Quakers believe that every person has a Divine Spark and that the concept of “enemy” is abhorrent. Over the decades, AFSC has taken this precept to heart and has opened paths of communication in times of international tension, in communities where historic animosity prevails, in urban neighborhoods and rural settings.
A recent example is finding ways to relate to North Korea. We responded with direct aid when severe famine meant starvation for tens of thousands of Koreans. Then we stayed on to improve agricultural output. And a number of North Korean agronomists travelled in the United States under AFSC auspices to learn from farmers here about crop rotation to enhance soil fertility and other techniques they could use in their own system. In the best circumstances, such informal connections can influence how governments relate to one another.
In the Central Lakes Region of Africa, where numerous wars and civil unrest has been all too present, the Service Committee has facilitated exchanges among civic leaders, civil servants and others to help the democratic process and elections run smoothly. The goal is to transfer knowledge from successful elections to other countries so that potential violence is averted.
Over the last 10 years Latin America has gone through a spiral of violence and crime which has affected most of the main cities on the continent. Feelings of insecurity and fear among people have drastically eroded both cultural and social relationships. There is a strong need to rebuild confidence and re-create relationships among people, especially in poor areas. Together with a local partner in Guatemala, AFSC supports “Burrita de la Paz”. This project combines practical assistance to gang members affected by physical aggression while at the same time aiming to reconstruct relationships among local people affected by the violence.
The AFSC has been a presence at the United Nations almost since the body’s inception. The off-site Quaker House often is used as a site for off-the-record, informal sessions for diplomats who can work on resolving problems.
Sheik Al-Ulayyan during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C.
New Orleans Peacebuilding Program background
Peace Building & Conflict Resolution
Violence. It's everywhere you look. You see it on TV, you hear it in advertising, it's reflected in our speech. You'd think violence could solve problems, but instead it makes them worse. Sometimes it feels as though we're trapped by it.
Are you looking for some new choices? For a way out of this?
Nonviolence requires strength, courage, self-respect, and respect for others. It isn't safer than violence; it involves taking risks. It's just a choice between different kinds of risks.
- HIPP youth facilitator
Baltimore Peace by Piece works with people ages 16-35 to foster justice, unity, and peace in Baltimore communities.
Building relationships with residents, schools, and community organizations, the coalition connects young people with opportunities to serve their communities and to make their activism more impactful.
AFSC's programs in the Latin America and Caribbean Region focus on issues of urban peace and community security.
The regional office in Guatemala provides monitoring and support to the programs. Our staff also collaborates with other AFSC programs on public information and educational activities in the United States.
Since 1937, AFSC has partnered with organizations in Mexico to address issues of urban and rural community development, disaster relief, indigenous rights, women's rights, and the promotion of local non-governmental organizations.
In 2013, the AFSC conducted an on-site evaluation of the U.S.-Mexico border to assist with the planning of a border program. Building on AFSC’s earlier efforts in the region, the study looked at health, the rights of agricultural and maquila workers, and immigrant rights.
The implementation of the border program represents an opportunity for the AFSC to accompany and empower Mexican and U.S. organizations and create networks that can directly influence community development through negotiation, mediation and conflict transformation.
The program is designed to facilitate exchange and dialogue between different groups in civil society, and the development of initiatives and proposals for addressing binational social issues.
The networks created under this program will work to change dominant narratives about border security and its relationship to national security. These networks will create spaces for new policies that address issues of common interest, such as public safety, youth, climate change and attention to the demands of indigenous peoples.