World Peace Foundation

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Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine

By Alex de Waal (Wiley, 2018)

The world almost conquered famine. Until the 1980s, this scourge killed ten million people every decade, but by early 2000s mass starvation had all-but-disappeared. Today, famines are resurgent, driven by war, blockade, hostility to humanitarian principles, and a volatile global economy.

In Mass Starvation, world-renowned expert on humanitarian crisis and response Alex de Waal, provides an authoritative history of modern famines: their causes, dimensions, and why they ended. He analyzes starvation as a crime, and breaks new ground in examining forced starvation as an instrument of genocide and war. Refuting the enduring but erroneous view that attributes famine to overpopulation and natural disaster, he shows how political decision or political failing is an essential element in every famine, while the spread of democracy and human rights, and the ending of wars, were major factors in the near-ending of this devastating phenomenon.

Hard-hitting and deeply informed, Mass Starvation explains why man-made famine and the political decisions that could end it for good must once again become a top priority for the international community.

Indefensible: Seven Myths that Sustain the Global Arms Trade

Edited by Paul Holden (Zed Books, 2016)

The global arms trade is suffused with corruption, imperils the vulnerable and makes us all less safe.  Yet arms merchants and their government supporters can turn to a set of time-honed and well-packaged arguments to justify the status quo. Each one of the claims is either deeply questionable or simply untrue. The arms business needs to be undressed. Then, we will find its claims are indefensible; nothing more than myths. The WPF’s Project Indefensible debunks the seven core myths that the arms industry uses to deflect criticism and explains what can be done. It includes an interactive website and book,Indefensible: Seven Myths that Sustain the Global Arms Trade. The project was sponsored by WPF, and the book’s author is Paul Holden, our colleague at Corruption Watch, along with collaborators Bridget Conley-Zilkic, Alex de Waal, Sarah Detzner, John Paul Dunne, Andrew Feinstein, William Hartung, Lora Lumpe, Nic Marsh, Sam Perlo-Freeman, Hennie Van Vuuren, and Leah Wawro.

Purchase as a Kindle ebook or paperback in the UK through Zed Books, or in the Unites States from University of Chicago Press.

How Mass Atrocities End: Studies from Guatemala, Burundi, Indonesia, the Sudans, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq

Edited by Bridget Conley-Zilkic (Cambridge University Press, February 2016)

Given the brutality of mass atrocities, it is no wonder that one question dominates research and policy: what can we, who are not at risk, do to prevent such violence and hasten endings? But this question skips a more fundamental question for understanding the trajectory of violence: how do mass atrocities actually end?

This volume presents an analysis of the processes, decisions, and factors that help bring about the end of mass atrocities. It includes qualitatively rich case studies from Burundi, Guatemala, Indonesia, Sudan, Bosnia, and Iraq, drawing patterns from wide-ranging data. As such, it offers a much needed correction to the popular “salvation narrative” framing mass atrocity in terms of good and evil. The nuanced, multidisciplinary approach followed here represents not only an essential tool for scholars, but also an important step forward in improving civilian protection.

To order, visit Cambridge University Press.

The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and the Business of Power

By Alex de Waal (Polity Press, 2015)

Alex de Waal’s latest book (Polity Press, September 2015) draws on his thirty-year career in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, including experience as a participant in high-level peace talks, to provide a unique and compelling account of how these countries leaders run their governments, conduct their business, fight their wars and, occasionally, make peace.

De Waal shows how leaders operate on a business model, securing funds for their political budgets which they use to rent the provisional allegiances of army officers, militia commanders, tribal chiefs and party officials at the going rate. This political marketplace is eroding the institutions of government and reversing statebuilding and it is fueled in large part by oil exports, aid funds and western military assistance for counter-terrorism and peacekeeping.

The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa is a sharp and disturbing book with profound implications for international relations, development and peacemaking in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

To order, visit Polity Press.

To see the book lecture at the Ginn Library, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, click here.

Advocacy in Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Transnational Activism

Ed. by Alex de Waal with Jennifer Ambrose, Casey Hogle, Trisha Taneja, and Keren Yohannes (Zed Books 2015)

Conflicts in Africa, Asia and Latin America have become a common focus of advocacy by Western celebrities and NGOs. This provocative volume delves into the realities of these efforts, which have often involved compromising on integrity in pursuit of profile and influence.Examining the methods used by Western advocates, how they relate to campaigns in the countries concerned, and their impact, expert authors evaluate the successes and failures of past advocacy campaigns and offer constructive criticism of current efforts. Taking in a range of high-profile case studies, including campaigns for democracy in Burma and Latin America, for the rights of Palestinians in Gaza, and opposing the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, the authors challenge the assumptions set forth by advocacy organizations.

Advocacy in Conflict was developed from the 2013 World Peace Foundation Student Seminar, Western Advocacy in Conflict: Methods, Impacts and Ethics, and is edited by Alex de Waal, with Jennifer Ambrose, Casey Hogle, Trisha Taneja and Keren Yohannes with contributions from many of the seminar participants. The seminar briefing full text available as a PDF download.

Listen to an interview “The Is Hell” conducted with Alex de Waal about the book.

Purchase in the UK through Zed Books  or in the USA through the University of Chicago Press.

Occasional Papers

The World Peace Foundation hosts an Occasional Paper series to address topics related to our thematic research areas.

Arms Trade Corruption and Political Finance
By Xiaodon Liang and Sam Perlo-Freeman
July 9, 2018

This occasional paper examines the link between political finance and corruption in the arms trade. It draws on the World Peace Foundation’s Compendium of Arms Trade Corruption, a collection of 29 cases of corruption in the arms trade and the broader military sector from around the world, each containing a standard set of summary information along with a narrative description. The arms trade has many features that make it highly susceptible to corruption. This paper makes the case that it also has four key features that tie it particularly closely to political competition and political finance.

Can we prosecute starvation?
by Global Rights Compliance and World Peace Foundation
May 7, 2018

Political choices have driven famine’s re-emergence in this century. Some famines derive from intentional political and military decisions, while others are allowed to develop because the most powerful actors have other priorities, such as security, that overrule an effective response. Can famine be prosecuted? This paper considers what law might apply to cases of famine, and what evidence would be required to pursue a legal case.

Corruption in the Indonesian arms business: tentative steps towards an end to imputity
by Xiaodon Liang and Sam Perlo-Freeman
December 13, 2017

This paper examines the problem of corruption in the military sector in Indonesia in the post-Suharto era, in particular in relation to arms procurement, and discusses the significance of recent tentative signs of greater efforts by the Indonesian civil and military authorities to address the problem. It illustrates three crucial points about democratization and corruption in the arms trade.

How big is the International Arms Trade?
by Sam Perlo-Freeman
October 4, 2017

This paper attempts to produce a global estimate, or rather a range of estimates of the financial size of the international arms trade. It also explains problems with the data, including for some of the largest western arms exporters, from whom one might expect a greater level of transparency: most notably, the USA.

The Emerging Global Order, Multilateralism and Africa”, background paper for African Union Annual Mediators’ Retreat
Alex de Waal
October 3, 2017

What does the turmoil in the multilateral world order mean for peace and security in Africa?  World Peace Foundation’s Alex de Waal argues that Africa, as a weak continent, has much to gain from multilateralism, and especially from its stronger more normative versions.

South Sudan 2017: A Political Marketplace Analysis
by Alex de Waal
February 5, 2017

This memorandum analyzes South Sudan since independence using the framework of the political marketplace, in order to provide a guide to understanding the trajectory of the current crisis and the steps needed to address it. It provides a succinct overview of the theory of the political marketplace and the ancillary concepts of moral populism and the negotiated sovereign entitlement to kill.

Research Briefings from the African Peace Missions project
Summer 2016

To inform our report, African Politics, African Peace [link], the WPF supported research on a range of themes and cases, authored by area experts. The topics include: African peace and security norms and mechanisms, issues related to Peace Support Operations (mandates, doctrine, sexual exploitation and abuse, and atrocity prevention), conflict mediation, sanctions, and multiple case studies. Access the 23 research briefings and 20 case studies here [link].

Occasional Paper on South Sudan
By Alex de Waal
March 24, 2016

South Sudan today is a collapsed political marketplace. The country’s political market was structured by competitive militarized clientelism for access to oil rents. Those oil rents have almost disappeared but the structure of competition is unchanged and the price of loyalty has not reduced to a level commensurate with the available political funding. The result is that political loyalty and services are rewarded with license to plunder.

To Intervene or Not To Intervene: An inside view of the AU’s decision-making on Article 4(h) and Burundi
By Solomon Dersso
February 2016

Perhaps the most significant outcome of the 26th summit of the African Union (AU) was the decision scrapping the plan to deploy troops to Burundi for human protection purposes. In December 2015 the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), the continental body’s standing collective decision-making body on peace and security, announced a precedent-setting invocation of the AU’s Article 4(h) authorizing the deployment of a military mission to Burundi to quell violence related to disputed elections.

Assessing the Anti-Atrocity Toolbox
by Bridget Conley-Zilkic, Saskia Brechenmacher and Aditya Sarkar
February 2016

Beginning in the 2000s a new international consensus emerged regarding the need–both ethical and strategic–to prevent and halt genocide and mass atrocities. Armed with the insight that action need not be considered all or nothing, new energy was channeled into populating what became known as the “Anti-Atrocity toolbox,” that is, the set of discrete but universally applicable policy measures that could be implemented to effectively counter atrocities.

Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy: Implications for Humanitarian Response
by Dyan Mazurana and Daniel Maxwell
January 2016

The purpose of this policy brief is to outline the implications of Sweden’s overall feminist foreign policy for the people they strive to assist, Sweden’s own humanitarian policy operations, and more broadly the whole humanitarian community, with a focus on gender equality and strengthening the rights and empowerment of women and girls in humanitarian crises.

What Went Wrong?: The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front from Armed Opposition to State Governance
A Personal Observation by Paulos Tesfagiorgis
November 2015

This paper discusses how the Eritrea People’s Liberation Front evolved from a liberation front (1971-1991), into a highly successful organization with clear social and political agenda, and, ultimately, into an oppressive state where power is concentrated in the hands of the President and his close network.

Gender, Conflict and Peace
by Dyan Mazurana and Keith Proctor
October 2013

This paper provides a summary of key literature, frameworks and findings in five topic areas related to Gender, Conflict, and Peace, as well as proposes opportunities for further research. Some of the questions the Occasional Paper addresses include: How does a gender analysis inform our understanding of armed conflict and peace-making? What are the gendered dimensions of war, non-violent resistance, peace processes, and transitional justice?

Reports & Research Papers

African Peace Research

Peace Missions in Africa: Constraints, Challenges and Opportunities
African Politics, African Peace, full report
Research Briefings and Case Studies

African Security Review,  Volume 26, Issue 2, April/May 2017
International Peacekeeping, Volume 4, Issue 4, July 2017



WPF Statements

President Donald Trump is a Threat to World Peace

Statement by the World Peace Foundation
February, 2017

In its 106 years of existence, the World Peace Foundation has committed to understanding and
promoting peaceful relations among and within nations, as well as analyzing the causes of war.
Today, based on our expertise and given the statements and actions of the current President of
the United States, we are obliged to take a step without precedent, which is to name U.S.
President Donald Trump as a major threat to global peace.

Read the full statement, which details our concerns.


Our Statement on Ending Famine

Famine is an age-old scourge that almost disappeared in our lifetime. On the basis of our relevant scholarly and professional expertise, we, members of the faculty, staff and students of Tufts University, make the following declaration about the grave public ill that is famine, and our responsibility, as a university, a nation, and members of the international community, to end famine once and for all.  We invite you to join us in signing a statement on ending famine, which was drafted by a group of Tufts faculty members from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the School of Arts and Sciences, Tufts University.  

Learn more and sign the petition at

  Annual Report

World Peace Foundation Annual Report FY17

This has been a difficult year for world peace. While every recent year has faced serious setbacks in a general advance towards a less violent world, the last 12 months have marked a clear and significant shift towards a world order that is more bellicose, authoritarian and violently conflicted. This report begins with reflections on what this means for the WPF. 

The purpose of the World Peace Foundation is ‘educating the people of all nations to a full knowledge of the waste and destructiveness of war and of preparation for war, its evil effects on present social conditions and on the well-being of future generations, and to promote international justice and the brotherhood of man, and generally by every practical means to promote peace and good will among all mankind.’

Read the full FY17 Annual Report.


Staff Publications

For publications by Alex de Waal, click here.

For publications by Bridget Conley, click here.

For publications by Sam Perlo-Freeman, click here.

For publications by Dyan Mazurana as part of her WPF Fellowship, click here.