Act for Peace's Four Foundations
Our partners have been working on peace-building and armed violence reduction in many of the world’s most conflict affected countries for more than 63 years. During this time, our partners have had a significant impact in reducing armed violence and in addressing the root causes of conflict. We have also moved into some areas where a decline in peaceful processes has occurred due to long-term political instability.
We believe that only delivering humanitarian aid in conflict situations is not sufficient. Act for Peace aims to break the cycle of violence. Through our project partners, we work with local communities to address the root causes of ongoing conflict, whether it is over resources or ongoing retaliation for prior violent attacks. By coming together and negotiating peace agreements, communities can build the foundation to move forward peacefully.
Communities affected by conflict require both aid and protection, and often capacity building for the future. For example, Act for Peace works with project partners to initiate peace-building, disarmament programs and landmine action. The approach is broad to include victim assistance, hazard identification, mapping and clearance, for example with dogs, manual and mechanical demining and mine risk education programs, complemented by domestic and international advocacy.
Additionally, in a world where international media attention quickly shifts from crisis to crisis, communities require organisations like Act for Peace to take a lead role in mobilising international support and sustaining international attention to ensure that affected communities have the resources to run long-term programs to prevent conflict, protect civilians and develop sustainable ways to support themselves.
Act for Peace prioritises the protection of refugees and internally displaced peoples (IDPs). Refugees are often the poorest of the poor, the most vulnerable and the most exploited. They have left their families, homes and possessions behind, their vulnerability is exploited by smugglers and traffickers and they become the victims of harsh border-control policies like deportation and detention designed to deter others from seeking asylum.
Our partners are currently assisting over two million people displaced by conflict, as well as around one million people displaced by disasters, such as famine, floods and earthquakes.
There are currently around 43 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, the highest number since the mid-1990s. Developing countries shoulder the main burden, hosting 80 per cent of the world’s refugees. Most cannot return home, even though they strongly desire to, and are not permitted to integrate into their host country.
With so few resettlement places, only one per cent of refugees can be resettled each year. As a result, refugee camp populations are expanding rapidly, with the average time spent in a refugee camp before repatriation or resettlement now 17 years.
Act for Peace supports and advocates for better protection in the camps, conflict resolution so they can return home and durable solutions such as local integration and resettlement.
Strengthening refugee protection in our region is critical. This will not happen if countries like Australia compete to see who can deter the most refugees through harsh border-control measures like detention, deportation-swaps and off-shore processing. Act for Peace is heavily involved in advocacy in this area, working with governments and regional organisations to provide better protection and long-term solutions.
Act for Peace first began its work with refugees in 1948, assisting Eastern European refugees resettled in Australia after the Second World War.
Since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were introduced in 2000, two-thirds of the countries furthest from reaching the MDGs are in or emerging from conflict and experiencing high levels of armed violence. One billion people, including about 340 million of the world’s extreme poor, are estimated to live in the small group of conflict affected countries.
It is the conflict affected countries which are being left behind and who risk becoming further trapped in cycles of conflict and poverty. Act for Peace works with partners to address the crippling state of poverty in many war-torn regions. We support a range of livelihood, health, water and food security programs. Conflict prevention and resolution are key steps towards reducing poverty in these regions.
Act for Peace seeks to empower communities through building people's capacities. Rather than indefinitely sending aid or setting up overseas offices, we develop long-term partnerships with respected local agencies that enable us to deliver programs that are owned and designed by local communities, ensuring lasting change. While we do provide life-saving assistance in emergencies, our focus is on equipping communities with the skills and knowledge to ensure they can support and protect themselves, their families and their communities.
Our programs are designed and managed by our local project partners on the ground as they are best placed to help communities identify their problems and solutions. From analysing their situation, identifying their own needs and then planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating projects, the communities we work with set their own development agenda. Development which is imposed or remains dependent upon outside support is not sustainable.
The basis of our community partnerships includes respect for the safety, dignity and well-being of all community members. For Act for Peace, this means going beyond the mere provision of material goods. We strive to mobilise public opinion regarding the root causes of poverty and injustice and develop effective peace and reconciliation strategies. We also conduct effective communication with all stakeholders in the development process and ensure the environment is preserved and maintained with respect to the rights and beliefs of Indigenous peoples.