“I sometimes fantasize what would happen if, instead of dropping bombs on civilian populations, mediators by the tens of thousands were parachuted into war zones to create conversations across battle lines; if, instead of shooting bullets, mediators organized public dialogues and shot questions at both sides; (…) it is possible for mediators to have an impact on the willingness, even of embittered, intransigent opponents, to participate in war or terrorism, by organizing alternative ways of expressing, negotiating, and resolving their differences. I call this idea ‘Mediators Without Borders.’ ”
–Ken Cloke, The Politics of Conflict: Mediating Evil, War, Injustice and Terrorism
On 28 October 2006, leaders in the conflict resolution field: Robert Creo, Ken Cloke, Lynn Cole, Richard Dewitt, Sandia DiMola, Erica Fox, Joan Goldsmith, C.J. Larkin , Anna Spain, Nan Waller Burnett, and Rachel Wohl convened at the Association for Conflict Resolution Conference and founded Mediators Beyond Borders International.
MBBI started at a time when the founders recognized the critical need for conflict resolution skills at all levels of community, keenly aware of the necessary shift from the ‘powerful nations’ model to a ‘people centered’ peace building model; of the increasing leadership role of regional and sub regional organizations, along with increasing engagement of civil society actors. All of these transitions underscored the need to prepare people at every level for participation in state of the art peacebuilding processes that are multidisciplinary and collaborative.
The Mediators Beyond Borders Model comprised a unique 10-point model which consulted stakeholders and encouraged long-term engagement in countries. Implementing and tailoring the steps to each conflict context, MBBI set out to reduce the destructiveness of violent conflict, war, and terrorism, and create a platform on which deeper social and political changes might take place.
MBBI, a non-profit organization, encouraged and supported conflict resolution professionals in donating their time, skills, resources, and experience to improving the capacity of people who requested their assistance. MBBI grew as the requests poured in from a wide variety of contexts and organizations: former combatants in a camp in Ghana, schools with refugees populations in Pittsburgh, judges in Nepal, student groups in Sierra Leone, communities in Ecuador, pastoralists in Kenya…and dedicated volunteers poured their resources into building a movement, a network, an organization ..and a peace ‘able’ world.
The basic principles of the organization remain the same: people-centered peacebuilding.
These early years of projects in the US and around the world formed a solid foundation upon which MBBI continues to expand and refine its work while learning from lessons of past experiences.
Today, MBBI’s United Nations and Rotary International Working Groups are building bridges and endeavoring to strengthen the peace work of these two important international organizations. The MBBI UN Working Group is completing its fourth year of contribution to summits, committees and events addressing Peace and Security, Sustainable Development Goals, the Status of Women, and Climate Change. The Rotary Working Group is in its fourth year of building this strategic relationship, participating in and presenting at World conferences, Peace Conferences and jointly sponsoring two International Training Institutes with a third scheduled for 2018.
MBBI has convened seven International congresses in the United States (2009 -2013), Turkey (2014), and Romania (2015). Congress attendance has grown from practitioners from six countries, at the first Congress, to practitioners from Thirty eight countries at the last Congress. The 2018 Conference will be held at the Peace Palace, at The Hague, with Stichting MBBI as host. We opened our affiliate office in Amsterdam in 2017.
Partnerships and Relationships: MBBI has partnered in conflict assessments, project design and implementation, mediation training, and peacebuilding projects with more than one hundred and twenty organizations on five continents.