What is Policy Work?
Policy work is advocacy. It is an effort to educate and inform the institutions making decisions to resolve conflict. Policy work influences how the Department of State, the US Congress, the UN, and other international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) adjudicate resources. At the heart of our policy work is upholding human dignity by promoting social cohesion, safety, and justice and bringing peacebuilding insights to decision-makers..
What Qualifies Search to Do Policy Work?
Search for Common Ground is uniquely positioned to influence the decision-makers setting global policy because we offer decision-makers insights based on lived experience. Our staff are from the places where we work, representing the dividing lines of the conflict we are working to solve. Our teams have deep knowledge of the root causes driving a conflict, understand local perceptions/perspectives regarding that conflict, and can facilitate trust among divided communities based on the relationships they have built over years in that community. Complementing their lived experience is the programmatic experience our teams have gained running local peacebuilding projects, especially when violent conflict flares. When rebels took over the capitol in the Central African Republic and the US embassy closed, we stayed, becoming an essential source of information for policymakers.
Why is Policy Work Important?
Policy work tangibly impacts people’s everyday lives. Policy work guides diplomats and mediators on how to end crises and conflicts. Policy work can address early action to prevent atrocities to minimize people’s suffering or it may focus on environmental peacebuilding in the publication of white papers. Our policy work informs policy makers setting congressional budgets, which determine the amount of resources communities in conflict receive. Often, the people setting policies live far from the places affected by those policies. Search’s insights balance the top-down element of policy work by elevating the voices of people living within that conflict so they get the resources they need.
Our policy work gives platforms to people doing the work of peacebuilding. In Nigeria, we empowered young, female representatives from Christian and Muslim communities to address the US Congress about the conflict dynamics between their two communities and seek support for peacebuilding measures. Our work with the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace, and Security has elevated the contributions of young people in peacebuilding. In turn, the UN Security Council adopted resolution UNSCR 2250, giving young people a significant voice in decision making for peace processes. In Iraq, we work to advance religious freedom and tolerance, supporting local advocacy efforts in conjunction with parliamentarian, faith, and community leaders.
As the field of peacebuilding matures, our 40+ years of conflict transformation experience has yielded insights on which to build healthy, safe, and just societies for all.