The GIGA launched the Global Transitions Conference Series in 2015 to promote analysis and debate on key problems the world faces today from diverse academic and practitioners’ perspectives, and to propose innovative and feasible solutions. Once a year, leading thinkers from around the globe are invited to join GIGA scholars for this dynamic interaction at the GIGA in Hamburg, Germany.
Approximation to a Multilevel and Pluralist Approach
The main focus in peace and conflict research is and has been on the analysis of collective manifestations of violence, their patterns of escalation and recurrence, the possibilities and obstacles of war and violent conflict termination. The properties and qualities of peace have received much less attention although peace and conflict transformation are core topics in the social sciences and humanities. Current theories, data, and methods are overwhelmingly shaped by the experiences of the industrialised countries. Western experiences of state-formation, democratisation and economic development are taken as the norm against which other experiences are evaluated. As a consequence deficits are highlighted (e.g. state fragility) while different cultural and historical concepts of political, social, and cultural orders are widely neglected.
This is not just an academic concern but has profound policy implications as different international actors address the problems in conflict ridden societies by promoting a blueprint of institutional and policy reforms that are not necessarily the best fit for a specific context. On the contrary – there is increasing empirical academic evidence that many of these interventions might much more be part of the problem than part of the solution due to their lack of context-sensitive blueprints and lessons learned.
The third GIGA Global Transitions Conference in Hamburg aims to contribute to the discussion by shifting the focus from addressing the symptoms such as violence towards the outcome, that is peace and constructive conflict transformation. Scholars and practitioners will address the following questions:
What is our understanding of peace and conflict transformation? What are the advantages and disadvantages of narrow and broad concepts? Is peace a utopia, a continuum, or an incremental process? Is there an overlap between peace and other concepts such as harmony, justice, equality, development?
What are the core concepts relevant to envision peace and transform conflict across different cultural and historical regions? How are they related to social and political processes such as development, democratization, human rights, or participation?
How can we identify or even measure important factors or patterns of peace and conflict transformation? Can we find common ground for comparative research across historical, cultural, and regional contexts?
What are the main properties and qualities for securing or establishing peace and transforming conflict in a constructive way? What are the central actors, institutions, processes that need to be included theoretically as well as on the ground? How can top-down and bottom-up processes be related?