Australian International Conflict Resolution project

The Australian International Conflict Resolution (AICR) Project is engaged in a comprehensive, empirically grounded review into Australia's capacity to conduct international mediation and peacemaking activities. The project focuses on government’s capacity to undertake peacemaking activities in Asia and the South Pacific, while also making a needs-based assessment of Australian peacemaking services in specific regional conflicts.

The research will assess whether Australia's activities fit well with an understanding of 'middle power diplomacy', providing the evidence base for recommendations on institutional reform and development within Australia to enhance peacemaking capacity, and to enabling a 'contingency approach' to intervention.

During the last decade there has been significant movement towards the normalisation of peacebuilding models in international policy. Along with the UN, the World Bank and international NGOs (INGOs), governments are increasingly, though unevenly, making decisions to handle conflicts non-violently through diplomatic prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding with the aim of contributing to a safer and more secure world. Since 1990 Australia has several times engaged in peacemaking efforts, though inconsistently and irregularly, in the region and beyond. These observations give rise to a number of questions, namely: What has influenced its choices to engage variably in peacemaking efforts? What lessons can be learned from these experiences? What has constrained more active engagement with conflict resolution? What could Australia learn from the experiences, policies and capacities of other countries in relation to future mainstreaming of peacebuilding in international policy?

The project team has established cooperative partnerships with government, military, civil society and business organisations to enable the research and assist in tailoring outcomes to meet organisational needs.

Research team


Nathan Shea
Research Associate
Australian International Conflict Resolution Project
School of Social and Political Sciences
The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 4586

AICR project background

In 2012, the Australian International Conflict Resolution project team at The University of Melbourne proposed establishing a Mediation Support Unit within AusAID, published in a Crawford School of Economics paper and promoted to government departments through submissions and oral presentations.

The proposal was subsequently adopted by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and a recommendation was made to the Australian Government that:

"The Minister for Foreign Affairs should create a mediation unit within AusAID [now the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] and funded from the aid budget. The aim of the unit would be to prevent conflict by providing timely assistance to mediation efforts, and acting as a mediator and legitimate third party (JSCDFAT 2012: Recommendation 11, 66)." Australia's Overseas Representation - Punching below our weight? (1.92Mb pdf)

In 2016 the project has been contracted by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to conduct an in-depth comparative review of state institutional peacemaking structures. It is also hosting a day-long high-level workshop titled "Australia as Peacemaker?: conflict resolution in Australian foreign policy" in April.

In 2015, funded by an Oikoumene Foundation grant and a number of internal University of Melbourne grants, the project team worked to implement recommendations from the round table, and prepared a number of research articles currently published or undergoing peer review.

In 2013, funded by a Melbourne School of Government incubator grant, an evaluation of government capacity to deliver international peacemaking services was undertaken and published in the MSoG working paper Mediation in Asia and the South Pacific: A Review of Australian Peacemaking Capacity (2.53Mb pdf). In 2014 the team facilitated the Australian Mediation and Peacemaking Round Table (325kb pdf) featuring policy makers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Defence, Australian Federal Police and the Royal Australian Navy to explore the implementation of the 2012 JSCDFAT recommendation following the merging of AusAID and DFAT.

AICR project publications

Journal articles

  • Martin, A., Shea, N. and Langmore, J. (2016). "International mediation and Australian foreign policy: building institutional capacity to respond to overseas conflict," in Australian Journal of International Affairs (forthcoming)
  • Martin, A. (2016). "International Mediation and Low Intensity Conflicts: Evaluating reputation outcomes for state mediators," in International Journal of Conflict Management (forthcoming)
  • Langmore, J. and Farrall, J. (2016). "Can elected members make a difference in the UN Security Council?: Australia's experience in 2013-2014," in Global Governance 22, pp. 59-77
  • Langmore, J. (2013). "Australia's Campaign for Security Council Membership," in Australian Journal of Political Science 48, pp. 101-111