Ep. 004:  Nagmeh Sobhani

Show Notes

  • A citizen of Burkina Faso, where she was born to an Iranian family
  • Her father was from a minority in Iran that was persecuted
  • After his passport expired, while working in Burkina Faso for the United Nations, the Iranian embassy did not issue a new passport, making the family stateless.
  • Currently lives in Brussels with her husband and two children
  • Because you cannot go somewhere and start something in the name of helping without engaging with the people in that village who know what needs to happen
  • You have to take into account the human dimension in order to have any effect
  • There can be a bit of an allergy to the concept of peacebuilding
  • The initial mandate for the pilot initiative of the Education For Peace Institute was small.
  • 13 autonomous ministers of education in a country of less than 4 million people illustrated the level of division
  • You must address the fundamental assumption about the other, the dichotomy between us and them
  • You must create safe spaces that allow a reexamination of this dehumanization
  • It starts from within and feeds into systems and structures and human interaction
  • Unity in the context of diversity
  • Preserving identities within the collective
  • You have to create a safe climate
  • Peacebuilding is engaging individuals, primary groups and intergroups, systems, and structures and individuals, in a creative and inclusive process to begin to establish or reestablish relations
  • In a fragile environment there had to be an ongoing collaborative partnership with the government
  • There needed to be engagement and ownership for the institutions
  • Within the international community there was pessimism as to what was possible to accomplish within the area; this had a negative impact
  • I wanted to create a space for the practitioners and members of the international community to allow the conversation to unfold, you could call it training
  • You must think through the frame of engagement
  • The work happens before you get anyone in the room together.
  • Successes allowed for people to expand their ideas of what would be possible, while dealing with the realities of a country in transition
  • There is an emerging understanding that for processes of reconstruction we cannot put aside the human aspect; the human aspect comes first
  • Columbia Teachers College did a pilot to attempt to come up with ways to measure success for the Education for Peace project
  • If you truly want to engage in peacebuilding, you need to plan for a sustained presence
  • Unicef has a mechanism on the ground for sustained presence
  • Unicef is attempting to position and situate peacebuilding as an important element of the way that all programs are rolled out.
  • Designing a training architecture for the Unicef staff so that from the beginning staff are able to integrate peacebuilding into their work
  • Engage the communities in a consultative process, and create a mechanism to manage conflict issues
  • Come into peacebuilding with an attitude of humble learning
  • This field has not reached perfection
  • Be kind to yourself and be willing to learn and to explore and experiment
  • Have conversations
  • Listen to your inner voice
  • Peacebuilding is a topic which every one of us has something to say about; it touches the heart of our humanness
  • The clash of opinions in the field is not a threat, it is how things grow 


  • Naghmeh Sobhani is a collaborative negotiation, post-conflict peacebuilding and conflict prevention consultant with expertise in developing and monitoring large-scale initiatives especially within fragile divided zones
  •  Training and facilitating participatory inclusive processes involving disputing groups
  • Worked for 12 years of leadership experience in Education for Peace Institute of the Balkans
  • Other organizations include UNDP-Crimea, UNICEF, OXFAM, UNESCO Northern Ireland and WINPEACE-Greece UN Secretariat
  • Attended LANDEGG International University in Switzerland, where she majored in leadership and management, minor in consultation and conflict resolution
  • Trained in principal-based negotiation by the Harvard program of Negotiation


Contact Nagmeh

You can contact Nagmeh via email at Nagmeh.Sobhani@Cglobal.com.