Advances in Understanding International Peacemaking


Over the past twelve years, the Grant
Program of the United States Institute of Peace has provided funding for
research and analysis on an array of topics in the field of international
peacemaking. Sponsoring policy-relevant research and promoting immediate
practical applications, the program has enabled policymakers, practitioners,
and scholars to explore a wide variety of conflicts and approaches to conflict
resolution. Grantees have examined particular conflicts and identified trends
in international conflict and have evaluated the successes and shortcomings of
efforts at conflict management and peacemaking. In their efforts to build a
body of analysis that will help to anticipate, prevent, contain, and resolve
international conflict, the Institute’s grantees have generated a wealth of
historical insight and timely policy guidance.

Underlying much of this
research and analysis is an orientation expressed in “Beyond Confrontation:
Learning Conflict Resolution in the Post­Cold War Era,” by John Vasquez,
James Johnson, Sanford Jaffe, and Linda Stamato. The book, prepared with a
grant from the Institute, presents new perspectives on conflict resolution,
examining methods and approaches that are becoming appropriate in a
post­Cold War world. The authors, all of Rutgers University, observe that
people and groups do learn to get along with others, developing a variety of
ways to settle disputes and to resolve deep underlying conflicts without
resort to the use of collective violence. These methods are varied, and some
are much more conducive to fair and lasting settlements than others. But if
they are learned, Johnson and Vasquez assert in their introduction, they can
also be taught, advanced, and refined. The motivation for the study of
international conflict management and peacemaking is the conviction that “how
differences are settled and peace is made is something that is learned and
therefore can be improved.”1 Such a
perspective makes it imperative to gather the lessons from recent efforts at
peacemaking, so as to be able to identify the improvements, learn when they
are applicable, and know how best to apply them.

This report gathers
some of those lessons, drawing on ten years of research and analysis funded by
the Institute. The fruits of this labor have been shared previously through
grantees’ published books, articles, and monographs, as well as through
conferences and training workshops. The Institute’s Grant Program has also
prepared periodic summaries of the results of its grants, gathered in
“Contributions to the Study of Peacemaking” (volumes 1­4).2 This
volume provides a single overarching frame for these various sources,
organizing diverse grant projects thematically across different regions and
types of conflicts, and tracing debates that have been furthered and advances
that have been achieved through these diverse grant projects.

The work
on international peacemaking that has been sponsored by the Institute’s grants
is quite varied in content and approach. Some projects have addressed a
particular conflict in great depth; others have pursued an issue, method of
conflict resolution, or type of conflict in comparative perspective. The range
of methodologies employed has included statistical analysis, interviews with
policymakers, document research, extensive fieldwork in conflict settings, and
informed memoirs of key actors who have defined some aspect of the field and
reflect upon the lessons of their experiences. Grantees have worked in a
variety of disciplines, including diplomacy, law, history, political science,
and professional dispute resolution.

From these approaches, grantees
have formulated and addressed many of the particular questions that challenge
contemporary international relations. Should there be new standards for
international intervention? How can the design of international peacekeeping
operations be improved? What have been the most successful ways of defusing
ethnic conflict? Does the spread of democracy imply a new basis for world
peace? Why are nonviolent strategies successful in some contexts and not in
others? How can humanitarian assistance be delivered so as not to sustain
conflict? Grantees have grappled with these questions in many different
regional and comparative settings, identifying the insights and lessons to be
applied in advancing international peacemaking.

Assessing ten years of research, this volume begins with a topic that
practically every grantee addresses: the reassessment of national sovereignty
and nonintervention. Although the concept of sovereignty is rarely the sole
focus of any project, almost all projects relating to international
peacemaking confront it directly or indirectly.
The management of conflict
via international organizations is the second topic, with particular attention
to the transformation of UN peacekeeping. Grantees assess these
transformations, evaluate weaknesses in current UN practice, and consider ways
to improve the design of UN peacekeeping mandates.

The third section covers unofficial diplomacy, whether conducted among
heads of state or at the grassroots level. Nongovernmental organizations have
played an important role in fostering peace through unofficial diplomacy.

The fourth topic, managing ethnic conflict, has become a priority in many
parts of the world. Careful study of global trends indicates a prolonged rise
in ethnic conflict. Recently, “ethnic entrepreneurs” have mobilized ethnic
grievances, politicizing ethnic identities and exacerbating ethnic conflicts
to serve their own ends. Policies to defuse ethnic conflict often include
permitting limited autonomy for communal groups and finding ways to make
national sovereignty divisible.

The democratic peace proposition, the fifth topic examined, asserts that
since democracies do not fight each other, the spread of democracy holds the
promise of world peace. Some grantees explore the causal mechanisms embedded
within that proposition, and others seek to qualify and challenge it. Some
examine intervention by democracies; others study the belligerent behavior of
new democracies.

The sixth section reviews research on nonviolence in
comparative perspective, with fruitful comparisons of Eastern Europe and
China, as well as broader perspectives on the strategies of nonviolence.

The final section addresses how humanitarian aid may sustain conflict,
directly via the transfer and diversion of material resources, and indirectly
through more dispersed impacts on the course of a conflict. Many analysts and
practitioners contribute suggestions for improving delivery of aid so as to
resolve rather than sustain conflict, particularly by strengthening local

Grantees bring skillful analysis and reflection on their experience to all
these topics. Out of a commitment that peacemaking can be learned and improved
on, they have generated both historical insights and policy recommendations
for preventing, managing, and resolving a wide variety of international
conflicts. Over the twelve years that the United States Institute of Peace has
sponsored such projects, grantees have made significant contributions to
advance our understanding and indicate ways of achieving international


  1. John Vasquez, James Turner Johnson, Sanford Jaffe, and Linda Stamato,
    Beyond Confrontation: Learning Conflict Resolution in the Post­Cold War
    Era (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 1.

  2. Contributions to the Study of Peacemaking, Vols. 1­4 (Washington,
    D.C.: United States Institute of Peace,


United States Institute of Peace

The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan federal institution created by Congress to promote research, education, and training on the peaceful resolution of international conflicts. Established in 1984, the Institute meets its congressional mandate through an array of programs, including research grants, fellowships, professional training programs, conferences… MORE >

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