Peace can be planned. In most cases violent escalation of conflicts can be prevented. Countries at risk of instability and civil war need mechanisms and structures for cooperation amongst all relevant stakeholders in peacebuilding. National or local peace structures create a forum for all actors and stakeholders for dialogue, consultation, cooperation and coordination.
Evidence demonstrates that peace structures work: mechanisms for peace building have been successful in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and several other countries. Such mechanisms are inexpensive and cost-effective, compared to the costs of armed conflicts.
The International Civil Society Network on Infrastructures for Peace is an emerging movement, aiming to enhance Infrastructures for Peace (I4P). The Network plans to cooperate with NGOs and civil society actors, as well as with stakeholders as governments and the United Nations. It will support local, regional and national initiatives to build or strengthen institutional mechanisms that are based on the commitment to cooperative conflict resolution. The aim is to build international momentum and assist governments and societies to learn from these experiences.
World renowned peace academic John Paul Lederach writes the following on the origins and evolution of infrastructures for peace.
I ﬁrst began to formulate the concept of an infrastructure for peace in the 1980s. During several local and national peace processes, particularly a mediation effort in Nicaragua, the support mechanisms to sustain the changes under negotiation, and which subsequently found their way into signed accords, required both conceptual and practical development. In Central America at that time, the support for the negotiations relied heavily on commissions. The innovation in Nicaragua led to the creation of commissions that functioned at local, regional and national levels, although these focused almost exclusively on the negotiation process and in some instances on short-term implementation of some key aspects in the accords. The challenge I observed at the time was how to develop the necessary support over time for the social, political and cultural change processes that formed the underlying purpose and intent of more concrete, speciﬁc agreements. Reﬂecting on those experiences a few years later, I proposed the idea of an infrastructure for peace as a core ingredient of a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding in Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (1997). The concept of an infrastructure responded in large measure to several practical concerns and formed part of ﬁve guiding principles in the development of a peacebuilding framework.
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