"Conflicts and humanitarian emergencies can be handled more effectively, if five parties intensify their co-operation - governments, humanitarian organizations, civil society organizations, area experts and conflict-resolution experts. The types of conflicts we face now and in the foreseeable future require of us that we think, act and organise ourselves in new ways," say Morten Kjarum, director of the Danish Centre for Human Rights in Copenhagen and TFF director Jan Oberg in this report.
Early analysis, early listening and early action reduce human suffering and save resources. Comprehensive information about a conflict area, the conflict itself and the actors are essential for the succesful handling of complex conflicts and humanitarian emergencies.
Humanitarian workers represent a great reservoir of knowledge and experience that must be utilised better. Furthermore, basic knowledge of conflict-understanding, conflict-resolution and negotiation as well as human rights ought to be central components in education and training of new staff.
While diplomats and intelligence services may collect some types of information, civil society organizations, or NGOs, in a broad sense can "fly under the radar" and get access to local communities and citizens on all sides - a resource that is absolutely essential in order to build peace from the ground up, not only from the top down. An adequate "diagnosis" built on many different types of information, will improve the quality of the policies and programs of international organizations.
What government representatives do in conflict areas are frequently reported in the media. Not so with the thousands of non-governmental humanitarian and peace workers - locals and internationals - and what they do to alleviate suffering and promote reconciliation, reconstruction and new development after the violence. The authors describe how, in many instances, civil society organisations have promoted conflict-mitigation and reconciliation in these difficult situations.
Their point is that the above-mentioned five parties should come together and form a "conflict consortium" in each country or region, such as the Nordic, to increase their overall preparedness of governments and civil organizations and assist media - so important for the public will to help - in conveying more holistic and positive images from troubled lands.
Morten Kjarum & Jan Øberg
"The Conflict Consortium. On Conflict Management and Humanitarian Organizations," TFF 1997, 45 pp, 10 US$ plus postage
or in Danish:
"Konfliktkonsortiet. Om konflikthåndtering og humanitære organisationer," TFF 1996, 39 pp, 60 Swedish kronor, or equivalent.
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September 18, 1997
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