You have probably heard of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), and possibly have heard of Engineers Without Borders, but you most likely have not heard of Mediators Beyond Borders. It is a relatively new non-profit, established in 2006, with the following mission:
Mediators Beyond Borders brings together experienced mediators to volunteer their skills world-wide, in collaboration with local, indigenous and global partners, to improve conflict resolution capacity and support alternative approaches to expressing, negotiating and resolving interpersonal, political, economic, social, ethnic and religious differences.
I am excited to discover that there is an organization doing this type of work! Conflict resolution, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution are critical to building a more peaceful world, and it is wonderful that there is an organization through which people interested in this work can volunteer and donate their time to the parts of the country and world where conflict is rampant. They have projects going on in several locations, including Liberia, New Orleans, and Zimbabwe. When I contemplate whether I would be interested in doing international, humanitarian work, this is the type of work that most draws my interest (however, my immediate goal is to do such work within my local community rather than internationally).
An important piece of building peace is making it sustainable in the local communities. Although first-responder work is important in crisis situations, for long-term peace it is crucial that the communities take control and are not dependent on outsiders to sustain their peace. Mediators Beyond Borders definitely seems to have this focus, with a goal of partnering with local communities:
Mediators Beyond Borders – Partnering for Peace & Reconciliation is a non-profit, humanitarian organization established to partner with communities worldwide to build their conflict resolution capacity for preventing, resolving and healing from conflict. This partnership involves the design and implementation of sustainable peace building initiatives responsive to the needs and culture of the communities, and to the history of each conflict. MBB is not a first responder, and is not prepared to intervene in the midst of violent crises.
I love the concept of “Without Borders” or “Beyond Borders” in all three organizations. It highlights that we all have a shared humanity which transcends political and geographical borders, and taking care of each other is more important than our differences.