What is the role of the individuals in the peace-building process? Through our interviews with Agents of Peace worldwide we have come to realize that the individual is in fact very important to peace realization and actualization.
It is not uncommon for us to believe that the only way for us to truly make a difference in this world is to support large, well-established organizations. Even then, we often think "what is my contribution going to do? How can this minuscule donation of my time or money help affect change?"
Speaking with Marianne Elliott on the telephone earlier this month I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had come to terms with this dilemma is a dramatic and life-altering way. As a Human Rights Lawyer with the UN in Afghanistan, Marianne had first hand experience of the inability, sometimes, of even the big organizations to make a difference (visit this link for more information). Through her experience in Afghanistan she went from believing that the only organization that was big enough to really make any difference in Afghanistan was the UN to realizing that the only way that she could truly contribute to peace was to "behave in a way that [she was] contributing to peace and not contributing to conflict."
This is interesting given the nature of this project and the question arises again: are individuals important to the peace-building process? Marianne explained during the interview that she saw first hand the affects of individual leadership on the actions and outlook of peace-keeping troops in Afghanistan--but how does this translate into non-military groups? How does this translate into grassroots peacekeeping?
Do an individual's motivations and emotions regarding peace and peacebuilding have an effect on the project and process itself?
It is something to ponder.
Be sure to listen to the interview with this inspiring woman on our NUPRI website. Also check out our interview with Peter Singer for another take on individuals and peace.