The Role of Visiting Professionals in Peacebuilding

The Role of Visiting Professionals in Peacebuilding

Katerina Antoniou
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5053-3.ch018
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Seeking to inform the peace-through-tourism scholarly debate, this chapter revisits this complex relationship from the angle of peacebuilding professionals. International peacebuilding settings habitually welcome peace professionals as visiting contributors, consultants, and freelancers. These visiting peacebuilders are characterised by a form of geographical hybridity that identifies them as a distinct audience in international peacebuilding and a niche audience of international travellers. In order to examine their role and contribution in international peacebuilding, the present study employs a qualitative methodological approach that combines historical narrative and field interviews to the case of the Cyprus peacebuilding discourse. This chapter argues that visiting peacebuilders have a significant role in formulating optimal encounters between peacebuilder audiences and in increasing the effectiveness of international peacebuilding projects.
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Research on the relationship between tourism and peace is not new. The majority of this research has focused on verifying or refuting the argument that leisure tourism can contribute significantly to peace, either by acting as an indicator of restored relations between former rivals (Bar-Tal & Bennink, 2004), or by encouraging their positive interaction in post-conflict settings (Anastasopoulos, 1992; Sonmez and Apostolopoulos, 2000; Moufakkir and Kelly, 2010). Nonetheless, in the contemporary globalised world, leisure tourism does not fully capture the nature of international travel activity; travel is no longer simply an expression of escapism, but is often an entrenched component of daily routine, with both domestic and international work travel occurring for many on a weekly and often on a daily basis. With this observation in mind, the scholarly focus on ‘peace through leisure tourism’ has left non-leisure travellers, such as conflict resolution experts and the niche audience of peace professionals in particular, underexplored.

More specifically, visiting peacebuilders such as consultants, international facilitators and peace activists are scarcely identified as a unique audience of international travellers, while they are also rarely viewed as an independent stakeholder within the study of international peacebuilding initiatives. Peacebuilding research has thus far categorised peacebuilders as either local or international (Mac Ginty, 2015; Richmond, 2007), often overseeing a third category of travelling peace professionals that were characterised by their short-term involvement in peacebuilding projects. As a result, the contribution of these professionals and the impact of their travel activity on establishing and sustaining peace have been largely overlooked, not only in Tourism literature, but also within Conflict Resolution scholarship. This chapter seeks to shed light on the travel component within peacebuilding settings by acknowledging the contribution of short-term, hybrid professionals in international peacebuilding; an audience defined as Visiting Peacebuilders.

The underexplored audience of traveling professionals in peacebuilding settings does not fully conform to the conventional categorisation of peacebuilder audiences into either local or international. Instead, it is characterised by both geographical and temporal hybridity due to the traveller status of its members. This observation suggests that the binary local-international categorisation of peacebuilders might be simplistic or inaccurate. It is therefore imperative to acknowledge Visiting Peacebuilders as a distinct stakeholder in international peacebuilding and at the same time revisit the restrictive present categorisation of peacebuilding professionals.

In consideration of the hybrid nature of peace professionals (Mac Ginty, 2015), this chapter reconceptualises the categorisation of peacebuilders beyond their geographical affiliation. In doing so, it adopts a single-case-study model and focuses on the Cyprus conflict, which has been characterised by numerous failed attempts at reaching a peace settlement between the country’s partitioned Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. Cyprus showcases a decades-long discourse of international peacebuilding initiatives (Jarraud et al., 2013; Ladini, 2009), allowing for the identification of diverse peacebuilder audiences and at the same time examining the evolution of their interaction through time. The chapter draws upon the island’s peacebuilding interventions and the role of peacebuilder audiences from the early years of communal partition, to the authorisation of movement across the Buffer Zone, and today’s normalisation of intercommunal cooperation – within the confines of Nicosia’s peacebuilding community.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Peacebuilding: The set of mechanisms, tools and processes implemented by conflict resolution experts, activists and volunteers in a society transitioning from conflict in order to prevent future conflict from escalating and to promote positive and trusted relations across former rivals.

Peace Tourism: Travel that is specifically motivated by and associated with conflict resolution practices and war prevention.

Peacebuilder Hybridity: The notion that geographical, institutional and other affiliations of professionals involved in international peacebuilding efforts is not static, but rather multifaceted and complex to pinpoint into the binary categorisation of local versus international peacebuilders.

Visiting Peacebuilders: Professionals, who are involved in the design, delivery or evaluation of international peacebuilding projects on an external, visiting, or ad-hoc basis; their involvement enables them to provide their expertise and consultancy to the project without joining it throughout its duration and without representing the agency funding the project. They can be identified as a niche audience of professional peace tourists.

Mediation: In its non-legal application, mediation refers to a facilitated process—with the mediator being the facilitative agent—that can enhance the interaction and cooperation between two parties, in the attempt to prevent or resolve intergroup conflict.

Contact Hypothesis: The proposition developed by Gordon Allport in 1954 arguing that positive intergroup contact can reduce prejudice across members of different identity-based groups, and this can occur under four optimal conditions: equal status, support by a social/institutional authority, intergroup cooperation, and a common goal.

Intergroup Contact: Contact between people that affiliate with different social, ethnic or religious identities and classify themselves as members of different identity-based groups.

Peacebuilder Paradigm: A structure of optimal interaction between the three main audiences of peacebuilding professionals—International Organisation Representatives, Local Stakeholders, and Visiting Peacebuilders—under which International Organisation Representatives act as the institutional authority in international peacebuilding, and assume a facilitative role for enhancing the equal and reciprocal collaboration between Local Stakeholders and Visiting Peacebuilders.

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