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Image: Creative Commons, Flickr / Adam Meek under CC BY 2.0 license

The Berghof Approach

Conflict is inevitable, but violence is not. With support, people can transform violent conflicts into sustainable peace.

Our approach is summarised in our overall mission, creating space for conflict transformation.

But what does that mean?

We recognise that conflict is inevitable, stemming from the need for change in society. But conflict is not synonymous with violence, and conflicts can be resolved without violence.

Our approach is to support the people and processes that seek to transform violent and destructive conflicts into nonviolent social and political exchange.

These voices are often drowned out by shouting and gunfire, so we involve many actors from various sides of the conflict and sectors of society. A multitude of voices can carry, reshaping perspectives. And the best chance for resolution comes from local people owning the process that solves their own conflicts.

Our role is to offer advice, techniques, and support that enable people to find their own paths away from violence.

There is no one-size-fits-all panacea – every conflict has its unique characteristics and characters. Drawing on a half century of experience, we engage with different levels of society using a mix of approaches – from mediation and dialogue support, to targeted training, to collaborative research – that offer the best hopes for a positive, lasting impact in a particular setting.

We are not naïve about this work – we recognise that powerful forces perpetuate and profit from violence and destruction.

But we know that ultimately, the people experiencing violent conflict do not want to live in cycles of endless violence. These people have the power to change the dynamics of conflict.

At the Berghof Foundation, our fundamental goal is to provide the sustained support to engage these people in processes – to create that space for conflict transformation­ – that enable them to move beyond violence and toward sustainable peace.

Strategic priorities 2022-25

While continuing to work in our three main fields of activity – Practice, Learning and Research – the Berghof Foundation is also responding to a shifting global context.

Our emerging focal areas:
  • Climate change and conflict transformation
  • Engaging with protest movements to strengthen nonviolent strategies
  • Inclusive governance and accountability to mitigate corruption and other economic drivers of conflict
  • Digital revolution and its impact on our work
  • Dealing with the past in conflict transformation
  • The role of women and gender in conflict transformation and mediation

Learn more about our current and emerging focal areas for the coming three years.

Our operational approach

We carry out this work through three mutually supportive fields of activity:

  • Practice
    We engage in hands-on, on-the-ground activities which support conflict transformation in specific countries and regions. Learn more
  • Learning
    We develop materials and innovative approaches to promote peace education, foster peer exchange, and offer training to people grappling with conflicts. Learn more
  • Research
    We conduct cutting-edge research that enables us to analyse the drivers of conflict, inform policy debates, and collaborate on solutions. Learn more