This Conference was organised by an ad hoc multidisciplinary group in Oxford University, which had begun in 2006 to discuss how to network and raise the profile of the research already being done in Oxford on peace, peacemaking, peacebuilding and peacekeeping. The title ‘The Serious Study of Peace’ underlines that peace was no longer seen merely as a fringe interest but was beginning to take its place in academe as a matter of serious concern to which a wide range of disciplines can contribute. The focus on peace adds a fresh dimension to established disciplines and engenders a distinctive interdisciplinary synergy. The Conference resulted in the creation of the ongoing Oxford Network of Peace Studies (OxPeace), with worldwide contacts, and led to the possibility, once endowments become available, of the establishment of research and teaching posts in peace studies in Oxford.
The conference organizers included Revd Dr Liz Carmichael MBE (Tutor in Theology, St John's), Dr Phil Clark (Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, and Oxford Transitional Justice Research Group), Professor Mary King (Fellow, Rothermere Institute; UN University for Peace), Revd Dr Robin Gibbons (Kellogg), Professor Neil Macfarlane (International Relations), Dr Sondra Hausner (St Peter's; anthropologist, head of Study of Religions in Theology), Dr Hugo Slim (Visiting Fellow: Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict), and Bryony Winn (Rhodes Scholar, M.Phil. Development Studies, Student Assistant).
What the Communities Say: Ex-Combatant Integration and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone
Breakout session on ‘Post-conflict reconstruction and Peacebuilding’, third talk: Johanna Boersch-Supan, D.Phil. Candidate, Politics and International relations, Oxford University.
Evaluating Stability: An Impossible dream?’ The challenges of evaluation in Afghanistan
Breakout session on ‘Post-conflict reconstruction and Peacebuilding’, second talk: Bjorn Muller-Wille, Royal Military Academy , Sandhurst. As part of a trend to improve the coherence and effectiveness of multidimensional interventions donor states are increasingly willing to invest development assistance in conflict areas; resulting in a strong interest in determining which instruments contribute to a broad array of short term 'stability,' political and security objectives as well as a collection of longer term sustainable development and peace building solutions. These activities have tended to be grouped under the label of the 'stabilisation' agenda and most donor states have faced common challenges in institutionalising and operationalising the growing body of aspirations inherent in this. This has raised questions about which instruments work, what objectives they might reasonably serve and under what conditions they might realistically achieve results. States have also struggled with the process of managing and integrating stabilisation activities delivered by very different government departments and across international institutions. These challenges have contributed to a much broader trend in which donor states and international organisations have sought to professionalise working 'on', rather than just 'in' conflict. It has also focused attention on the role of, synergies between and the overall effectiveness of development activities (broadly defined), the generation or provision of security, institutional capacity building and political outreach in achieving 'stabilisation outcomes'. This paper unpacks many of these issues in the specific contexts of Southern Afghanistan. It places the challenge of evaluation in three 'baskets' — difficulties in establishing 'strategic' and 'operational' priorities; difficulties defining and prioritising 'instruments' and reconciling 'action' with strategy and, thirdly, the difficulties derived from the nature of the operational environment and the ambitious nature of international aspirations. The Afghan case study explores the evolution of NATO's Regional Command South's (RC(S)) operational plans, the development of the RC (South) national contributors' own plans and the range of challenges that have been encountered in monitoring and evaluating both organisational performance and the delivery of higher order objectives. Having identified these challenges it draws attention to the way in which some of these have been addressed and what currently comprises best practice.
The Stabilisation Discourse and ending War.’ British experience in Helmand, Afghanistan
Breakout session on ‘Post-conflict reconstruction and Peacebuilding’, first talk: Dr Stuart Gordon, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. 'Stabilisation' has emerged as a powerful policy discourse guiding international interventions in conflict areas. The UK has been amongst the forefront of states adopting and developing the 'stabilisation' model and has adapted government policy, processes and structures in its efforts to deliver 'stability' in both Iraq and Afghanistan's Helmand Province. Its experience in Helmand in particular is likely to shape both future UK approaches and that of other donor states. Consequently this paper focuses principally on the British experience of stabilisation in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, addressing two elements: firstly, the development, content, perceived distinctiveness and significance of stabilisation as a distinct policy discourse. Secondly the nature and practical policy implications of stabilisation in southern Afghanistan, particularly for humanitarian actors.
The Politics and Peace and Justice: the Role of the ICC in Uganda
Breakout session on ‘Peace and Transitional Justice’, third talk: Lydiah Kemunto Bosire, D.Phil. Candidate, Politics and International Relations, Oxford University. The establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in July 2002 created a permanent forum for prosecuting those held 'most responsible' for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, and brought fresh promise to management of past, ongoing, and future conflicts. The ICC's intervention in ongoing conflict is thought to bring peace, even while the mechanisms by which the ICC might result in such peace remain unclear. The contested role of the ICC in Uganda is an example: while at one point the Court was credited for bringing the Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group to the table, at a later point the Court was blamed for derailing that same peace process. This paper draws on fieldwork conducted in Uganda in 2007 and 2008 to assess the role the ICC played in the Juba peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army. Based on interviews with elites involved in the peace process, the paper suggests that the role of the ICC cannot be understood outside the interests and motivations of elite agents.
Sierra Leone’s transition: A Road to Peace in the Short Term
Breakout session on ‘Peace and Transitional Justice’, second talk: Chris Mahony, D.Phil Candidate, Politics and International Relations, Oxford University.
Reconciliation’s Citizen: Insights from the Peace Process in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Breakout session on ‘Peace and Transitional Justice’, first talk: Briony Jones, Ph.D. Candidate, Manchester University; Student Chair, Oxford Transitional Justice Research. In the post Cold War era there has been a shift towards positive peace approaches in response to increases in intrastate conflicts. This has been part of an entrenchment of a liberal peace agenda, increased interventionism, and a greater complexity in peace-building. Such a shift has included a focus on social reconstruction in post-conflict societies and attention to reconciliation as part of transitional justice. Whilst reconciliation's normative project of restoring moral community has rarely been forced to defend itself, recent work on the politics of reconciliation suggest examination is needed on the political community which is implied, and on the dynamics between reconciliation and its citizen. This paper draws on fieldwork undertaken in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), a site of massive external peace-building intervention following the 1992-1995 war. One district in Bill did not become part of the two ethnic entities established in the peace accords, Bre'ko District (BD). This place has been hailed as a success story of return and reconciliation, but the experiences of those living in BD suggest a more nuanced approach is needed. The requirements of reconciliation based reforms in BD of an individualized, rights-bearing, and participatory citizen are challenged by experiences of uneven enabling conditions of citizenship and perceptions of a citizenship project which lacks meaning in context.