By Shamil Idriss, CEO, Search for Common Ground

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When the Boss is speaking, millions of Americans listen. After all, millions of us (including myself) love his music. And on Super Bowl Sunday, a vast audience was watching as Bruce Springsteen — as a disembodied voice in a Jeep commercial — called for people to come together.

“The middle has been a hard place to get to lately,” rasped Springsteen over images of diners and empty landscapes.

The commercial added to a cacophony of voices calling for Americans to get over their differences and get along. At Search for Common Ground


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In Burundi, as in all countries, peace requires economic security: a base of stability for people to support themselves and pursue their dreams. While everyone shares this need, we all go about it in different ways.

Enter the entrepreneurs from Nd’umu DG (I´m a boss).

In Dec. 2020, Search for Common Ground launched a 12-episode show in Burundi modeled off Shark Tank, the hit American show. Young entrepreneurs make pitches to a panel of judges, hoping to secure key funding. The show “seeks to bridge social divides in the country and generates opportunities for youth.”

The contestants show that everyone…


by Shamil Idriss

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Photo courtesy of Mel D. Cole. Instagram: @meldcole

The storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was an alarming reflection of what happens when unresolved conflicts fester; media outlets fuel conspiracies; and craven leaders choose to exploit divides.

As the CEO of Search for Common Ground, the world’s largest NGO dedicated to peacebuilding, I work with over 1,000 colleagues to end violent conflict in countries from Mali to Myanmar. We know that turning back from the brink of civil war to forge a strong, cohesive republic is difficult — but that it is possible.

Consider just three components of our American condition and what…


In Kenya, face masks, reflector jackets, and dialogue are repairing relations between police and youth.

By Dominick Mwambui and Eoin O’Leary

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Kwale County, Kenya — It’s 10 a.m. when the police officers arrive.

The mid-morning sun has begun to scorch, its rays glinting off a row of parked motorbikes and the young men seated on them, all squinting through the glare as they wave and call out to potential passengers. This is one of the stages along the Likoni-Msambweni highway where travellers know that they can find “boda bodas”, or motorbike taxis.

As the police approach, several boda boda drivers…


by Shamil Idriss, CEO, Search for Common Ground

The news that the next presidential debate is not taking place will be no surprise to those who sat through the first. What we saw — five weeks before the election and two days before the monumental news that the President of the United States had contracted COVID-19 — wasn’t a debate in any traditional sense. It was everything that we have come to expect from politics since 2016. With all of this it would be easy to say: Where’s the hope?

The United States isn’t united. We are divided not just…


Youth are such trouble-makers!”

No. They’re change-makers.

“Youth are the future!”

No. They’re the now.

Look around the world in 2020, and you’ll notice a powerful wave: young people.

Everywhere you turn, youth activists are driving change.

They are connecting online, organizing on shoestring budgets, and engaging with older generations to build a more just world. They recognize that peace isn’t passive. They’re on the frontlines of nearly every challenge that humanity faces, creating out-of-the-box solutions.

Something so huge deserves celebration.

So we decided to hold a global #TwitterMarch on International Youth Day.

Our invitation list was…


by Shamil Idriss

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When facing problems at home, Americans sometimes hesitate to look abroad for inspiration. We feel that we have the solutions, or else that our national story is too unique to benefit from foreign experience. We assume that Sri Lanka, Nepal, or South Africa have nothing to teach us.

In reality, we can learn a lot by looking past our borders.

Take current debates about policing.

Structural racism is not just an American problem. In many countries, oppression of ethnic, religious, or cultural minorities has persisted for centuries. …


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By Jessica Murrey

I am black. And I am grieving.

I thought the days of public lynchings were over. Yet here I was, in the digital crowd, watching a black man being suffocated in broad daylight by the people sworn to protect him.

It happened because of a broken system and lethal assumptions related to black skin. A brokenness that has long been ignored.

I feel stripped raw. Despair and rage both threaten to swallow me whole.

But here’s the thing: I’m also a peacebuilder.

I have dedicated my life to stopping human suffering. I specialize in social change communication…


COVID-19 has affected all of us. Like, every person on the planet. At Search for Common Ground, the world’s largest dedicated peacebuilding organization, we were curious to know how our colleagues were doing. So we started a #GlobalTwitterChat on our Twitter.

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When the tweets settled, we had responses from dozens of countries — including Afghanistan, Belgium, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Yemen — and a whole new perspective on the pandemic.

While COVID-19 has halted daily life, it hasn’t stopped peacebuilders from sharing wisdom from Jordan:


by Mike Jobbins

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With COVID-19 taking the world by storm, infecting more people every day and overwhelming healthcare systems, you might think that peacebuilding should take a back seat. There are bigger things to tackle, right?

But it’s not that simple. What if I told you that we need peacebuilding now more than ever — that to stop the spread of the virus, we need trust, information, and collaboration? Peacebuilders aren’t the side dish. We’re the delivery service. We lay the foundation so that information, resources, and services can reach their intended destination.

The poorest people, already living amidst chronic…

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We are the world’s largest dedicated peacebuilding organization, working to build safe, healthy, and just societies worldwide.

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