In the wake of a huge geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East, a region that has long been plagued by violent conflicts, the Middle East Peace Network (MEPN), which was founded in 1990, resumed its activities in 2011. Since that year, this region has rapidly been shifting and a new political order has been emerging over the ruins of old autocratic regimes.
As recent events have shown, the main actors in the ongoing Middle Eastern drama will be the peoples of the region, not the governments. This moment of many challenges facing the countries of the region also represents a moment of opportunities, primarily for open, transnational, border-crossing dialogues between individuals, groups, peoples, nations, and religions.
MEPN is a U.S.-based, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nongovernmental organization (NGO) that uses private diplomacy to complement the activities of the Middle Eastern governments in their pursuit of conflict resolution and lasting peace, primarily between Arabs and Israelis, by facilitating dialogue within and across conflict divides.
MEPN‘s mission is to strengthen the capacity of ordinary citizens everywhere to engage in peacebuilding in the Middle East. They are encouraged to create and carryout leading-edge peace projects that bring Arabs and Israelis together in an environment that fosters conciliatory interactions, open communications, and genuine opportunities for peacemaking. MEPN’s ultimate objective is to convince governments and nations that peace is a worthy investment and peace dividends are the best long-term return for future generations. It calls to for engagement in a series of well-intentioned, well-designed peace actions and interactions undertaken with a vision in mind.
Unlike other international private diplomacy NGOs, MEPN‘s single geographic orientation is the Middle East with a special focus on the resolution of the Israeli-–Palestinian conflict. Recognizing the magnitude, complexity, and gravity of this conflict and the evidenced limitations of traditional diplomacy (Track One), MEPN works with local, national, and international partners to enhance the Middle East peace process by adding a non-governmental peacebuilding component (Track Two) to the peace efforts.
Priorities and Initiatives
MEPN’s peacebuilding initiatives consist of a wide range of efforts associated with societal transformation, people-to-people relationship building, citizen diplomacy, advocacy work, empowerment, dialogue, reconciliation, and peacemaking. They include alternative avenues that address the structural causes and the underlying substantive issues of the conflict, which are usually ignored by official diplomats. Together, they are all designed to assist the warring parties in transitioning from a prolonged, violent conflict into a durable peace.
MEPN takes a nonpartisan, neutral, and impartial position in its relation to the conflicting parties. It has no political platform, ideology, or agenda, nor is it committed to any specific policy or set of policies on Middle East affairs. As such, it takes no formal position vis-à-vis the core issues underlying the Israeli-–Palestinian conflict. Those issues remain to be resolved by official diplomats on at the negotiating table. The ultimate objective of MEPN is to support and enhance the peace process by creating—through alternative avenues, such as private diplomacy initiatives, transnational mechanisms, and back channels–a win-win environment that is conducive to settling the conflict.
MEPN is not a think tank, but an “act tank”—an action-oriented network of individuals and organizations whose commitment is to transform the dominant culture of conflict in the Middle East by building there “ecology of peace.” At the basis of its mission is the assertion that peace talks don’t create peace, actions do. Peace ought to be a never-ending, active process, a work of many people carried out on a hundred fronts.
For details, you are invited to read In Search of Israeli–Palestinian Peace: An Urgent Call for a New Approach to Middle East Peace by Dr. Shai Har-El, the Founder and President of MEPN, and also watch his video presentation below.