As mediators at IMO we thought long and hard how we could make sense of the world of peacebuilding and what our contribution could be. The word ‘mediation’ does not cover, let alone resolve what we have found to be the major disconnects from an organizational perspective that we have identified so far. The most dire disconnect is that between the interests of the donors and of the people. Somewhere in the biography of the peace organizations their focus shifted away from the people at the heart of the (armed) conflict to their donor and donor countries. Donors and donor countries make their decisions based on media attention, short term political mandates and other such things that are not related to the rebuilding of a society where children can go to school. Another disconnect that we see in other places as well is that management systems and controls have taken over from leadership and these are once again dictated by donor interests.
The question became relevant to IMO because I was asked to organize a conference for Mediators Beyond Borders International https://mediatorsbeyondborders.org/ of which I am a boardmember.
What I like about mediation is the essence of inclusiveness (leaving people out leads to them becoming spoilers) and the dialogue. This fits the IMO approach of horizontal leadership. But it misses a focus on the clients, it misses the involvement of the whole organization and it misses a reflective process of action and experiments.
Imagine in IMO speech: an NGO is that organization and the people that are affected by the conflict are the clients. And imagine that all other NGO’s, GO’s, businesses, diplomats, doctors, engineers, that are working on making life better for these people, would be part of one organization (whatever the form) with a focus on the client. That would make a world of difference! Please have a look at the film Circus Sarajevo to understand what I mean.
I’m asking you to join me to design and facilitate the process for a conference in the Peace Palace in The Hague on 5 and 6 October 2017. Please let me know if you want to be a part of this ongoing process and to bring the IMO development to the world of peace building. We are aware this is a challenge, due to politics, but it is also a process for which there is a momentum right now. A lot of organizations realize this is important and are trying to make this turn. I hope you will join us.
Elodie van Sytzama