SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND – BELGIUM
Search for Common Ground (Common Ground) is a locally rooted, global peacebuilding organization, working in 33 countries. We help people find local solutions to today’s toughest violent conflicts. We believe that conflict is inevitable but violence is not. Conflict is a natural result of human diversity. When we deal with conflict adversarially, it generates polarization and violence. When we collaborate, conflict catalyzes positive change.
European governments and the European Union have been actively supporting peace and international cooperation efforts around the world. This is why, in 1994, we launched the European Center for Common Ground, a spin-off of the US-founded Search for Common Ground. We established our European non-profit organization at the heart of Europe, in Brussels, as a Belgium registered AISBL-IVZW (international not-for-profit-organisation).
The European Center for Common Ground – later renamed “Search for Common Ground AISBL” in order to promote a shared identity with our US counterpart – became key to expanding our peacebuilding work across the globe. From Brussels, we were able to gather the trust and support of various European governments, foundations and other sponsors to build our teams and our programmes across the globe.
We are an official partner of the Belgian Ministry for Development Cooperation and have partnerships with several European governments such as the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and Switzerland. We also implement a large variety of European Union sponsored peacebuilding actions across the globe. Our 30-strong team in Brussels works in close collaboration with Common Ground’s global departments and with our regional teams and country teams in Asia, Africa, and the MENA region.
Brussels is also a key location for policy and advocacy work. Our role is to ensure that peacebuilding remains high on the European agenda. We use insights from our teams across the globe to gather evidence that peacebuilding and conflict-prevention do work. We maintain relationships with policy-makers, sharing insights and analysis vis-à-vis unfolding crises and how to tackle them, using peacebuilding lenses. We also engage with Belgian and European media and public and speak to the press regularly.
Partnership is at the core of our action. In Europe, we are a founding member of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO), where we serve on the Board. We are also part of various alliances and networks (ConxUs, the JISRA alliance, Ngo-Federatie, Acodev, etc.), where we join forces with peers and other development and humanitarian actors to make the case for peacebuilding.
In 2018, The Sahel region became of the 10 conflict geographies on which we focus decade long efforts.
Our Great Lakes strategy is to address regional and national conflicts in the area, while promoting cooperation and understanding across borders.
Search for Common Ground is entering its expansion phase and influencing policy-makers in Belgium, Europe and across the world.
Common Ground has been active in the Sahel since 2011. As part of our 10-year strategy, the Sahel region was confirmed in 2018 as one of the 10 conflict geographies on which Common Ground would focus its efforts over the next decade.
Recognizing the transnational nature of instability in the region, Common Ground has adopted an approach that recognizes both the country-specific conflict dynamics, but also the d cross-boundary conflict dynamics. In the Sahel, we have 10 offices and 229 staff in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger. As conflict evolves and spillovers to new borders, we also adapt our programming and the scope of our work.
Our overall mandate is to transform the way that the world deals with conflict. In the Sahel region, this requires supporting national and international actors to move past a state-centric approach to security, justice, and peace to address the current crisis. Common Ground’s role is to help communities and civil society actors to transform the conflict dynamics, focusing on social cohesion between the different community groups, and between communities and their leaders. We are deeply involved at the intersection of peacebuilding, humanitarian assistance, and economic development, working hand in hand with government and non-governmental stakeholders.
Since 1995, we have supported peace and reconciliation in Burundi by helping local stakeholders to address transitional justice, sexual and gender-based violence, youth manipulation, and other issues. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we work to bolster the nation’s maturing democracy, end ethnic conflict, promote gender equality, and transform the Democratic Republic of the Congo into a peaceful country. We began working in Rwanda in 2006 as part of our broader Great Lakes strategy to address regional and national conflicts in the area, while promoting cooperation and understanding across borders. Regionally, we aim to foster inter-youth dialogue on different issues affecting the Great Lakes, while our numerous national projects range from youth radio talk shows to participatory theater dealing with land tenure conflicts. In the Great Lakes, we have a total of 114 staff working from 12 offices.
As per our 2018-2028 strategy, Search for Common Ground is entering its expansion phase and is influencing policy-makers in Belgium, Europe and across the world to make peacebuilding a credible option. We engage policymakers, private sector and development actors to support sustainable business practices, peacebuilding and conflict-sensitive approaches through evidence-based policy advocacy.
The Global Policy and Outreach team focuses on building the policy case for the peacebuilding field by working collaboratively with Common Ground’steams and partners around the world and leveraging their analysis, data, and expertise to inform the policies of emerging and established actors relevant to Common Ground’s work. It provides operational and locally rooted policy analysis and recommendations that encourage policymakers to support and use peacebuilding more by advocating for more supportive institutional norms and structures, more and healthier funding to implementers, and more policies that encourage peacebuilding.
Rue Belliard 205
+32 2 736 72 62
Our publications in the Moniteur Belge
Our latest financial reports
Search for Common Ground’s identification number in the Transparency Register is 809274824592-30.
Together with our funding partners, we help adversaries learn to trust each other, create avenues for collaboration, and generate breakthroughs for peace. Our efforts to build peace thrive because of support from following government agencies, multilateral institutions and foundations.
Search for Common Ground AISBL employs 700 people across the globe, including 30 staff in Brussels (Belgium).
As Executive Director, Charline Burton provides strategic leadership, planning, and oversight of our teams, programmes and operations. She works closely with her senior leadership team, regional directors and the global leadership team across the globe.
Since 2017, Sandra Melone has been the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors. Our Board members are various Belgian and international experts who help set the vision of the organisation, ensure accountability, and oversee the implementation of Search’s strategic framework. See here the list of our Directors.
Search for Common Ground is an organisation dedicated to Learning. The vast majority of our programmes include an evaluation and ongoing monitoring. We strive for transparency and shared learning with the sector, and this is why all our evaluation reports are publicly available on our website.
Integrity and respect are core values for us. We foster an organizational culture based on respect and accountability. It’s what makes us credible, trustworthy partners in communities around the globe. It’s what enables each one of us to do our job with integrity. At all times, we strive to create an environment where abuse and harassment are absolutely not tolerated. We protect victims as well as witnesses, so that they feel comfortable coming forward with reports. We commit to investigating breaches of our Code of Conduct seriously and transparently. We condemn any form of attack on integrity (abuse, fraud, corruption) both within our organization and among partners or in the context of interventions that we finance.
In Belgium, we are a signatory to the Integrity Charter of the Belgian Development Cooperation Sector. The Charter contains important basic principles on how organizations should work on maintaining their integrity. This includes having an ethical code, organizing courses on integrity, having an anonymous reporting system and contact persons designated to report any integrity violations. The integrity Charter emphasizes the importance of both financial as well as moral integrity.
Common Ground is committed to this Integrity Charter and to an organization-wide culture of integrity. We provide the necessary support, help, training, tools and procedures to achieve this.
You can find the Integrity Charter here.