Quakers have a long history of occasional quiet assistance in peace processes in areas as diverse as Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, Israel-Palestine and South Africa.

What is conciliation work?

Conciliation work is the process of bringing people together and creating enough trust between them for them to talk constructively together. It usually involves the help of facilitators to encourage the parties to move to that point and to engage in dialogue to resolve the conflict that has divided them.

Quaker working in this area focus on supporting the reconciliation of opposed groups in conflict-ridden areas. The confidential nature of these peace processes means that it is rarely talked about.

In this short film, a new generation of peacemakers share their experiences of international conciliation work.

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In March 2020 Quakers in Britain published a new book that looks at what conciliation involves. Written by Ann Bennett, Dining with diplomats, praying with gunmen is available to purchase from the Quaker Centre Bookshop.

In this short online presentation Lynn Finnegan, who illustrates the new book, describes how Quaker testimony informs the work.

Conciliation work in South Asia

A candlelit vigil in South Asia.

Current Quaker conciliation work is focused on a region of South Asia that remains confidential. Our involvement is by invitation from the people concerned and in consultation with all sides. However, the work is sensitive and could potentially be damaged by publicity.

This programme of conciliation work is coordinated by a staff member who works with a small team of appointed Quakers who have relevant experience. This team keeps in close contact with the parties and visits the region by invitation as needed.

The team is supporting processes to establish peace and to reconcile armed groups in the region. Team members take on the roles of facilitation and accompaniment in order to support and strengthen key individuals and groups in their work to bring violent conflict to an end.

Featured blog

What next for Quaker conciliation work?

20 February 2020 by Oliver Robertson

With peace building work as important as ever, Oliver Robertson reflects on an intergenerational exchange asking what the future of Quaker conciliation should look like.