Ara Pacis developed a training of trainers program aimed at overcoming divisions, initiating healing and fostering reconciliation and peace building in societies torn apart by sectarian violence and conflict.
Our program is centered on transforming the human precursors to, and legacies of conflict – ranging from trauma to hate, from prejudice to revenge, from fear to anger and beyond – into dialogue, forbearance, understanding, empathy and mutual collaboration for a shared future.
We understand based on our own experience that until these human factors are addressed, personal and collective memories of suffering will return, and enmities will ultimately re-emerge to destroy any progress made towards peace and development, re-engaging populations in cycles of violence and revenge.
Here is a list of the major international experts who devised and currently teach the Ara Pacis Methodology.
Other Council Members are included in the training program at need.
In February 2008, Justice Silvana Arbia was elected as the new Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), for a five-year term. Justice Arbia is a judge of the Italian Supreme Court, the highest judicial office in Italy. Prior to accepting the appointment with the ICC, Justice Arbia worked as Chief of Prosecutions in the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). She began at the ICTR in 1999, as a Senior Trial Attorney, and later became Acting Chief of Prosecutions. During this time, she directed the prosecution of significant cases before the ICTR. Justice Arbia was also a member of the Italian delegation at the 1998 Diplomatic Conference in Rome, and as such participated in the establishment of the Rome Statute.
The life of Leymah Gbowee has been dominated by civil war in Liberia, a bloody conflict which tore away her family and friends along with her hopes and dreams. Gbowee succeeded in transforming her bitterness into action, encouraging Liberian women, primary victims of the war, to create a movement of unstoppable protest: the Liberian Mass Action for Peace. This coalition of Christian and Muslim women publicly protested against the Liberian President, the murderous warlord Charles Taylor, with any and every means at their disposal. Trusted leader of her “peace army,” Gbowee contributed to ending the civil war and bringing peace to her country, forever changing the course of Liberian history. In 2011, her work was recognized with the highest of honors, the Nobel Peace Prize. Gbowee is a founding member of the Ara Pacis Initiative.
Maria Nicoletta Gaida has extensive experience working in the international arena, where she has combined her unique cultural and professional background with creative approaches to today’s most pressing global issues. For over 20 years, Gaida has designed and implemented over 150 projects involving victims of conflict, survivors of war, rape, and sexual violence, warring factions, grass roots organizations, and leading personalities from the worlds of politics, religion, business, culture, and the arts. She has also established and managed non-profit associations, cultural centers and foundations. In 2010, Gaida invited 120 peacemakers from all regions of the world to Rome’s Ara Pacis (Altar to Peace) and established the Ara Pacis Initiative – a global not for profit organization dedicated to the human dimension of peace. Since 2011, for the Ara Pacis Initiative, she has created programs to address issues of acknowledgement, healing, justice, and reconciliation in Libya and Syria, with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Chamber of Deputies. In 2012, Gaida spearheaded the development of “Dignity Healing Testimony,” an approach that allows survivors of torture and other forms of violence to share their full life stories, not just their experiences of trauma, through a compassionate process that facilitates personal healing, the restoration of dignity, and the documentation of human rights violations. Gaida is the founder and President of the Ara Pacis Initiative.
Leonel Narvaez is the founder and co-director of Fundación para la Reconciliación (the ‘Foundation for Reconciliation’), which began working on peacebuilding in 2001. Since 2003, together with colleagues from Harvard University, Leonel has developed the ‘Escuelas de Perdón y Reconciliación’ (‘Schools of Forgiveness and Reconciliation’ – ESPERE), which supports victims of violence in learning how to forgive and use pro-social behavior to resolve inter-personal conflicts. ESPERE helps victims transform their negative memories, generate new narratives and break free of the past, in order to project their lives into the future and promote peace and co-existence. It works with vulnerable communities to encouraging civil participation, train young peace leaders and provide psychological assistance to ex-combatants, displaced people and victims of violence. The ESPERE method has been applied in prisons, business settings, schools and churches, and it’s practices have been taken to countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Canada and the United States, for replication of the peacebuilding model. Leonel is founding member and board member of the Ara Pacis Initiative. He conducts his workshops in partnership with psychologist Paula Monroy, co-director of the Fundacion para la Reconciliacion.
Donna Hicks is an Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, where she chairs the Herbert C. Kelman Seminar on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Dr. Hicks has spent nearly two decades in the field of international conflict resolution, facilitating dialogue between communities in conflict in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Cuba, and Northern Ireland. She was a consultant to the BBC, where she co-facilitated Facing the Truth, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a three-part television series which brought victims and perpetrators of the Northern Ireland conflict together to find resolution. Donna is the author of the bestselling book, Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict, published by Yale University Press. She is a founding member and vice president of the Ara Pacis Initiative.
Amy Hill is a trainer and consultant on strategic storytelling and participatory media for health, development, and human rights. After spending 12 years coordinating women’s health and violence prevention projects throughout California and learning the mechanics of digital video production as the producer of a series of educational documentaries about HIV and AIDS, she founded Silence Speaks (www.silencespeaks.org), an international initiative that since 1999 has employed oral history, facilitative filmmaking, and popular education strategies in more than 15 countries around the world, to support the telling and public sharing of life stories documenting injustice and promoting change. As a result of her extensive experience with trauma issues and international work, Hill currently specializes in the ethical implications of producing first-person media and in tailoring participatory storytelling methods to accommodate multiple languages and scarce technology resources. Amy holds a BA in British & American Literature from Scripps College and a MA in Social Sciences in Education, with a concentration in Gender Studies, from Stanford University.
Born in Chile, Elizabeth Lira received a Degree in Psychology from the Catholic University of Chile in 1971. Her educational work with farmers’ organizations started during college, and after the Pinochet coup, she directed this activity to helping victims by offering psychological support for their pain and facilitating their reintegration into their families and social environments. She has worked in prestigious organizations such as the American Institute of Mental Health and Human Rights and the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture. She is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Psychology at the University Alberto Hurtado, and she was a member of the Superior Council of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO). Lira is the recipient of the American Psychological Association International Humanitarian Award, for 2002. She received this award for her courage and dedication to alleviating the psychological effects of state-sponsored terrorism on the lives of people all over the world. Lira is a psychotherapist, psychosocial researcher, and international advocate in the field of mental health and human rights. She is also a Council Member of the Ara Pacis Initiative.
Harsh Mander is a social worker and writer. He has worked in the Indian Administrative Service in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh for almost two decades, mainly as the head of district governments of tribal districts. He is associated with social causes and movements, such for communal harmony, tribal, dalit, and disability rights, the right to information, custodial justice, homeless people and bonded labour. He is author of Looking away: inequality prejudice and indifference in the New India, Stories of Forgotten Lives; Fear and Forgiveness: The Aftermath of Massacre and The Ripped Chest: Public Policy and Poor in India.