How collaborative international research, funded through GCRF, is tackling protracted conflicts across the world

By Professor Stuart Taberner, Director of International and Interdisciplinary Research, Research Councils UK

Stuart TabenerIn an era in which wars between states have become less common, and fighting between unstable coalitions of volatile regimes, non-state groups, and terrorist organisations the norm, protracted conflict has profound consequences not only for humanitarian assistance but also for global development.

Innovative and excellent research on these protracted conflicts is essential to helping to generate real-world solutions to these seemingly intractable developments, which stretch vastly from political instability, economic collapse, environmental devastation, the implosion of good governance and public services, to the destruction of cultural heritage, and to the human misery of killing and wounding, religious and ethnic persecution, sexual violence and exploitation, and forced displacement.

In partnership with developing countries and multilateral, international and national organisations dedicated to assisting those in need and to bringing about measurable and sustainable change, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) has set out to begin the groundwork on understanding how we can approach tackling these convoluted issues.

Launched in late 2015 and funded by the UK Government to be delivered primarily through the UK Research Councils, the GCRF has to-date supported 47 internationally collaborative projects specifically focussed on conflict, peace, justice and humanitarian action. These 47 programmes are among more than 500 projects tackling global issues on topics such as health, food security, environment and climate change and across the full range of UN Sustainable Development Challenges.

And on Monday 2 October senior representatives of humanitarian aid and development agencies, outstanding GCRF researchers, colleagues from DFID and the FCO, and high-level representatives from the United Nations and the World Bank and will come together at the two- day ‘Protracted Conflict, Aid and Development: Research, Policy and Practice’ conference.
The conference will be opened by Professor Gilles Carbonnier, Vice-President Designate, International Committee of the Red Cross, and Adama Dieng—UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide—will present a keynote address on ‘The centrality of respect for human rights to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.’ A further highlight will be a plenary keynbote on Securing the peace – lessons from recent conflicts, by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President & CEO, International Crisis Group, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, and former UN deputy special envoy Syria.

The conference will provide a forum to consider the ways research collaboration on protracted conflict and partnership with local and global organisations seeking to address the causes and consequences of conflict can be further enhanced internationally, across disciplines, with policy and practice and with diverse communities and partners in low and middle income countries. Breakout sessions will focus on key issues in conflict resolution and prevention and post-conflict rebuilding, including Transitional power sharing agreements, Gender-based violence in conflict, transitions and post-conflict, Cross-border and organised crime, South-south humanitarianism, transitional justice and contenting with the past.

The conference brings together a range of global voices to share insights, learning and experience and debate opportunities for GCRF and other research to make an even stronger contribution to efforts to address the ongoing challenges and consequences—and human suffering—of protracted conflict. The programme presents GCRF programmes specifically targeted at protracted conflict, such as the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (PaCCS), initiated by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, while also featuring existing and new programmes led by the Department for International Development, the British Academy, and other partners present at this conference. In addition, the Imperial War Museum will discuss its recent exhibition on the conflict in Syria, including its collaboration with academic researchers to explain ongoing conflicts to the wider public.

The ambition for ‘Protracted Conflict, Aid and Development: Research, Policy and Practice’ is to shape a new agenda for research and to create a new platform for intensive collaboration between GCRF and other research on protracted conflict and those who role it is to address its human cost and wider negative impact on global development head-on.

To find out more about GCRF, visit our GCRF webpages.

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