Mediation Program Hosts Preventive Diplomacy Symposium

On March 19, the Mediation Program of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies partnered with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) to convene a half-day symposium on preventive diplomacy. Held at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs Washington Office, the event brought together experts from the United Nations, the United States Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, USIP, Georgetown University, and Notre Dame to discuss the art and science of preventive diplomacy.

Participants represented U.S. government entities, foreign embassies, the World Bank, NGO’s, think tanks, and other organizations throughout Washington D.C.

Opening Remarks

"Preventive diplomacy entails diplomatic interventions in domestic and international crises where there is a high risk of large-scale violence. The aim is to prevent the outbreak and escalation of violence and its massively destructive consequences. We understand the reasons for failure in preventive diplomacy better than we understand the reasons for success. Through this symposium, we seek to deepen understanding of the institutions and strategies most likely to avert imminent violence."

Laurie Nathan, Director of the Mediation Program and Professor of the Practice of Mediation, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies

Jeffrey Helsing, Senior Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace, introduced the opening keynote speaker.

Denise Natali, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the United States Department of State, opened the symposium.

"The U.S. and its allies need to agree on a policy framework and definition that identifies prevention as a priority...I hope today's event brings new and important energy to this conversation on preventive diplomacy so that you can do the work to prevent small fires from becoming large fires."

Following the opening remarks, two expert panels offered input. The first panel focused on the topic "Mapping the Field of Preventive Diplomacy." In addition to Laurie Nathan, panelists included:

  • Barbara Bodine, Director and Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University
  • Adam Day, Head of Programmes, Center for Policy Research, United Nations University
  • Corinne Graff, Senior Policy Scholar for Conflict Prevention and Staff Member for the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States, USIP
  • David Connolly, Director of Learning, Evaluation, and Research, USIP (Moderator)

The second panel focused on particular regional and country cases of preventive diplomacy. Panelists included:

  • Jonas Claes, Senior Program Officer for Global Practice and Innovation, USIP
  • Rebecca Brubaker, Senior Policy Advisor, Center for Policy Research, United Nations University
  • João Honwana, Former Director of Africa Division, United Nations Department of Political Affairs
  • Marcie Mersky, Standby Team of Experts, United Nations Mediation Support Unit
  • Dirk Druet, Political Affairs Officer, United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (Moderator)

The event was the first of its kind hosted by the Kroc Institute Mediation Program, which began in Fall 2018, but it won't be the last.

"The Kroc Institute is engaged in ongoing research on preventive diplomacy," said Nathan. "We will continue to collaborate with USIP, the UN, governments, and non-governmental organizations in conducting and disseminating this research."

For more information about the Kroc Institute's Mediation Program, visit kroc.nd.edu/mediation.

Contact: Laurie Nathan, Director of the Mediation Program and Professor of the Practice of Mediation, Laurie.N.Nathan.4@nd.edu

About the Kroc Institute: Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, is one of the world’s principal centers for the study of the causes of violent conflict and strategies for sustainable peace.

All photos by Greg Gibson for the Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies.

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