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Conference Reports

Conflict Prevention, Conflict Resolution, and the Consolidation of Peace

The first meeting of a discussion- and work-group set up by the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt and the Peace Research Unit Bonn to investigate these issues took place on 13 June 1996 in Bonn.

Researchers working in the fields of peace and regional studies met for the first time with political practitioners in Bonn for the inaugural session of this work-group. The group, set up by the Arbeitsstelle Friedensforschung Bonn (AFB: Peace Research Unit Bonn) and the Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (HSFK: Peace Research Institute Frankfurt) will meet at regular intervals. The interchange between scholarship and practice got under way with a meeting on the theme `Preventing Violent Conflicts: From "Early Warning" to "Early Action"--the Case of Ethiopia'.

Thobias Debiel of the Institut für Entwicklung und Frieden (INEF: Development and Peace Institute) began by highlighting a number of approaches to prevention and analysing their prospects of success. Prevention, he said--in the sense of `the attempt to come to grips with violent processes at a stage when conflicts are still latent'--had to begin with the structural conditions underlying violent conflicts and with the processes involved in the escalation of violence. This meant, firstly, that efforts had to be made to counter any worsening of the economic situation, and secondly, that steps must be taken both to prevent `dissatisfaction and social insecurity being exploited by political élites' and to combat the `increasing militancy in communicative exchanges'. Mr Debiel identified three different strategies for achieving this goal: (1) strengthening countervailing social and political forces (such as human rights organizations working on the spot); (2) breaking down communication-blocks and initiating processes of reconciliation (e.g. within the framework of village-based self-government structures in which all the disputants are involved); (3) supporting regulatory provisions such as minority rights and land-use rights (e.g. through the provision of advice and incentives). However, given that there was as yet no systematic practical approach and that research in this area was equally deficient, it was not possible realistically to assess which attempts at prevention were most successful, and in what conditions.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of attempts at prevention on the part of the international community was also the subject of the second talk, given by Stephan Klingebiel (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik--German Institute for Development Policy), who focused in particular on development co-operation. In Dr Klingebiel's opinion, development co-operation could make only a minor contribution to the prevention of violent conflict-resolution. Hence it should be pursued as a subsidiary to peace-work, providing at most a back-up for it. He argued that, within the framework of development co-operation, efforts should be concentrated on supporting local actors, and on influencing the behaviour of the disputants through peace-related conditionality.

Whereas it was agreed, during the discussion, that economic causes of conflict needed to be dealt with by economic means, opinions differed about peace-related conditionality within development co-operation. Strictly speaking, if such conditionality were applied, support for almost all states in which peace processes were being fostered would have to be done away with. But, said Dr Klingebiel, it was precisely when processes of democratization and peace-making faltered that the need for help with civilian conflict-resolution was especially great.

Professor Rainer Tetzlaff (University of Hamburg) provided a dramatic illustration of the problem of constructive prevention by examining the potential for crisis in Ethiopia. He painted a gloomy picture of the present political situation. A process of democratization had indeed begun, he said; but this was far from adequate. Thus, the opposition parties had not taken part in the parliamentary elections of May 1995, and these had, in any case, not been conducted fairly or freely. Electoral regulations had been repeatedly violated, and in three regions, the elections had been postponed and no results had been published. There had been attempts to intimidate electors across the whole area. It was therefore crucial that measures designed to avert violence should seek chiefly to prevent `the democratization train from coming off the rails'. Financing the electoral campaigns of opposition parties, for example, could help bolster them; and supporting the development of a free press could foster the expression of critical opinion. In addition, one had to think about how the parties could be `educated' into a democratic culture of contention of a kind that did not currently exist in Ethiopia. Another problem, according to Professor Tetzlaff, was the increasing ethnicization of politics, which, he said, was being manipulated for power-related purposes. The `dilemma between efficiency and participation' in Africa had to be resolved--in other words, efforts had to be made to foster the cohesion of the multi-ethnic state as well as to protect the rights of ethnic minorities. It was therefore imperative that the federal principle be respected and that the land question be resolved, in order to move successfully `from a policy of exclusion to a policy of inclusion'.

The follow-up discussion looked at the question of whether the worrying situation in Ethiopia was due to a lack of commitment on the part of the international community. One of the practitioners pointed out that numerous attempts had been made, before the election, to get some sort of unity between opposition and government; the importance of national reconciliation and of free and fair elections had been repeatedly stressed. In any case, he said, the electoral manipulation described was not the real problem, given that, in the absence of any alternative, the victory of the present government was a certainty. Even if, despite being observed, the elections had not been conducted totally fairly, the presence of neutral observers at elections must continue. Only in this way could one ensure that the Ethiopian electors continued to trust in the principle of the secret ballot and that the floodgates were not opened to electoral manipulation.

After this discussion, representatives from the foreign ministry, the ministry for economic co-operation, the working-party of the Church Development Service (Kirchlicher Entwicklungsdienst), and the German Society for Technical Co-operation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit) reported on practical activities in the area of prevention. A host of measures relating to conflict mediation, education for democracy, the reintegration of former combatants and returned refugees, and development co-operation in general, were cited. The question of the extent to which these measures really did also contribute to the prevention of violent conflicts was not addressed. This omission was due not least to the fact that, in order to be able properly to assess the success of individual attempts at prevention, one needs to look at longish time-spans and bring in other cases for comparison.

Because there was not enough time to fit in all the discussion at the end of the work-group's first session, it was agreed there should be a second meeting on the same topic. At this, there will be further discussion on development- and diplomacy-based schemes in the field of prevention--which are crucial alternatives to peace-making operations of whatever kind. The exchange of experiences, criticisms, and recommendations amongst decision-makers, academics, and planners in the development domain was seen as having been extremely fruitful, and there are plans to continue it in areas beyond that of prevention.

Andrea Liese

From Town to Town: Local Authorities as Transnational Actors and their Significance for Peace, Environment, and Development

The 1996 Kiel Week Conference, organized jointly by the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Institut für Friedenswissenschaften at the Christian Albrecht University in Kiel, the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, and the Tampere Peace Research Institute, took place in Kiel on 23-5 June 1996.

Following the creation of the Schleswig-Holsteinsiches Institut für Friedenswissenschaften (SCHIFF: Schleswig-Holstein Institute for Peace Research--SHIP) in autumn of last year, the capital city of the region, Kiel, asked the new institute to assume responsibility for organizing this year's Kiel Week Conference and to do so on a topic `relevant to peace'. Bearing in mind the focus of SHIP's research, and with a view to tackling a topic that would also be relevant to the city of Kiel, SHIP's various governing bodies decided to hold an international meeting on local authorities as transnational actors and their significance for peace, the environment, and development. The hundred or so people who took part came from seventeen countries--including all the countries bordering on the Baltic--and there was an approximate balance between theoreticians and practitioners. The latter group included mayors and council leaders (from, for example, Kaliningrad, Klaipeda, Oslo, Lübeck, Strzelce Opolskie, and Szczecin), members of local councils, and representatives of town-twinning departments, ministries, and international organizations.

The point of departure for the meeting--a working conference--was the realization that there has been a marked growth in transborder relations between towns and local communities, and that this has led to an intensification in `external relations' at local authority level. A large number of networks and multilateral inter-town linkages pursuing a variety of objectives have been newly formed or reactivated. In the stated objectives of these linkages at least, values such as peace, the environment, and development play a major role. But what is the position in reality? How are the objectives being implemented and what have been the experiences with this? What is the status of relations between local communities? Are they merely a function of changes in the international system, or do they help bring about such changes? Are local communities and groupings of such communities autonomous transnational actors within the framework of an emerging societally based world, or are the external activities of local communities inextricably linked into the foreign policies of central governments?

These core questions, and others like it, were discussed in a total of forty-one talks given in five parallel work-groups and two plenaries.

Opening the meeting, the minister-president of Schleswig-Holstein, Heide Simonis, outlined the region's Baltic policy, and the leader of Kiel council, Silke Reyer, reviewed the history of Kiel's links with other towns over the past fifty years. Paul Östreicher, director of Reconciliation Centre at the cathedral in Coventry--the first city to twin with Kiel--urged people to think not only in terms of the economic contacts and material benefits of inter-communal co-operation, but also in terms of the task of bringing people so close to one another that, for example, offering protection to refugees marked by the experiences of war became an established principle. A great impression was made by the talk given by Johan Galtung, who had travelled specially from Japan to attend the meeting. With breathtaking clarity, he showed why he regarded local communities, as opposed to states, to be better fitted to deal in an appropriate way with the current problems of peace-keeping, including protecting the environment and coping with negative developments. In a talk more directly related to everyday political debate at municipal and local level, but at the same time less optimistic in regard to local authorities' ability to swim against the tide, the mayor of Lübeck and leader of the Hanseatic League, Michael Bouteiller, drew a distinction between local and national policy. The latter, he said, destroyed the social structure of towns, because it was wedded to a `theology of the market'; state nationalism (e.g. legislation on asylum) produced local racism; and national fiscal policy destroyed local democracy. This view was flatly contradicted by Detlef Weigel of the foreign ministry's planning department. At the same time, however, he too pointed to an increase in the the importance of external relations at local-community level, but claimed these should be viewed as a way of co-operating and sharing the burden of labour with `real' national foreign policy, rather than as an alternative or rival to it.

This argument, and others, was pursued in the work-groups, and was fleshed out with research findings and practical reports. The work-groups focused on the following themes: (1) the interplay between increasing inter-town co-operation and changes in the international system; (2) the forms and possibilities of transnational inter-urban development work and peace policy (most notably in former Yugoslavia); (3) the importance of inter-urban co-operation in developing transborder regional identities and structures, as illustrated in the Baltic region; (4) the role played by local communities in ensuring sustainable development; (5) co-operation between local communities in coping with the effects of decreased armament and the dismantling of the military. In the work-groups in particular, there was an intense interchange between theoreticians and practitioners.

A global answer to the many questions that were broached is impossible if only because of the very clear national differences--for example, in regard to the extent to which towns have to agree their external relations with central government, and the mechanisms by which they do this. Nevertheless, two consistent trends emerged. Firstly, following the end of the East-West conflict, the classic model of partnership between two local communities appears to be declining in importance, with greater interest being shown instead in structures reflecting a multilateral enmeshment, often based on particular issues. As far as the Baltic area is concerned, a key role in this regard is played by the Union of Baltic Cities (UBC), set up only five years ago. Its president (Anders Engström, mayor of Kalmar) and secretary-general (Pawel Zaboklicki, Gdansk) were present at the conference. Secondly, a shift of emphasis is taking place: traditional concerns (reconciliation, European unity, humanitarian aid, the protection of minorities, local democracy) are being supplemented by economic calculations --indeed are sometimes taking second place to them; the idea of `economic benefit' is beginning to overtake the idea of `sympathetic co-existence' in transnational relations. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this shift is inclusive or exclusive--in other words, whether it embraces the old goals or runs counter to them.

A selection of the papers given at the conference will be published in English as volume 8 of the `Kieler Beiträge zur Friedenswissenschaft--KSF' in early 1997.

Christian Wellmann

Contact: Dr Christian Wellmann, Schleswig-Holsteinisches Institut für Friedenswissenschaften, Kaiserstr. 2/Geb. B, D-24143 Kiel, Tel.: +49 (431) 77572-851, Fax +49 (431) 77572-852, e-mail: Wellmann@SCHIFF.Uni-Kiel.D400.DE.

Creating Nonviolent Futures

16th General Conference of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA), 8-12 July 1996, University of Queensland, Brisbane (Australia)

It is no exaggeration to say that the 16th General Conference of the IPRA will go down as one of the most successful meetings in the history of this peace-research organization. It was successful because it was an almost perfect mixture of theoretical reflection and creativity, and at the same time offered broad scope for constructive communicative and social exchange by the participants. Despite the basic nature of the accommodation--which provoked some complaints--and the occasionally rather too forceful reminders of the frugality of student-life, the decision of the organizers to house participants in three of the university's colleges proved a particularly felicitous one. It not dispensed with the need for time-consuming bus-trips between hotels and the conference venue were avoided; it also facilitated--and indeed perhaps actually encouraged--communication from early in the morning to late at night.

The main reason for the conference's success, however, was that its initiators had managed, from the outset, to achieve an almost perfect style of organization, which meshed into the existing university infrastructure but at the same time allowed plenty of flexibility in regard to participants' differing personal and work-related needs. The main organizers--Ralph Summy (General Secretary of the Organizing Committee), Hilary Neil (Conference Secretary), John Synott (IPRA Programme Director), and Margaret Anderson (Registration and Accommodation)--`directed' a staff of over ninety volunteers, most of them students at the university; and it emerged that the latter's efforts on behalf of the participants were not confined to the purely practical, but that the students were also very interested in the topics under discussion at the conference.

This was the first IPRA conference at which research issues relating to the role of indigenous peoples in the community of nations, and their political and social interests, ran like a thread through the whole proceedings. The technical resources and overall thematic material needed to structure the week-long conference around this theme were provided--through the good offices of John Synott--by the Oodgeroo Unit at Queensland University of Technology, which, since 1991, has provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a route into Australian university education.

An impressive feature of the conference, in this connection, was the opening event--aptly described as a `ceremony' in the English-language version of the programme. It was led by Di Bretherton (Professor and Director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution at the University of Melbourne, Australia). In addition to hearing opening addresses by the Lord Mayor of Brisbane and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland, Professor John Hay, together with a keynote address by John W. Burton, the participants were welcomed to the land of the Aborigines--Jagera country--by Brisbane Elders. The ceremony was rounded off with performances by Sam Conway (Aboriginal performer and actor) on the didgeridoo (an Aboriginal instrument), and by Judy Small (feminist and peace singer).

The week-long conference was divided into ten plenary sessions together with eight meetings of the eighteen permanent IPRA commissions and eight meetings of three workshops. Some of the contributions to the plenary sessions were very good in that they showed how peace research can be both theoretically led and practically relevant. The following plenary sessions took place.

(1) `Creating Nonviolent Futures', with Michael True (Professor of English, Assumption College, Worcester, USA), Glenn D. Paige (Co-ordinator, Center for Global Nonviolence, Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii, USA), April Carter (Department of Government, University of Queensland, Australia), Johan Galtung (University of Witten/Herdecke, co-founder of IPRA), and Toh Swee-Hin (Department of Educational Foundations, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada).

(2) `Indigenous Peoples in the Global Peace Movement', with Michael Williams (Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Unit, University of Queensland, Australia), Michael Dodson (Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner, Australia), Pauline Tangiora (Maori Elder, New Zealand--introduced by Maori dancers), Roberta Sykes (Executive, Black Women's Action in Education Foundation, Sydney, Australia), and Alph Sekakuku (Hopi Elder of the Snake Clan, Arizona, USA). At the start of this plenary, two Aboriginal Elders from Brisbane City Council warmly welcomed participants to their country.

(3) `Visions and Goals for IPRA', with Lester Edwin Ruiz (Professor of Politics, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan), Kevin P. Clements (President of IPRA, Director of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, Fairfax, USA), Toshiki Mogami (Professor of International Organizations, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan), and Diyanama Ywasso-Varango (Association Togolaise des Juristes Démocrates, Lomé, Togo).

(4) `Peace Building in the Asia-Pacific Region', with Katsuya Kodama (Department of Humanities, Mie University, Japan), Johan Saravanamuttu (Department of Social Science, University of Malaysia), Rohan Gunaratna (Sri Lanka), Joe Camilleri (Professor of Politics, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia), and Yogo Ogashiwa (author, Japan). This plenary began with an Ikebana flower-ceremony, conducted by Kazuko Ideue (Professor of Ikebana Art, Kagashima, Japan) and three assistants.

(5) `Representatives of Global Organizations', with Sister Mary Soledad Perpinan (3rd World Movement against the Exploitation of Women, Quezon City, Philippines), Ross Daniels (President of Amnesty International, School of Social Science, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia), and Saul Mendlovitz (World Order Models Project, USA).

(6) `Gender and Peace', with Simona Sharoni (School of International Service, The American University, Lafayette, USA), Berenice Carrol (Department of Political Science, Purdue University, Lafayette, USA), Maria Elena Valenzuela (Servicio Nacional de la Mujer, Santiago, Chile), Birgit Brock-Utne (Professor, Institute for Educational Research, University of Oslo, Norway), and Ian Harris (Department of Educational Policy and Community Studies, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA).

(7) `UNESCO and Peace Building', with Sanaa Osseiran (IPRA Representative at UNESCO and Liaison to Middle East), Leslie G. Atherley (Director, Culture of Peace Programme, UNESCO, Paris, France), Janusz Symonides (Director, Division of Human Rights, Democracy and Peace, UNESCO, Paris, France), Ken Wiltshire (President, Australian Division of UNESCO, Department of Government, University of Queensland, Australia), and Ingebord Brienes (Special Advisor to the Director-General of UNESCO on Women, Gender and Development, Paris, France).

(8) `Youth: The Future of Peace', with Jason McLeod (Social Work Student, University of Queensland, Australia), Elise Boulding (Professor Emerita of Sociology, Dartmouth College, Boulder, USA), Edith Miguda (Department of History and Government, University of Nairobi, Kenya), Leila Cabarina (peace activist, East Timor), and Dan McKinley (non-violent network activist, Commonground, Australia).

(9) In addition to these research-related plenaries that formed an integral part of the programme, there was a public women's meeting, advertised as a plenary, about the Beijing Women's Conference (September 1995). The speakers were: Betty Reardon (Teacher's College, Columbia University, New York, USA), Diyanama Ywasso-Varanga (Association Togolaise des Juristes Démocrates, Lomé, Togo), Sister Mary Soledad Perpinan (3rd World Movement against the Exploitation of Women, Quezon City, Philippines), Carolyn Stephenson (Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii, USA), and Maria Elena Valenzuela (Servicio Nacional de la Mujer, Santiago, Chile).

(10) The organizers had invited the controversial bioethics specialist Peter Singer (Deputy Director, Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia) and Betty Reardon (Teacher's College, Columbia University, New York, USA) to another public plenary. The chairperson for the evening session, Birgit Brock-Utne (Professor, Institute for Educational Research, University of Oslo, Norway), left the platform in protest after Peter Singer had presented his controversial definition of a human being. John Synott (Oodgeroo Unit, Queensland University of Technology, Australia) took over the chair for the rest of the discussion.

The following eighteen standing commissions of the IPRA met on average four to eight times (sometimes two at a time) to discuss more than 300 papers: (1) Communications, (2) Conflict Resolution and Peace Building, (3) Eastern Europe, (4) Ecological Security, (5) Global Political Economy, (6) Internal Conflicts, (7) International Human Rights, (8) Nonviolence, (9) Peace Education, (10) Peace History, (11) Peace Movements, (12) Peace Theories, (13) Peace through Literature, (14) Refugees, (15) Religion and Peace, (16) Security and Disarmament, (17) Women and Peace, and (18) Youth and Peace.

In addition, there were eight meetings by three workshop-groups. These involved the many representatives of non-governmental organizations (NOs) who were taking part in the conference, giving them the opportunity to present about thirty papers written from the standpoint of practical peace-work, and to discuss these with the researchers in attendance.

During the work of the commissions, a trend that had already begun to emerge at the last IPRA conference, in Malta in 1994, was confirmed: during the 1990s, the need, in the research and socio-political fields, to identify, investigate, and discuss the options for non-violent, non-military conflict resolution in all areas of concern, has continued to increase. The involvement of large numbers of NGOs in the conference thus constituted a successful attempt to cross-fertilize theory and practise and thus embark on new paths.

Unfortunately, this trend, which on the one hand is a very welcome one, meant, on the other hand, that the commissions working on military, security, or arms-control issues were to some extent pushed into the background as far as their take-up by the conference participants was concerned. This is unfortunate because it became clear that security matters continue to be extremely explosive in political terms and ought not, on any account, to be neglected. On the contrary: developments in the field of weapons technology and armament in various individual states, and on the world market, are very worrying, but are largely talked about as peripheral by the public--if they are talked about at all. `Creating non-violent futures' also means once again paying more attention to this potential technical and political threat.

Each day of the conference was rounded off with a `social hour', a communal meal, or musical events of various styles, with dancing, and with dances by the Aborigines and a group from Papua-New Guinea. During these `social hours', the IPRA honoured a number of its founders and their achievements as scholars: Elise Boulding (in whose honour there was also a grand dinner), Chadwick Alger, John W. Burton, and Johan Galtung.

Commission no. 13, on `Peace through Literature', recently founded by the poet and writer Ada Aharoni (International Friends of Literature Association, Haifa, Israel), organized an evening `Peace Poetry Reading', at which peace researchers were invited to recite poems and texts that were of particular significance for them personally or politically. Performers included Ada Aharoni, John Synott, Karl-Eric Paasonen, Roberta Sykes, Michael True, and many many others.

The closing session--once again rightly described as a `ceremony' in the English version of the programme--was led by John Synott. The speakers were: Olga Vorkunova (Director, Centre for Development and Peace Studies-FORUM, Moscow, Russia) and Paul Boreham (Department of Government, University of Queensland, Australia). The session was rounded off by Ada Aharoni and the opera-singer Helen Weddy.

I should like to finish this account by once again thanking all those who contributed to the great success of the conference. These include, in addition to the staff of the two universities in Brisbane, over 100 individuals who, by their readiness, spontaneity, friendliness, and imagination, played a decisive role in shaping the events of the week. As an example, let me quote something done by Margaret Anderson: shortly before the start of the conference, realizing how cold the nights were, she asked the Australian army to provide 500 woollen blankets for the peace researchers. She managed to secure them without any problem, thus providing a very pleasing--and up to now undisclosed!--example of how military equipment can be `converted' to a meaningful and highly practical purpose.

Regine Mehl

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