From Reaction to Conflict Prevention: Opportunities for the UN System

From Reaction to Conflict Prevention: Opportunities for the UN System

From Reaction to Conflict Prevention: Opportunities for the UN System

From Reaction to Conflict Prevention: Opportunities for the UN System

Synopsis

Though the prevention of conflict is the first promise in the Charter of the United Nations, it is a promise constantly betrayed by international organizations, governments, and local actors alike. At the same time, and in a more positive vein, recent studies provide much-needed information about why and how today's conflicts start and what sustains them. This ground-breaking book presents some of the best scholarly and policy-relevant work on the practical challenges of conflict prevention within the UN system. The authors consider the causes and dynamics of war, the tools that are being developed to predict the cruption of conflict, and what is being done - and what could be done better - in the effort to move from promise to practice.

Excerpt

Conflict prevention is much discussed at the United Nations and elsewhere but, sadly, little practiced. Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that more of it would be a very good thing, particularly for a world organization sagging under the strain of multiple complex peace operations supported restlessly by sometimes unreliable funders.

Sweden has long been preoccupied with the peaceful settlement of disputes and with techniques for conflict management. in recent years, its government's attention has turned to conflict prevention, with a particular focus on preventive diplomacy and related approaches to short-term crisis management that attempt to forestall full-blown conflict. Jan Eliasson, recently state secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sweden and previously under-secretary-general of the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs, having observed the United Nations from the inside, knew of the UN's potential in this area as well as its constraints on effective action. He knew that the challenge of moving from reaction to prevention would not be easy to overcome on the East River. With admirable confederates Anders Bjürner and Ragnar Ängeby, Jan urged the International Peace Academy (IPA) to tackle the barriers to effective conflict prevention. This Swedish initiative aiming to achieve traction during Sweden's presidency of the European Union in the first six months of 2001 was principally brought to fruition by Elizabeth Cousens, IPA's director of research currently on leave with the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories in Gaza, with significant contributions by Andrew Mack, then head of the un Secretary-General's Strategic Planning Unit and now at Harvard University. Their combined effort, which culminated in . . .

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