Training for Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation. Experiences of the “Centre for Nonviolent Action” in the Western Balkans

In this essay I will reflect on the effects of training for peacebuilding and nonviolent conflict transformation. I will reflect on these issues from the point of view of a practitioner – a peace activist and trainer for peacebuilding and nonviolent action – and not as a scientist (although we do strive to combine activism and structured thinking and planning in our work). The text reflects peacebuilding experiences through the lens of an insider – although nowadays it is inevitable to think of roles of both insiders and outsiders and their co-relation. The second section presents the goals and methods of CNA’s training work, followed by a third section that outlines lessons learned and recommendations for practice. The fourth section goes beyond the training issue as it discusses general trade-offs and dilemmas we face in our peace work. It also reflects on the difficulty of assessing the impact and influence of training. Training aims at changing the attitudes of individuals. The question is whether conducting “successful” training, or conducting more of these activities, will necessarily lead to a situation where social change will follow. It is a difficult task to generate sustainable force that will have social impact. The fifth section draws conclusions and points to remaining challenges.