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Training in Conflict-Habituated Systems: Lessons from Cyprus

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For several years, a consortium of organizations has been delivering training workshops in conflict resolution to individuals from both communities on Cyprus. The result is a broadly-based, multi-track citizen peacebuilding movement that involves hundreds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots in bi-communal training, dialogue and cooperative activity. This set of workshops is grounded in a theory of practice that holds conflict resolution to be a transformational process engaging peoples' hearts and minds, and addressing the deep-rooted patterns that characterize conflict-habituated systems.The article posits six ways the training operates as a systems' intervention: as a forum for learning, where learning itself becomes a meta-goal; for capacity building, where useful skills become resources for peacebuilding; for dialogue, where participants have a safe space for engaging each other on subjects of critical interest; for community building, where people form alliances and deep bonds as a human infrastructure for peacebuilding; for modeling, where the training staff demonstrates the principles and practices it teaches; and for culture change, where the culture created in the learning community acts as an agent of change within the culture of the conflict-habituated system. This article discusses critical training issues relevant to the Cyprus project, including cultural appropriateness, linkages to Track One initiatives, evaluation, and lasting effects of the program. Lessons are drawn out that can be useful in other conflict-habituated systems.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, 1819 H Street, NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20036, USA


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