Irenees.net is a documentary website whose purpose is to promote an exchange of knowledge and know-how at the service of the construction of an Art of peace.
This website is coordinated by
This tool proposes an analysis of what divides and what connects people in a community.
This analysis will help to identify what can be done (as a starting point) to create a climate of trust, and use the “spaces of peace" in a neighborhood as points from which to expand. Analysis should not be regarded as a recipe or a prescription; the tool provides points of reference that also need to be looked at creatively in order to innovation create of a peace initiative.
The analysis of Connectors and Dividers helps to define the starting points for the transformation of a complex conflict (multipartite) in a local setting. This exercise works better if done in a participatory manner, amongst a group of actors who are involved in peace programs and local development. It can be used as a research methodology to understand conflict factors.
One element (institution, value, experience, etc.) could be a “connector” in some scenarios, but in other cases the same element could play a role of “divider”. It depends of the conflict, the culture or the role in the community, for example, a Government program to provide foodstuffs to the people could be a “connector” if the people are organized and share the food fairly. But if the community has power struggles and rivalry the same program could exacerbate the violence.
|Nature||Dividers (Sources of tension)||Connectors (Capacities for Peace)|
|Systems & Institutions|
|Attitudes & Actions|
|Values & Interests||Different||Shared|
The original complete tool  consists of a 7 step analysis starting with the context of the conflict.
The adapted version of the tool contains 4 steps:
Adapted from Anderson (1999), CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, www.cdainc.com
The process starts with a context analysis, and concludes with a testing process looking at the impact of peace initiatives. We discovered that the analysis of Connectors and Dividers is a valuable tool in itself, even when it is not used to assess the impact of an outsider. We use it to develop a better understanding of the local scenario and a starting point for a peace initiative.
Step 1. Perform a preliminary analysis of the local context:
This analysis involves identifying:
In this step it is not enough to “list” the interests of different actors. It is important to understand what kind of strategies these actors use to respond to conflict and why; what institutions are working on the issues of the conflict and what they doing are; what levels of violence have been reached in the past; and what are the historical roots of the current conflict.
If the participants in the analysis process are not familiar with the community it will be necessary to prepare a brief consultation with some key community members and groups i.e.: youth leaders, civil servants, firemen, neighborhood committees, women’s organizations, etc. It is possible that some of these key actors are not able to express their “interests and needs” in a formal way, but rather through an informal approach or focus groups and dialogues about the main problems in the community. It is important to use these means to include them as they can give very valuable information.
Step 2. Define and analyze Dividers (sources of tension):
Use time to think about the real sources of tension behind the “obvious conflicts”
Step 3. Define what are local “Connectors” and capacity for Peace:
In what moments or situations have people come together to collaborate despite the conflict? In what moments and situations do the actors "reconnect" despite their differences? What people, symbols, social events and spaces have the power to reconnect actors?
Both connectors and the dividers need to be clearly labelled. A correct way to name the connectors and dividers is to identify the role they play and not only a name, for example: To write "local market" doesn’t help to understand the connector. It is better to be specific: "The local market committee has made the market a safe place to live and share with all members of the community". The same instructions apply to dividers (institutions, persons, attitudes, values, experiences and symbols).
The most abstract items will need more explanation. For example, the "white butterfly" may be a tropical insect living in the area; and this insect could represent an element of identity and local ownership. But it is necessary to explain why this symbol represents a capacity for peace. For example: “white butterfly has provided the opportunity to share activities between antagonistic actors through joining in conservation campaigns”.
Step 4. Define the starting points to deal with conflict:
It is very important to prepare a summary report of the analysis. This report could be prepared in 2 pages:
This could be a base line that can then be updated. It is important to take note of any evolution and changes during the implementation phase of the program.
After the analysis of Connectors and Dividers, the complete method of DNH recommends returning to an institutional analysis of the peace program in order to understand which actions are related with which issues and what is the expected impact on them. But here we limit ourselves to identifying the main connectors and in what way they can be included in your program.
If you are able to clarify which are the most sensitive sources of tension locally, and if you have discovered how the program actions can best be directed to transform these dividers, the main goal of the exercise is complete.
If the program wants to apply this tool as a complete cycle of evaluation and institutional analysis, we recommend further reading at www.cda.org
Top 5 mistakes in applying the connectors and dividers tool:
1. To use this tool as a magic “key” to obtain simple answers to the conflict.
2. To start the connectors and dividers analysis without a previous context analysis.
3. To consider the analysis completed without a consultation with local stakeholders
4. If you do not have a discussion about the dynamics behind the connectors or dividers.
5. Not writing a brief report to record the process.