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Drawing upon best practice frontiers in the CPPB field, the Peace Training Approach also addresses what are defined here as the 5-CPPB Sensitivities Framework. The Framework requires trainings to engage with core competencies relating to peace and conflict, cultures, gender, trauma care and learning styles. The 5 CPPB Sensitivities are five types of awareness and understanding that should be central considerations in development of CPPB trainings and throughout the entire training cycle and approach. They address:

Peace & Conflict sensitivity involves respecting and understanding dynamics of a specific conflict enough to minimise any negative impacts of one’s intervention and maximise the positive impacts of an intervention (Conflict Sensitivity Consortium, 2012). In peace training, peace and conflict sensitivity means ensuring that participants develop awareness of dynamics of a conflict and learn how to cooperate with local stakeholders so they can intervene appropriately. It equally addresses training participants to understand the dynamics and drivers of peacebuilding and peace consolidation, what is being done to address the conflict, what has been done before, and lessons identified and good and bad practice. Drawing upon the ecological or own knowledge systems (OKS) approach is also directs participants (and their agencies and organisations) to understand the particular values, traditions, cultures and approaches related to conflict-handling, peacebuilding and related fields (such as dealing with diversity, handling trauma and grief) in the context and culture in which they are deployed. It involves sensitising participants about potential unforeseen consequences of an intervention and ways to work with local populations as well as how they can positively impact and best support CPPB.

Peace and Conflict sensitivity should begin already in the preparation phase of a training, where trainers conduct a needs assessment in consultation with local stakeholders and partners or the broader CPPB field. Trainers should as much as possible consult with the local populations, local partners, and previously deployed colleagues and agencies when designing a training. Key literature and other resources should be consulted and assigned to the participants as required reading prior to the training. Moreover, when choosing subject matter experts (SMEs), videos and readings, trainers are advised to ensure that a variety of perspectives on the conflict and CPPB instruments are represented. Fostering an attitude that values the capacity of local people and recognises the importance of working with rather than dictating to those in the field is crucial for peace and conflict sensitivity approaches (see INEE, ND; APFO et al., 2014; Conflict Sensitivity Consortium, 2012). A central goal of all CPPB training should be to best enable CPPB practitioners and policy makers to authentically support local and national ownership in peacebuilding and prevention in the field.

“Cultural sensitivity means being aware of cultural differences and how they affect behaviour, and moving beyond cultural biases and preconceptions to interact effectively” (Snodderly, 2011, p, 17). It involves recognising and valuing differences in the way cultures perceive and approach an issue (Abu-Nimer, 2001; LeBaron, 2003). In peace training, it means increased awareness on how cultural differences influence the learning environment and learning process, as well as perception and knowledge of conflicts and CPPB. The following are tips for increasing cultural sensitivity in training:

  • Be mindful that CPPB solutions are not one size fits all. What works in one country may not work in another. For example, approaches to Security Sector Reform in the Balkans may not be directly applicable to the context in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Bring in comparative examples of best practices and lessons learned to show how interventions can be tailored for specific settings. For instance, when examining rule of law in Sudan, explore the role of customary law in promoting human rights.
  • Include exercises (e.g. case studies), in which practitioners learn that cooperating with locals and integrating local knowledge is more likely to succeed, rather than imposing intervention (Pimentel, 2010). Train participants how to support local ownership through trust-building and dialogues, inclusive decision-making processes (McCann, 2015).
  • Use non-Western concepts, examples and models. Encourage critical reflection from participants about opportunities and limitation of Western-centric models, concepts and approaches to CPPB. Through such examples, participants can learn to integrate local traditions and work with local populations (Barsalou, 2005). Moreover, they can learn how aspects of culture can be used to promote reconciliation (Reis, 2013). This recommendation fits in with an ecological training approach.
  • Adapt to the needs of non-native language speakers. Be mindful that they may not feel comfortable asking questions in a large group and adjust activities. It may also be helpful to present material in written form as well as verbally. Most importantly, ask non-native speakers about their needs. Listen to marginalised voices.
  • Budget for and utilise interpreters if needed, and if it is possible. Interpreters are also valuable for needs assessment and meeting with local groups in the field. Ensure diversity in the locals with whom you consult. While cost may preclude the regular use of interpreters for participants, organisers may choose to bring in a subject matter expert, who may need an interpreter. In addition, organisers and trainers may consider conducting training in the field in local languages for local personnel.
  • Acknowledge limitations in information available and do not make assumptions. Ensure that participants understand limitations of ‘objectivity’.
  • Ensure gender, cultural, age and experience diversity of participants when breaking into small groups where possible and the exercise does not require otherwise.
  • Develop own skills in intercultural communication.

Gender sensitivity is about being aware of the history of gender inequalities and the impact of those inequalities today (Australian Agency for International Development, 2006; Klot, 2007; OECD, 2013). This includes recognizing that women and men experience conflict (and CPPB) differently (Sudhakar, 2011), and that masculinities and feminine identities may be interlinked with conflict and violence. As such, men and women have equal responsibility in promoting gender equality in CPPB. Rather than simply adding a women’s programme to peace work, gender sensitivity requires individuals to use gender as a lens of analysis. “Gender sensitivity is considered the beginning stage of gender awareness, leading to efforts to address gender-related impacts of conflict and peacebuilding” (Snodderly, 2011, p.25). Within a training, it involves:

  • During planning, ensure a balance of male and female trainers, experts and participants, and if possible seek a gender balance of authors of materials. If no balance is possible discuss with participants why this might be the case.
  • Checking if the curriculum and methods are gender mainstreamed, and follow legal and organisational guidelines for non-discrimination.
  • Not simply including a brief unit on gender at the end of a long day. Rather, evaluate the gendered features of all aspects of the training. For example, if a training explores peace processes, evaluate women’s roles within peace process and the degree to which gender issues have been considered in them.
  • Consult with experts and peers on gender to ensure you have considered a gendered lens throughout the training.
  • During the training, promote equality of participation and ensure a gender balance among group leaders. When exploring peacekeeping missions, discuss women’s experiences with peacekeeping missions and the extent to which a gendered division of roles among peacekeepers exists.
  • Emphasizing the importance of women and men in questions on gender in CPPB. Promote the positive role that men can play in promoting gender equality.

Sensitivity for trauma requires trainers to reflect on the challenging nature of CPPB practice and its impact on personal psycho-social wellbeing, and be aware of participant traumas and how they can affect training experiences. This involves all stakeholders, trainers and course organizers, being aware of symptoms of trauma, how to avoid re-traumatising an individual, and how to respond to a person whose traumatic experience has been triggered. In addition to educating on trauma and self-care in training content, you should be sensitive to the potential of triggers within a training. You should speak about trauma sensitively and be mindful of possible histories of trauma. You can invite participants to speak to you privately if they have any needs in this regard and discuss together ways to address them. You can take extra care in the selection of images, media, and topics. Lastly, when introducing sensitive materials, advise participants on self-care if they experience a trigger.

This encompasses a broad range of issues, including different personalities, different physical and mental abilities, learning styles, and level of prior experience with a resource. It links with differential instruction approaches to training.

  • Tailor training (methods) to diverse learning styles – visual, auditory, tactile learners. Recognise that some people learn through sharing ideas, while others learn through doing or through observing others (Hamza, 2002, p. 20).
  • Introverts may become more drained from group work and need time for individual activities, such as time for reflection and processing learning experiences.
  • Be aware that participants may have differing levels of expertise with technology and accommodate such diverse backgrounds. At the same time, do not rely on stereotypes and assumptions regarding technological experience based on gender or age.
  • Adjust activities based on needs. For example, make adaptations to an ice-breaker that involves standing when a participant has a physical limitation.
  • Ask participants, which may have a disability, confidentially to approach you for special accommodations, e.g. a person with hearing or eyesight difficulties may need to sit in the front.
  • Be aware that language is sensitive.

The 5 sensitivities are also incorporated into our advice on how to use specific methods in the CPPB field. You can find more information here!

Further reading

Find more information about the topic in our Peace Training Handbook .