Over the past decades, instability, insecurity and oppression have spread globally. The events of 9/11 and the violent response afterwards have rapidly worsened this trend. Many societies are facing similar challenges: refugee crises, nationalist and religious extremism, a clampdown of freedoms and a spread of violent conflict. In the process, entire states have collapsed into chaos or succumbed to totalitarian regimes. Competing geopolitical interests, lack of leadership, and self-centered economic and political elites are actively undermining the lives and human dignity of millions. Unequal distribution of wealth and power and polarization along religious, ethnic, tribal or political lines keep people divided. Innocent people everywhere have become victims of war and left in situations of oppression, lawlessness and despair. Their voices have been neglected and their interests disregarded.
Worldwide, countless individuals are already working day-by-day to alleviate suffering and promote peace and justice within their own communities. These unnamed heroes often risk their own life and well-being in the process. Understanding their own history, culture, languages and politics like no one else, they are the ones to determine realistic ways towards justice, democracy and peace. However, the same civil society actors are often also weakened themselves by polarization, oppression, disinformation, trauma and a lack of power.