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Policy Briefs

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Latest Policy Briefs and Reports

Contemporary Peace Research and Practice

A Peace Research Agenda for the 21st Century: Report on an International Workshop (6–8 December 2019)

Summary Report  No.69 - February, 2020

What is the future agenda for peace research in the 2020s? Does peace research still have a distinct identity? What are the norms and values that peace research institutes espouse and can they influence practice in the face of the global challenges we face? This policy brief presents the summary from a meeting of the world’s major peace research institutes, convened by the Toda Peace Institute in December 2019, at which these questions were addressed. The meeting mapped out a new agenda for peace research, based on the main challenges which face the field. Potential for collaborative partnerships between the peace research institutes in these areas and new research directions were identified, and strategies for better integrating research and practice were explored. The meeting also outlined elements of a Code of Conduct for Peace Research institutes.

Climate Change and Conflict

Environmental Peacebuilding and Climate Change: Peace and Conflict Studies at the Edge of Transformation

Policy Brief  No.68 - December, 2019

This Policy Brief presents a comprehensive review of the literature on environmental conflict and peacebuilding. It traces the development of the field from its beginnings in the 1980s until today, identifying several distinct stages which are characterised by specific research questions, approaches and findings. Based on this literature review the authors address major gaps and shortcomings as well as problematic implications of the research so far. A critical approach is developed which can inform Environmental Peace and Conflict Studies in the future, taking up incentives from the field of Anthropocene Studies and the concepts of ‘sustaining peace’ and ‘sustainable peace.’ The Policy Brief concludes with some recommendations that can give direction for a new wave of research which is currently emerging.

Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Social Media and Conflict Dynamics on Northern Ireland’s Peace Lines

Policy Brief  No.67 - December, 2019

At interfaces between the Republican and Nationalist Catholic neighbourhoods and predominantly Loyalist and Unionist Protestant neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland, the violence during the ‘Troubles’ (1969-1999) was particularly raw and volatile. As the peace process took hold, enormous effort by community leaders, paramilitaries and other agencies has helped to gradually reduce street conflict to low levels. However, the rise of social media in the last 5-10 years has added a new dimension, both good and bad. Particularly concerning are arranged fights, often sectarian, involving the use of weapons. How does social media impact conflict dynamics in a post-conflict region like Northern Ireland? This policy brief explores the nature of the problem and how those at the frontline such as youth workers, residents and the police use social media to counter it, and offers recommendations for the future.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Social Media Arrives on the Nuclear Stage

Policy Brief  No.66 - November, 2019

This brief draws from a Nautilus Institute, Technology for Global Security, Preventive Defense Project workshop, when a speed-scenarios exercise involving nuclear weapons and social media experts and practitioners was conducted to explore antidotes to potentially catastrophic effects of social media on the risk of nuclear war. To anticipate how social media might play out in the world of nuclear early warning, studies of social media in other domains where it was used to promote extremist views and behaviour were examined: anti-vaccination, anti-Semitism, gang, ethnic, and terrorist violence in cities. Four “short circuit” hypothetical, imaginary scenarios were produced at the workshop that explored how and what circuit breakers might be created that avoid or overcome the destabilising effect of social media on nuclear early warning systems and nuclear command decisions.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Arms Control and World Order: A Chinese Perspective

Policy Brief  No.65 - November, 2019

This policy brief analyses the seriousness of the challenges that the international arms control system faces, to explore whether it is possible and how to maintain the values of arms control and to keep the world in strategic stability. With a particular focus on China’s policy on nuclear issues and attitude to nonproliferation, the author argues that it seems to be inevitable for the international arms control system to face challenges at the current stage. The challenges are real and serious, but it is still possible to keep the world restraint and away from military competition, if the world community can work together and re-regulate big powers into the international institutions.