In late March, the McCormack Graduate School’s Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development (CPDD) hosted a two-day workshop on religion, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution for senior Nigerian military leaders.
The delegation included a major-general and two brigadier-generals who lead the Islam and Christian chaplaincies for the Nigerian army. They seek to develop the army’s ability to work with local populations, cooperate with religious institutions and community associations, and build local peace and security without the use of force.
In this highly interactive training, participants explored an array of methods through which religious conflicts can be mediated and resolved. The Nigerian delegation learned to understand the core of religious conflicts, to evaluate approaches to improve religious relations through several mediation theories and practices, and to facilitate interfaith dialogue, community outreach, and peacebuilding strategies.
As part of the training, participants also engaged in experiential learning exercises emphasizing the psychological aspects of conflict resolution, the appeal to common interests and values, and the dynamics of coalition in mediating religious conflict.
The workshop also featured several sessions on U.S. counter-terror approaches presented by UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism and Security Studies.
CPDD Executive Director Darren Kew and key workshop trainer notes, “Our center has extensive experience working in Nigeria on religion, peace, and nonviolence issues. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Nigerian military to help improve its capacity in finding nonviolent solutions to its peacekeeping obligations.”
David W. Cash, McCormack Graduate School dean, commented, “This is another example of our policy school’s global reach and leveraging our research in engaging decision making on the ground. Nigeria is facing some of the most complex conflicts and we are hoping that we can contribute to long lasting solutions.”
The Center for Peace, Democracy and Development plans to provide follow-up assistance and host additional delegations in the future in order to help improve the Nigerian military’s peacekeeping capacity and its overall peacebuilding impact and professional conduct.