Yehudah Paz

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2009


This profile was prepared when Yehudah Paz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Yehudah realized early on in his career that peace cannot be achieved without improving the welfare of those living in adversity and conflict. He also discovered that the conventional “aid” model of development, along with official peace negotiations, is flawed in its top-down and paternalistic approach within societies in transition. In addition, the lack of training, resources, and support limits the potential for these societies to become emerging markets. Through a combination of social, economic, and human development, Yehudah addresses these aspects of a community’s complexity and distinct identity. Instead of using the traditional “foreign aid” or the Western development model, Yehudah’s approach is collaborative, combining outside expertise with cultural wisdom in a way that is effective, comprehensive and non-threatening. In addition, Yehudah’s approach and methodology can be applied to other high-potential conflict situations across the globe.

Yehudah’s model for societies in transition bridges the fields of international development and conflict resolution by linking human collaboration with economic development. As an early pioneer of the “people-to-people” development approach, Yehudah places high value on the role that people play in the development process in partnership with, rather than dependent upon, governmental and international agencies. Yehudah brings groups of people together from across the barriers of hatred and conflict, promotes understanding and knowledge of each other, and engages them in joint endeavors that improve their collective socioeconomic well-being.

In 1998 Yehudah created the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPED) in the effort to combine education and training with practical demonstration projects. NISPED plays two primary functions: A training institute that conducts courses, seminars, and study tours to educate and equip the next generation of peacemakers and also an orchestrator of local activities that promote, initiate, organize, and evaluate concrete economic and social projects using the tools of small and medium business enterprises. Yehudah’s work spans across three geographical spheres: Locally in Israel and the Palestinian Territories; regionally in the Middle East; and internationally in any locale experiencing movement along any or all continua. The combination of his efforts has demonstrated that societies in transition can and will sustain peace and have clear prospects for growth, improvement of living standards, and hope for the future.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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