A toolkit for local authorities
Current Affairs Committee
Tel : +33 3 88 41 21 10
Through facilitated dialogue circles people from different backgrounds (such as former members of paramilitary organisations or young people at risk of involvement in political violence) are given a space to tell their stories. They come in with no trust in each other but are encouraged through the practice and safety of the space to place trust in the process. The dialogue process encourages them to critically reflect on their own personal and community journeys through a deep listening experience. What are the reasons for their engagements and what has been the impact on their lives and others who have been affected?
Other members of the community who may not have been involved sometimes participate and ask questions and the role of the facilitator is to create a safe space for dialogue, to question and challenge assumptions about the legitimacy of violence and allow the dialogue to move at a reasonable pace or pause if there is a need. There is a restorative emphasis and the circles are intended to build relationships rather than reach agreement. By stressing the human experience and moving beyond the hurts of the past the goal is to provide the possibility of personal and community transformation. It is not about everyone being ‘at with each other’ but creating new understandings and possibilities to go forward and move beyond the legacy of conflict. Difficult conversations are needed for this but are only one element in broader societal changes.
This process helps to prevent young people engaging with extreme groups who use violence and also allows former combatants to define a better sense of integration and usefulness within communities. This can also offer some hope for victims/survivors to regain their ability to be active participants in shaping communities.
Above we tried to give an overview here but it is also important to say that in reality it is much more complex and there are many variants on this process to meet the needs of specific groupings and communities. The process requires great care, preparation and skilled facilitation.
The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation
Eamon Rafter, Learning Co-ordinator
Tel:(+353) (1) 2829711