Karuna Center for Peacebuilding

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Karuna Center for Peacebuilding
TypeNon-profit organization exemption status: 501(c)(3)
Area served

Karuna Center for Peacebuilding (KCP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Amherst, Massachusetts. The stated mission of KCP is to empower people divided by conflict to develop mutual understanding and to create sustainable peace. The organization was named for the Sanskrit word for compassion. The organizations efforts in facilitating "post-conflict reconciliation" has led to active programs in more than 30 countries. They have co-implemented programs with the United States Agency for International Development, United States Department of State, United States Institute of Peace, and Fund for Peace, among others.[1]

History and purpose[edit]

KCP provides educational training programs in conflict transformation and inter-communal dialogue in communities experiencing deeply rooted conflict.[2] With a focus on relational peacebuilding, KCP facilitators aim to create a context in which shattered communal relations can be healed and programs fostering coexistence can be established and tested.[3]

KCP was founded in 1994 by Dr. Paula Green, who came to the field of peacebuilding with a background in intergroup relations, counseling psychology, Buddhist meditation, and nonviolent activism.[4] Dr. Green is a professor Emeritus at the School for International Training Graduate Institute, as well as the founder of the graduate certificate program, Conflict Transformation Across Culture (CONTACT) located on the SIT Vermont campus and in South Asia. She was joined in this work in 2002 by Olivia Stokes Dreier, who became Executive Director of KCP on June 1, 2010.[5]

KCP works internationally with in-country partners to lead peacebuilding trainings and dialogue workshops. Since 1994, KCP staff has led programs in conflict transformation in 26 countries in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and America.[6] Past areas of work have included training members of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly in collaboration and negotiation skills and engaging community-based peace committees in the Casamance region of Senegal. Other areas of work have included workshops for women leaders in Sudan and South Sudan in partnership with the Hunt Alternatives Fund, and a multi-year program in Northeast Sri Lanka, in partnership with the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, that engaged Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Christian leaders in joint community projects and reconciliation following the Sri Lankan Civil War.


KCP’s first long-term project took place in Bosnia from 1997-2002, first working with women community leaders and then with educators from Sanski Most and Prijedor in Northern Bosnia, most of whom were survivors of Prijedor concentration camps which were discovered in 1993 by reporter Roy Gutman. In May 1997, KCP received funding for a Sanski Most training program focused on survivors of sexual abuse, incarceration, and war-based trauma. The program was co-implemented with the Women’s Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Three years after the program's initiation, in May 2000, KCP funding to implement Project DIACOM, a dialogue program in the Sanski Most and Prijedor.[7] The program was aimed towards “inter-ethnic tolerance and understanding, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding” through educators. This shift collected support from the Seattle-based NGO, Foundation for Community Encouragement.[8]

Project DIACOM was named to signify dialogues and community building in which erstwhile antagonists are led to mend their mutual suspicions and to begin working together.[9] Alumni of this project later developed their own training programs for expanding understanding, trust, and reconciliation between Bosnian Muslims and Serbs,[10] leading to the start of the Center for Peacebuilding in Sanski Most, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Notable Impacts by Region[edit]

West Africa

  • Senegal: KCP has led peacebuilding programs in Senegal since 2006. In 2014 and 2016, KCP worked to promote a peace process in the Casamance by helping priestesses to intervene with rebel combatants in remote communities.[11] In 2006, KCP began their work with AECOM International in Senegal to support development of a civil society network, Alliance pour la Paix en Casamance, which remains active.[12] In 2010, World Education partnered with KCP to launch training programs for peace advocacy in the region.[13]
  • REWARD Program: Since 2015, KCP has co-implemented Creative Associates International’s Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data program with USAID and Fund for Peace. The program objective is to dually strengthen early warning threat systems to reduce violence in West Africa and support multi-scalar stakeholders in these states to prevent electoral violence.[14] REWARD was signed into agreement by USAID West Africa Mission Director Alexandre Deprez and ECOWAS President Kadre Desire Ouedrogo, with the approval of U.S. Embassy Nigeria Deputy Chief of Mission, Maria Brewer November 19, 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria. The program is an extension of the U.S Government REWARD initiative to be completed in March 2020.[15]
  • Partnerships for Peace: Since September 2016, KCP has been involved in preventing and countering violent extremism within the West African Sahel, including but not limited to the countries of: Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Mauritania. Karuna Center led a five-month assessment to examine and classify “the existing Countering Violence Extremism (CVE) understanding and capacity of ECOWAS, the Sahel G5 and the national governments of Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Mauritania."[16] The program is intended to identify opportunities for strengthening of multi-scalar government and community structures.[17]
  • CONTACT Program: When it was realized that peacebuilding programs in West Africa were available exclusively in English, Karuna Center collaborated with Africa Consultants International and World Education to translate the CONTACT program that had been implemented previously in South Asian states.[18]

East Africa

  • Rwanda: KCP's Healing Our Communities program, which is a partnership with three Rwandan organizations (Healing and Rebuilding our Communities, Aegis Trust, and Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace), was highlighted in the April 2018 issue of National Geographic as an example of reconciliation and healing work in the wake of violent conflict.[19] KCP has led peacebuilding programs in Rwanda since the mid-1990s. From 2002 to 2012, KCP and graduates at the SIT Graduate Institute led field seminars and worked with Gisozi Museum and Proof: Media for Social Justice. This led to the development of a traveling high school exhibit in Rwanda, in 2010, to honor and introduce those who sheltered opposing community members from other ethnicities during the 1994 genocide. During this time KCP authored a conflict assessment for United States Agency for Human Rights and the Rwandan government. After receiving a grant from the Martin-Baro Fund, the Karuna Center held workshops and seminars aimed at social healing.[20] These efforts were done cooperatively with Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe, a conglomeration of 40 Rwandan NGOs. In 2014, KCP attended the Rwanda Women Parliamentary forum intended to better understand the post-genocide development of the state.[21]

Central Africa

South Asia and Southeast Asia

  • Nepal: Karuna Center has worked in Nepal and collaborated with Nepali NGOs since 1996. Beginning in 2010, KCP trained members of parliament in conflict transformation and interest-based negotiation, working with a group of 75 members of the interim parliament to resolve some of the most contentious issues in the way of developing a new constitution. KCP also trained the Asian Development Bank and World Bank in conflict-sensitive development.[22][23]
  • Afghanistan: In September 2007 KCP and the Initiative for Inclusive Security held a training seminar for Afghani women in Kabul. KCP has been active in Afghanistan since 2005, conducting similar seminars to other communities of women, parliament, and government ministries. The seminars—mainly focused on women’s social and legal issues was supported by, and held in conjunction with the Afghan Women’s Network, an aggregate of 90 NGOs based in Afghanistan. This work was cited in the United Nations’ Resolution 1325, which required protective rights for women.[24][25][26]

North America

  • Local Programs: In 2015, KCP hosted campus-wide training at Amherst College on inclusiveness and justice. Previous to work on the Amherst College campus, KCP has been involved in the local community through partnership with the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School in Holyoke, Massachusetts. KCP efforts within the local community have been focused on promoting greater inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding and resolving intra-community tensions.[27]


Karuna Center for Peacebuilding has collaborated with the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont to teach courses in CONTACT (Conflict Transformation Across Cultures), a program that Dr. Paula Green founded in 1997 to provide intensive training and graduate certification in peacebuilding.[28] Karuna Center for Peacebuilding is a member of the Alliance for Peacebuilding.


  1. ^ https://www.amherst.edu/system/files/Multicultural%2520Resource%2520Guide%2520%25209%252015.pdf
  2. ^ Website, Karuna Center for Peacebuilding
  3. ^ Green, Paula (2009). Reconciliation and Forgiveness in Divided Societies, featured in Forgiveness and Reconciliation (Kalayjian and Paloutzian).
  4. ^ Barre Center for Buddhist Studies (2002). "A Beautiful Paradox: An Interview with Paula Green." Insight, Volume 18: Spring 2002, p. 4.
  5. ^ "SIT Home." SIT Graduate Institute. Accessed March 17, 2017. http://graduate.sit.edu/sit-graduate-institute/sn/about-sit/faculty-and-staff/bios/paula-green/.
  6. ^ Karuna Center for Peacebuilding Records, 1994-2006. Special Collections and Archives, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, W.E.B. DeBois Library.
  7. ^ "AJ Muste Memorial Institute International Nonviolence Training Fund." AJ Muste Memorial Institute International Nonviolence Training Fund. Accessed March 17, 2017. http://www.ajmuste.org/intfgrants.htm.
  8. ^ Olivia, Ignasi Torrent, and Rafael Grasa. An analytical framework for reconciliation processes. Two case studies in the context of post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/academy/content/pdf/participant-papers/2012-04-ankara/An-analytical-framework-for-reconciliation-processes--Ignasi-Torrent-Oliva.pdf 2011.
  9. ^ Green, Paula. "An Infusion of Dialogues." Peace Magazine, Jan-Mar 2003, page 16.
  10. ^ Omanovic, Vahidin. "The Role of the Project Diacom in Reconciliation in Bosnia" (2003). Capstone Collection. Paper 181.
  11. ^ Clark, Kim Mahling. Final Report: Support to the Casamance Peace Process. United States Agency for International Development/Senegal. December 2008. http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/Pdacp094.pdf.
  12. ^ "Social Justice and Conflict Transformation." African Consultants International. Accessed March 24, 2017. http://www.acibaobab.org/social-justice-and-conflict-transformation.html.
  13. ^ African Consultants International Annual Report. Dakar, Senegal: Baobab Center, 2007. http://www.baobabcenter.org/sites/default/files/reports/annual/aci_annualreport_2007.pdf.
  14. ^ "West Africa - Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data in West Africa." Creative Associates International. March 08, 2017. Accessed March 24, 2017. http://www.creativeassociatesinternational.com/projects/west-africa-reacting-to-early-warning-and-response-data-in-west-africa/9/.
  15. ^ Fact Sheet: Reacting to Early Warning Response Data in West Africa Project (REWARD). West Africa: United States Agency for International Development, December 2015
  16. ^ "Partnerships for Peace | Fact Sheet | West Africa Regional." U.S. Agency for International Development. November 30, 2016. Accessed March 31, 2017. https://www.usaid.gov/west-africa-regional/fact-sheets/partnerships-peace.
  17. ^ Partnerships for Peace: Strengthening West African Capacity to Counter Violent Extremism. United States Agency for International Development. November 2016. https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1860/P4P%20Fact%20Sheet%20Nov%202016.pdf.
  18. ^ "Social Justice and Conflict Transformation." Social Justice and Conflict Transformation | Africa Consultants International. Accessed March 24, 2017. http://www.acibaobab.org/social-justice-and-conflict-transformation.html.
  19. ^ https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/things-that-divide-us/
  20. ^ http://martinbarofund.org/projects/2006.html
  21. ^ http://www.parliament.gov.rw/yourviews/newsdetails/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=428&cHash=7e1f81265bb713b7af18b2e08cd8e032
  22. ^ "Karuna Center for PeaceBuilding, Inc. - GuideStar Profile".
  23. ^ http://www.ajmuste.org/intfgrants.htm
  24. ^ "What is UNSCR 1325?".
  25. ^ https://www.tides.org/fileadmin/user/pdf/Tides-Foundation-List-of-Grantees-2005.pdf
  26. ^ "Afghanistan".
  27. ^ "The Amherst Story | Update on College Response to Amherst Uprising | Amherst College".
  28. ^ Green, Paula (2007). "Intercultural Education for Peacebuilders." Anthropology News, Volume 48, Number 8. Also: Green, Paula (2002). "CONTACT: Training a New Generation of Peacebuilders." Peace & Change, Volume 27, Issue 1, pages 97–105.