The President of the International Crisis Group (ICG), Jean-Marie Guéhenno, has recently published ’10 Wars to Watch in 2015′ – the organisation’s annual look at likely crises in the coming year – in Foreign Policy, available at this link and available on the ICG website here. The 10 conflicts and crises identified as likely to be the most dangerous in 2015 are:
- Syria, Iraq, and the Islamic State
- South Sudan
- Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
- Libya and the Sahel
The Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) has also recently published the results of a public opinion survey conducted in the US on conflicts that could erupt or escalate in the coming year: the report and an overview can be accessed here and an interactive guide to US conflict prevention priorities can be accessed here.
At the start of the SCID Course, when considering conflict prevention and the causes of conflict, students are asked to identify place where they think conflict may arise or escalate in the next 12 months – these predictions are returned to later in the course. Reflecting on recent conflicts and conflict predictions can help in the analysis of conflict trends and dynamics, as well as present potential conflict prevention and peacebuilding opportunities. As Guéhenno concludes his reflection of the conflicts in 2014 and predictions for 2015:
The picture that emerges from this survey of conflicts is grim. There is, however, one glimmer of hope — the increasing fragmentation of the world also means that there is no overarching divide. Even if the deepening crisis between Russia and the West is unsettling Europe, the last remnants of the Cold War are disappearing as Cuba and the United States normalize their relations. Many conflicts can now be dealt with on their own merits, and the growing role of regional powers — while adding complexity and, in some cases, new antagonisms — also creates opportunities for more creative diplomacy.
This is no time for the “old powers” to retrench, but they do have to acknowledge that successful peacemaking in 2015 will depend on working with a much broader array of countries than they have in the past (Guéhenno, 2014: n.p.).
Despite the availability in the public domain of many such predictions and tools to help analyse where conflict might erupt or escalate, there is often surprise at the outbreak of new conflicts and crises. Similarly, despite the many tools that do exist to help determine where conflict, violence or insecurity may erupt or escalate, conflict prevention rarely appears to be a priority – in spite of the obvious human and financial benefits of preventing conflict. Some of the tools and resources are linked to in the SCID Course materials and copied below. There are many insightful reflections on the causes of conflict and conflict prevention in the SCID discussion boards – the value of them often lies in their specificity and being informed by in-depth experience in and understanding of a particular region or place. As those engaged in peacebuilding begin to increasingly value the role of local communities in building peace, at least in theory, a community-based bottom-up approach to conflict prevention might also be worth considering (utilising existing local peace committees e.g.) – informed by but not limited to some of the predominantly quantitative data contained in the resources listed below.
- Heidelberg Institute’s Annual ‘Conflict Barometer’ – available here.
- Vision of Humanity’s ‘Global Peace Index’ – available here.
- The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators – available here.
- The Fund for Peace’s Fragile States Index – available here.
- The UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) – available here.
- The biennial publication of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) of the University of Maryland, ‘Peace and Conflict’ – available here.
- The Minorities at Risk (MAR) project at the University of Maryland’s CIDCM – available here.
- Datasets of the Uppsala Conflict Data Project (UCDP) of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research of Uppsala University, Sweden – available here.
- Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) Facts on International Relations and Security Trends (FIRST) system – available here.
- The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Country Risk Classification – available here.
- The Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Dataset – available here.
- The University of North Carolina’s Political Terror Scale – available here.
- The International Crisis Group’s (ICG) monthly ‘Crisis Watch’ – available here. You can also access an interactive conflict risk alert map (below) –
I look forward to continue discussing the way in which conflict can be prevented from breaking out and escalating. Eleanor