The Strategic Peacebuilding Programme (SPP, formerly the Middle East Programme) seeks to contribute to preventing, transforming and ending violence by changing how people think about and engage with conflict. We facilitate innovative and strategic dialogues to lay the foundations and ripen the conditions for effective conflict-resolution efforts.By creating space for people to engage strategically with one another, SPP seeks to open-up fresh possibilities for conflict resolution. Using the knowledge and expertise gained from dialogue, we seek to give third parties - be they the UN, governments or civil society - the critical insights they need to develop effective policies and peace processes.Our creative approach encourages a deeper appreciation of the causes and drivers of conflict in the Middle East and seeks to challenge established ways of thinking. For over a decade, the SPP has been facilitating inclusive dialogue, often engaging with groups that sit outside the official diplomatic process, to explore means of resolving the conflict.
In a world seemingly beset by intractable conflict, conflict resolution needs to be flexible, responsive and innovative. Reactive, short-term responses can miss opportunities for peace, or even worsen the situation. Strategic thinking and long-term engagement is needed.
Third parties tend to respond to conflict from the perspective of their own vested interests and in pursuit of a particular agenda. History demonstrates that military intervention, a common immediate response, generally exacerbates and entrenches conflict; wounds are deepened and become part of a collective narrative of victimhood and vilification.
Alternatively, conflicted parties can be pressured to meet at the negotiating table or to seek common ground and reconciliation through dialogue. However, these processes can be prolonged and fruitless if the parties are not yet ready for them or if they do not provide space to tackle the real grievances behind radical disagreement. They can give a semblance of peace-making while the core needs and grievances of the parties go unaddressed.
With the increase of conflicts which seem resistant to traditional conflict resolution methods, new approaches urgently need to be pioneered. Theorists and practitioners of peace-making, as well as governments and international organisations, must adopt a responsive and adaptable approach.
ORG seeks to lead the way in fresh thinking about conflict resolution, inform third parties and engage with alternative on-the-ground methodologies that first ready the conditions for peace processes, and then bolster them when they are in motion.
We do not believe it is the role of third parties to advocate for any particular party or political outcome to a conflict. SPP instead acts as an independent facilitator with no agenda other than how genuinely to transform violent conflict and ripen the conditions for the parties to develop their own solutions.
SPP explores key issues and questions that are rarely addressed or under-discussed. Its projects make space for under-represented and fresh voices to be heard, and make new links between people. Putting creativity at the heart of its work ensures SPP’s approach is flexible and adaptive.
SPP believes people determine whether a process is effective or not. For this reason, SPP works hard at understanding the local environment and actors. It identifies the right people to engage in its projects and invests in people by building capacity and trust. Furthermore, SPP adopts a consultative and collaborative approach, working closely with local partners and international consultants and advisors.
SPP combines practice with theory, believing the two to be completely interdependent; through practice we fine tune theory, learning and drawing from experience; and through sound research and deep understanding of conflict, we can create a more effective and responsive methodology. In addition, we seek to facilitate integration and cross-fertilization between projects, sharing local information and expertise.
SPP’s approach is anchored in local realities, rather than driven by idealism. We believe it is important to start where parties are and not where third parties want them to be. Methodologies must be strategic, calculating how minimum requirements can be met, and adapting to ensure success rather than doggedly maintaining a particular approach on principle.
The Palestine Strategy Group project is supported by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry; details available here.
This report summarises the discussion at a roundtable on the war in Yemen and the potential for supporting peacebuilding capacity in the region. The event took place on 1 December 2017 at the Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC) at the University of Kent and was a joint event organised by CARC and Oxford Research Group (ORG). The roundtable took place under the Chatham House Rule, so comments are not attributed to specific individuals or the organisations they are affiliated to.
Working with the Conflict Analysis and Research Centre, ORG’s Strategic Peacebuilding Programme organised a successful roundtable at the University of Kent on 01 December 2017.
On 21 December 2017 the Palestine Strategy Group (PSG) published the English translation of its most recent strategic report: Relations between Palestinians across the Green Line.
In this paper, SPP Director Emily Richardson and ORG consultant Professor Oliver Ramsbotham outline ORG’s unique methodology for Collective Strategic Thinking which helps conflict parties assess where they are, where they want to be, and how to get there.
We chose to launch our new name on 21 September to coincide with the International day of Peace which calls on people around the world to join together to promote a culture of peace. On this day, ORG proudly joins with 130 other peacebuilding organisations worldwide in endorsing a shared statement, Implementing the New Commitments to Peace.
This article provides a brief summary of the academic insight on timing in conflict mediation, summarizes major theories on this matter and argues that, with the right mediation strategy, there is never an unsuitable time to engage in fruitful peace initiatives.
This paper offers an overall conceptual framework for the venture. What is the difference between strategic studies and conflict resolution? Why do strategic studies and conflict resolution both need to adapt in response to changing patterns of contemporary conflict? How can they mutually inform each other? And what are some of the wider implications for possible future collaborative work?
The Oxford Research Group (ORG) has published an Arabic language journal on conflict resolution in cooperation with the Regional Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS) in Cairo. Titled Interconnected Trajectories: Managing Complicated Conflicts in the Middle East, the journal was the outcome of a joint meeting between ORG and RCSS in Cairo in May 2015.
A genuine, if brief, debate took place amongst the political classes in the UK on the dangers of intervening or not intervening in Syria in advance of the British Parliament’s vote to expand its military action from Iraq to Syria. But it seems that we live in a world of amnesiac thinking driven by fine words and high ambition rather than clear strategy. The reality of the murkiness of war and the fog of peace are much more disturbing.
Amid continuing violence and conflict in the Middle East, our work in Egypt provided a unique platform for discussions on root causes and ways forward to manage and end crises resulting in an important contribution to the field of conflict resolution in the Middle East.
BRUSSELS - Late last month, the electoral campaign for the 11th Iranian presidential elections, scheduled for 14 June, officially began, opening the floor to the competing candidates to promote their views in TV debates, in an attempt to gain the Supreme Leader and the voters' endorsement.