‘Peace Day’ and the Cyprus Deadlock

‘Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future’

The International Day for Peace has been established by the UN as a global call for peace-building. Every year on 21st of September, millions of people commemorate and express their will for non-violence and peace both within and among all nations and peoples. In solidarity with millions from across the globe, ‘Peace Day’ is also celebrated in Cyprus.‘Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future’ is the theme chosen for this year's observance of the International day of Peace. Without sustainable development, it cannot be possible to have a sustainable future with a sustainable peace.

By the same token, ‘Cyprus 2015’ has produced a comprehensive report as well as a documentary on ‘Sustainable development in Cyprus’ in which it examined challenges and opportunities of the economic, social, and environmental pillars of sustainable development in the island as a whole, as well as in particular regions. Sustainable development is being framed as an issue where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can work together, to jointly prepare and plan for a prosperous future with various means of achieving sustainable energy production; sustainable water management; sustainable construction; and sustainable mobility.

Towards a sustainable peace in Cyprus?

‘Cyprus 2015’ is a peace-building initiative, aiming to contribute towards a creative and constructive social debate for the long-term sustainable future of Cyprus and towards bridging the gap between public opinion and the peace process through participatory action research and targeted policy interventions.

The Cyprus issue remains one of the longest standing unresolved issues of the international community. Although it has been addressed over the past 4 decades by countless conflict resolution efforts, all have thus far failed to resolve the problem. While the most recent phase of peace talks yielded some important convergences, a comprehensive deal was proved to be elusive. This is not the first time that the sides have failed to reconcile and arrive at a comprehensive settlement.  However, there is a widely felt apprehension that this time will not be ‘business as usual’.

Given the ongoing diplomatic efforts this is an ideal time to reconsider the elements that have apparently derailed progress in the direct talks.  In the coming weeks there is anticipation that a new, more participatory process may be agreed that serves to sustain inclusive dialogue in order to engender  trust.  Trust at all levels, including at grassroots, is an essential ingredient to the end of peace.

Without grassroots dynamism and support, it will be difficult to reinitiate talks, let alone bring about their successful conclusion. A more participatory framework will allow multiple processes to progress in parallel, leading to cumulative progress in internal and international substantive dossiers while simultaneously building societal trust. Building trust in the process and in each other is as important as brokering a deal. 

International Peace Day is a reminder that only a genuine effort to include people that wrests the Cyprus issue from the realm of secretive and divisive talks can generate momentum and mutual trust. Through its participatory approach, “Cyprus 2015” aims to engage policy and decision-makers in a more inclusive process of identifying the challenges and working towards collective solutions. The initiative has recently produced a policy brief called “Beyond the Deadlocks: Redesigning the Cyprus Peace Process” which explores the means by which the right set of policies would not only help overcome mutual mistrust, but would also serve as a foundation for a new set of principles and rigorous, participatory processes, should direct negotiations resume.  The full text of the policy brief will be made public in coming weeks.

'Cyprus 2015: research and dialogue for a sustainable future' (www.cyprus2015.org), launched in May 2009, was a peace-building project implemented by Interpeace (www.interpeace.org), and supported by UNDP’s initiative in Cyprus: Action for Cooperation and Trust (ACT). 'Cyprus 2015' has recently evolved into a peace-building think tank called 'Center for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development' (SeeD). In partnership with UNDP-ACT, and using novel “Participatory Polling” methodology, and now the “SCORE Index”, SeeD provides unique tools for effective and sustainable policy recommendations that inform the peace-building policy debate while ensuring citizen participation in, and ownership of, the peace process.