On September 25, 2013, the U.S. Institute of Peace celebrated the publication of A Crucial Link: Local Peace Committees and National Peacebuilding by Andries Odendaal, former Jennings Randolph senior fellow. The author was joined in discussion by Christopher Mitchell, Jacqueline Wilson, and Virginia Bouvier to discuss community peacebuilding and its relationship to national peace agreements.

Book: A Crucial Link

A key challenge for successful peace agreements is their implementation.  For communities, peace invariably means more than the settlement of major national issues. Local conflicts have their own histories, conditions, and complexities, which provide the context within which peace agreements must be implemented. Peace forged at the national level can be strengthened by community-level peacebuilding efforts, and investment at the local level lays the foundation for social cohesion and effective governance.

Andries Odendaal, a senior associate at the Centre for Mediation in Africa and a former Jennings Randolph senior fellow at USIP, is the author of the first comparative analysis of the work of local peace committees with formal ties to national peace agreements. A Crucial Link: Local Peace Committees and National Peacebuilding stresses the importance of building peace from the bottom up—and of providing the means and support to do so. In case studies from South Africa, Northern Ireland, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Nepal, A Crucial Link shows when and how local peacebuilding can act as a building block for national agreements.


Andries Odendaal, author
Centre for Mediation in Africa, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Christopher Mitchell, discussant
The School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution, George Mason University

Jacqueline Wilson, discussant
Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, U.S. Institute of Peace

Virginia M. Bouvier, moderator
Senior Program Officer, Center of Innovation, U.S. Institute of Peace


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