The interview | Itonde Kakoma


How would you present your organization in a few words? What entails your position? What is your goal? 

Interpeace is an international organisation that prevents violence and builds lasting peace. Headquartered in Geneva, we have 30 years of experience building peace in more than 20 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. We are also committed to supporting the international community, and particularly the UN, in their efforts to build peace around the world.

As violent conflict within and between states increases across the globe, the role of Interpeace is more relevant today than ever. My role as President is specific, to be an Ambassador for peace. To promote the means by which conflict can be transformed through alternative means than violence and coercion. We look at peace not simply as the absence of violence, but take a whole-of-society approach that is rooted in questions of social cohesion and resilience of individuals, the inclusion of communities, and the responsiveness of trusted institutions. 


Among the concentration of actors in Geneva (IOs, NGOs, permanent missions, academia, and the private sector), who do you work with and how?

Recognising the complex nature of today's globalised peace and security challenges, we understand that no organization can address them alone. Our extensive experience underscores the vital role every actor must play to foster sustainable peace through respectful and transparent partnerships. Consequently, we actively collaborate with local organisations and institutions, prioritising local ownership and leadership. Moreover, to ensure the lasting impact of our efforts, we establish partnerships with governments to institutionalise peace within state practice and infrastructures and with the international community, including humanitarian and development actors, to reassess existing approaches and leverage our collective resources effectively.

We put people at the centre of building lasting peace. While every situation is different, the following principles guide our approach: local ownership, building trust, reaching out to all groups, long-term commitment, and the importance of the process in determining the result.


What are the strengths and weaknesses of Geneva with regards to the development of your activity?

Geneva serves as a hub for international cooperation and diplomacy, providing a platform for coordination and engagement. Geneva is also the city of peace. The city is home to numerous international organisations and diplomatic missions, which provides a platform: a unique opportunity to make the case for peace and to connect with a whole range of specialists, finding synergies and improving our work and impact. 

With regard to limitations, Geneva remains a trusted space for dialogue and cooperation, across sectors. And there is a strong legacy of doing so in the advancement of peace. We came into existence here because of that legacy and believe that our 30 years in peace building is a contribution to the same spirit of international Geneva as “cité de la paix.” However, the world is changing, and the way in which Geneva remains a trusted venue to convene all parties, particularly those who may not be like-minded, will require deeper cooperation with other cities in multiple parts of the world that exhibit the same characteristics as a space for multi-lateral dialogue and the peaceful settlement to conflicts. 


What do you think global governance should look like 20 or 30 years from now?

The future of peacebuilding is inextricably linked to the future of multilateralism and must all put forward an enduring vision of what the future and enduring vision of multilateralism looks like. My hope is that global governance reflects the sort of trust between states, between individuals and societies, and within systems themselves, that we strive for, and that a broader range of fora are increasingly playing a role in advancing international peace and security at the regional and global levels. This means that constituent parts of the multilateral system embed peace in the work that they do as reflected in their respective mandates in which contributions to international peace and security are reflected in their founding documents. This includes financial institutions which need to play their part, on a global scale, by making investments that enhance the quality of peace. 


What question would you like to have been asked? And what keeps you “awake at night”?

It is important to reflect on the moment in which we are, in which the calls for war and the use of violence are sounding much louder, echoing in various chambers of multilateralism and decision-making, than compelling cases for peace have been. 
The level of destruction in situations of armed conflict, the means by which entire cities are being destroyed and mass populations being displaced, at cataclysmic speed, not only because of conflict but major cyclical disasters compounding these challenges definitely keeps me up at night. And in particular the cost of war and the elements around which not only immediate emergency recovery takes place, but how post-conflict reconstruction will be designed and implemented in a manner that contributes to social cohesion and more peaceful societies. 

The state of the world today poses a crucial challenge to us and our peers and it is incumbent upon all of us that we make a much more compelling case for what peace entails and how it must be sustained. This is our shared responsibility. We also have a responsibility to send a particular message to current and future generations about striving for cooperation against all odds and rather above self-centred, national interests at the expense of maintaining international peace and security.


Itonde Kakoma's Biography 

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