Conflict is an inevitable result of human interaction, and in an ever-globalizing world, the need for individuals dedicated to peace and conflict resolution is rising. If diplomacy and the versatile world of international development is relevant to your interests and professional or academic goals, then consider volunteering abroad in conflict resolution. Those who volunteer in conflict resolution will develop the skills necessary to facilitate discussion, encourage understanding, and ultimately achieve peace. While building these skills, volunteers will encounter varying cultures, languages, and beliefs, all of which will lead to their own application of conflict resolution strategies.
Why Volunteer Abroad
Students and enthusiasts of international relations and human rights should consider volunteering abroad in conflict resolution in order to have an impactful experience beyond the classroom. Volunteering abroad will equip you with the tools and skills needed for a career in the international arena and the world of conflict resolution and peacekeeping.
Volunteers will learn effective means of negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, examine international development and its effects on conflict resolution, and explore effective as well as ineffective measures of diplomacy. Those who volunteer in conflict resolution will be able to experience working in a multicultural environment, get exposure to a new foreign language, and develop skills in cultural sensitivity. Volunteering abroad in conflict resolution is an exceptional opportunity and one that will go far beyond the development of valuable professional experience.
Organizations that deal with and opportunities to volunteer in conflict resolution exist around the globe. Without coincidence, the Middle East is notorious for its growing number of organizations dedicated to peace and reconciliation between refugees, internally displaced populations, and refugee host countries.
Israel & Palestine. The intractability of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has transformed the region into an epicenter for diplomatic operations. A multiplicity of organizations across Israel and Palestine exist for the goal of restoring peace, and consequently accept volunteers to join their cause. Due to the nature of the conflict (as well as its relevancy to international affairs), Israel and Palestine remain two of the most influential places to volunteer abroad in conflict resolution. It is important to check with your program provider prior to departure, as some programs may offer academic credit to volunteers too.
South Sudan & Sudan. The fractious political situation of Sudan has left the country (including South Sudan) a hotbed for international peace-keeping operations. South Sudan and Sudan are key locations for volunteers interested in conflict resolution in Africa as well as the Middle East, as the effects of the conflict extend beyond national borders. Many organizations in Sudan work to mediate the conflict and establish lasting peace in the region accept unqualified and qualified volunteers.
Turkey. As a result of its staggering refugee situation and its geographical relativity to conflicts in neighboring Syria and Iraq, Turkey has become an ideal place for volunteering abroad in conflict resolution. A multitude of organizations across the country have been established to pacify growing tensions and establish peacekeeping operations. For inexperienced volunteers, Turkey is a great starting point to gain experience and learn more about how international conflicts intertwine multiple countries and groups of people.
Volunteering in Conflict Resolution
Historically, conflict resolution has been a method of resolving world conflicts for representatives of international organizations, governments, and non-governmental organizations. Opportunities from these sectors for volunteers come in a wide array of possibilities and locations; choosing the best fit volunteer placement in conflict resolution depends on your personal and professional goals of going abroad.
Human Rights. Many of volunteer programs in the Middle East related to human rights focus primarily on women’s rights, internally displaced peoples, and refugee camps. In most volunteer programs focused on human rights, volunteers can expect to work closely alongside the community to solve problems and arrive at a common solution. The majority of opportunities to volunteer abroad in conflict resolution arise from projects related to human rights, and it is a prime area for volunteers with little to no experience in the field.
International Relations. Conflict resolution volunteer programs related specifically to international relations are usually organized by or funded in part by governmental institutions, such as through foreign offices. As a result, the majority of volunteer opportunities related to international relations will require prior experience and candidates will be required to possess foreign language skills. Volunteers interested in this form of volunteer work are encouraged to plan in advance for application deadlines and expect a background check as part of the process.
Peacekeeping. Whether it's organizing community discussions, youth outreach, or providing educational services, volunteering abroad in conflict resolution in the realm of peacekeeping has the potential to place volunteers in a variety of unique projects.
Depending on the organization and exact placements, volunteer tasks may include:
- Collecting, compiling, and/or analyzing research
- Participating in public forums
- Event coordinating
- Office work
- Public speaking
- Monitoring and mediating conflicts
- Implementing peace agreements
- Peacebuilding and preventing conflicts
Volunteer program length will depend on each individual placement and organization as well, but on average placements last for around six months. Prior to departure, volunteers are highly encouraged to familiarize themselves with important factors, underlying causes, disputed territories, historical context, and current efforts toward conflict resolution in their placement location.
Volunteering in conflict resolution leads to a distinct enhancement of professional skills as well as the benefit of personal satisfaction.
While some organizations may offer academic credit, participants will enjoy not only valuable experience in the field, but also the international nature of your volunteer work will distinguish you from your peers when attempting to gain admission into a graduate program or being considered for employment.
Whether your final goal is law school, foreign service, international affairs, or would just like to contribute to global peace in a tangible way, volunteering abroad in conflict resolution will forever impact how you observe and react to conflict and diplomacy around the world!