The Causeway Initiative worked in Bahrain from 2012-2016. During that time we focused on programmes that share the Northern Ireland experience of conflict resolution and peace-building. We have hosted over 100 Bahrainis on study visits to Belfast to experience at first hand how we have been building our peace. This work was funded exclusively by the UK Embassy in Bahrain, who were our partner throughout the four years.
We have developed working relationships with a number of civil society groups in Bahrain including the Bahrain Foundation for Reconciliation and Civil Discourse, the Youth Pioneer Society and Citizens for Bahrain and run a number of programmes in conjunction with them.
Causeway Initiative sign MoU with Bahrain NIHR
We have run training programmes for all the NIHR Commissioners and their senior executives. Causeway has facilitated outreach initiatives within and across communities in Bahrain. We have developed social media training packages for civil society groups in Bahrain and we conducted the first full assessment of the impact of social media on the reform process.
We have worked with a number of other delivery partners in the country to provide comprehensive training on issues as varied as rule of law, human rights policy, youth leadership, political development, civil society empowerment and engagement with the media.
Our independent evaluation of the project found that “The programme enhanced the knowledge of conflict transformation and institution building, imparted a desire to develop democratic approaches in Bahrain and brought diverse groups into a shared environment or learning and in so doing developed the opportunity to broaden conflict transformation and social cohesion work in Bahrain”.
- The programme provided an excellent and informed group of speakers with participants gaining elite access to prominent statutory agencies, political actors and community activists. The participants reflected on the visit and the participants felt that: ‘Contemporary thinking comes from long experiences through a complicated problems’, ‘Conflict isn’t the way to make peace, negotiation is’ and ‘We need to change strategies and priorities and move from crisis management mentality to conflict resolution mentality’.
- The overwhelming overview from participants was positive and tied to a desire to continue the learning experience provided;
- Requirement by participants to developing knowledge of conflict transformation and social cohesion.
- The case study of Northern Ireland allowed for a greater understanding of the divisions in Northern Ireland, which highlighted the importance of allowing dialogue to begin the process of peace.
- Participants were stimulated by the workshops and in particular came to appreciate better the needs for negotiation, that peace-building is not ideologically undermining but requires risks and commitments to discussion and inter-group exchange;
- On return to Bahrain some of the relationships which were built have continued, but there remains but there is a requirement and request for guidance in terms of capacity building and the development of skills in communication. Through this there can be continued structured dialogue with participants following the study visit to Northern Ireland. These are seen as key developments for the participants who also recommend bringing the Northern Ireland workshops to Bahrain so that the impact of experiential learning can be developed within and between groups thus far not included in the programme.