SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND
is the largest dedicated peacebuilding organization. Since 1982, we have worked to end violent conflict and to build healthy, safe, and just societies all over the world. Currently, we work in 31 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America.
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.
We began at the height of the Cold War with only a handful of employees, a minuscule budget, and a huge mission: to transform the way the world deals with conflict.
Our founder, John Marks, realized that changing the world by tearing down the old system left us in shambles. So, he started building a new one. Instead of approaching conflict from a win-lose perspective, John founded Search for Common Ground to introduce a new concept: we all ‘win’ when the focus is on what we want to achieve—not what divides us.
The Cold War ended, but we kept going. In 1994, Susan Collin Marks joined John as his wife and Search’s Vice President. Under their leadership we grew and diversified, spreading across four continents and more than 30 countries.
John and Susan raised up a new generation of leaders across the world, leaders who saw firsthand how practical and possible peace is. With Shamil Idriss at the helm, we embarked on a new era of conflict transformation in 2014. Using everything from traditional diplomacy and mediation to video games and virtual exchange, we work one step at a time to change the nature of conflict – from a destructive force to a constructive one.
End violent conflict. It’s our purpose — our call to action.
Instead of tearing down an existing world, we focus on constructing a new one. We do this through a type of peacebuilding called conflict transformation
. Meaning: we look to change the everyday interactions between groups of people in conflict, so they can work together to build up their community, choosing joint problem-solving over violence.
Our mission is to transform the way the world deals with conflict, away from adversarial approaches, toward cooperative solutions.
Our ability to deal with conflict affects how we handle every issue humanity is facing. Whether global in nature, such as poverty, hunger or the environment, or closer to home, such as family or community relations, we face daily challenges to our abilities to deal with conflict constructively.
So, our vision is of a world where:
Differences stimulate social progress, rather than precipitate violence and Respect for and cooperation with those we disagree with is considered the norm for individuals, communities, organizations, and nations.
Values are the cultural norms of Search for Common Ground. They are the guideposts for how we behave, treat each other, perform our work and hold each other accountable. Our five guiding values are: