Saturday, 8 September 2012


conflict prevention      
Despite the horrors of global war as revealed during the 2nd World War, armed conflict and civil wars have continued to dominate events since 1945.
 WIKIPEDIA reports that there have been 243 wars/conflicts 1945-2012: including  Korea, Vietnam, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, the Gulf States, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, the Congo, Ethiopia, and many colonies claiming their independence. Many people have been killed. 

The 2011 World Development Report, published by the World Bank group, has offered evidence that in countries affected by fragility, conflict, and violence, insecurity has become the primary development challenge of our time. They reported that at least one-and-a-half billion people live in areas affected by fragility, conflict, or large-scale organized criminal violence. The World Development teams visited twenty low- and middle income countries including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. They concluded that no low-income, fragile or conflict-affected country has yet to achieve a single United Nations Millennium  Development Goal (UN MDG).  New threats such as organized crime and trafficking, civil unrest due to global economic shocks, and terrorism, have supplemented continued preoccupations with conventional war between and within countries. Locally and globally, violence and conflict have not been banished. One in four people on the planet live in fragile and conflict-affected states or in countries with very high levels of criminal violence. Many countries and regions now face cycles of repeated violence, weak governance, and instability. These conflicts often are not one-off events, but are ongoing and repeated.

New forms of conflict and violence threaten development. Many countries that have successfully negotiated political and peace agreements after violent political conflicts, such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and South Africa, now face high levels of violent crime, constraining their development. Undernourished, unable to send their children to school,  children die before age five, and lack clean water.  Everyday experiences, such as going to school, to work, or to market, become occasions for fear.
Drug and human trafficking, money laundering, illegal exploitation of natural resources and wildlife, counterfeiting, and violations of intellectual property rights are lucrative criminal activities, which facilitate the penetration by organized crime of the already vulnerable sociopolitical, judicial, and security structures in developing countries. Transnational organized crime has converted some Caribbean countries into corridors for the movement of illegal drugs and persons toward Europe and North America. Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru, continue to be the main global cocaine producers, while Mexico is facing an unprecedented wave of violence. West Africa has become the newest passage for drugs coming from South America and destined for Europe. Several African countries suffer the illegal exploitation of their natural resources, while Asia is a hub for tons of opiates originating from Afghanistan.
The central message of the Report is that strengthening legitimate institutions and governance to provide citizen security, justice, and jobs is crucial to break cycles of violence. Institutional legitimacy is the key to stability. When state institutions do not adequately protect citizens, guard against corruption, or provide access to justice; when markets do not provide job opportunities; or when communities have lost social cohesion—the likelihood of violent conflict increases. The role of the State is to protect citizens, combat corruption, establish the rule of law, and prevent violent conflicts.
But there have been occasions  over the last 100 years when governments and their supporters have attacked ethnic, racial, religious, national minorities living within their borders: in particular the Nazi government of Germany, but also the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, the Slavs of Yugoslavia,  the Hutus and Tutsis of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, the Congo.  GENOCIDE is the mass killing of citizens by their neighbours!
[refer to ; human rights watch []

During these cycles of continous violence, some organizations have been more concerned with the strategies of conflict prevention.
 Gareth Evans,  sometime President of the International Crisis Group []
called for  Conflict Prevention in February 2007.He wants to promote the need to think and act globally, and the collective responsibility for protection.  He identified ten key lessons.

Lesson 1.  Conflict prevention effort does make a difference.
Lesson 2: The Best Way to Stop Wars is Not to Start Them
Lesson 3. Conflict is cyclical: the trick is to stop the wheel turning.
One of the things we now understand most clearly about conflict is that the countries and regions most likely to lapse into it are those that have been there before
Lesson 4. One size analysis doesn’t fit all: every conflict is different.
To understand how to prevent  - and resolve - conflict it is necessary to understand what causes it, and one of the products of the much enhanced focus on conflict prevention is much more academic and institutional  analysis than we have ever had before on what generates conflict.
Lesson 5. Conflict prevention  requires complex strategies: one-dimensional fixes rarely work
Lesson 6. Conflict prevention requires effective institutional structures.
Lesson 7. Conflict prevention requires application of resources.
Lesson 8: recognize that there is no substitute for cooperative internationalism.
Lesson 9. Conflict prevention requires the mobilization of political will.
This is the bottom line in just about every area of public policy: unless the relevant decision makers, at the national or international level, want something to happen it won’t.
Lesson 10:  recognize there is no substitute for leadership
Of all the lessons we have learned about conflict prevention the need for good leadership is probably the single most obvious and the single most important. But it remains the hardest of all to get right. And maybe at the end of the day, the responsibility for getting it right – in voting democracies like ours at least – is something that we cannot pretend belongs to anyone but ourselves as ordinary, individual citizens.
If these lessons are to be applied, I suggest, that other lessons have to be learnt. We must all accept that we are interdependent. We must learn that international cooperation is possible, and essential. We must learn that all humans are capable of resolving differences by talk, not by killing each other. We must learn that what happened in the past cannot be used as a justification for war today. We must learn that the past provides history, language,
culture, which is to be celebrated as part of a multicultural society: unity in diversity.
he central elements of a peaceful world which encapsulate many of the elements of ‘social ecology’ and ‘social freedom’ that we are working to define:

The need to recognize the interdependence of all,
The need for everyone to be free in order for anyone to be free
The need to accept diversity, and be aware of similarities.

 It is not good enough to bond with your family and tribe for this can lead to individualism, tribalism, sectarianism, nationalism, and constant conflict. The concepts of social ecology and social freedom require us to think and act for global communities: human, animal, and plant. We may think ‘local’, but we must act ‘global’. We have to acknowledge that changes on the other side of the world have impacts on our locality.
For example,
There is unsurprising consensus that climate change will have disproportionately harmful socio-economic effects on developing countries, even though they have contributed to it least.[ – the intergovernmental panel on climate change at the United Nations].
Developing countries are particularly vulnerable because of their tropical geography; their high birth rates, heavy dependence on agriculture and rapid urbanisation; and their weak infrastructures and lack of resources. The Stern report and other studies have suggested that climate-induced scarcities – of food, water and health – will increase  poverty, affect migration patterns and potentially lead to or exacerbate deadly conflict. []
The evidence presented about communities in conflict reveals that we are not talking about how people act now. We are talking about how they should act in the future. All of this is implicit in the ‘Green movement’. Such aims are pursued by the Peace movement as expressed by the ‘Seeds of Peace’; by conflict prevention agencies such as Crisis Group, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations; by development groups such as Greenpeace, Oxfam.
It involves a revolution in our mind set and cultural filters.
The opening address of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in the summer of  2002  by Thabo Mbeki, the President of South Africa, eloquently summarized the nature of the changes needed if we are to achieve sustainability. He stated that "a global human society….characterized by islands of wealth, surrounded by a sea of poverty is unsustainable. …for the first time in human history, society has the capacity, the knowledge and the resources to eradicate poverty"
He called for a ‘seed’ change in our attitudes.
"We do not accept that human society should be constructed on the basis of the savage principle of the survival of the fittest." []
The demands that such interdependence places on individuals, communities and societies should form the basis of family socialization, of the school curriculum, of religious teachings, political pronouncements and inform media reactions to events. These demands are for

tolerance of difference,
appreciation of the advantages of cultural and linguistic diversity,respect for the rights and property of others,
responsibility for contributing to communal economic and social well-being.

In my view, this underlines the significance of a ‘multi-cultural’ approach: in promoting the diversity of communities, and getting to know and understand each other by dialogue and social and cultural exchange. It is the emphasis on the reality of our interdependence which needs recognition. It is a social fact. Denial of such reality is the root cause of the conflicts we have witnessed in so many different parts of the world which has brought  communities and individuals into opposition with each other. It is clear that the allocation of resources throughout the world is unfair. There is injustice, inequality and disadvantage. Social freedom requires that we all address those issues together rather than focusing on our differences in opposition to other groups.

No comments:

Post a Comment