International Alert works for peace in war-torn and war-threatened countries in Africa, Asia and Eurasia. In 2003 we continued to work on more than forty projects - both with our partners in regions affected by conflict and at the advocacy and policy level.
We use a combination of approaches to peacebuilding. When working in conflict regions, we act in close cooperation with local groups. Our starting point is to analyse the causes and dynamics of the conflict. We want to know its sources, and how it has unfolded, the key actors and their interests. We want to know who is an ally for a peace process and who is a potential spoiler.
One of our key functions is to enable dialogue between conflicting parties, creating safe spaces for mediation and facilitation. Through this and providing other forms of support such as training in analysis and negotiation we help our local partners develop the skills to resolve disputes peacefully.
Peaceful conflict resolution has the best prospect of success if it is possible simultaneously to encourage greater democracy. We both work directly with parliamentarians and, where it is possible and useful, forge links between civil society organisations and government. Many of today’s conflict-prone countries are in regions where peace in one country can be undermined by increased violence next door. In these cases, much of our work has a regional focus, attempting to develop joint solutions to shared problems.
Our policy and advocacy work takes place at the intergovernmental level, especially in the European Union and the United Nations as well as at national and regional levels with governments who support peacebuilding and conflict-sensitive approaches to development. Again, research and analysis are the basis of what we do. We analyse themes of global relevance – such as the control of small arms, the relationship between conflict and development, gender issues, the role of the private sector, the effect of the natural resource exploitation on the potential for conflict and the impact of organised religion.
Some of this research is carried out with partners in conflict regions. We help them bring their voices and perspectives to the attention of international decision makers. Working with them, we produce specific policy proposals and recommendations, attend key policy discussions, provide our expertise and share the results of our studies. Time that we invest in developing resource packs and training manuals is part of an overall effort to ensure that not only do governments and inter-governmental organisations produce improved policies, but that they also implement them.
For International Alert 2003/4 has been a period of major change. Kevin Clements stepped down as Secretary General in September 2003, shortly preceded by Martin Honeywell stepping down as Deputy Secretary General. Upon taking over as Secretary General, I initiated a strategic review that is exploring all aspects of what we do, where we focus and how we work. At the time of writing, the review’s results are not yet in, but it is clear that we will take on some new challenges in the years ahead as well as working in the regions and on the themes in which we are now engaged. The opportunity that the review provides to reflect on our approach to both new and continuing tasks will strengthen our work and improve our effectiveness even further.
- Author(s):International Alert
- Date:August 2004