Isak Svensson is Associate Professor at the Department for Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. He was formerly the Director of Research at the National Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, New Zealand. His latest book is Ending Holy Wars: Religion and Conflict Resolution, University of Queensland Press, 2012   With Peace Monitor we are aiming to highlight successful peace agreements or initiatives on local levels, that are often neglected in media reports. Have you experienced such peace agreements/initiatives on local level in your research and field visits? Or do you have any other good examples to share? On a macro-level the overall trend when it comes to peace agreements is not particularly encouraging. Peace agreements are generally becoming less frequent, which is a worrying trend. Cheap Fjallraven Kanken Mini The last two years we have only seen three peace agreements in armed conflicts. In 2011, there was the Addis Abeba Agreement between North and South Sudan, but this lasted only for a few days. A more hopeful event is the Bangsamaro agreement in the Philippines in 2012, which provided a comprehensive framework for the settlement of the long-standing conflict with the MILF, an Islamic-nationalist rebel group, fighting for self-determination for the Moros-Muslims in the Southern part of the country (Mindanao). The agreement provides a high degree of autonomy for the Muslim minority, and although it is not a final comprehensive agreement but more ofa sort of ”roadmap” for the coming negotiations, it is a landmark in this protracted social conflict, with its long drawn out negotiation process. This agreement is also noteworthy because it shows a way of regulating religious aspirations through the negotiation table, rather than fighting them out on the battle-field. A third peace agreement is so recent that by the time of writing we cannot judge whether it will be sustainable of not. In Central African Republic, a peace agreement was reached in the beginning of 2013, between the government of Francois Bozizé and the rebel-group Séléka. Beyond that, there has been a serious peace process in the Colombian conflict with peace negotiations in Oslo during 2012. Overall, these cases are important by themselves, but unfortunately, they represent a minority of armed conflict today: most are not resolved through peace agreements or negotiations. On a micro-level, there are of course many initiatives going on in the field of conflict resolution, conflict transformation and peace building all over the world. Among several initiatives, I would like to mention the Peace Clubs in Ethiopia, that for some time ago initiated a peacebuilding program at their campus, which had been affected by ethnic tension and violence between groups of students from different religious traditions and ethnic groups. Through a process called ‘Sustained Dialogue’ a group of young people engaged in active discussions about the problems and challenges regarding tension and violence at the Campus. They implemented this program, however, in an entirely new fashion: in conjuncture with a research team at Uppsala University and University of Otago, they randomly selected participations from a pool of interested candidates. After the program, the attitudes of the participants were surveyed and compared to those from the pool that were interested in participating, but that did not. This type of ‘randomized intervention’ is extremely interesting because it can help us to identify causal effects: we can draw inferences about the effect of the dialogue program in a credible way. I would like to highlight this particular effort because it shows the possibilities of cooperation between research and practice, and it shows the possibilities of designing projects in a way that we can credible say something about their effect on peace. Some conflicts get more attention internationally than others. In what ways can this attention be positive for conflict resolution and the potential for a lasting peace? In the unarmed uprisings in the Middle East and Northern Africa, the so-called Arab Spring, the media attention was largely a good thing. It helped to create a sense of momentum in the uprisings. sac à dos fjallraven kanken pas cher I do not think the media exposure is a requirement – nonviolent uprisings have been around much longer than Facebook and Twitter – but media coverage overall, and the new media forums in particular, may help to explain the exceptional spread of these types of conflicts. Attention on armed conflicts is sometimes an important requirement for conflict resolution. In some conflict situations, in particular in post-conflict societies, there is a need for donor support for economic development but also for the development of social infrastructure (a pluralistic civil society) and democratic institutions. Nike Air Huarache Pas Cher In conflicts that get more attention, there is generally a higher degree of political will to supply these kinds of resources. In other situations, peacekeeping or civilian observations can be important tools for peacemaking – again these types of measures require a commitment from the sender countries, which is partly a function of the amount and type of attention the conflict generates. It is notewor-thy that some mediators think that one of their most important assignments is to make the conflict in which they intervene known to the outside world, so that it moves up on the agenda of central policy makers. Lastly, attention is also important in order to create the kind of pressure that conflict resolution processes sometimes need in order to function properly. Nike Trainers UK Conflict resolution not uncommonly needs to be built on the perception of a certain degree of urgency, not the least from the perspective of the primary parties. When can the international community play a positive role? Negative role? Is there a risk that sometimes there is too much international involvement in peace negotiations? Overall the international community can play a positive role if it stays committed and engaged throughout a peace process, if it is unified in aims and coordinated in its actions to the conflicting actors, and if the external actors is seriously interested in resolving the conflict. On the other hand, international engagement can be problematic if the external actors have strong ‘side-interests’ beyond resolving the conflict; or if the international community is fragmented and uncoordinated. new balance 999 homme If there are too many actors that do not coordinate their efforts, there is a risk that the primary parties may take advantage of this and engage in ‘forum-shopping’, trying to utilize the particular mediator that can offer them the best deal, and play out the different mediators and peacemakers against each other. There is also the risk of a sort of ‘peace process fatigue’, where actors in conflict become disillusionized about the prospects for achieving peace through negotiations, because there have been too many previous failed efforts. However, as the Syrian case illustrate so starkly, the main problem is not that we have too many peacemakers in the world, but that they are not allowed to act in some of the most important crisis of today. Media often reports about wars and disasters, but very seldom about local peace initiatives. Why is that so do you think? Can you mention a couple of consequences (positive or negative) of this selective reporting? Either for the conflict itself or for the wider ”international community” to invest in peaceful conflict resolution instead of military interventions? In recent research coming out from the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, we can show that peacemakers from inside the conflicting societies are important mediators. These types of domestic peace actors may have particular advantages in terms of higher degree of legitimacy but also more capabilities to access and process sensitive information in peace processes. We can see that these type of insider increase the likelihood of negotiated settlements through their mediation efforts, they are in other words, effective as peacemakers. However, they are also selective: they tend to be engaged in conflicts of lower intensity and are relatively rare when conflicts become more violent. What do you think can be done to more promote the positive and successful peace efforts? I think it is very disconcerting that we do not know much about the effect of peace efforts, because they have rarely been scrutinized through systematic research. If we compare with mechanisms for economic and social development, where controlled field experiment through randomized interventions have been relatively frequent the last years, it is clear that peacebuilding, peace promotion and conflict resolution clearly lack behind. The problematic consequence is that we basically do not know what the effects of peace efforts are. I think this an important challenge: for donors, organizations and peace movements, it is necessary to a much higher degree than expose their own activities to systematic studies, through randomized field experiments. This would require peace-oriented actors to focus their activities, and gradually, as the effects become clearly established, scale up their engagements, instead of spreading their engagement out (geographically and temporally) in a manner that makes it difficult to see their effects. There have been a lot of discussions the last decades about the principle of ‘do-no-harm’, but perhaps we need to move to the idea of ‘know-what-you-do’ as an even more basic underlying principle for engagement in peace building. After 9/11 and the ’war on the terrorism’, it seems as if military solutions and military interventions have been used more often to address conflicts. Why is that so? Do you agree? In 2011 there were nine intrastate armed conflicts that were ‘internationalized’, that is, there were outside intervention on either the government or the rebel-side in the conflict. new balance running homme soldes That was the same frequency as in 2010. Yes, this is more frequent than around the year of 2001. Overall, we can see that such foreign intervention in intrastate conflicts may complicate the resolution of conflicts, although foreign interventions sometimes may also help to pressure the parties to the negotiation table. In early 2013, we see French foreign military intervention in Mali. In the year of 2011 (which is the last year reported in UCDP), US troops or unmanned military drones supported the government of Iraq, the government of Yemen against the AQAP (al-Qaeda on the Arab Peninsula), and the government of Afghanistan against the Taleban movement conflict, and it received support from France in the al-Qaida conflict. Moreover, Niger supported the government of Algeria and the government of Mauritania was supported by troops from Niger and Mali: these were the conflicts with the Islamist AQIM rebel-group. Rwanda was supported by DRC in its fight against the FDLR rebel group, the government of Somalia was supported by Ethiopia and Kenya when fighting against Al-Shabaab; and the government of Uganda was supported by troops from DR Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic in its fight against the Lord Resistance Army (LRA). All these empirical cases shows that military interventions are quite frequent in intrastate armed conflicts nowadays. It also shows a certain degree of ‘bias’ to the government sides, in 2011, all interventions were on the side of the government, and military interventions on the rebel-side is hence rather rare. And relating to that question, how are the uprisings in the Arab world over the last two years affecting the view on peace and conflict resolution, in terms of academic research? Can these movements have an effect on how peace and conflict resolution is discussed on a political level? The Arab Spring has lead to a renewed interest in studies not only to armed, but also to unarmed conflicts, which is very encouraging. There are now several efforts, for instance, to collect data on a global scale on nonviolent uprisings, which is necessary for serious comparative analysis of these types of nonviolent conflicts. Compared to what we know about armed conflicts, the lack of knowledge on unarmed conflict is problematic. More data on these types of nonviolent conflicts could help us to understand the conditions under which they ‘work’. In terms of research, there is a disconnect between conflict resolution scholars and scholars studying nonviolent uprisings (or, what we may call ‘conflict revolution scholars’). The two different academic discourses are largely kept separate. This echoes, I think, also policy-making were conflicts are either framed as nonviolent popular uprisings against undemocratic regimes, where the questions for the outside world is how to support the challengers, or as intrastate conflicts between ethnic groups, where the outside world can help by keeping the peace or mediating between the parties. Clearly the world is not that black and white, and conflicts do not fall neatly into those categories. Rather, there is a certain mismatch empirically between these two ‘ideal types’. It is therefore an important challenge for research in the coming years to synchronize insights from conflict revolution research with conflict resolution research. For instance, how can power be shared between antagonists after unarmed uprisings? What types of mediators are most suited for mediating in nonviolent conflicts? What is peace guaranteed (peace guarantees) after popular nonviolent uprisings? These are some of the questions that urgently need answers.

 

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  1. [...] Through a process called 'Sustained Dialogue' a group of young people engaged in active discussions about the problems and challenges regarding tension and violence at the Campus. They implemented this program, however, in an …  [...]

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