The current issue of Peacebuilding (2020, Vol. 8 No. 1) contains “Exploring local potentials for peace: strategies to sustain peace in times of war“, written by Christina Saulich and Sascha Werthes.
This paper explores the neglected field of study of local potentials for peace. It focuses on local communities worldwide that successfully avoid participating in violent conflicts that surround them. So-called nonwar communities opt out of war and refuse to be absorbed by one or other of the warring parties. In so doing, they develop imaginative and innovative strategies that can provide valuable insights on innovative approaches to conflict prevention. Local potentials for peace challenge ordinary images of war and peace and call key assumptions of hitherto, predominantly external crisis prevention strategies into question. Perceiving local (civil) actors as recipients of (inter)national policies for peace and not as independent protagonists of peace initiatives neglects their autonomous potential for peace. This paper reviews current research findings on the puzzling phenomenon of local potentials for peace with a focus on nonwar communities and identifies four innovative implications for conflict prevention.
KEYWORDS: Local potentials for peace, nonwar communities, zones of peace, peaceful societies, conflict prevention