Training in dialogue facilitation for Luhansk and Donetsk organizations

On 27-28 November, UNDP project "Democratization and Human Rights in Ukraine" presented a training to build dialogue facilitation skills for restoration of life and protection of human rights in post-conflict areas in Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Currently, the conflict in these areas becomes a wedge issue in Ukrainian community. How can we facilitate our community members in being able to listen deeply and speak honestly about the conflict without damaging relationships and alienating each other? This workshop was aimed at building facilitation and listening skills in order to be better equipped to help others communicate around this challenging topic.

More than a dozen organizations, interested in joining a network of dialogue facilitators who would work locally with this powerful modality for expression across difficult conversations, participated in the skill-building training. The trainees gained knowledge and developed skills in facilitating, organizing, and conducting a dialogue, and began the process of forming a network of local dialogue facilitators in the liberated areas of Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

"The workshop is extremely relevant and timely, particularly in the light of recent events in the region. Despite the absence of shooting, hostility and distrust among people has reached a dangerous level. We should try to facilitate a dialogue in our community," one of the participants underlined. "The issue of infrastructure renovation couldn't be addressed without an established dialogue and trust among the community members," he added.

National and international professional mediators were invited to engage attendees in a discussion of the most important aspects of dialogue building in post-conflict areas. Ukrainian experts along with colleagues from Denmark raised the following issues: the art of building and facilitating a dialogue, restoration practices, specifics of facilitators' work to build a dialogue in post-conflict areas, an effective system to provide immediate services and platforms for dialogue in the community, psychological aspects of overcoming post-traumatic syndrome resulted from an armed conflict, etc.

"Unfortunately authorities and local self-government have little or no influence on reconciliation processes in post-conflict communities. This task is for activists and civil society organizations," the participant stressed.

Hence, the training provided participants with a set of skills and practices to contribute to the recovery and reconciliation processes in post-conflict areas, support the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons, establish a dialogue between different groups and promote reconciliation processes, improve security and restore confidence in law enforcement agencies, local authorities, and local self-government, solve problematic issues of local communities, ensure interaction between public authorities and self-governments, and facilitate the mobilization of local resources to address pressing needs of local communities.