Empowering the next generation of peacemakers
The International Peace and Security Institute, founded by former Rotary Peace Fellow Cameron Chisholm (third from right), hosted a peace and conflict resolution training symposium in Bologna, Italy, with the help of (from left) Luke Brothers, Maria Effendi, Donatello Osti, Angela Raeburn, and Andrew Piker. All are former peace fellows except Osti, a former Rotary Scholar. Photo courtesy of Cameron Chisholm
Cameron Chisholm didn’t waste any time deciding how he would provide others with the skills he was gaining as a 2006-08 Rotary Peace Fellow. During his fieldwork in Ethiopia, he drafted a plan for a peace advocacy organization.
“I had been studying early conflict warning systems and thought I had it figured out,” says Chisholm, who studied at the University of Bradford, England, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Corpus Christi, Texas, USA. “I realized when I got to Addis Ababa that it wasn’t so cut and dried -- you are dealing with communities in conflict facing issues that do not fit into a cookie cutter.”
The fellowship’s mix of practical and theoretical application, says Chisholm, was the catalyst for establishing his own program.
“I asked myself how I could create this for other people to allow them to experience these things,” Chisholm says.
In 2009, while working as a global security analyst and watch officer for the World Bank, Chisholm founded the International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI), based in Washington, D.C., to raise public awareness of peace and security issues.
In cooperation with Johns Hopkins University, IPSI hosted a monthlong symposium in Bologna, Italy, in part of June and July, attended by 55 people, including three Rotary Peace Fellows. Students and practitioners from 28 countries learned mediation and peacekeeping techniques from current and former representatives of the United Nations, International Criminal Court, and other institutions and governments.
“Although I had participated in conflict resolution trainings, I had never been exposed to such comprehensive simulations and role playing,” says 2009-11 peace fellow Katharine Mote. “They gave me the opportunity to practice skills I had learned both prior to and during the symposium.”
Mote says she also appreciated the opportunity to learn how students from different geographical areas approach peace-building.
“As much training went on outside of the classroom as in it,” says Chisholm, who recruited instructors and approved the attendees, including peace workers from conflict and postconflict countries.
Participants also received instruction on social entrepreneurship -- using entrepreneurial principles to make social change -- and were invited to submit proposals for funding. IPSI awarded funding to Canadian Craig Vandermeer, founder of the nonprofit Schools Building Schools, for his proposal to provide graduates of vocational trade schools in southern Uganda with microloans and follow-up consultation with local business advisers starting next summer.
“I was able to network with many professionals in the field, who provided advice on how to move forward and create a successful project,” Vandermeer says.
IPSI will offer the Bologna symposium annually and in 2012 will add a four-week program in The Hague focusing on international and transitional justice. Chisholm also hopes to add regional symposiums, roundtable discussions, and a speaker series on conflict resolution.
Written for Reconnections.
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