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									   Local International Learning Project


          22 January 2002, Belfast

Recent events have shown the continued                 Nigeria: Hon. Akin Akinteye, Director,
difficulty in dealing with interfaces or               Visions of Peace and Civic Education,
flashpoint areas, such as in North Belfast, or         South West Coordinator of Conflict
the        Bogside/Fountain        area       of       Resolution Stakeholders Network
Derry/Londonderry.         In light of these
difficulties INCORE sought to consider some            Visions of Peace and Civic Education was
of the issues that are faced by interface areas.       founded in 1998 as an independent non-profit,
The aim of the conference was to provide an            non-governmental organization. Its mission is
opportunity for constructive discussion                to contribute towards a just peace in Nigeria
concerning present and future management of            by     promoting      constructive,    creative,
these areas. Through the participation of the          cooperative and non-violent approaches to
three international practitioners who have             conflict transformation and the education of
been involved in these types of initiatives in         the civil society. Akin is also Deputy Majority
their own countries, INCORE facilitated an             Leader of the Oyo State House of Assembly
opportunity for the exchange of ideas and              and is the Chairman of the Conflict Resolution
models both within Northern Ireland and from           and Community Development Committee of
the international context. The visit consisted         the House.
of a one-day conference followed by a series
of meetings with interested parties to consider        Akin Ainteye’s presentation focused on the
the issues in more detail.                             model he has employed to address local
                                                       conflicts in Nigeria. In the peace projects in
Flashpoint Management is one of the five               which he has been involved, an adapted
streams contained within the Local                     version of Lederach's "Triangular Model of
International Learning Project (LILP). Each            Three Levels of Leadership" (Lederach, J. P.,
of the five streams examines lessons drawn             "Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in
from both practitioner and policy perspectives.        Divided Societies" Washington D.C.: Institute
This report represents a summary of the main           of Peace Press 1997) has been employed.
issues and questions that were identified at the
Flashpoint Conference.                                 The process of the peace projects was then
                                                       described. i) The first step is to research the
                                                       conflict in order to determine the cause of the
                                                       crisis, how it has been managed so far (if at
Morning Workshops:                                     all), and what do local residents see as a
Short presentations were made by each of the           solution. ii) Conciliation visits to all parties
speakers, followed by time for discussion and          involved are then made. An essential part of
questions.                                             this is to let people know what you are doing
                                                       in their community. This is vital if you are to
                                                       have any legitimacy within the communities.

iii) The conciliation visits are followed by an          10 or 12, many children have already been
analysis of the conflict in order to assist in the       socialised to avoid crossing interfaces due to
planning of the intervention, which is in the            concerns for safety. Yet although interface
form of workshops. iv) The workshops are                 areas have often been the location where
focused on giving skills to people to solve              children have been socialised into sectarian
their own problems. A number of people from              violence, it is not necessarily the local youth
a particular occupation, within one community            committing the violence; many come into the
are chosen to participate in the workshops,              area and engage in violence, and then return to
parallel to this people from the same                    their respective communities. Nonetheless,
occupation from the ‘other’ community also               each new act of violence continues to breed
go through the training process. v) From this,           fear and animosity between the two
a number of people from each community,                  communities.
who have taken part in the training, are taken
to a neutral space where they take part in a             Exemplary of some small successes in
series of joint workshops and trainings. The             building community relations was an
participants analyse the conflict, and it is             interview project, showing the need for
hoped that this will lead to discussions                 continued single identity and collaborative
concerning possible solutions. vi) From the              work.      BIP’s initial plan was to conduct
participants involved in the joint workshops a           interviews on both sides of particular
‘peace monitoring committee’ is formed. The              interfaces. Unpredictably, many participants
aim of the committees is to monitor the peace,           requested that they see what the ‘other side’
and deal with community issues and conflicts.            was reporting. They then decided to respond
Once a month the committees meet with the                back with comments, BIP acted as an
trainers for feedback and to assess whether              intermediary, and in some areas exchanges of
any further training is needed.                          questions and responses grew to ongoing face-
                                                         to-face dialogue. However, not all groups
Northern Ireland: Chris O’Halloran, Project              responded as such, and other severe problems
Worker, Belfast Interface Project (BIP)                  continue to exacerbate the sectarian divide.
Established in 1995, the BIP seeks to establish
effective means of addressing the major issues           A 1995 survey showed major problems in
facing communities living near or affected by            interface areas included substandard housing,
interface areas.      BIP is committed to                lower levels of education and lower income.
supporting communities by working with                   Predominately due to the heightened levels of
development and policy.        They circulate            violence, residents in these areas have limited
information on interface areas, and facilitate           access to many necessary services as well.
dialogue and collaboration, encouraging co-              BIP responded by conducting reviews of
operation across the sectarian divide.                   several statutory agencies involved, and the
                                                         results showed a general lack of leadership
In Belfast there are 25 ‘named’ interface                and the need, therefore, to develop strategies
areas, some with formal peace-lines and others           to extend services into these underserved
without, yet in reality there are many more              areas.
unmarked boundaries. When families and
individuals living near interface areas were
interviewed, one BIP survey found that the
most important issue on both sides was
concern for their young people. By the age of

Sierra Leone: Sahr Gborie, West Africa                Youth Drop-In Centres were also established.
Programme     Coordinator, Conciliation               Many young people were directly involved in
Resources                                             the violent conflict in Sierra Leone, with a
Conciliation Resources provides management            large number being recruited as child soldiers.
support and capacity building for local               The centres are therefore a vital means
partners involved in community based conflict         through which young people involved in the
transformation work and advocacy on peace             conflict and those that were not to meet and
related issues.                                       begin building relationships.

Sahr Gborie gave an overview of the conflict          South Africa: Larainne Kaplan, former
in Sierra Leone, emphasizing the role of civil        coordinator of Peace Monitoring Forum
society in post-conflict transition, and the          Following her time as coordinator of the
importance of respect for human rights.               Peace Monitoring Forum, Larainne began
Peacebuilding was seen as an essential                working for the Human Rights Committee as a
element in resolving the conflict at the              researcher until April 2001. At present she is
grassroots level, as it addressed the human           the gender violence programme coordinator
side of the conflict, facilitating positive           for SWEAT (sex workers education and
changes in people’s attitudes.                        advocacy taskforce). A non-governmental
                                                      human rights organisation that promotes the
A number of ‘models of peace’ used in Sierra          health care, human rights and safety of sex
Leone were outlined. Peace Committees were            workers.
established to build social cohesion through
engaging in peace monitoring. The Peace               Larainne Kaplan started by stating her belief
Committees were established in order to               that the South African peace monitor model
enable interventions in community conflicts           could be ‘adapted to suit other conflict
before the outbreak of violence. In order to do       situations’. Participants were encouraged to
this, community mechanisms had to be                  relate the South African peace monitoring
strengthened and so a series of workshops             process to their own situation and to see how
took place to train local community members           the model could be utilised in other contexts.
to become peace monitors. The training                Monitoring within the South African context
involved conflict resolution and mediation            refers not only to observation, but also
skills.                                               incorporates actual intervention activities as
Grievance Committees were a mechanism
established in order to address the                   A brief explanation of the Peace Monitoring
reintegration of ex-combatants.           The         Forum’s (PMF) work was given.             This
reintegration of ex-combatants into society is        included an overview of their aims and
a vital process. However, there are a number          objectives and the work of the flashpoint or
of challenges, including the reluctance of            rapid response management group. Members
communities to accept people involved in the          of the PMF came from a variety of local
violence back into the communities. The               NGOs and sought to improve communication
committees, made up of peace monitors, local          between key role players, and provide crisis
traditional leaders etc. facilitated dialogue         intervention, witnessing and observation of
through the creation of forums aimed at               rallies. One area of the process discussed was
beginning the process of reintegration for ex-        that of the PMF’s relationship with the South
combatants.                                           African Police Service (SAPS) – a

relationship the PMF thought to be very               identity ones. There is an assumption that
important to develop prior to the Election            community development builds self-esteem
Day.                                                  amongst interface communities, which is
                                                      necessary for community relations work. As
There were many lessons learnt from the               one participant put it ‘community relations
experiences of the PMF peace monitors and             programmes are adapting to reductions in
certain recommendations were set forth: a             violence which results from community
code of conduct, regular debriefing sessions          development programmes’. A number of
after monitoring, and the need for contact with       problems that face community development in
party leaders prior to all events. The primary        interface areas were identified; lack of
concern of the PMF was to help create an              resources; lack of a collective vision; and the
atmosphere of peace surrounding the election          fact that communities don’t really care about
process.                                              the ‘other’ community, in particular
                                                      participants noted community development
Additionally, the continued role the UMAC             has been identified as a Catholic concept.
Community Safety Forums was discussed.
The Safety Forums provide an opportunity for          Dialogue    and    Reconciliation    on    the
key players such as the police, local                 Interface
government and government departments to                 •   Who speaks for the community?
come together to discuss local criminal justice          •   How do you link community
issues.                                                      leaders/representatives    who    are
                                                             engaged in dialogue activities to the
For contact details for the speakers please                  wider community?
contact INCORE.                                          •   What is the relationship between
                                                             elected representatives and community

Afternoon Workshops                                   Who speaks for the community was a major
For each workshop there were a number of              focus of these workshops. There were a
guiding questions.                                    number of discussions around the role of the
                                                      paramilitaries in who speaks for the
Community Development on the Interface                community, however, the point was also
   •   What are the obstacles to community            raised that seeing communities as either being
       development?                                   controlled by loyalists or republicans was too
   •   What are the dangers of ‘separate’ or          simplistic. There was general agreement that
       single identity work development?              people who claim to be speaking for their
   •   Can we sustain separate development            communities may not always be the key
       as a long-term option?                         players, but there was also recognition that it
                                                      is very difficult to truly speak for a whole
Due to the socio-economic contexts that tend          community and represent everyone’s views.
to characterise interface areas, community
development initiatives were identified as of         There was special recognition of the increased
particular importance. A number of people             difficulty of engaging in dialogue and
suggested that there is a misconception among         reconciliation work in interface areas.
communities in these areas that mixed                 Difficulties included the often contentious
communities are more prosperous than single           relationships between community and political

leaderships. One participant highlighted that          was seen as vital. In addition there is a need
political leaders are often not informed of            to provide communities living in interface
dialogue initiatives between communities and           areas with information about the services
are generally unaware of the processes taking          available to them.
place.     The difficulty of differences in
readiness and ability of communities to                Violence on the Interface
engage was noted as a problem; political and               •   Who (currently) does respond to
community development initiatives often                        violence on the interface?
create an uneven playing field. Another                    •   How do they respond to violence?
problem highlighted was the fact that most                 •   Who should respond to violence on the
groups are formed to address socio-economic                    interface?
factors and hence they are struggling with the             •   How should they respond?
fact that they do not have a mandate for                   •   What is the role of community groups?
community relations work.
                                                       Violence on the interface was identified as one
The group discussions concluded that it was            of the most immediate concerns. In particular
particularly important to include all aspects of       participants identified how living on the
such societies in dialogue efforts, including          interface changes perceptions of violence.
the paramilitary groups.         There is an           Violence becomes normality. Participants
assumption that interface initiatives revolve          further highlighted the different types of
around violence, however when violence is              violence that exist in interface areas and the
minimal there is still an important                    range of perpetrators. Though there was a
reconciliation role that should be sustained.          recognised need to distinguish between youth
                                                       and paramilitary perpetrated violence, it was
Statutory Agencies/Service        Delivery   in        recognised that this distinction is not always
Interface Areas                                        clear-cut. It was also noted that the smallest
   •   Can you give a positive example of              spark, such as the flying of a flag, could ignite
       service delivery on the interface?              violence. The role of the media was also
   •   Why was this experience positive, can           questioned; participants drew attention to
       we generalise from it?                          whether violence had actually increased in
   •   What do we expect from state                    recent times, or whether the level of media
       agencies? What should they have in              attention has increased.

There was overall agreement that there is a
lack of services in interface areas. In addition       Themes & Key Issues:
it was agreed that we not only need to look at
what services are withdrawn from interface             Communication
areas, but also at what services are needed.           The lack of communication between the
For example, there was an identified lack of           various groups and sectors involved with
emergency plans and services in interface              flashpoints in Northern Ireland was identified
areas. Another important factor raised was the         as a major issue.           The question of
need to develop relationships between                  communication barriers was raised at many
community groups and statutory bodies; the             levels from community groups, to the public,
need for collaboration between the                     statutory agencies, and government. There
community, voluntary and statutory sectors             was an over all sense that there is little transfer

of knowledge between those who are involved            areas only after they have become a flashpoint
in the problems associated with interface areas        was seen as a barrier for building sustainable
and other interested parties. It was felt that         and peaceful communities. In addition to this,
there is little coordination of networks of            the point was raised that outside times of acute
information     regarding    interface    areas        violence there is still important work to be
throughout Northern Ireland.                           done in interface areas, and that this is
                                                       essential for sustainability. It was also put
Community Involvement                                  forward that allocating greater resources to
Many participants pointed to the importance            areas that suffer from acute violence could
of ensuring that the community owns any                encourage deliberate instigation of violence in
process that is designed to manage flashpoints         order to receive resources. This view was,
and that programmes/projects are designed              however, challenged by the vast majority who
according to public need. Hence stressing the          felt this was not the case. In particular many
importance of involving all levels of                  highlighted lack of government support, and
communities. This raised the question of               the need for increased training in conflict
maintaining relationships with community               resolution, both at a community and
leadership structures and between the                  governmental level. Participants raised the
community and political leadership structures.         possibility of training individuals who could
                                                       act as ‘monitors’ in flashpoint situations,
Context                                                although there were concerns over the
A number of participants felt that factors             acceptance of local communities of such an
specific to the Northern Irish case made the           initiative and whether they would be able to
management of flashpoints and interfaces very          be acceptable within the context of interface
difficult. An example raised was the role of           areas.
paramilitary structures within the community
that may prevent initiatives that are aimed at
overcoming violence. Other factors identified          Long term approaches
as hindering such processes included socio-            Many participants felt that there was a need
economic characteristics, such as high                 for a more structured, long-term approach to
unemployment. An important part of the                 the management of flashpoints and interface
socio-economic context is the existence of             violence in Northern Ireland. For instance, the
differential capacity between communities on           need to engage with protagonists leading up to
interface areas. There was general agreement           times of heightened tensions, such as the
that differential capacity has a definite impact       marching season. One practitioner expressed
on reconciliation and cross community work             that there is a sense that the approach, which
and can often lead to reinforcement of                 has been adopted to date, is one of ‘Fire
barriers.                                              Fighting’ and that preventive action needs to
                                                       be taken on a sustained basis. Lack of
Lack of Resources                                      resources was seen as heavily tied into the
The conference participants felt that there was        limitations of this approach at present.
a widespread lack of support and resources for
work on interfaces.        There were strong           Media
feelings amongst a large number of                     Many of the conference participants felt that
participants that resources must be allocated to       the media plays a very central role in interface
interface areas regardless of the level of             areas. It was suggested by a few participants
violence. Allocating resources to interface            that violence has increased on Interfaces since

the Good Friday Agreement. However, the                within your own community and with others
majority who felt that violence itself had not         in order to gain credibility. Transparency
necessarily increased but that greater media           concerning your aims and your organizations
attention has been given to interface violence         work were seen by many of the participants as
in recent years, challenged this view.                 essential, not only for being accepted as
Consequently, public awareness about                   impartial but also for gaining legitimacy for
interface violence had been raised and this            your work.
accounts for the perceived increase in
violence. Participants also raised the question        Police
of the role of the media in sustaining violence        A number of participants highlighted the need
and whether media coverage encourages                  to further engage with the police in the
further violent incidents.                             management of interfaces. In particular, the
                                                       role of communicating community initiatives
Perceptions of Partiality                              was emphasized.
A number of discussions focused on the
perceptions of practitioners. Though it was            Youth and Children
recognised that in order to work on both sides         Another serious question raised was the role
of an interface area practitioners should              of youth and children on the interface.
attempt to be viewed as impartial, this is             Participants considered this question both
particularly difficult in the Northern Irish           from the role of youth in violence in these
context. In particular, it was pointed out that        areas and from the perspective of the impact
structured approaches such as forums, often            living on an interface has on children in terms
come to be associated with one community or            of trauma. There was a strong sense of
another. The question of legitimacy and the            concern amongst participants regarding the
challenge of being both accepted by the                lack of trauma support for both youths and
community and viewed as impartial was an               adults.
issue that many of the participants felt was
important. Various participants felt that it was
essential to build strong relationships both

INCORE would like to extend thanks to everyone who was involved in the conference. The
speakers: Larainne Kaplan, Akin Akinteye, Sahr Gborie and Chris O’Halloran. The facilitators:
Paul Donnelly, (Ulster People’s College), Roisin McGlone, (Springfield Inter Community
Development Project, SICDP), John Loughran (Intercomm) and Fiona McMahon, (Community
Development Centre). The following Interns at INCORE for their excellent notes: Malin Brenk,
Corona Joyce, Brooke Loder and Shula Maibaum. INCORE would also like to extend a special
thanks to Trademark (Joe Law and Stevie Nolan) for their assistance in organising the event.

INCORE: International Conflict Research

The overall LILP pilot programme was divided into five thematic streams, each of which was
intended to examine lessons drawn from both practitioner and policy perspectives. The
‘Flashpoint Management’ Stream is the final stream in the pilot phase of the project. For further
information on other LILP activities, see INCORE’s web page

INCORE (International Conflict Research) was established as a joint research institute of the
United Nations University and the University of Ulster to address the management and resolution
of contemporary conflicts through research, training, practice, policy and theory. The Research
Unit undertakes, commissions and supervises research of a multidisciplinary nature, particularly
on post-settlement issues, governance and diversity, and research methodology in violent
societies. The Policy and Evaluation Unit is committed to bridging the gaps between theory,
practice and policy. It seeks to ensure that conflict-related research and practice is incorporated
in grassroots programming and governmental policy.

With funding from the Community Relations Council, INCORE initiated the Local International
Learning Project (LILP). LILP aims to promote the exchange of models and ideas between
Northern Irish and international practitioners and policy makers within the field of conflict
resolution and community relations.

University of Ulster
Aberfoyle House
Northland Road
Northern Ireland
BT48 7JA
Tel: +44 (0) 28 7137 5500
Fax: +44 (0) 28 7137 5510


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