The Asia Foundation Part of Global Consortium to Deliver Innovative Conflict Resolution Programs

September 10, 2018 — This week, Alistair Burt, the Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, UK, announced Smart Peace, a new four-year program which will deliver innovative conflict resolution programming.

The Smart Peace program combines the expertise of consortium members to address the challenges of building sustainable peace in some of world’s most fragile states. Smart Peace is funded through the Department for International Development’s UK Aid Connect award.

The Smart Peace consortium led by, Conciliation Resources, consists of The Asia Foundation, The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, International Crisis Group, The Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich, Behavioral Insights Team and Chatham House, coordinated by Conciliation Resources.

The consortium’s bespoke blend of experience and networks, enables a combination of analysis, adaptive programming, experimentation and rigorous evaluation – leading to a potential step change in approaches to conflict resolution. Learning what works and adjusting activities to rapidly changing political situations are key features of Smart Peace. The resulting insights will help communities, international NGOs and governments to plan and implement peace strategies with greater confidence.

The need to respond to fragility presents a pressing global challenge—the incidence of violent conflict around the world has spiked dramatically since 2010, with the number of people displaced by violence and conflict reaching 68.5 million by the end of 2017.

Dialogue and mediation are proven to be effective in preventing and resolving conflicts – which are often complex, political and frequently-changing. But there is a gap in understanding of how these approaches can respond quickly to shifting political processes and overcome obstacles that block progress.

This new program will help to fill this knowledge gap by combining different areas of expertise—new conflict resolution techniques, complex conflict analysis, and behavioral change, which uses information from psychology and cognitive science to understand and influence how people make choices.

Jonathan Cohen, Executive Director at Conciliation Resources, comments:

To transform a state from violent conflict to peace and stability requires changes at all levels of society. Dialogue and mediation are fundamental within that process. This funding will enable the consortium to make conflict resolution mechanisms smarter, more strategic and adaptive so we are better placed to help prevent violence and tackle the root causes of conflict in the future.

This announcement comes at a time when a number of conflicts dominate the headlines, and there is an acceptance that more needs to be done to find alternative ways of dealing with the challenges these pose.

News of the award came at a meeting of peacebuilding and policy experts organized by leading UK peacebuilding organizations Conciliation Resources, International Alert, Peace Direct and Saferworld. Discussions at the event focused on positive examples of building peace across the Middle East, and the UK Government’s role in supporting these.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

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Related programs: Conflict and Fragile Conditions
Related topics: Peacebuilding in Asia

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