Chapter 11: Conflict prevention and peacebuilding


Conflict prevention has been on the agenda of the international discussions since the early 1990s: Carnegie Commission 1997. Preventing Deadly Conflict: Final Report. Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, Washington, DC. This was a remarkable project initiated by a private foundation to raise the issue of early action for conflict prevention. It had a strong impact on the debate and on actual behaviour, particularly in the United Nations.

M.S. Lund 1996. Preventing Violent Conflicts: A Strategy for Preventive Diplomacy. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press. Michael Lund’s book reflected the international reactions to the crises in Bosnia and Rwanda in the first half of the 1990s. Many of the ‘tools’ described have remained on the agenda of international actors.

M. Öberg, F. Möller and P. Wallensteen 2009. ‘Early Conflict Prevention in Ethnic Crises, 1990–98: A New Dataset’, Conflict Management and Peace Science, 26 (1): 67–91. This is one of the few, systematic studies trying to ascertain whether early action actually works in preventing conflicts from escalating. It generated unexpected results.


Isak Svensson 2009. ‘Who Brings Which Peace? Neutral versus Biased Mediation and Institutional Arrangements in Civil Wars’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 53 (3): 446–69 is a challenge as a central tenet in mediation is the importance of being unbiased and impartial. Svensson’s study questions this. This article has drawn considerable attention in the literature on mediation research.

I. Svensson and P. Wallensteen 2010. The Go-Between: Jan Eliasson and the Styles of Mediation. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press. This work attempts a different approach. It follows one mediator, Swedish diplomat Jan Eliasson, in six different mediation situations taking place within three decades. It opens up for a close look at mediation in practice, but also how mediation has evolved from inter-state relations to complex regional and multi-dimensional concerns.


After the Cold War, the issues of peacebuilding became a major concern. Whether it really worked or not draws a considerable discussion. A central work in this discussion is Roland Paris 2004. At War’s End: Building Peace After Civil Conflict, Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

The discussion is far-reaching, however, and has still not ended. It has distinguished liberal peacebuilding from other approaches, even including ‘strategic’ peacebuilding. See, for instance: D. Philpot and G.F. Powers 2010. (eds.). Strategies of Peace. Oxford University Press.

A further contribution, based on empirical work on post-war conditions within as well as between states is this work, arguing in favour of the notion of ‘quality peace’, replacing ‘positive’ peace as well as peacebuilding: P. Wallensteen 2015. Toward Quality Peace: Peacebuilding, Victory and World Order. Oxford University Press.

The work on peacebuilding is also relevant for thinking about the options in a peace process. In this work, the authors suggest a new type of state structure as a solution for the Palestinian issue: Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg (eds.) 2014. One Land. Two States. Israel and Palestine as Parallel States. University of California Press.