Each year, the WPF hosts a number of closed-door research seminars that bring leading experts from around the world to share their research and engage in focused discussion with a small group of colleagues. The WPF seminar structure is intentionally different from academic conferences. Whereas most conferences are designed to communicate established research through presentation and some questions and answers, we aim to enable extended conversations amongst experts with the goal of generating new avenues of insight and query. We therefore structure the seminars over two days, invite a small number of expert participants, and allow for shorter formal presentations and longer periods of discussion. Additionally, presentations and proceedings of WPF seminars adhere to the Chatham House rule of non-attribution.
However, to help bring the core discussions, debates and themes to a wider audience, we encourage all participants to consider allowing us to publish their presentation memos or seminar reflections on our blog, Reinventing Peace. And, beginning in 2012, we published seminar briefings. These resources can be accessed below by seminar, on our blog, and in our collection of seminar briefings.
One seminar a year is dedicated to a student competition.
Academic Year 2012 - 2013
May 14 - 15, 2013: How Mass Atrocities End: Iraq
This seminar focused on Iraq's experiences of mass violence, from diverse perspectives--historical, political, sociological, demographic, statistical and environmental. Placing violence within the country's longer modern history, it explored the level, patterns, origins and endings of episodes of mass violence, especially against civilians under Saddam Hussein and into the U.S. occupation.
Seminar Briefing: How Mass Atrocities End: Iraq
Kanan Makiya, two-part essay, "Atrocities in Iraq: an historical overview"
Joost Hiltermann, "Iraq's Assault Against the Kurds"
Michael Spagat, "Violence and Myth in Iraq"
Harith al-Qarawe, "Political Violence and the Failures of Nation-Building in Iraq"
February 28 & March 1, 2013: Advocacy In Conflict
Western organizations, governmental and non-governmental, have played important roles in advocating for international policies towards conflict-affected countries, but their role and impact often goes under-examined. Examining case studies of Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gaza and Uganda, this seminar explored how advocacy campaigns portray complex situations, their impact on conflict and foreign policy, and the ethical questions of their legitimacy and accountability. It questioned the goals, methods and consequences of Western advocacy and possibilities for its evaluation and improvement.
Seminar Briefing, "Advocacy in conflict"
Summary of public program, "Advocacy in Conflict: Do public advocacy campaigns make an impact?"
Maung Zarni, "Burma/Myanmar: Its Conflicts, Western Advocacy and Country Impact"
Kate Cronin-Furman, "On Luvungi and the Problem of Evidence in Advocacy"
Laura Seay, "Western Advocacy in Conflict: The Democratic Republic of Congo"
October 29 & 30, 2012: New Wars, New Peace
This seminar was the second in a series analyzing Mary Kaldor’s New and Old Wars (first edition, 1999), which crystallized thinking about the changing nature of war in the post-Cold War era, in particular focusing on the proliferation of non-state actors and the systematic targeting of civilians, the importance of identity politics, and the inter-relationship between private and often criminal interests and political conflict. As this book enters its third edition, it is an appropriate moment to reflect on how scholarship on “new wars” has evolved, what new peacebuilding practices have emerged, and, in light of these changes, what challenges academics and policymakers face today. This seminar focused on a security studies approach to analyzing new wars.
Seminar Briefing: "New Wars, New Peace: Security Perspectives"
Mary Kaldor, "The New Peace"
Jason Stearns, "The Cat's Cradle of Congolese Politics"
Hassan Abbas, "Understanding War and Peace in Afghanistan Today: Will planned military withdrawal usher peace in Afghanistan?"
Adam Isacson, "Governance Gaps and the Hydra's Heads: Would a successful negotiation with the FARC reduce violence in Colombia?"
Roland Marchal, "Somalia: From a small war to a long war"
November 16 & 17, 2012: Libya in the African Context
This seminar aimed to document, analyze and reflect upon the neglected African dimensions of the Libya conflict of 2011. Discussions approached Libya’s policies towards sub-Saharan Africa, the African Union’s peace initiative during 2011 and the reasons why it did not succeed, on the roles of Libya’s African neighbors during the conflict (notably Sudan and Chad), and the impact of the conflict on those neighbors, including especially Mali.
Casey Hogle & Soumia Aitelhaj, "Libya Today: Glass Half Full?"
Faraj Najem, "Libya Today"
Faraj Najem, "Libya in the African Context"
Asim el-Hag, "The Sudanese Role in Libya 2011
Alex de Waal, "The African Union and the Libya Conflict of 2011"
Jean-Louis Romanet Perroux, "Libya: The Long Way Forward"
Lina Khatib, "Qatar's Involvement in Libya: A Delicate Balance"
Seminar Briefing Note, "Libya in the African Context"
Academic Year 2011 - 2012
November 17 & 18, 2011: How Mass Atrocities End
The existing conventional meta-narrative for genocide and mass atrocity against civilians is empirically and analytically strong on the origins and nature of such extreme violence, but takes a strictly normative turn when considering the endings of genocide or mass atrocity. The ‘ideal’ ending, which tends to preoccupy advocates and policymakers, consists of an international military intervention leading to a settlement that includes not only an end to genocide but also the establishment of peace and democracy along with an exercise in transitional justice that may include trials, assistance to the survivors, memorialization, compensation and reparation. What debates do exist generally focus on the legality and politics of international interventions to halt genocide and measures to bring perpetrators to justice. This series of research seminars and projects aims to explore the oft-neglected empirical study of how genocides and mass atrocities have actually terminated.
"How Mass Atrocities End: An Evidence-based Counter-Narrative" By Alex de Waal, Jens Meierhenrich, and Bridget Conley-Zilkic. Fletcher Forum, Vol 36:1 (Winter 2012).
How Genocides End, webforum hosted by the Social Sciences Research Council based on a series of previous seminars organized by Alex de Waal, Bridget Conley-Zilkic, and Jens Meierhenrich.
January 12 & 13, 2012: New Wars, New Peace
Mary Kaldor’s New and Old Wars (first edition, 1999) crystallized thinking about the changing nature of war in the post-Cold War era, in particular focusing on the proliferation of non-state actors and the systematic targeting of civilians, the importance of identity politics, and the inter-relationship between private and often criminal interests and political conflict. As this book enters its third edition, it is an appropriate moment to reflect on how scholarship on “new wars” has evolved, what new peacebuilding practices have emerged, and, in light of these changes, what challenges academics and policymakers face today.
Special series of contributions to the WPF blog, Reinventing Peace, including an introduction and contributions from:
Peter Andreas, "Political Economies: Old Wine in New Bottles?"
Stathis Kalyvas, "Comments on Mary Kaldor's New Wars"
Kelly Greenhill, "Dead Reckoning: Challenges in Measuring the Human Costs of Conflict"
Anouk Rigterink, "What's In a Number?"
Robert Muggah, "Rethinking the Intensity and Organization of Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean," Part I & Part II.
Hakan Seckinelgin, "Conflicts are Complex Processes: Does this Matter for Peace?"
March 22 & 23, 2012: How Mass Atrocities End
The second seminar in the WPF series on ending mass atrocities expanded the cases and issues studied.
See the "Ending Mass Atrocities" blog series
Gerry Van Klinken, "Death By Deprivation in East Timor, 1975-1980"
April 20 & 21, 2012: Western & Non-Western Views on Conflict Resolution
This seminar was held association with The Fletcher School's International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program and under Prof. Nadim Rouhana's leadership.
May 7 & 8, 2012: Drug Trafficking and Organized International Crime: Re-framing the Debate
Drug-trafficking and transnational crime are identified consistently in international fora as a threat to international peace and security. Traditional policy responses have focused on the threat drugs and crime pose to the state, and subsequently, what law enforcement or punitive strategies should be adopted. This workshop explored how such an approach limits our understanding of these phenomena, their effects on citizen security, and thus possible solutions to the problem.
This seminar was organized by the winners of WPF's first annual student seminar competition, Mario Patiño, Jennifer Keene, Katharine Davis, Leah Greenberg and Anne Wanlund.
See the Re-Framing the Debate blog series.