Strategies for Peace: Transforming Conflict in a Diverse World

October 24, 2012

This report is the result of a semester’s worth of reading, investigation, and research into strategies for establishing durable peace and security in the global political context of upheaval, transition, and violence. More specifically, 15 Georgetown graduate and advanced undergraduate students investigated the question, “What works in peacebuilding?” Their findings are the substance of this report.
The report begins with a survey of the debates among social scientists, economists, political leaders, and practitioners about how to understand the contemporary context of global conflict. Through that participants identified two key debates around assumptions about inter-state vs. failed states/civil wars and around the factors that drive conflict. The next section of the report deals with the multifaceted literature on peace and security, finding that there is a cacophony on this topic, with everyone from military generals to politicians to peace activists using the same words (e.g. “peace,” “security,” “reconciliation”) with different definitions and radically contrasting policy prescriptions.

The last section of the report reviews the in-depth interviews conducted by class participants. Most of the interviewees agreed that the real key to overcoming many of the impediments to durable peace comes from an appreciation for the specific conflict’s context; they also repeatedly said that integrated efforts by governmental and non-governmental agents are most likely to buttress peace, with a perhaps unique and critical role for social actors outside the traditional process.

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