Diana Francis, who has been described as one of the most experienced practitioners of conflict resolution, offered her original and radical analysis of conflict transformation and presented her latest book, From Pacification to Peacebuilding. In it, she argues that the transformative impact of efforts to resolve conflict and build peace has been limited and subverted by donor agendas and geopolitical interests.
The impact and effectiveness of peacebuilding has been considerably reduced and undermined by geopolitical interests and power blocks, according to Diana Francis. The dominant culture of power, based on force and violence, should be replaced by the core values of interdependence, respect and nonviolent solidarity. The concept of conflict resolution rests on the assumption of interdependence: “You come together with the idea of resolving a conflict, because you are mutually interdependent”.
For Diana Francis, the “clothes” of peacebuilding are too frequently “worn by pacifiers”. There is a danger that peacebuilding and conflict transformation are being coopted by pacification agendas. In order for the peacebuilding world to have its desired impact, it is fundamental to address this dichotomy. While peacebuilding relies on interdependence, pacification is based on the principle of national interest. Instead of being a unit of cooperation with other countries, the State is a model for domination, existing to pursue the national interest. This concept of State, however, is not viable anymore. In a planet that has shrunk thanks to technology, a model of competing states is not adequate to address issues such as the financial crisis, the food shortage, or the climate change. Interdependence and cooperation become the key. If we apply these notions to the domain of peace, we have pacification, which conceives peace as control, domination, and peacebuilding, where peace is a way to achieve the common good.
In order to bring significant change to the world, Diana Francis suggests re-examining our beliefs on militarism. The good that comes from it is largely fictional. Even if we support the idea of national interest, and think in terms of responsibility to protect, we should consider what evidence there is that armies can have a positive impact in situations of extreme and unpredictable violence. If we really want to demilitarize, we need to reflect in a more serious and systematical way on the potential for non-violent means, unarmed power “to manage situations of ongoing violence, to protect people and to build their capacity to protect themselves, to assess their own rights, to struggle for justice.”