, being so open for cooperation and exchange of experience, have exceeded expectations of facilitators, and the proposed agenda could no longer be used.

During the training there were few sessions on:

  • Communication, Culture and Identity
  • Conflict analysis tools and Conflict transformation field
  • Dialogue theory and practice
  • Practicing dialogue facilitation
  • Dialogue as a long-term process

First session involved presentations and discussions on culture and person’s identity. The active listening practice has also been trained. This kind of practice let you understand more carefully psychological states, feelings, thoughts of an interlocutor by peculiar knacks while communicating. Nansen dialogue’ principles were discussed as well.

Afterwards it was time to talk about the nature of conflicts: both constructive and destructive ones.Then we watched the presentation about mapping the conflict (please, find below), and practised in groups how to use this knowledge.

There are basic elements of a conflict (parties, connections, stakeholders, channels of communication, etc.). Conflict and issue/causes are always in the center; there are also opposing parties (protagonist/antagonist), support of each party, and resolution.

For example, when considering virtually any conflict the main elements could be can highlighted (parties, sides of influence, interactions, channels of communication, etc.). In this case, there is always the conflict and issue/causes are in the center which appeared in the result. At least two opposing sides (protagonist/antagonist), support for each party and resolution. If you are a direct participant of the conflict, it helps well to abstract from the emotions, leaving just the facts on the map. Sometimes it seems unpleasant, but highly necessary for a complete analysis and finding resolutions. Of course, an important role is played by the willingness to accept the presence of these “unpleasant facts”. 

The participants were divided into small groups. Each group discussed their one example of the conflict and analyse so it came to the case for the whole week. And the subsequent practice has been based on conditions of the selected conflict. 
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It is worth noting that the particular usefulness of the involvement of people a) not involved in the conflict; b) without knowing the conflict situation before; and c) representative of a different/other culture/religion/tradition/etc. Fresh perspective, sober recognition from the side and the conflict analysis from a position of lack of any interest give unpredictable results and may indicate the nuances of your situation that you do not have to consider being fully absorbed by them.

The following aspects were considered in the session “Theory and practice of dialogue”:

  • key features of the dialogue;
  • dialogue, negotiation and mediation — similarities and differences;
  • the role of the facilitator;
  • practical session of facilitation of dialogue.

It was practice time for each participant as a facilitator, trying to put into practice the acquired knowledge and skills. Eventually few conclusions were made:
  • not everyone is able to become a facilitator, no matter how good and deep knowledge the person possessed. It is always a combination of personal qualities, knowledge and skills, as well as experience;
  • the facilitator is not a party of the conflict, he is always invited and recognized by all the conflict parties that give him the opportunity to be independent, impartial and fair while creating a favorable environment for dialogue;
  • practicing by playing someone else role, quite unknown previously, the were discovered in themselves such caches that difficult to imagine how far it was from understanding or feeling of certain events, personal experiences. This is useful to anyone who's willing to take a step towards peaceful resolution of any dispute or conflict. If a person tries to fully feel the position, interests and needs of opposing sides, he will find the strength to understand and continue the dialogue process from a position of respect for their feelings and dignity.

The last but not least session was dedicated to dialogue as the long process. The strategic roadmap for dialogue was presented, as one of the main criteria of success. So the preparatory process of the dialogue is critical, mistakes and miscalculations could lead to the rejection of dialogue at all, or turning it into useless talk and meaningless polemics.

Each training’s theme described above resonates in the human soul, one or another way became part of the conflict. Any knowledge, skill or simple analytical exercise was automatically projected onto the Ukrainian realities. It is obvious that the Ukrainian conflict is not so “popular” in the international media currently. Having communicated to the colleagues during training (humanitarian workers for a second! those who likely more oriented in world conflicts, its implications, and attempts of resolution) became evident important fact: about the conflict they knew little, about the country and the region even more. Should we expect their reaction and actions?

While being there, once again it convinced that for the slightest progress in the solution of our painful ukrainian issue. We need to understand and accept this: people beyond the borders of your country have no loyalty to you; they can endlessly sympathize and empathize you, sometimes help financially, but to solve the problem or live with it you have to, and no one else. No organizations, governments, funds and other foreign missions that in the opinion of many Ukrainians must come to resolve the conflict, would not be able to do and should not. As soon as we realized it, we could proceed to the next step. Opponents should be heard by each other. For this purpose we should start thinking about dialogue. More people “understand” what a dialogue means, there are more chances for the beginning of reconciliation and compromise.

Well, there are a lot books about the war and how to fight. While it is so little said about “dialogue”, and certainly more less about how to live in peace. It is something what humanity, in fact, has never experienced in its history.

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