Peacebuilding, Our Next Frontier

04/30/2015 06:08 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2015

What humanity has accomplished over this past century is truly impressive. We're flying further, connecting faster, and building higher. We're finding new and distant worlds. We're harnessing mountain, sea, and shore. We're accessing masses of knowledge with ease, and curing disease with accelerating pace.

There are so many areas of life for which we have accomplished quite a lot. While this has oftentimes been to our detriment, nevertheless, it's evidence of what we can achieve when we set our minds to a cause. And yet, when it comes to peace, where do we stand?

Peacebuilding is our next frontier.

The field of Peacebuilding is wide-ranging. It addresses issues of conflict, disharmony, violence, crime and war by identifying their underlying causes and implementing systemic strategies and solutions that build an infrastructure for sustainable peace. Peacebuilding:

  • Provides tools for parents to better nurture their kids towards productive adulthoods.
  • Can help mitigate and heal from the effects of domestic violence by implementing a systemic approach, including cohesive family therapy and mediation.
  • Teaches our kids in the classroom the skills to better communicate, resolve conflict and alleviate bullying.
  • Brings an end to gang violence, through hands-on community engagement.
  • Redirects criminal justice toward restorative practices that focus on healing and repairing harm done rather than merely punishing offenders.
  • Helps prisoners turn their lives around, with psychological and technical support programs and skills to become productive members of society.
  • Prevents atrocities within nations through programs shown to mediate and resolve conflict.
  • Averts war by bringing nations together at a table of equals.
The good news is this work is already happening all over the world. It's touching our lives, our communities and even nations -- in profoundly positive ways. And the great news is, it's proving to be highly effective. While the scale of its implementation pales in comparison to the enormity of the challenges we collectively face with conflict and violence, it's exactly what our world needs more of -- right now.

Research has indicated that investing early to prevent conflicts from escalating into violent crises is, on average, 60 times more cost effective than intervening after violence erupts. And yet, the world spends just $1 on conflict prevention for every $1,885 it spends on military budgets. In the U.S., less than 2 percent of income tax goes to civilian foreign affairs agencies; while, 39 percent goes to the military. On average, the annual cost of violence solely for police, justice, corrections and the productivity effect of violent crime, homicide and robbery is $3,257 for each U.S. taxpayer or $460 billion for the United States economy. Altogether, the total U.S. Violence Containment Costs are over $1.7 Trillion.

Sadly, the investments we make to deal with the consequences of conflict, violence and crime are far more than what we invest in prevention and intervention despite evidence showing they are much less effective than peacebuilding approaches.

It's time for us to come together and shift our priorities to make the work of peacebuilding a national and global priority.

Learn more about this work, how effective it is, and how you can get involved with The Peace Alliance in making it a priority. Let's make peacebuilding our next great frontier.