Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Focus on Peace Education

A number of our interviewees for the Agents of Peace project have made note of a lack of peace education as an obstacle to building and sustaining a peaceful society. Increasingly universities across Canada and the United States are offering programs related to Peace and Conflict Studies, particularly at the graduate level. It is notable that the investment in Peace education has been dubbed a fear response to international crises - particularly relating to terrorist activities witnessed in the past decade. This explains the focus of many of the already existing programs on violent conflict management. Regardless of the impetus for the increasing focus on peace studies, we choose to celebrate it. 

So here is a list of a couple programs across Canada and the United States that focus on Peace studies. (This is certainly not a complete list of all related programs; if there are some missing that you think are notable, please let us know!)

  • Rutgers University - Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies - Newark, NJ, USA
    • This interdisciplinary programs is based in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and is oriented to the social bases of conflict and cooperation, of war and peace. Social dimensions include topics of migration, economic development, environmental degradation, inequality, education, race, ethnicity, religion, and gender.
  • Royal Roads University - BA in Justice Studies, Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management, Conflict Analysis and Management, and Human Security and Peacebuilding -  Victoria, BC, Canada
    • The school offers interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs that respond to the increasing demand for leadership in humanitarian assistance, social reconstruction and conflict management. Their programs are directed towards working professionals or those looking for a career in peacebuilding.
  • University of Waterloo - Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies - Waterloo, ON, Canada
    • Recognizing conflict as an inescapable part of the human experience, and a potential vehicle for positive change at local, national, and international levels, this master’s degree offers a unique approach to peace education in which dynamic, sustainable, and creative solutions to conflict can be imagined, tested, and applied.
  • University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs - BA in Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies - Toronto, ON, Canada
    • The Peace, Conflict and Justice program confronts some of humanity's most complex challenges. It offers an undergraduate B.A. degree that emphasizes the integration of practical and theoretical knowledge, the interdisciplinary nature of peace and conflict studies, and the value of incorporating research into undergraduate education.
  • University of Texas at Austin - Certificate in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies - Austin, TX, USA
    • Bridging Disciplines Programs allow you to earn an interdisciplinary certificate that integrates area requirements, electives, courses for your major, internships, and research experiences. The Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies BDP offers you the opportunity to both study and promote conflict resolution in interpersonal, institutional, societal, and global contexts. Students in this program will explore the causes and consequences of various forms of violence, as well as the conditions of peace. In addition to gaining a more sophisticated understanding of peace and conflict, students will also learn about and practice skills necessary for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
  • University of Manitoba - PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies - Winnipeg, MA, Canada
    • The Ph.D. Program in Peace and Conflict Studies provides a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to prepare students to pursue independent research aimed at analyzing and resolving the complex issues facing the global milieu of peace and conflict using a variety of conflict resolution, social justice, and peace studies tools, processes, and methods.

So there you are! There are plenty of programs across Canada and the US that offer programs in peace and conflict studies. Increasingly, programs are also focusing on the idea of Peace Itself, rather than peace as conflict management. This is an exciting time for peace research and education in North America and we are happy to be a part of it!

For more information about peace studies or to learn about Conflict Resolution training with our partners at CIIAN you can comment, send us a message on Facebook, email nupri.johanna@gmail.com or nupri.lieann@gmail.com or visit us on youtube at Youtube.com/peacefulagents



Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The geography of hate

(This is a response to USB researchers' Twitter "Hate Map", written by NUPRI's research assistant, Johanna Fraser)

A recent map created using twitter posts as reference points for understanding where and how much hate exists in the United States has recently been brought to light. The map, which can be found here, uses hateful speech--homophobic, anti-disability, and racist twitter posts--to show the so-called "geography of hate" in America. Researchers--led by Dr. Monica Stephens at Humboldt State University--use the map to geo-tag the origins or hateful speech on twitter based on negative references to particular keywords--queer, fag, cripple, and dyke being examples.

The map has, in my opinion, rightly, received a lot of heat for the possibility of presenting a flawed or misleading view of the general views of individuals living in particular regions. The data used to create the map was collected from an aggregation of all Tweets posted between June 2012 and April 2013 that used the "hate" keywords. These tweets were then screened by students to classify them as either positive or negative and only those deemed negative by the screeners were used to create the map.

On a very basic level this project seems to make an interesting point about hate in America, particularly hate on the internet in America. However, besides the obvious problem with relying on subjective student understandings of what constitutes positivity or negativity in relation to hate speech, the map has a deeper and more harmful impact.

That is, while it is important to draw attention to hate it is also, as silly and optimistic as it sounds, it is also important--if not more important--to draw attention to love.

North Americans, I propose, are infatuated with darkness. Numerous papers in the last decade have focused on this aspect of the modern psyche. While it is not necessarily a new phenomenon in the history of humanity--Greek tragedy certainly presents us with a dark image on par with modern art and film--it is becoming more and more acceptable for people, particularly in our neck of the woods, to focus on the darker side of life. In casual conversation about the merits of this or that week's top box-office hit the common thread is that movies are better when they are more realistic; and what makes them more realistic in our eyes? Well, a film can be said to be realistic when it presents us with the darker underside of humanity--that part of us that exists in all of us but which we hide--our darker side. Thinkers have been quick to claim that this explains our generation's obsession with Vampires, Werwolves and Zombies. These mythical creatures present us with a more "realistic", if metaphorical, view of human nature. Inside all of us is a monster. Perhaps that is why we love True Crime television shows, why our favourite characters are the anti-heros, the Dexter Morgans, the Hannibal Lecters, and even more banally, the drug-addicted Jackie Peytons and rude and uncompromising Dr. Houses.

Works like Dr. Stephens' "hate map" do the same thing that modern art and popular culture do to us. It presents us with a distorted understanding of reality. It shows us where hate is strongest, but ignores where, even within those boundaries of, for example, anti-queer speech, love exists. On first glance, for example, it would appear that the entire Mid to Far Eastern U.S. is rife with racism. When one first clicks on the "racist" option the entire right side of the map lights up a glowing bright red--indicating, according to the creators, the "most hate". A swift double click, though, and you find that within the glowing red glob there are in fact only a few counties and regions that contain within them large numbers of hateful Tweets, double click again and you find that in fact there are only a few towns, some of which are quite sparsely populated that still glow red, the rest of the map left either a light or dark blue indicating "some hate" or--more commonly--not lit up at all.

My question, then, is whether we might find out that in those non-lit up places, or in the light blue shaded areas, or even in the middle of the most frighteningly and brightly red towns we might find, if we cared to look, the most powerful sentiments of love. We have, as I noted already, a tendency to look on the dark side. We think it is realistic to presume that the United States is hateful, racist and homophobic. That's what we see on the news and in films and in popular culture and that is the image which is presented to us by researchers like the ones as HSU that created this map of the geography of hate. But it is not the truth. The world is not a dark place. It is a place with both light and dark and sometimes, if you know where to look, or if you even just care to open your eyes to it, you will find that the light has a way of outshining the darkness in the same way that when you are in a dark room the light from the hallway finds it way in through the crack at the bottom of the door.

So, my message of peace for the day is to find the light in even the darkest of places and Tweet, post and talk about that instead. Perhaps, then, researchers can create a map highlighting the Geography of Love.



Friday, 10 May 2013

Shirley Farlinger's 25 easy (and not so easy) ways to promote peace

Shirley Farliner, a fellow Agent of Peace, to whom I had the absolute privilege of speaking to about peace in late 2011 past away this past winter. Shirley was an absolute fire-cracker of a woman. She was for many years a volunteer editor for, and contributor to, Peace Magazine, a member of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Science for Peace and Pugwash. And to the very end she was a board member of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health. She ran federally for the Green Party in its early days and later for the NDP. Shirley was also the first woman president of the Toronto Eglinton Rotary Club and a past president of the University Women’s Club of Toronto.

After our interview in 2011 Shirley sent NUPRI a letter outlining 25 simple ways in which individuals can promote peace in their every-day lives, in their communities, in the nations and in the world. We though that in honour of her we would share these with you. 


Since talking to you about peace I have though of so many more things that can and are being done for peace by individuals and groups.

  1. Wear a peace t-shirt or button
  2. Sign your letters "peace" instead of "yours"
  3. Visit the UN and take the tour
  4. Urge your mayor to join "Mayors for Peace" 
  5. Go on all suitable peace walks
  6. Protest outside companies producing military goods
  7. Get your town, province, country declared a "Nuclear Free Zone" (Ontario is!)
  8. Get rid of war toys and label play areas "war toy free"
  9. Support campaigns to end nuclear weapons, cluster bombs, etc. 
  10. Help publicize peace events--hand out leaflets
  11. Write letter to the editor
  12. Write a poem, story, or book!
  13. Join or start a "Raging Grannies" group
  14. Visit www.peacewomen.org
  15. LEarn about Security Council Resolution 1325, passed unanimously in October 2000 mandating the inclusion of women in all peacemaking, war prevention meetings
  16. Put on my play, "The 1325 Key to Peace", a comedy (don't know where we can find this now)
  17. Promote peace films
  18. Vote for like-minded politicians
  19. Run for office
  20. Link ecology, climate change and peace (the military causes large CO2 emissions in wars, training and research)
  21. Maintain your own ideals even in the face of criticism
  22. Set up a Peace Garden in your school, university or workplace with a bench for negotiating conflicts
  23. Sign onto the various petitions on the web relating to peace. Number count. 
  24. Contact refugees at your school or elsewhere and hear their stories
  25. Never give up. Remember you are doing the most important work in the world

                     Shirley Farlinger

We hope that this list will inspire you to get out there and live your peace. Shirley did until she could do it no more. Now its your turn.


Johanna Fraser
Research Assistant, NUPRI

Friday, 19 April 2013

My Experience Working For NUPRI and My Definition of Peace

         My name is Nick Hathorn, I am in my fourth year at Nipissing University in the Political Science program and I am currently a research assistant here at NUPRI.  My first formal encounter with NUPRI happened at the end of the 2011-2012 school year when I was approached to partake in NUPRI's first ever intimate conversation on the problem of peace with a friend and fellow student of mine.  In February of 2013 I was approached by NUPRI to take over the position of their research assistant, which involved combing through the many enlightening interviews that NUPRI has conducted over the years.  While working on these interviews I was presented with a plethora of thought provoking and thought challenging definitions of peace and the obstacles of peace.  This post will discuss how my working with NUPRI has changed and supported my definition of peace through the various interviews they have conducted.  

            In the intimate conversation on the problem of peace that I took part in last year I was asked what does peace mean to me as an individual.  At the time I took peace to mean inner peace.  My definition then was that people needed to be first and foremost at peace with themselves and who they are as an individual.  I believed and still do believe that if people are insecure with who they are, their ways of life, and their beliefs, it is more difficult for the insecure person to accept any beliefs or ways of life other than their own as valid or legitimate (Nick Hathorn and Matthew Welwood, Intimate Conversation on the Problem of Peace, April 21 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMNjOjVlm5g).  When working on the interviews conducted by NUPRI I discovered that other individuals shared my idea of inner peace such as Claude Desjardins (Interview with Claude Desjardins, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-h4y9SME1E&list=PL5B9E20CABF823A88&index=3).  Claude believes that this state of inner peace is achieved by having a balance of the masculine and feminine.  I believe that Claude may be on to something here, there is no doubt that the masculine has long been dominant in society and could be very well be the cause of many conflicts in our societies.  However I stand by my claim that inner peace is achieved by accepting who you are, how you live your life, and in your sets of beliefs.  I believe that many conflicts (not all) can be boiled down, in essence to insecurity. 

         When an individual or even a country is insecure they have a tendency to otherize.  An insecure person for example who is not secure in their religious beliefs may feel threatened by other existing religious beliefs and as a result will turn a person with those other beliefs into an other.  What I mean is that human beings throughout history have often defined themselves through what they are not, this is what it is meant by othering.  The Romans for example identified who they were by comparing themselves to the other, in the case of the Romans it was the Gauls.  Every trait that Romans saw as being well un-roman was attributed to the Gauls, traits like cannibalism, savagery, lack of law and order, which turned the Gauls into a sort of monster that Romans could point their fingers at and say we are roman because we are not like them.   When people or a state otherizes a group, they are indirectly claiming that the way in which these people live, who they are, and what they believe is barbaric and by extension is not a legitimate way of life. 

         It is this practice of othering that has led to wide spread racism, cultural intolerance, and prejudices that have been plaguing human societies for thousands of years.  Countless atrocities have been committed on the claim that a certain group of people were different and other than ourselves.  The Crusades for example where many thousand of individuals killed and died in the name of a peaceful god, was justified on the basis that Muslims and their different beliefs were in someway wrong.  So long as people and states are insecure the practice of othering will always be prevalent in society.  It is my belief that unless this practice of othering comes to and end we will never be able to achieve a lasting sustainable peace for all peoples.  Brennain Lloyd (project coordinator for Northwatch) in her interview with NUPRI also claims that one of the greatest obstacles to peace is the practice of othering (Interview with Brennain Lloyd, August 19 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UrZJlwlLHU&list=PL640AB1163E63F093&index=3)

         This insecurity occurs not just on the level of the individual but also on the level of the state and as a result can be found within foreign policies.  The United Sates foreign policy, especially under the Bush doctrine, reflected their insecurity.  As a result much of America’s foreign policy is governed by what is referred to as preemptive warfare or preventative warfare (both of which in my opinion are really just the same thing).  Preemptive warfare like that of Iraq is meant to repel or defeat a perceived threat.  The insecurity of the United States in my opinion has always stretched back to Pearl Harbor where the American’s were attacked without warning.  Despite the wealth and military power of the United States, Pearl Harbor has left a permanent scar on their security.  This scar I feel has put the United States in a state of paranoia and insecurity.  The whole aim of preemptive warfare in my opinion is to prevent an attack on the U.S. by striking first and dictating where and how the war will be fought.  This scar was further deepened after the events of 911, which caused the Bush doctrine and preemptive warfare to become the crux of American foreign policy.  The United States due to these two events led the States to becoming so insecure that they began to use preemptive warfare as an excuse to attack the Middle Eastern barbarian that was created out of American insecurity after the events of 911.  Even when there was concrete proof that Iraq did not in fact have WMD’s, America’s insecurity still led them to engage in a long a bloody war for no reason other than insecurity.  Shirley Farlinger in her interview with NUPRI claims that we will never have a peaceful world unless countries like the United States change their foreign policy (Interview with Shirley Farlinger, July 20 2011, http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL113A5E8749A29457). 

After going through the interviews conducted by NUPRI and being exposed to a plethora of definitions, I have become more secure in my own definition of peace.  During these interviews many brilliant definitions have been given, for example peace with the environment, global peace, domestic peace, action vs. non-action, and each and every one of them is a valid definition of peace.  What I have truly learnt here at my time with NUPRI is how multifaceted peace really is.   My definition is merely one of many and is perhaps just a small part to the multifaceted puzzle that is peace.  Many of these interviews do not discuss peace in terms of inner peace, instead people like David Tal claim that peace is the permanent dismembering of militaries and being able to have open communications with other nations (Interview with David Tal, March 2 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQim-DRi7r4&list=PL814AA21B25FD9721).  While David’s definition in terms of military dismembering is quite different from my own does not make it any less valid due to peace being multifaceted.   The open communication part of his definition however I feel is directly connected to my definition of peace.  Open and honest communication between different cultures or peoples with different beliefs can only be achieved when both (or all) parties are secure within themselves.  A person or a state that is insecure in its beliefs and way of life will be unable to accept opposing viewpoints.  If an insecure person or state cannot accept opposing beliefs or ways of life, open and honest communication cannot be achieved.  If honest and open communications cannot be held between people or states then we will never come to any sort of consensus as to how to coexist peacefully with one another.  

States like individuals need to accept other cultures, ideas, lifestyles, and beliefs in order to coexist peacefully with one another.  This acceptance comes from being secure with ones own lifestyle and beliefs.  Once a state or person is secure in their own beliefs and ways of life, an open and honest dialogue can then be had to discuss how to overcome the many other obstacles to peace.  So long as states and individuals remain in a state of insecurity the practice of othering will always be around and as a result we will be unable to ever create a peaceful society or even begin a dialogue about achieving peace.  Inner peace, accepting who you are and then being able to accept others, is the first step of many in achieving a true sustainable peace. 

Special thanks to Dr. Koivukoski of Nipissing University’s Political Science Department for this amazing opportunity to work along side him and aid him in the Agents of Peace Project that NUPRI has been working on. 

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Reflecting on CIIAN Intro to Conflict Resolution workshop

January 18th was a great day for NUPRI, Nipissing and CIIAN; it was the day of our first cosponsored workshop on Conflict Resolution  Attended by individuals from the Nipissing faculty, administrative staff, Bachelor of Education program, Arts and Science students from multiple fileds, as well as local community members, it was, to say the least, a fantastic success.

Evan Hoffman, director of CIIAN (the Canadian International Institute for Applied Negotiation) shared with attendees a myriad of useful tip, tidbits and mechanism for use in dealing with conflict on a personal level, professionally and internationally.

Those who attended benefited from Dr. Hoffman's first hand experience as a negotiator and researcher in places like Guinea-Bissau and Nairobi, as well as domestically.

The highly interactive workshop offered attendees the opportunity to participate in group and one on one role playing exercises in order to learn through practice some of the key aspects of negotiation and conflict resolution, whether as a participants in a conflict or as a negotiator, attempting to mediate conflicts.

I had the pleasure of attending this workshop as a representative of NUPRI and Nipissing University's Political Science program. Some of the greatest lessons I learned through participation in Dr. Hoffman's unique role playing exercises were how easy it is to fall into the habits of defensiveness and aggressiveness, and how important it is to maintain open and effective communication. Putting all the cards on the table, so to speak, makes negotiating difficult subjects far simpler and makes coming to peaceful resolutions more manageable.

Speaking to other attendees after the workshop revealed that the experience had galvanized in more than a few the drive to pursue further studies, whether through similar workshops or graduate education, in the field of mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution. This is the best possible that NUPRI, Nipissing and CIIAN could have hoped for through offering a workshop such as this one.

For those who were unable to attend this workshop--never fear. NUPRI's continued partnership with CIIAN is certain to yield more workshops and programs of this sort offered at Nipissing in the future. Until then, getting in contact with NUPRI can offer a unique oppotunity to learn about peace practitioners and the like in Canada, and more precisely, our community. Visit our youtube page to see videos of interviews with agents of peace: youtube.com/peacefulagents

If you would like to learn about CIIAN and any future workshops they will be offering throughout the province, visit ciian.org. 

Until next time,


(Research Assistant, NUPRI)

Friday, 23 November 2012

Conflict resolution in practice

A recent conference at Nipissing University hosted in partnership with CIAAN instigated a discussion into conflict resolution and the possibility of translating individually-based resolution strategies into the context on international armed conflict.

When the subject of conflict resolution and prevention is breached it is often in the context of international armed conflict. A most apt example would be the Gaza conflict--a timely topic on everyone's mind at the moment. A conflict that has raged on for many years, culminating in violent acts, murders, and threats, is certainly one definition of conflict itself. On the other hand, conflict can be far less bloody and yet equally dangerous to the individual. Given this, it is pertinent for us to understand what we mean when we speak of conflict. Further, it incites a need for us to understand how conflicts can be effectively managed in order to not cause more harm.

Conflict, commonly understood, occurs when individuals or parties perceive that, as a consequence of a given disagreement, there is a threat to their needs, interests or concerns. Conflict  then, does not necessarily exclusively pertain to state/international bodies. Rather, conflict is an almost inherent part of the human experience. As such, could it be possible that the tools we use to resolve personal conflicts can be used to resolves ones of an international/transnational nature? More succinctly put: can conflict resolution practices utilized in personal conflict situation translate into an international context?

In the 1970s Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann identified five main styles of dealing with conflict that vary in their degrees of cooperativeness and assertiveness. They argued that people typically have a preferred conflict resolution style. However they also noted that different styles were most useful in different situations. They developed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) which helps you to identify which style you tend towards when conflict arises.

Thomas and Kilmann's styles are:

Competitive: People who tend towards a competitive style take a firm stand, and know what they want. situations.
Collaborative: People tending towards a collaborative style try to meet the needs of all people involved.
Compromising: People who prefer a compromising style try to find a solution that will at least partially satisfy everyone.
Accommodating: This style indicates a willingness to meet the needs of others at the expense of the person's own needs.
Avoiding: People tending towards this style seek to evade the conflict entirely.

The idea behind this theory is that once you understand the different styles, you can use them to think about the most appropriate approach (or mixture of approaches) for the situation you're in. You can also think about your own instinctive approach, and learn how you need to change this if necessary.

Ideally you can adopt an approach that meets the situation, resolves the problem, respects people's legitimate interests, and mends damaged working relationships.

This is not the only way to approach conflict resolution, though. Conflict resolution often must be sensitive to culture. In homogenous cultural contexts, successful conflict resolution usually involves fostering communication among disputants, problem solving, and drafting agreements that meet their underlying needs. In these situations, conflict resolvers often talk about finding a mutually satisfying solution for everyone involved. However, in heterogenous cultural context this approach may be ineffective. Indeed, it is still important to find "win-win" solutions but the process of finding that solution is a little more rocky. In these contexts, direct communication between disputants that explicitly addresses the issues at stake in the conflict can be perceived as very rude, making the conflict worse and delaying resolution. Rather, it can make sense to involve religious, tribal or community leaders, communicate difficult truths indirectly through a third party, and make suggestions through narratives and the like. 

Now, the idea that such processes can translate into a broader, international context is contentious. Groups like our partners at CIAAN operate under the assumption that mediatory activities and communication can lead to peaceful resolution in the context of violent conflict, but their results have been mixed. 

It is a question that then must be left open to experience to answer. Mediation certainly seems helpful, and many scholars and practitioners would agree that it preferable to the alternative. This is not to suggest that every intractable conflict can be mediated. Many conflicts may be too intense, the parties too entrenched and the behaviour too violent for any mediator to achieve any desirable outcome. In many cases, a conflict only ceases to become intractable when there is a major systemic change. How then can we distinguish between conflicts that can be mediated and those that cannot? When should mediators enter an intractable conflict?

These questions have been answered in many different ways in the past. Jacob Bercovitch, a professor of international relations in the Political Science Department at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, offers a very helpful list to understand which conflicts can be mediated and when mediators are appropriate, cited below. But this list is certainly not the only perspective offered on the subject. 

We are interested to know what you think on the subject. Is mediation the answer? And, can we use the same tools that we use for personal conflict in the context of international armed conflict? 

1. Mediators can engage in an intractable conflict only after a thorough and complete analysis of the conflict, issues at stake, context and dynamics, parties' grievances, etc. Intractable conflicts are complex and multi-layered. A mediation initiative is more likely to be successful if it is predicated on knowledge and understanding rather than on good intentions only. A good analysis and a thorough understanding of all aspects of the conflict are important prerequisites for successful mediation in intractable conflicts.
2. Mediation must take place at an optimal or ripe moment. Early mediation may be premature and late mediation may face too many obstacles. A ripe moment describes a phase in the life cycle of the conflict where the parties feel exhausted and hurt, or where they may not wish to countenance any further losses and are prepared to commit to a settlement, or at least believe one to be possible. In destructive and escalating conflicts, mediation can have any chance of success only if it can capture a particular moment when the adversaries, for a variety of reasons, appear most amenable to change. Timing of intervention in an intractable conflict is an issue of crucial importance, and one that must be properly assessed by any would be mediator.
3. Given the nature and complexity of intractable conflicts, successful mediation requires a co-ordinated approach between different aspects of intervention. Mediation here requires leverage and resources to nudge the parties toward a settlement, but also acute psychological understanding of the parties' feelings and grievances. The kind of mediation we are talking about here is mediation that is embedded in various disciplinary frameworks, ranging from problem-solving workshops to more traditional diplomatic methods. No one aspect or form of behavior will suffice to turn an intractable conflict around. Diverse and complementary methods, an interdisciplinary focus, and a full range of intervention methods responding to the many concerns and fears of the adversaries, are required to achieve some accommodation between parties in an intractable conflict.
4. Mediating intractable conflicts require commitment, resources, persistence, and experience. Mediators of high rank or prestige are more likely to possess these attributes and thus are more likely to be successful in intractable conflicts. Such mediators have the capacity to appeal directly to the domestic constituency and build up support for some peace agreement. Influential, high ranking or prestigious mediators have more at stake, can marshal more resources, have better information, and can devote more time to an intractable conflict. Such mediators can work toward achieving some visible signs of progress in the short term, and identify steps that need to be taken to deal with the issues of a longer term peace objectives. Influential mediators can work better within the constraints of intractable conflicts, and more likely to elicit accommodative responses from the adversaries.
5. Mediation in intractable conflicts is more likely to be successful when there are recognizable leaders within each party, where the leaders are accepted as legitimate by all concerned, and where they have considerable control over their territory. An intractable conflict between parties with competing leaders and constituents (e.g. Northern Ireland) can prove very difficult to deal with. Where there are recognizable leaders, each from the mainstream of their respective community, and where each embodies the aspirations and expectations of their respective community, provides mediators with individuals who may have a serious impact on official diplomacy. Where there are competing leadership factions, state institutions, and governance capacity are all too uncertain, and the chances of successful mediation decline sharply.
6. Mediation in intractable conflicts is more likely to be effective if there are no sections in each community committed to the continuation of violence. Such parties are usually described as spoilers. Spoilers in such a context have much to lose from a peaceful outcome and much to gain from the continuation of violence. Their presence and activities constitute a major obstacle to any mediation effort.
7. Where an intractable conflict involves a major power, or major powers have interests (vital or otherwise) at stake, it is very unlikely that mediation will be attempted, and if attempted, very unlikely that it will succeed. The involvement of major powers in any capacity in an intractable conflict poses too serious a constraint on any mediation effort. A major power involvement in an intractable conflict provides a clear indication of the difficulty of initiating any form of mediation.

taken from: http://beyondintractability.colorado.edu/essay/med_intractable_conflict/?nid=1295

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Virtually Campaigning for Peace

Here at NUPRI we'v just kicked off our Post-Its for peace campaign. Here's the idea: grab a sticky note, write down what comes to mind when you hear the word "Peace", stick it up in an unexpected place, snap a picture, upload it to our Facebook page or onto twitter (@NUPRIPeaceAgent).

In the world of online networking and virtual fundraising/awareness campaigns it is important to consider the effectiveness of virtual communication in building meaningful, reciprocal relationships. At the same time, however, we begin to question the necessity of meaningful reciprocal relationships when virtual fundraising and awareness campaigns are so seemingly effective in the absence of mutual trust and reciprocity.

We would like to know what you have to say about virtual relationships. Can we foster peace via the web? Or is any peace that we achieve virtually non-transferable to concrete reality?

Thanks for reading!


the NUPRI team