Our research programs aim to be innovative and provocative, marrying commitment to rigorous, interdisciplinary research with creative questioning in order to spark new conversations about we might understand and respond to the challenges of armed conflict today. Methodologically inductive, all of our programs are founded on analysis into the questions of the nature and causes of violent conflicts and mass atrocities, and how they are ended.
Our policy engagement is integrated with our research, in two senses. First, our policy engagement provides materials for innovative research. Second, our policy engagement in turn derives from the research directions of the WPF program. Drawing on the WPF’s unique access to political leaders and institutions, the programs aim to bring the qualities of innovation and creativity to its support of political processes for peace.
Our projects are divided into three program areas:
PEACE AND GLOBAL TRENDS
Our work aims to chart global drivers of peace and conflict, revealing how emergent trends require us to reimagine policy, scholarship and activism. WPF projects examine the politics of how public health, climate change, the law, economics, and corruption intersect with the possibility for peace and threats of conflict across borders.
The Conflict and the Political Marketplace program includes several initiatives related to Alex de Waal’s conceptualization of the political marketplace. It explores patronage markets and hybrid political orders, asking how fragile and conflict-ridden countries really function in fragile and conflict-affected states.
Reinventing Peace in the Anthropocene
Climate change will change peacemaking. We begin by looking at ‘traumatic decarbonization’ — the unplanned collapse in revenues from hydrocarbons in fragile states — and its political impacts.
PROTECTING VULNERABLE GROUPS
Over the course of the twentieth century, one of the most dramatic changes to the concept of peace was the idea that it must include the experiences of civilian populations, not just interstate relations. One outcome of this shift was the development of a civilian protection paradigm, that has both made significant contributions and been sorely tested. A key challenge today is applying a critical lens to the politics and activism around protection policies, with the goal of invigorating new approaches.
Mass starvation today results from political and military leaders’ policy decisions: starvation intentionally inflicted upon entire civilian populations. The key challenge for ending mass starvation is to render such policies and the leaders who choose to deploy them morally toxic. Could international criminal law be harnessed towards this overall goal?
Tracking COVID-19 in Detention: Places where people cannot enact social distancing are reporting significantly higher rates of Covid-19 infection than among the general public. One of the contexts where people are at elevated risk is detention. Nowhere is the problem more acute than in American prisons and jails.
Children and Youth Staying Safe in Conflict: Dyan Mazurana’s WPF funded project, `We Have Hope’: Resilience Among Violence Affected Youth, draws on her more than two decades of working with children and youth in conflict-affected areas. She invites readers to slip behind the statistics that often dominate our understanding of ‘children in conflict,’ and to listen to what young people have to say.
Human bones connected to injustice expose questions about what it means to be human and the experience of an irreducible “presence” that occurs when viewing another person’s remains. This project aims to formulate ethical and practical guidelines for the display of these particular types of remains in museum contexts.
AFRICAN PEACE PROGRAMS
The Africa peace program builds upon the WPF engagement with the African Union, including our 2016 report ‘African Politics, African Peace,’ and Alex de Waal’s expertise and engagement on a broad range of issues related to African peace and security. The WPF opportunistically sponsors research, programming and outputs when we can make an impact on discussions about African Peace issues.
Endeavors led by Alex de Waal that focus on analysis and engagement regarding prospects for peace the Horn of Africa countries. Includes ongoing support to the peace and security thinking at the African Union, especially through the AU High-level Implementation Panel for Sudan, South Sudan and the Horn of Africa.
The African Peace Missions study was initiated as a contribution to the African Union’s review of peace missions in Africa, with a view to informing the policies of the AU related to peacekeeping operations, stabilization/enforcement missions, conflict prevention, conflict mediation and political missions The ‘African Politics African Peace‘ report is the most extensive review of the African Union’s peace missions ever conducted. It charts an agenda for peace in Africa, focusing on how the African Union can implement its norms and use its instruments to prevent and resolve armed conflicts.
For generations, the peoples of the Horn of Africa have suffered the scourge of war, mass atrocities against civilians, repression and famine; their region has been divided by polarizing ideologies and identity projects, destabilized by external meddling and intervention, and is prone to climate crisis. Tragically, they are facing another cycle of turmoil, bloodshed and starvation today. The peoples of the Horn have struggled for peace, human rights, democracy and to overcome hunger, and have been partners in trying to build national and regional norms, principles and institutions that can serve their needs. The World Peace Foundation has been active in every country in the Horn of Africa and in the wider region—including the Nile Valley and the Red Sea Arena—seeking to document and analyze the plight of the people of the region, and what can be done to promote peace, justice, democracy and development. This page pulls together the diverse activities of the World Peace Foundation in the Horn of Africa.
Study of peace in Africa has long been handicapped by the paucity of internal documentary material from peace processes themselves. This means that conflict resolution as a practice does not always learn lessons and the field is often criticized for a supposed lack of scholarly rigor. The WPF has an extensive archive of documentation of African peace processes which we are making available to researchers.