John Christopher Louise, UNDP Action for Cooperation and Trust, Cyprus
Citizens have been behind much of the progress in the Cyprus conflict and the building of a positive relationship between the two communities. Cypriot civil society has forged a network called Peace it Together, supported by UNDP, which has accumulated a wealth of knowledge on the role of citizens in peace building and reconciliation (See: the Peace Exchange).
The future role of Cypriot civil society in pushing for peace on the island will depend on the ability to sustain a pluralistic political narrative and press for progress in both national and international fora.
A chance for this will come this month (15 May 2012) when representatives of civil society organizations supported by UNDP will speak at the British Parliament in a public debate.
Considering the United Kingdom’s central role in efforts to resolve the Cyprus conflict, this will be a prime opportunity to elevate the critical role of civil society in peacemaking to the international level.
Later this year (October 2012) civil society leaders from Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Arab states will meet at a conference in the UN Buffer Zone in Nicosia to exchange experiences and ideas on how civil society can contribute to post-conflict and other complex transitions.
These efforts are designed to help Peace it Together emerge as a regional centre for civil society expertise in citizen-led peace building, that can also positively influence policies for the two Cypriot communities.
What civil society organizations are leading the way with peace initiatives?
Who are the civil society innovators that can contribute to upcoming social innovation camps as well as the conference?
What do you think are the most compelling examples of citizen led peace movements?