Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION

Tough Choices: Dilemmas and Decisions in Peacemaking

  • Dr. Anne Isabel Kraus, Co-Director Center for Peace Mediation at Institute for Conflict Management, Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)
  • Dr. Simon Mason, Head of the Mediation Support Team at Center for Security Studies, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zurich
  • Prof. Dr. Lars Kirchhoff, Director Institute for Conflict Management and Co-Director Center for Peace Mediation at Institute for Conflict Management, Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)
  • Dr. Tatiana Kyselova, Associate Professor at Law School and Jean Monnet Center of Excellence of Kiev Mohyla Academy, currently Marie-Curie Fellow at University of Turin
Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur des Landes Brandenburg
Januar 2018 bis Dezember 2019

Peacemakers - be they diplomats or members of civil society organizations - constantly face difficult decisions. Some of these decisions are particularly intractable because of perceived or real dilemmas: whatever the peacemaker does to meet the two (or more) equally imperative demands at hand, he cannot satisfy them both at the same, either way hard sacrifices seem to be inevitable. The decision-making of third parties in such dilemma situations is the subject of this research project.

For example, what should mediators do when they are expected to be transparent and at the same time keep the content of peace talks confidential in order to protect the process from political meddling (Colombia)? What to do when a stuck peace process stands in the way of new approaches, but the reluctance to give up sunk costs and publicly acknowledge failures is preventing this (Ukraine)? The demands clashing in such dilemmas are of security, strategic, political and economic nature or derive from moral, ethical, legal or cultural norms and individual interests. The implications of compromising or sacrificing these imperatives are equally divers as the reference systems that underlie them, with threats to human lives on the one end of the spectrum to loss of the peacemaker`s reputation, mandate and support on the other.

The goal of the project is to improve the way third party peacemakers reflect and act in these situations. Based in interdisciplinary peace and conflict studies, the project has four principal collaborating partners, the Center for Peace Mediation at Viadrina, the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zürich, swisspeace and the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine. Amongst other disciplines, the group of researchers bring together perspectives from political science, political philosophy, applied ethics, international law and religious studies.

The research starts from the assumption that dilemmas of peacemakers are an understudied and undermanaged field: dilemmas can be better identified, described, categorized and understood; the way third party peacemakers conceptualize and deal with dilemmas can be significantly improved; this can be done through explicit reflection and deliberate action in the decision-making process. In the course of the project, a conceptual and methodical framework for analyzing and managing peacemaking dilemmas will be developed, built on experiential knowledge from the field, tested with experienced practitioners and key policy actors and critically reflected with scholars from relevant disciplines.

In this context, the B/Orders in Motion heuristics will help to analyze where the necessity to make compromises pushes peacemakers over (normatively demarcated or blurred) boundaries, beyond which they might eventually do more harm than good in a conflict system. If peacemakers knew how to find out about such “red lines” in a specific case, they could better prevent negative impacts of their actions.

The outputs of the project will include a practical guidance for peacemakers (published in form of a manual, handbooks, videos, coaching curricula) and various academic publications (such as a Special Issue of a peace and conflict studies journal, and various collaborative and individual publications). A Sounding & Advisory Board from practice and academy will help in validating if the evolving framework is understandable and useful for everyday practice and in interlinking new insights with existing research.
 
A Sounding & Advisory Board from practice and academy will help in validating if the evolving framework is understandable and useful for everyday practice and in interlinking new insights with existing research.