Connect Four – an initiative to develop a common policy platform in UK
In July 2006 a small group of peace practitioners in the UK held a consultation with people engaged in the four areas outlined in Chapter 1 above: economic justice, environment, peace and rights. The intention was to test the idea of joined-up thinking between the different fields and between agencies working on the different issues. In a report they wrote:
“The tentative thinking that we shared was that we would begin by elaborating our analysis, through individual and collective thinking and writing, in a variety of contexts, and through the circulation of ideas in different circles, using different forums for dialogue and debate. On the basis of the analysis we reached, we would begin to formulate policies, through similar modes of thought and exchange, and once they were formulated disseminate them more widely, seeking entry points into different circles and institutions.
What we hoped to achieve during this consultation was first an exploration of the connections between the four fields, as seen by our participants, so that the rationale for cooperation is articulated. The second question we wanted the group to explore together was what kind of initiative – if any – would be productive. This exploration might, we thought, point us to (a) publication(s); to an ongoing or occasional conversation; to a big joint conference; to joint lobbying; to behind-the-scenes dialogue, or to a unified and concerted campaign. We were open to all possibilities…
On the day in question an excellent group of some 20 people came together in Oxford and the exploration that took place was rich in analysis and in ideas for popular outreach, as well as for more « weighty » work to influence policy. The consultation’s proceedings were duly written up and circulated to all concerned, and several people expressed interest in ongoing involvement. We felt sufficiently encouraged to apply for much more substantial funding. The proposal we made was still focussed very much on a dialogical process, wheeled out into communities, as well as on more specific working groups related to media, publications and so on. Maybe the proposal was both too lacking in specifics and too ambitious, but we had no success in getting funds to take the idea forward. And negotiations that began with a specific organisation that showed a lively interest in taking on the project ran into the ground…
The need for a policy initiative of this nature seems even more urgent now than it did then. The potential for a disastrous attack on Iran; the increasing erosion of human rights and civil liberties; the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor and the increasing evidence of the impending devastation of climate change all make the need for change even more urgent.”
The initiating group remains active and welcomes ideas to take this thinking forward.
Adapted from: Francis, Diana. A project to transform policy, starting in the UK. CCTS Review No35, November 2007, available at www.c-r.org/ccts/ccts35/francis.htm