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A Military Contribution to the Prevention of Violent Conflict: Paradox or Opportunity?

For more information, see the tweets about the event and have a look at our related submissions on civil-military-policy collaboration grouped under #civmilpol. 

Can the military contribute to the prevention of violent conflict, and if so, how can it collaborate with civil society in a preventive manner? These questions were at the heart of a discussion facilitated by GPPAC, the Alliance for Peacebuilding and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, building on a presentation on the ‘Understand to Prevent' initiative, supported by the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law.

Traditionally, the military is seen to ‘resolve’ conflict through means of force. At the same time, the military is increasingly called upon to provide humanitarian assistance and monitor ceasefires in post-crisis peacekeeping. The Understand to Prevent (U2P) initiative by the Multinational Capability Development Campaign aims to consolidate these efforts and provide new opportunities for a military contribution to the prevention of violent conflict.

gppac day 2 meeting room the hague 3

While the project is primarily aimed at a military audience, the speakers noted that key to the success of the U2P process is reaching an understanding of the conflict environment by sharing information and engaging with non-military actors before a crisis occurs. This requires winning the trust of civil society organizations (CSOs), as the role of the military in conflict prevention and the comprehensive approach is not necessarily welcomed by all CSOs, who defend their need for independence and operational space. 

Key issues brought to the attention by respondents include:

  • The understanding that conflict is an inherent feature of human relationships, and that the focus should be on preventing the escalation of conflict into violent conflict
  • The importance of acknowledging the distinctions within the broad range of non-military actors, including government officials, civilians, CSO representatives and humanitarian agencies
  • The need to build on local capacities and needs by asking what local communities need in each specific situation
  • Rather than further complicating the conflict environment, the military should seek to contribute to the overall coherence and coordination of civilian and military efforts

International civilian-military-policy coordination conference  #civmilpol15

The interactive discussion was part of a broader conference on civil-military-police coordination for human security organized in collaboration with the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law and hosted by the CIMIC Centre of Excellence in The Hague. The conference is the culmination of a 3-year project that led to the development of an extensive training Handbook on Human Security, a case study report on Local Ownership in Security, and a policy brief on Local Ownership, Coordination and Human Security. For further information about the project and to download the resources, follow this link.

Photo credit: Cimic Centre of Excellence CCOE / Sven Dube