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Preventing Violence, War and State Collapse: The Future of Conflict Early Warning and Response
OECD Publishing, March 2009, Pages: 134
The international community today is hardly in a position to avoid another genocide, as witnessed in Rwanda in 1994, despite the significant evolution of early warning systems in recent years. Based on a review of the literature on early warning and response, as well as inputs from surveyed agencies, “Preventing Violence, War and State Collapse” assesses the value and role of early warning for the prevention of violent conflict and identifies the most effective early warning and response systems. It concludes with a set of recommendations for policy makers in donor and partner countries in influencing future developments in this field.
A considerable body of work has been carried out in recent years on the issue of early warning and response to violent conflict and fragile situations. Nevertheless, this publication suggests that it is questionable whether the international community would be capable of avoiding another genocide, as witnessed in Rwanda in 1994, were the situation to arise today.
It is against this background that “Preventing Violence, War and State Collapse: The Future of Conflict Early Warning and Response” identifies gaps in the early warning landscape, but also the opportunities that arise from current developments. In this way, the publication aims to support the efforts of OECD-DAC members and other organisations active in the field of conflict prevention and peace-building to better integrate early warning analysis and response into their programming.
The findings point out that many international organisations and bilateral development agencies have made progress in this area - they have integrated early warning mechanisms into their policies and strengthened institutional mandates for early responses. This is indeed an encouraging development. However, despite considerable intellectual and financial investments in this field over the past decade, the international community often fails to anticipate the consequences of clear warning signs of conflict and state fragility.
This publication argues that in the light of future conflict dynamics, international actors need to adapt their early warning systems and take advantage of ongoing technological evolutions and innovative Web 2.0 applications. The future role of OECD-DAC members in shaping further developments in this domain is therefore essential. Significantly, the publication highlights the role of regional and so-called “third generation” early warning systems and the critical need to work with local actors on the ground, both as early warners and as the first line of response. OECD-DAC members are also encouraged to assess the need for a more effective global and regional early warning architecture to overcome the problem of a fragmented approach.
List of Abbreviations
-Structure of the Report
Chapter 1. A Short Contemporary History of Conflict Early Warning
Chapter 2. The Range of Early Warning Tools and Systems
Chapter 3. Is Early Early? A Review of Response Mechanisms and Instruments
Chapter 4. Future Directions for Early Warning and Early Response
Chapter 5. Conclusions and Recommendations
Annex. Compendium of Surveyed Early Warning Systems and Early Response Mechanisms/Instruments