A Distinction with Difference: Conflict Sensitivity and Peacebuilding
Are peacebuilding and conflict sensitivity the same thing? Different but related? Completely separate? Increasingly, practitioners and policy makers give different—and often opposing— answers to these simple questions. Part of the difficulty arises from the “migration” of the terms, as both have shifted their meanings over time, each coming to embrace more and more conceptual territory. Also, the various actors involved have shifted their roles. Development and humanitarian agencies have expanded from their traditional roles and increasingly attempt to address conflicts more directly. At the same time, peace practitioners recognize the need to address structural causes of conflict—which often requires development modes of programming. In the process, many people have become increasingly uncertain about what these two concepts mean and whether the distinction is even important. Why should we care about this confusion? is it causing harm?