2010 Symposium | Methods of Peacebuilding Workshop | Alternative Pathways to Peace


        Providence, RI Nov. 1 2010--Tatsushi Arai, this year's ICR facilitator, lead the workshop/discussion entitled “Alternative Pathways to Peace” on November 1, 2010 in Wilson Hall 301. Arai is an expert in implementing and teaching about conflict resolution methods and tools. He is an Assistant Professor at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.

       He started by first asking the audience about their level of experience with peace building, whether or not they had practiced or learned about it before. He then gave a synopsis of his recent book Alternative Pathways to Peace, which detailed his practical experience of peace-building that included topics such as human context and the kinds of questions one addresses when talking about peace building. Arai has worked in areas such as South and Central Asia (Pakistan, Afghanistan) and Rwanda, where he lectured at the National University of Rwanda after the genocide as well as represented an NGO located there.

      Arai used the example of post-genocide Rwanda to demonstrate the process of answering one of the central questions in dealing with conflict resolution, “How can conflict parties and intermediaries consciously and systematically envision and actualize creative breakthroughs for transforming inter-group conflict?” During the post-genocide aftermath, rural Kigali's, the capital city of Rwanda, water supply had been disrupted. Without water, children did not go to school and social function was interrupted. After an NGO had built pipe ways through certain villages, the pipe ways were sabotaged by jealous rival villages. Arai asked the audience to look at the history and power dynamics between the villages and look at the conflict from multiple angles, as there are multiple layers of truth that need to be taken into consideration when trying to deal with this problem. Essentially, one should not ask “How do you build a water pipe to a village” but “How does one provide water supplies to build relationships?” To start with, as Arai stated in this example, the pipe way builders should allow representatives from the nearby villages decide the way in which they supply water so that they all agree on how it is constructed.

     By using a model of simulation called 'zoom-in, zoom out,' Arai said, people are taught not to assume. Depending on how one looks at the situation, one "gets an entirely different picture." Arai stressed, dishonesty is not usually intended but merely because one makes conclusions based on a particular perspective, one's account does not equate to empirical truth. He went on to show four different layers of truth in his example of water theft in Rwanda--layer one: whether or not the theft/vandalism is for money or enmity, Layer 2: the relationship between the different nearby villages (over water, etc), Layer 3: the possibility that class issues have resulted in Tutsi/Hutu ethnicity conflicts, Layer 4: the neo-colonial history between Rwanda and Europe.

     To further demonstrate how to think broadly on the subject, Arai challenged the audience with the task of thinking spatially. Pipes built along the ground, for example, are horizontal, while drilling would be vertical. This kind of thinking helps facilitate “relational thinking” because of the awareness of where one is to the rest of the parts of the situation, an essential part, Arai believes, in implementing alternative pathways to peace.