Keeping people at the heart of the conflict in charge

Freek Landmeter (1964) is a man of building bridges. When he started his career as a civil engineer in international construction, he soon realised that there was more to building a bridge then pouring concrete. It’s all about people. It starts with the ‘why’; why would the people want a bridge. And then the ‘how’; building a bridge demands teamwork.

From 1993, he worked for Doctors without Borders in Former Yugoslavia, Congo, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone and became operational director in 1997. His people-centred and mediating approach showed useful in directing interventions in complex conflict affected contexts. Contexts with many national and international stakeholders, that often had different or even opposite expectations. Contexts in which the short-term emergency interventions are evidently interlinked with long term developments.

With a shifting interest in preventing conflict and crisis, in 2001, he became a statutory director at PAX, an international peace organization. PAX’s peace programmes, internal organisational processes and inter-agency processes, all again demanded a focus on the common interests and joint efforts. Respecting local knowledge and competences, strengthening shared leadership, ownership and responsibility, balancing autonomy and affiliation, recognizing peoples’ deeper values and prioritizing sustainable impact over speedy results, formed the basis of his passionate peace work.

What’s happening now?

By 2017, Freek joined IMO, the institute for human and organisation development, as an independent entrepreneur, consultant and developer in the field of leadership, dialogue and the development of organizations, communities and individuals. He is involved in new ways of organising, encouraging organizations and people to invest in shared, horizontal leadership, interfaith efforts for stronger institutional collaboration and initiatives strengthening social cohesion.


He is trained in Civil Engineering (BSC), Technical Business Administration (post BSC), Change Management (SIOO) and Mediation (Harvard). His work with Doctors without Borders and PAX, brought him to countries in South and Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Former Sovjet Republics and parts of Asia, both for short term interventions and longer term engagement.

Letter of recommendation, by Freek Landmeter

‘History knows many examples of impressive peace agreement that have been brokered by prestigious institutions and ambitious world leaders. Often these agreements are based on great political intentions and only mark the start of a long process of building peace. The actual peace building requires the courage, commitment and persistence of local heroes and communities. The involvement of these local forces is a precondition for realizing sustainable peace. Local mediators play an irreplaceable role in the efforts as they hold the immaterial capital of knowledge and appreciation of local contexts, contacts and relations. Without their involvement we risk international political efforts and financial incentives to be wasted over and over again.
Having worked in and on local and global violent conflicts for almost 25 years, I fully support the efforts of MBBI working on increased impact of peace mediation.
Bringing together lessons learned of both local mediators and international experts, is essential to make peace real. Harvesting best practices in preventing and mitigating conflict will strengthen the synergetic work of local and international efforts in building sustainable peace.’