The nature of conflict in the world is changing, impacting communities in very different ways than past wars. Environmental change and urbanization are relatively modern forces of conflict and displacement that have entered the global stage joining the traditional causes: weak to poor governance, ethnicity, religion and nationalistic ideologies. Modern wars no longer take place on the battlefield. In the wars of the 1950’s, the death rate of soldiers to civilians was 9 to 1. Today, the reverse is true: for every soldier killed, nine civilians die.
Civilians are often targeted in internal civil conflicts and the broader forces of environmental change and urbanization do not discriminate between those dressed in uniforms and those who are not. The root causes of today’s conflicts will not be quickly extinguished; conflicts will be long-term, with lasting consequences. In modern warfare countries are not only physically destroyed, but the human capital and social fabric are torn asunder.
As a result of these changing forces, assistance to war impacted communities cannot solely be provision of humanitarian assistance. Assistance must also attempt to restore and strengthen physical and social institutions, as well as (re) build and restore social cohesion, trust and confidence between people and between people and their institutions. It is through these combined efforts that we can perhaps best help communities and countries stabilize and normalize toward durable solutions and sustainable peace.
The IRC's Program Strategy
IRC’s work focuses on understanding the root causes of conflict, its impact on people, communities and societal institutions. We generally (but not exclusively) work at the local and mid-local level, partnering with civilian populations, civil society groups, district and provincial governments, and market sector actors to find durable solutions to issues causing, and created by, conflict.
Program Areas in Post-Conflict settings
Our work in post-conflict settings focuses on structural responses, in part driven by community-based approaches, that can be replicated, emphasizing coherence between:
IRC places specific emphasis on rebuilding the health, public infrastructure and education sectors, linking grass-roots interventions with sustainable development. Additionally, we are committed as an organization to working with communities on programming surrounding gender based violence beyond emergencies. IRC helps survivors heal and works with communities and institutions to break the cycle of violence. Please see the Health, Environmental health, Gender-based violence and Children Web pages for more detailed information on these programs.
Extreme poverty, exacerbated by the socio-economic impact of war, can create precisely the framework conducive to renewed violence. If stability is ever to hold and reconstruction is to be sustainable, then effort must focus on rebuilding the livelihoods and economic development capacity of conflict-impacted communities. One of the key issues in post-conflict societies is that of youth unemployment. Commonly in these settings, youth comprise a large proportion of the population and often head households. IRC’s Economic Recovery & Development programs are implemented using field tested best practices for economic and livelihood recovery and development.
Evidence shows that most of today's conflicts are the result of failed states and repressive or dysfunctional systems, and that when good governance principles are applied and supported by a functioning civil society and the rule of law, disputes can be resolved through peaceful means and socio-economic development can flourish. IRC seeks to assist communities not only after, but also during conflict to create basic institutions responsive to the populations' needs, to ensure communities have a voice within those institutions, and that they have the capacity to manage them for their own socio-economic development. This is expressed in programs aiming at supporting civil society, enhancing protection and the RoL, and rebuilding ties between local governments and their constituencies, especially in conjunction with decentralization policies.
- Manual: The IRC’S Approach to Community Driven Reconstruction
- Lessons Learned on Community Driven Reconstruction
The Role of Culture, Islam and Tradition in Community Driven Reconstruction: The International Rescue Committee’s Approach to Afghanistan’s National Solidarity Program
Provided in printer-friendly Adobe PDF format.