The priority of everything we do together [must be] preventing conflict and sustaining peace. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, 10 January 2017
There has been a dramatic upward trend during the last five years in the number of state-based violent conflicts. The number of deaths, injuries and the extent of destruction resulting from these wars has been devastating, and has resulted in the number of refugees seeking to escape these situations multiplying to 65 million, the highest recorded.
In response, the Australian International Conflict Resolution Project has sought to contribute to a conversation on how states might best be able to mobilise their resources to support conflict prevention and resolution programmes. The new book State Support for Peace Processes: A Multi-Country Review (2017) [pdf], published by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, offers a comprehensive analysis of the peace architecture in seven case studies: Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, The United Kingdom, and The United States.
The aim of the report is to assist in identifying concrete steps which Australia could consider taking to improve the capacity to support peace processes through blended, whole of government initiatives.
“This report is rich in learnings from the successes and failures of seven other countries, … the authors should be congratulated for both the quality of their scanning and for their international affairs imagination.”
John Braithwaite, Australian National University
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 was contracted by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to conduct an in-depth comparative review of state institutional peacemaking structures. It hosted 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
- Langmore, J., Miletic, T., Martin, A., and Shea, N. (eds) (2017). State support for Peace Processes: A Multi-Country Review. Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
- Martin, A., Shea, N. and Langmore, J. (2017). "International mediation and Australian foreign policy: building institutional capacity to respond to overseas conflict," in Australian Journal of International Affairs 71(1), pp.88-104.
- Langmore, J. and Thakur, R. (2016). “The elected but neglected Security Council members,” in The Washington Quarterly 39(2).
- Martin, A. (2016). "International Mediation and Low Intensity Conflicts: Evaluating reputation outcomes for state mediators," in International Journal of Conflict Management 27(4), pp. 505-522.
- Miletic, T. and Bretherton, D. (2016). “Discussing conflict in China,” in Journal of Peace Education 13(2).
- 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.
- Shea, N. (2016). “Nongovernment organisations as mediators: Making peace in Aceh,” in Global Change, Peace and Security 28(2), pp.177-196.
- Langmore, J. (2013). "Australia's Campaign for Security Council Membership," in Australian Journal of Political Science 48, pp. 101-111.
- Martin, A., Shea, N. and Langmore, J. (2014). Australian Mediation and Peacemaking Round Table (325kb pdf), Issue Paper Series. Melbourne School of Government, Melbourne
- Shea, N., Martin, A. and Langmore, J. (2014). Mediation in Asia and the South Pacific: A Review of Australian Peacemaking Capacity (No. 01/14) (2.53Mb pdf), Discussion Paper Series. Melbourne School of Government, Melbourne
- Shea, N. (2016). “Growing insecurity in Muslim Mindanao,” on New Mandala website 07 December 2016 [Online] Cited 31/03/2017
- Miletic, T. (2016). “Cambodia’s peace 25 years on,” on Australian Outlook website 26 October 2016 [Online] Cited 31/03/2017
- Shea, N. (2014). "Peacemaking should be at the core of Australian foreign policy," on The Conversation website 14 July 2014 [Online] Cited 22/02/2016
- Shea, N., Langmore, J. and Martin, A. (2012). "AusAid and conflict prevention: a case for mediation," on the Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre 28 August 2012 [Online] Cited 22/02/2016