In June 2019, PAX and partner organization Ukrainian Centre for Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Reconciliation 'Dignity Space' started the project 'Dialogue for Conflict resolution'. This is a continuation of the project 'Culture of dialogue and constructive engagement in Ukraine'. Both projects build and anchor capacity for dialogue in the Ukrainian society and (political) systems.
The project is financed by the German Federal Foreign Office. Centre of activities is the Project House near Kyiv, where Dignity Space, together with PAX, organizes the training activities. During later stages of the project, participants will go out into the eastern and southern regions of the country to work with communities in conflict and help them reach peaceful outcomes.
The training programme developed over the past years has become known as the Peace Engineer School. The project comprises an intensive 1-year training in dialogue facilitation, mediation, and crisis negotiation on the basis of nonviolent communication. 4 groups of approximately 15-16 people will be trained by various international and local trainers to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to facilitate dialogue between antagonistic groups. The selected participants are coming either from regions which are near or in the conflict zone itself or from Kyiv and surroundings. For a year long, participants engage fulltime in training, part of the time living together in the Project House, and practice, working in the field with existing conflicts. After a final exam, participants graduate as Peace Engineers.
Besides the full-time programme, the project also includes targeted, shorter training modules for professionals in key positions from state structures and civil society (e.g. local and national authorities, police, and different ministries), and follow-up trainings for Peace Engineers who graduated under the Culture of Dialogue project, to support their further development.
During the practical phase of their one-year learning trajectory, as well as after graduation, (student) Peace Engineers reach out or respond to appeals from communities around them and facilitate dialogue between conflicting groups in order to reach durable peaceful outcomes. In their first months, they are supervised by more experienced mentors; later they grow into working independently and mentoring new trainees themselves.
PAX and Dignity Space also engage with authorities on the national level in order to promote a more structural approach towards dialogue facilitation and capacity in Ukrainian society on the one hand, and more inclusive, human-needs centered policies towards the conflict areas on the other hand. Difficult topics related to the conflict and possibly ways towards its peaceful resolution will be raised with the broader public during public dialogues, so that the ground is prepared for difficult decisions that may have to be taken.