Civilian Peace Service Canada (CPSC) grew out of an exploratory conference held in 2003 to consider whether the need existed in Canada for greater involvement of civilians in peace-related initiatives. Several conference participants, who had worked in conflict zones both domestically and internationally, reported how ill-prepared even the most experienced peace workers were for their respective assignments. Out of these conference discussions, a working group was formed and the CPSC was born.
Over the next five years, CPSC conducted rigorous research and consultations regarding a potential assessment process for peace professionals. This research discovered that while a plethora of institutions provide peace-related training (mediation, alternative dispute resolution, conflict resolution and transformation, arbitration, etc) ranging anywhere from a few days to a number of years, graduates from these programs are indiscriminately labelled as “experts” in the peace field, without sufficient attention to standardized course content, student comprehension, related practical experience, or professional achievement.
CPSC reported its findings in a White Paper (2008) that made the case for a civilian peace service and included detailed annexes assessing the current nature, state, and value-added of civilian peace services and training around the world. This report was delivered to all political parties in Canada and was widely distributed. Based on extensive research, the White Paper concluded that while many articles and papers debated a variety of competencies required for peace work, nowhere in the world was there a universally accepted set of principles and standards governing professional work in the peace field.
The CPSC took up the challenge and set itself the goal of developing a comprehensive framework and assessment process for professionalizing peace work. After years of rigorous research and consultation, this accreditation methodology was designed, tested, and successfully piloted.