Séverine Autesserre is an award-winning author, peacebuilder, and researcher, as well as a Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of The Trouble with the Congo, Peaceland, and The Frontlines of Peace, in addition to articles for publications such as Foreign Affairs, International Organization, and The New York Times. She will share how the book came about, and what her key findings are, followed by Q&A with the audience. Watch Séverine’s TED Talk “To solve mass violence, look to locals” here You can also find her author talk on “The Frontlines of Peace” with Oxford University Press here. For more information about the author go to https://severineautesserre.com/
Dr Wendy Lambourne, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, will deliver the Acknowledgment of Country and welcome participants on behalf of the organisers, HandUp Congo, University of Sydney and the Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development. Wendy has spent around 25 years researching transitional justice, peacebuilding, trauma healing and reconciliation from the perspective of local communities recovering from mass violence, including in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa and those from a refugee background who have settled in Australia.
Our moderator, Dr Michael Nest, is the award-winning author of four non-fiction books, all of which have themes of conflict and mining. The third book, Still a Pygmy, is a collaboration with Congolese activist Isaac Bacirongo, the first Indigenous Twa (Pygmy) to ever publish his memoir. His most recent book, Cold Case North: the search for James Brady and Absolom Halkett (2020), investigates the disappearance and presumed murder of two Indigenous activists in Canada. Michael’s ‘day job’ is improving accountability and transparency, and preventing corruption, in government and the mining sector.
The word “peacebuilding” evokes a story we’ve all heard over and over: Violence breaks out, foreign nations are scandalized, peacekeepers and million-dollar donors come rushing in, warring parties sign a peace agreement and, sadly, within months the situation is back to where it started—sometimes worse. But what strategies have worked to build lasting peace in conflict zones, particularly for ordinary citizens on the ground? And why should other ordinary citizens, thousands of miles away, care?
In The Frontlines of Peace, Séverine Autesserre, award-winning researcher and peacebuilder, examines the well-intentioned but inherently flawed peace industry. With examples drawn from across the globe, she reveals that peace can grow in the most unlikely circumstances. Contrary to what most politicians preach, building peace doesn’t require billions in aid or massive international interventions. Real, lasting peace requires giving power to local citizens.
The Frontlines of Peace tells the stories of the ordinary yet extraordinary individuals and organizations that are confronting violence in their communities effectively. One thing is clear: Successful examples of peacebuilding around the world, in countries at war or at peace, have involved innovative grassroots initiatives led by local people, at times supported by foreigners, often employing methods shunned by the international elite. By narrating success stories of this kind, Autesserre shows the radical changes we must take in our approach if we hope to build lasting peace around us—whether we live in Congo, the United States, or elsewhere.
There will be a follow-up event as part of Raising Peace on Sat 25 Sep from 8.30-10am, Peacebuilding in Practice: Africa and Beyond, where a panel of expert commentators will review the lessons from Severine’s book and respond to audience questions.
Both events will provide an opportunity for participants to make connections for future actions to support peacebuilding in the Congo, including becoming directly involved in supporting HandUp Congo or other like-minded organisations such as the Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development (GLAPD).
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