Learning From Our Experience. In Conflict/Violence Prevention
“Learning from Our Experience In Conflict/Violence Prevention,” held in Medford, Massachusetts, USA, July 28-29, 2011.

Convened by Professor Eileen Babbitt, Toda Institute Senior Research Fellow; Professor of Practice, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

Conference Proceedings

This workshop, convened at the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Medford, MA, brought together a selected group of people who are actively engaged in designing and implementing conflict prevention initiatives. The purpose was to identify the key things learned so far about what "works" to prevent political violence, and what questions should drive our analysis to improve efforts going forward. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, the BEFORE Project, and CDA Collaborative Learning Projects.

To focus our discussion, we used two overarching criteria to guide our workshop. The first was to define conflict prevention very specifically as "primary" prevention - i.e., efforts that take place in the early stages of conflict, before violence has occurred. Referring to the "conflict escalation curve" that diagrams levels of violence over time, this means concentrating on either end of the curve, as escalation is beginning or as it is ending and moving toward "peace" after massive violence has taken place. The emphasis was therefore NOT on crisis management or mid-conflict interventions, but on attempting to prevent crises from happening.

The second criterion to frame the analysis was an interest in creating "peace writ large." We wanted to know what can be done to influence the forces in society and national politics that are increasing the chances of political violence in the countries/regions at risk. This included looking at what strategies actually move political elites to adopt non-violent rather than violent approaches to political development and statebuilding.

Workshop participants included representatives of five organizations engaged in designing and implementing conflict prevention projects:

The Conflict Prevention Team, Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery of UNDP The Burundi Leadership Training Program, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars The U.S. Institute of Peace, Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention The BEFORE project, a collaboration of swisspeace and the Alliance for Peacebuilding The Conflict Prevention group of GPPAC (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict)

  • The Conflict Prevention Team, Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery of UNDP
  • The Burundi Leadership Training Program, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars
  • The U.S. Institute of Peace, Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention
  • The BEFORE project, a collaboration of swisspeace and the Alliance for Peacebuilding
  • The Conflict Prevention group of GPPAC (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict)

The participants engaged in a critical assessment of each of their prevention approaches, by addressing the following questions:

  1. What are our theories of change? How are they similar or different?
  2. On what aspects of peace writ large have we had an impact in any of the countries where we have been engaged? What are these impacts, and have we been able to identify what led to those successes?
  3. What challenges have we faced? Any disappointments? What changes have we made, if any, in response?
  4. How have we documented our conflict prevention work? Do we have an M&E system geared specifically towards assessing prevention?

At the conclusion of the 1½ day meeting, the participants decided on the following next steps:

  • Maintain communication among these five organizations, to continue the conversation about best practice for prevention
  • Explore the possibility of creating a larger network of organizations worldwide that focus on primary prevention, to share information and learning; draw upon the AfP project on Mapping of Peacebuilding and the International Alert Conflict Prevention Network to identify such organizations
  • Organize learning groups of organizations engaged in similar practice (e.g., Track 1.5 prevention efforts)
  • Pursue funding for a more extensive learning project on prevention practice; CDR Collaborative Learning Projects to take the lead

Workshop Participants:

Tatsushi Arai is Associate Professor of Conflict Transformation at SIT Graduate Institute, Vermont. He is also a Research Fellow for the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research.

Eileen Babbitt is Professor of Practice at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She is also Chair of the Governing Board for the BEFORE project and a Senior Research Fellow for the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research.

Emmanuelle Bernard is on the Conflict Prevention Team for the UNDP/Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR), New York.

Emmanuelle Bernard is on the Conflict Prevention Team for the UNDP/Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR), New York.

Kevin Clements is Chair in Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand. In addition he is the Secretary General and a Senior Research Fellow for the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research.

Heinz Krummenacher is the CEO for the BEFORE project and Co-director of swisspeace, Bern, Switzerland.

Sverre Lodgaard is the Former Director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and is a Senior Research Fellow at NUPI and is a Senior Research Fellow for the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research.

Michael Lund is a Senior Specialist in Conflict and Peacebuilding for Management Systems International. He is also a Consulting Program Manager for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC and is a Member of the Governing Board for the BEFORE Project.

Elizabeth McClintock is Managing Partner at CMPartners in Cambridge, MA and the lead facilitator of the Burundi Leadership Training Program sponsored by the Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC.

Toshiyuki Nasukawa is a Research Fellow for the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, Tokyo, Japan.

Mark Rogers is a Peacebuilding Monitoring & Evaluation specialist from Bellingham, Washington.

Chaiwat Satha-Anand is a Professor of political science at Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand and the Director of the Thai Peace Information Centre. He is also a Senior Research Fellow for the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research.

Satoko Takahashi is the Research Director for the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research based out of their Honolulu Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.

William Tsuma is the Program Manager for Preventive Action, GPPAC in The Hague, Netherlands.

Abiodun Williams is the Vice President of the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention at the US Institute of Peace, Washington, DC.

Lawrence Woocher is a Program Officer at the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, US Institute of Peace, Washington, DC.

Peter Woodrow is Co-Director of Reflecting on Peace Practice Project for the CDA Collaborative Learning Projects. He is also a Member of the Governing Board of the BEFORE project as well as the Working Group on Preventive Action for the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC).

Participant Pictures
Reap Workshops 2011