At turns surprising, funny, and gut-wrenching, this is the hopeful story of the ordinary yet extraordinary people who have figured out how to build lasting peace in their communities.
“The Frontlines of Peace is not just another book about international politics. It’s a book that will change the way you see the world around you.” (Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, in her Foreword for The Frontlines of Peace)
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.
⇒ Written in a friendly and accessible voice by a leading authority on peacebuilding with over 20 years of experience working in and conducting research on international aid throughout the world
⇒ Draws on in-depth field research in 12 different conflict zones, comparisons with social initiatives in North America and Europe, and interviews with peacebuilders, warlords, victims, survivors, politicians, and local civilians
⇒ Focuses on success stories in an ultimately positive and hopeful narrative that encourages readers of all backgrounds to create peace in their own communities
⇒ Challenges popular beliefs and scholarly ideas about war, peace, and conflict resolution that the diplomatic elite and the general public alike take as fact
Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate “Séverine Autesserre tells the story of ordinary women and men who manage to reduce violence in their communities every day, whether in the Congo, Colombia, or the United States. It’s a captivating and inspiring story that invites readers to act. I hope it will encourage you to get more involved in the fight against violence and impunity, and to build peace at home and for our common humanity.”
Gideon Rose, Editor, Foreign Affairs “Séverine Autesserre combines a scholar’s rigor and an activist’s passion. With authority gained from hard experience, she shows how true peace must be built from the ground up and the inside out. A world in flames should heed her message.”
Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now “Peace is possible but difficult. No one is omniscient about what turns swords into ploughshares, and it’s essential that we always question our assumptions, learn from experience, and listen to experts who know both the big ideas and the facts on the ground. The Frontlines of Peace offers new insights into one of humanity’s most noble endeavors.”
John Paul Lederach, Professor Emeritus of International Peacebuilding, University of Notre Dame “Peacebuilding rests on the courage and wisdom of those people closest to conflict, and we must invest in them in ways that dignify their work and commitment. Séverine Autesserre’s book makes clear how to do this. The Frontlines of Peace is a must-read.”
Elisabeth Jean Wood, Crosby Professor of the Human Environment, Yale University “In this remarkable book, Séverine Autesserre draws on decades of experience in conflict zones and offices of international organizations to show how meaningful peace depends on local peacebuilding initiatives. Building on her inspiring and sometimes heart-breaking encounters with local activists about their work to address violence, redress suffering, and manage emergent conflict, it offers compelling recommendations for how to effectively support the necessary work of activists on the ground.”