Educate, Connect, Develop 

Educate others about the field of conflict resolution, spurring discussions from dinner tables to conference tables about helping those whose livelihoods have been uprooted by conflict. 

Connect with like-minded, forward-thinking organizations and individuals to form a robust coalition for peace around the world. 

Develop the capacity of violence-affected communities to protect themselves by implementing durable solutions in the fields of livelihoods programming, education, security, water, sanitation and hygiene, and food security. 

A Hybrid Approach 

We believe in the fusion of two previously distinct fields of study: Human Development and Security. 

Traditionally held as distinct fields, we stand to align the interests and capacities of the security and human development spheres. Encased within them is a broad collection of concepts that are intangibly fused, and yet, at this time, academically and functionally distinct. Security, for example, might be physical security of people and communities, but may also refer to food security, a field of study firmly in the sphere of development. Development may refer to the imparting of rural agriculture skills on communities to alleviate poverty, or providing water resources, but may also include the development of security functions, enhancing policing practices, civil patrols, and defense groups capable of withstanding outside attack or reducing the hazards posed by insurgents. In this way, security and development are already one and the same, at least conceptually, but the distinction drawn between them in the field of academia poses a major roadblock to conflict resolution efforts around the world.

Conflict monitors have long understood the need for a hybrid approach, but journalists neither fight wars nor build schools. All three are archetypal paths through life: noble warrior, trustworthy reporter, compassionate humanitarian. All serve the same aim: A more just, peaceful world. However without cooperation, these individual threads never bind together to create meaningful solutions, and untold souls suffer endlessly in the worst conflict-hit zones throughout the world, year after year.

Security 

Armed forces are often woefully unprepared to undertake development tasks, regardless of good intentions. This inalienable truth is evident after a decade and a half of American engagement in Afghanistan with no victory in sight. While the U.S. Military has adopted terminology such as “COIN” (Counter-Insurgency) “Hearts and Minds” (Winning the support of local populations) and “Human Terrain” (The notion that communities either harbor insurgents or reject them, and therefore must be “won” like any other terrain) these fundamental shifts in thinking have not yielded desirable outcomes. Simply put, militaries cannot effectively win wars on “human terrain” in faraway lands without significant adjustment to their operating protocols. The act of envisioning combatants in warzones as future productive members of peaceful societies, successfully demobilized, disarmed and reintegrated, is diametrically opposed to the mission sets of modern armies, which requires the strategic elimination of enemy personnel. To the enemy, however, as well as the host population, The means by which wars are waged remain distressingly kinetic. The fear associated with long-held bastions of one’s society, such as markets and schools, being obliterated by bombs serves as a catalyst to radicalization by removing the most significant barrier to entry for terrorist organizations: A peaceful, vibrant society. Without markets, without schools, without businesses, without roads and utilities, individuals seek other semblances of respite from uncertainty and isolation. One of these avenues is violence. And so the mission set of modern armies is incompatible with the methods by which insurgencies are best fought: Attacks on the underpinnings of the ideology itself through economic, social, and political development.

Human Development

Development actors such as NGOs and humanitarian workers tend to have a broad understanding of the means by which societies must be returned to normal function. There are longstanding methodologies present that serve as frameworks for alleviating poverty, growing individual enterprise, broadening educational enrollment, and fighting disease. Along the way, humanitarians are skilled in protecting the most at-risk segments of conflict-afflicted communities, such as women and girls, single-parent households, and young men at risk of radicalization. The effectiveness of humanitarians ends, however, at the muzzle of a rifle. NGOs are not durable enough to function in kinetic environments, and they are unable to enforce peace in the way armies, militias, gendarmes, police forces, and civil defense initiatives can. Because NGO initiatives often pose direct threats to the primary drivers of recruitment in violent groups, these groups tend to target NGOs, who are almost always helpless in the face of armed attack. A strong characterization of this phenomenon would be the Pakistani Taliban’s consistent efforts to target aid workers providing polio vaccines.

Development actors and security actors are two facets of a single, not-yet-unified approach to conflict resolution. They both have significant roles to play in the future of conflict management. Until cooperation between them is more robust, however, violent groups will continue to exploit the weaknesses of both.

 

Looking Forward

We believe in fusing these two fields. We hope that through Education, Connections, and Development we can form the network and establish the legitimacy to do so. We ask for your help in sharing our message, discussing our topics of interest, and sharing our story. 

We strive to create a stronger, more robust security environment both in our neighborhoods and beyond by fostering a deep understanding of the Human Violence Precursors that precede conflict, displacement, and suffering.