West London Humanists and Secularists

Ripples into Waves (Carolyn Hayman OBE of Peace Direct)
- Meeting 24/11/10

Carolyn Hayman is the Chief Executive of Peace Direct an organisation which seeks to stop conflicts from restarting by funding local peace-builders to build lasting peace, and helping their voices to be heard when decisions on managing conflict are being made. She is uniquely qualified for this role following a career in the UK Department for International Development, the Cabinet Office and in Venture Capital and her experience as a Board member of the Commonwealth Development Corporation. Prior to running Peace Direct, she ran the Foyer Federation, work for which she was awarded an OBE for services to young people.

Carolyn explained that the comfort zone for government sponsored intervention in conflicts is to try to deal with the leaders of the opposing sides. This usually results in one or the other side being funded to become a strong government. Sadly, the people most involved in the conflict often have selfish motives and those who are the real builders of the society are sidelined. What our foreign aid money buys is viewed by the people as a predatory state and the sources of conflict are undiminished. Peace Direct looks for the grass-roots community leaders who are capable of resolving and preventing conflicts and tries to solve the problem bottom-up rather than top-down. This requires more research and sensitivity but pays off by being more effective and orders of magnitude cheaper. Carolyn remarked that the usual starting point of most agencies involved in conflict is to carry out a needs assessment in conversation with the conflict leaders. This can lead to objectives being set that are often unachievable, very expensive and even unhelpful to the wider population. The first step should be a capability assessment that discovers the capacity of the country for self-healing. Once the people and organisations involved are recognised, one can ask them what they want to achieve and what help they may need.

The examples that Carolyn presented, of how this approach works in practice, can be found in a booklet called Ripples to Waves which is available at http://www.peacedirect.org/ripples . Rather than trying to repeat what is so well written there, I recommend you read it and that you sign up as a supporter of this extraordinary work.

Philip Veasey 01/12/2001