Three Stones provides both soft power technical assistance as well as participates in NATO joint military training exercises to observe, coach and train on civilian protection.
Fundamentally, conflict revolves around power: power over resources, power over people, power over decision-making; power over wealth. As such, it is frequently those in power – government officials, drug lords, warlords – that might have the greatest incentive to promote conflict or at least maintain the status quo in order to preserve and maintain their vested interests and power.
Given the constantly changing nature of conflict in SSA, civil society leaders are often those most connected to communities affected by violent extremism, conflict, and strife. In many cases, what begins as community-level conflict – sometimes stoked by national level figures – can evolve into a sub-national, national or regional conflagration.
Understanding local drivers of conflict and grievance, critical stakeholders and the means/methods of acting out violence are not only essential elements in attempting to prevent conflict, but also in seeking to mitigate its impacts.
Civil society serves a very important role acting as a countervailing force, not only in providing a more nuanced accurate picture of on-going conflict but also identifying and surfacing tensions that have yet to be realized by international relief and development agencies. The majority of conflicts cannot be resolved by one single player. Thus, engaging with as many civil society organizations (CSO) as possible – collecting and synthesizing their views, experiences, networks, and recommendations – is critical for developing effective, holistic approaches to stabilization and conflict management efforts. This level of engagement may also be utilized in predicting the next potential crisis and addressing it before it becomes a protracted conflict.
Three Stones began collaborating with NATO Southern Hub* in 2017 to engage with civil society– collecting and synthesizing their views, experiences, networks, and recommendations to help better predict and prevent instability.
To assist the Hub, Three Stones designed and deployed a cost-effective approach bringing voices from community level leaders and organization to the Hub and providing rapid synthesis and analysis of key themes emerging from the varied voices. Three Stones’ goal is to support the Hub’s ability to build relationships as well as coordinate and synchronize efforts across the Global South; which will lead to improved understanding of drivers of conflict and instability. By offering this in a cost-effective online convening platform it provides the Hub with the ability to access and gain perspectives of civil society and allowing additional voices and narratives from Africa, which may not be accessible through normal channels, to be heard.
#GrassrootsVirtuality enables the Hub to consult and gain the perspectives from local leaders and global experts. It creates a unique way to interact and hear from CSO and leaders. Ideas can be exchanged to better understand drivers of instability, primarily through a local lens.
Bringing together local voices, context and perspectives that are not typically accessible to NATO, Three Stones hopes to enable the Hub to leverage these voices, foster relationships and create allies with youth, women’s groups, grassroots and religious leaders, and CSOs. These interactions help the Hub provide better advice to NATO while building relationships that can ultimately lead to peace and stability—NATO Soft Power.
* The Hub was formally established as an information sharing organization that connects allies, partners and subject matter experts to
better understand and overcome challenges, as well as look for opportunities in NATO’s South (Middle East, North Africa, Sahel, and Sub-Saharan Africa). The Hub aims to contribute to coordination, synchronization, and de-confliction of NATO activities across the South, while optimizing resources and maximizing effectiveness.