Ambassador discusses peacebuilding

By Devon Beck

As a growing field, peacebuilding is seen as a vital tool for managing and resolving conflicts between and within states. USD has taken steps to further this field and involve the student body in peacebuilding.

The Bolstering Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding event kick-started the west coast launch of a new study titled, Peacebuilding 2.0: Mapping the Boundaries of an Expanding Field. The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice hosted the event Thursday night, drawing a large crowd of students, faculty and guests.

According to the Peacebuilding Mapping Report, peacebuilding is rooted in peace studies, nuclear disarmament, alternative ways to resolve disputes and conflict resolution. Today, peace building also includes the development of countries, democracy, food security, health and genocide prevention. The Peacebuilding Mapping Report suggests that the way society should go about peace building today is to take these concepts and find a way to implement them effectively in conflicted areas around the world.

As part of this initiative, USD invited Assistant Secretary of Conflict and Stabilization Operations and ambassador Rick Barton to speak to the community about peacebuilding.

Barton directs the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, which was newly created in 2011. He was previously involved in the United Nations, the reconstruction of Iraq, and conflict resolution in Pakistan and Nigeria.

In his discussion, Barton touched on topics surrounding different possible measures to promote conflict prevention and how members of USD can contribute to these measures.

At the lecture, Barton explained the new field of peacebuilding.

“This whole subject of peacebuilding has seized the international community and the US government,” Barton said. “But we haven’t really figured out how to get it quite right yet.”

Barton used examples of the Middle East to give the audience ways to examine conflict prevention.

“As we look at these countries, there seems to be a common thread that we’re developing a kind of a philosophical frame for how we’re approaching these places,” Barton said.

The “philosophical frame” that Barton discussed involved giving a voice to the historically voiceless people of the area and making technology available to more people.

The study is part of a larger effort to identify ways to manage and resolve conflicts between states. The IPJ and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies are focusing on ways to improve peacebuilding and conflict resolution by hosting events like these and informing the student body.

Sophomore Dominic Pera was impressed by Barton.

“Rick Barton was great,” Pera said. “He provided extremely valuable insight into what it takes today to promote peace. His new bureau in the State department I think will play a critical role in international affairs. I especially like how he said that so far his approach has fallen short, but if we can go about conflict resolution in the right way, I think that the peacebuilding process can set a role for the international community.”

Sophomore Alison McCandless was also inspired by the lecture.

“The event was great,” McCandless said. “By including the international, national, military and civil society perspectives, it really encompassed every aspect that is necessary in peacebuilding in the 21st century.”

As a double major in international relations and Spanish with a peace and justice minor, McCandless related well to the lecture, but she believes that it could also be relevant to other students.
“This is something that many students at USD could definitely relate to,” McCandless said. “Whether a student has interest in the studies I have chosen or has other passions, everyone can contribute towards the idea of peacebuilding on any level. The IPJ continues to reach out to undergrads and foster its mission of social justice.”

Pera also noted the similarities between Barton’s points and the USD community.

“This tied in to USD, especially in its school of Peace and Justice Studies,” Pera said. “Barton’s bureau and our school almost go hand-in-hand in their common assessment of how the US should alter its foreign policy. USD promotes nonviolent intervention and human security, points that were definitely addressed in this talk as being extremely important in the international community.”

Barton also ended his speech relating what he had discussed back to the USD community.

Finishing his discussion for the night, Barton encouraged students to continue growing and learning so that they can more effectively promote peace and justice in the future.

“I think the last place that we need to really make sure that we have huge improvement is in the people that we have working this space,” Barton said.