Episode 004 - Nagmeh Sobhani

Peacebuilding Through Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Join global consultant and host, Susan Coleman, as she talks with Naghmeh Sobhani about a 15 year program Naghmeh ran in post-conflict Bosnia to build peace through education. Naghmeh is a collaborative negotiation, post-conflict peacebuilding and conflict prevention consultant with expertise in developing and monitoring large-scale initiatives especially within fragile, divided zones.

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Resources and topics mentioned in this podcast

* Naghmeh Sobhani is a collaborative negotiation, post-conflict peacebuilding and conflict prevention consultant with expertise in developing and monitoring large-scale initiatives especially within fragile divided zones
* Training and facilitating participatory inclusive processes involving disputing groups
* Worked for 12 years of leadership experience in Education for Peace Institute of the Balkans
* Other organizations include UNDP-Crimea, UNICEF, OXFAM, UNESCO Northern Ireland and WINPEACE-Greece UN Secretariat
* Attended LANDEGG International University in Switzerland, where she majored in leadership and management, minor in consultation and conflict resolution
* Trained in principal-based negotiation by the Harvard program of Negotiation
* A citizen of Burkina Faso, where she was born to an Iranian family
o Her father was from a minority in Iran that was persecuted
o After his passport expired, while working in Burkina Faso for the United Nations, the Iranian embassy did not issue a new passport, making the family stateless.
* Currently lives in Brussels with her husband and two children
* Because you cannot go somewhere and start something in the name of helping without engaging with the people in that village who know what needs to happen
o You have to take into account the human dimension in order to have any effect
* There can be a bit of an allergy to the concept of peacebuilding
* The initial mandate for the pilot initiative of the Education For Peace Institute was small.
o 13 autonomous ministers of education in a country of less than 4 million people illustrated the level of division
* You must address the fundamental assumption about the other, the dichotomy between us and them
o You must create safe spaces that allow a reexamination of this dehumanization
o It starts from within and feeds into systems and structures and human interaction
o Unity in the context of diversity
o Preserving identities within the collective
* You have to create a safe climate
* Peacebuilding is engaging individuals, primary groups and intergroups, systems, and structures and individuals, in a creative and inclusive process to begin to establish or reestablish relations
* In a fragile environment there had to be an ongoing collaborative partnership with the government
o There needed to be engagement and ownership for the institutions
* Within the international community there was pessimism as to what was possible to accomplish within the area; this had a negative impact
o I wanted to create a space for the practitioners and members of the international community to allow the conversation to unfold, you could call it training
o You must think through the frame of engagement
o The work happens before you get anyone in the room together.
* Successes allowed for people to expand their ideas of what would be possible, while dealing with the realities of a country in transition
* There is an emerging understanding that for processes of reconstruction we cannot put aside the human aspect; the human aspect comes first
* Columbia Teachers College did a pilot to attempt to come up with ways to measure success for the Education for Peace project
* If you truly want to engage in peacebuilding, you need to plan for a sustained presence
* Unicef has a mechanism on the ground for sustained presence
* Unicef is attempting to position and situate peacebuilding as an important element of the way that all programs are rolled out.
o Designing a training architecture for the Unicef staff so that from the beginning staff are able to integrate peacebuilding into their work
* Engage the communities in a consultative process, and create a mechanism to manage conflict issues
* Come into peacebuilding with an attitude of humble learning
o This field has not reached perfection
o Be kind to yourself and be willing to learn and to explore and experiment
o Have conversations
o Listen to your inner voice
o Peacebuilding is a topic which every one of us has something to say about; it touches the heart of our humanness
o The clash of opinions in the field is not a threat, it is how things grow * Reach mailto:Nagmeh.Sobhani@Cglobal.com

Websites and Links

* Education for Peace Institute for the Balkans (http://efpinternational.org/efp-balkans)
* Harvard Program For Negotiation (http://www.pon.harvard.edu/)
* Teachers College of Columbia University (http://www.tc.columbia.edu/)
* Unicef (http://www.unicef.org/)

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