Conflict zones are not static. The power dynamics change, new actors start to get involved, and the conflict reaches different stages. To move forward from a conflict requires more than just a ceasefire agreement or a shake of hands. It requires peacebuilding.
Peacebuilding is defined as ‘a process that facilitates the establishment of durable peace and tries to prevent the recurrence of violence by addressing root causes and effects of conflict through reconciliation, institution building, and political as well as economic transformation‘(1). Many conflict zones reach supposed peace only to fall back into conflict through unstable institutions or actors. It is important to engage in peacebuilding so that conflicts can be systematically avoided.
An important part of developing conditions that can uphold peace is for the population to be informed. This is where journalists come in. Conflicts are unique, but some things are always likely to happen. Groups do not trust each other after they stop fighting since they were recent enemies. Governance is weakened. Silent voices are finally eager to express themselves.
Journalists are necessary to improve trust, governance, and inclusion, all factors that are included in a peacebuilding process. The main thing journalists can do is to inform the largest number of people impacted by the conflict about its realities. Numbers, pictures, and most importantly, stories that were hidden and unable to come to the surface are now more important than ever. Journalists are usually weakened in their position since many (former) conflict parties still rely on suppressing access to information. Usually, a complex web of stringers and foreign partners communicate to report on the conflict. Media can additionally train new journalists to improve their conflict-sensitive reporting and develop pro-peace content.
Journalists can help the peacebuilding process with the right tools and knowledge. This section will look at different strategies that journalists can use to contribute to the peacebuilding process specifically. Journalists can use these strategies within reporting and relation to education and emphasize a change of the war-mentality.
Since the end of a conflict is not a clear-cut matter, problems from the conflict still influence the conflict zone even after outright warfare is over. Media face troubles in peacebuilding because of those continuous challenges and because of different expectations.
There are many Resources, Manuals and Guidelines for journalists who want to either facilitate a peacebuilding process or aid an existing one. Here we collected the most important ones.