The project serves the need to create a culture, skills and structures of dialogue and reconciliation on the road to durable transformation of Ukrainian society and (political) systems.
The objectives are to train professional dialogue facilitators, stimulate the facilitation of dialogue amongst and between antagonist groups and to support concrete problem-solving measures in the communities that engage in dialogue. These communities are for instance volunteers vs. local authorities, local population vs. IDPs, pro-Maidan vs. anti-Maidan. Additionally, by engaging with professionals in crucial positions, we aim to raise awareness for the need of a culture of dialogue and stimulate creating related jobs.
The project started in January 2017 and takes place in Kyiv (the training part) and in Eastern (controlled) Ukraine (the practice part). Partner is the Ukrainian Centre for Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Reconciliation "Dinity Space".
Ukraine as a country could be characterised by diversity, growing civil society and conflict. Within that context, historic and contemporary traumas, stereotypes and conflicts are not (yet) dealt with and linger on. As a consequence, the past years have seen increasing polarisation with increasingly little room left to stay ‘neutral’. We see a profound mistrust within and between communities as well as towards the authorities. This seriously hampers democratic reforms, the fight against corruption and not in the least place, initiating peaceful approaches towards ending the war in Eastern Ukraine.
However, within the turmoil of last years’ conflicts, civil society has strongly developed into an almost professional parallel system: government governing and civil society organisations (CSOs) guiding the country side by side. But, many of those CSOs who wish to help further do not possess the habit nor the skills of (non-violent) dialogue. The need for a culture, skills and structures of dialogue and reconciliation thus emphasizes a serious and long-term investment, and a key one on the road to durable transformation of society and (political) systems.
The training process consists of three interdependent steps (4 months each). We aim to train about 45 Ukrainian facilitators/mediators (‘trainees’) in three different groups, one group starting 4 months after the other.
The first phase of the training process exists of theory. After that, the trainees put their theory-training into practice by facilitating dialogue between groups, preferably somewhere in their home region. In the third and final phase, dialogue is being facilitated by the trainees at a senior level. At the same time they are supervising trainees in the previous phase. Each trainee thus ‘studies’ for 12 months (paid). Trainers are both Ukrainian and international.
During the practice period (month 5-12 for each group of ‘trainees’), the trainees in phase 2 will be supervised by mentors. The role of mentoring is a serious one, since each trainee will aim to facilitate dialogue in phase 2, somewhere in the region where they are from/live. This requires intensive guidance and support. Trainees work in pairs to stimulate a positive learning environment and trust. Each so-many weeks trainees that are in their practice phase will return to the project house in Kyiv to exchange ideas and get to know trainees from other groups. This aims to create a strong network of NVC-facilitators.
The website Peace Engineers (in Ukrainian only) has been created for the purpose of promoting the project and its ideas in general. It’s also used to recruit new trainees.
Upon completion of the training, the facilitators return to their places of residence, where they will reach out to previously identified groups experiencing tensions with one another and propose to facilitate between those.
Professional track: A group of approximately 30 professionals will be given the opportunity to learn more about NVC and will be invited to critically examine how and where it could be sustainably integrated into their working sphere.