Coexistence International Strand One Meeting

 

Networking Coexistence & Related Fields at the Meta-Level

April 6-7, 2006

April 6-7


Nineteen international practitioners, researchers, policymakers and donors from the areas of coexistence, conflict transformation, governance, sustainable development, peacekeeping, human rights and the arts met on April 6-7 at Brandeis University to reflect on commonalities and differences in values and practices across these fields. They explored the possibilities and challenges of collaboration between their disciplines in pre-conflict, conflict and post-conflict settings.

A key focus of CI's work, and a major topic of discussion at the April meeting was complementarity. Complementarity is present when individuals and organizations working in related fields understand that their effectiveness depends upon each other's work. They do their work with awareness of, and sometimes in coordination or collaboration with, other fields. Participants at the meeting looked at many issues, including:

  • The need for, and approaches to, strengthening the field of coexistence;
  • Challenges to complementarity and working together; and
  • Opportunities and strategies for increased complementarity and integration across fields.

This was the second in a series of meetings that CI is organizing as part of its mission to strengthen the effectiveness of actors and institutions promoting coexistence at local, national, and international levels. These opportunities for exchange and reflection are critical for building bridges across fields and identifying effective approaches for integrating coexistence principles into other areas of practice.

Participants at the April meeting responded positively to the design of the event - a participatory, workshop-style meeting - where priority was given to exchange of ideas and strategies for promoting an integrated approach to coexistence. At the close of the meeting, Howard Wolpe, Director of the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and of the Center's Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity stated: "This was an intellectually stimulating event that pushed us all to think strategically about collaborations and partnerships. I am confident that CI is capable of developing concrete strategies and activities to introduce the big-picture approach to other actors and institutions."

There was consensus among meeting participants that while challenges to complementarity exist, they can be overcome through reflection and strategic thinking between those in the coexistence field and those in related areas (eg: sustainable development, human rights, democracy, the arts). The April meeting follows a December 2005 CI gathering (more about the December meeting here).

Mari Fitzduff, Chair of CI's International Advisory Board and a meeting participant in April and December, is optimistic: "At both gatherings we witnessed a cadre of actors working towards the creation of societies characterized by respectful, equitable relationships across difference. They may use distinct terminology to describe their work, and have different institutional perspectives, but they are committed to a shared vision of the world, and interested in exploring possibilities for strengthening the effectiveness of their work through collaboration." CI's mission over the coming years is to contribute to the strengthening of the field of coexistence, and the integration of coexistence principles in other areas.

The agenda for the recent meeting can be found here as can the list of participants. To learn more about CI's work, please write: coexistenceintl@brandeis.edu.