The second issue of Building Peace, slated for release in late September, will focus on conflict prevention. We would like to give you a preview of what will be in that issue by announcing a project, recently launched by the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP), James Madison University (JMU), and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) designed to help deal with situations that arise after we fail to prevent conflict from turning violent.
Many of the issues that arise in conflict prevention and in post conflict transformation environments are similar in that failure in effectively ending conflict can pave the way to the breakout of further—and often more violent—conflict down the line., There is a growing consensus among most people who deal with violent conflict that our traditional approaches to peace and security are at a turning point. On the one hand, our responses to crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hotspots around the world have not enjoyed much success, in part because they have failed to take the many and interdependent causes and consequences of disputes into account either before or after they broke out into violence. On the other hand, we increasingly realize that greater cooperation among governments and civil society is necessary for effective policy responses to contemporary conflict. The difficulties inherent in this cooperation require the development of creative tools that enhance new and complementary capabilities among stakeholders.
We are encouraged by a series of new initiatives in the post-Afghanistan, post-Iraq era that increasingly view conflict prevention and post-conflict transformation together through a common lens. The military is looking to more comprehensive operations that include conflict termination, security cooperation, and conflict prevention rather than just war-fighting. The State Department, in turn, is increasing its focus on the prevention of mass atrocities and new priorities of conflict prevention and diplomacy in a time of fundamental changes in governance in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere. Further, the peacebuilding, development, and civil society communities are working in much greater proximity to both the military and the diplomatic community in more collaborative ways across a widening spectrum of peace and conflict activities.
Unfortunately, the realization that we should work together does not mean that we have been able to do so, which is why we have begun this project. Comprised of experts from the academic, peacebuilding, national security, public policy, and international communities, the JMU-AfP-USIP Conflict Transformation Standing Workgroup brings together individuals with expertise in all three “D’s” (defense, diplomacy, and development) who do not have a significant track record of working together. In its work, the group will pursue five overlapping goals:
- Expand the discussion among diverse groups on the various aspects of conflict transformation,
- Connect thought leaders so that they can expand interagency/cross organizational efforts that foster stability and reduce the likelihood of further outbreaks of violence in the medium- to long-term.
- Define new tools for strategic planning in transition management and peace building with an emphasis on inclusion, learning, adaption, and collaboration.
- Create tools for analyzing the complexity of conflict transformation by identifying common issues that arise in conflict situations while appreciating the specific circumstances that must be taken into account when defining goals and objectives on the ground.
- Establish new and enduring communities of practice to transform the way public and private sector actors formulate and implement policy in post-conflict settings.
Stay tuned for future developments and updates. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.