Study investigates conflict prevention warnings

November 16, 2012, CORDIS
Study investigates conflict prevention warnings
Credit: Shutterstock

Professor Christoph Meyer from King's College London in the United Kingdom presented his research on the impact of warnings on policy decision-making vis-à-vis violent intra-national conflicts at the recent United Nations Disarmament Week, an annual observance that begins on the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Professor Meyer received a European Research Council Starting Grant worth EUR 754,000 for his research, which was presented in the journals Media, War & Conflict and International Studies Review. Professor Meyer's findings are an outcome of the FORESIGHT ('Do forecasts matter? early warnings and the prevention of armed conflicts') project.

Professor Meyer and his team investigated the conditions under which warnings mediated by high-profile politicians and media played a key role in the prevention of violent conflict in different countries and regions, including Estonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Kosovo, Sudan/Darfur, Rwanda and Turkey/North Iraq over the last 20 years or so. They also looked at how warnings affect international organisations like the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as some countries like Germany, the and the United States.

The ERC recipient's findings highlight the impact of early warnings for the prevention of armed conflict. Besides their content, source credibility and interpersonal relations between forecasts and decision-makers are also important components. Professor Meyer explained that we currently do not have enough information to forecast conflict, which is due to the rift between qualitative and quantitative approaches to forecasting conflicts. Another challenge is the lack of incentives to act early before a crisis occurs.

'International organisations, politicians and media ought to focus on "the heroes of prevention",' said Professor Meyer. 'This requires a change in mindset and rewarding people who take risks associated with warming and are prepared to act on it.'

Doing so would allow new methods to be introduced, helping regional, national and international institutions cultivate and use knowledge within their groups. Both 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' propagation of important insights on prevention would result.

Commenting on the support from the EU, Professor Meyer said: 'My ERC grant was a tremendous opportunity, almost a scientific nirvana, which allowed me to devote more time to research and to build an interdisciplinary team that enabled me to realise the project. ERC grants are prestigious - so it definitely helped me in making a case for my promotion to professor in March this year.'

With respect to the FORESIGHT project, both the intelligence community and governments will be affected by this work, helping them ensure that their work is being noticed and seen as relevant. Last February, Professor Meyer received an ERC 'Proof of Concept' grant to further develop a forecast-based web application called 'Impact Tracer', which could be used to trace a large number of texts over time according to specific needs.

Explore further: Europe courts world scientists with cash grants

More information: Otto, F. and Meyer, C.O., 'Missing the Story? Vol. 5, No 3, 2012; Re-casting the Warning-Response-Problem: Persuasion and Preventive Policy, International Studies Review, Vol. 12, No 4, pp. 556-578.

Related Stories

Europe courts world scientists with cash grants

February 20, 2012

The European Research Council launched an international campaign Sunday to court the world's top scientists to work in Europe with grants of up to 3.5 million euro (4.6 million dollars) over five years.

Number of conflicts in the world no longer declining

December 21, 2007

The trend toward fewer conflicts reported by peace researchers since the early 1990s now seems to have been broken. This is shown in the latest annual report “States in Armed Conflict,” from the Uppsala Conflict Data ...

The number of armed conflicts increased strongly in 2011

July 13, 2012

Last year, the number of armed conflicts in the world increased markedly, with the strongest increase taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the conclusion in a new report by researchers at the Uppsala Conflict Data ...

Study challenges assumptions on wartime sexual violence

October 10, 2012

A new study by the Simon Fraser University-based Human Security Report Project (HSRP), released today at the United Nations headquarters in New York, finds that there is no compelling evidence to support a host of widely ...

New data allows for unique conflict research

December 8, 2011

Which factors increase the risk for armed conflict and war? What circumstances make conflict resolution more likely to be successful? If work for peace is to bear fruit; these questions needs to be answered. Today, the Uppsala ...

Recommended for you

Unprecedented study of Picasso's bronzes uncovers new details

February 17, 2018

Musee national Picasso-Paris and the Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) have completed the first major material survey and study of the Musee national Picasso-Paris' ...

Humans will actually react pretty well to news of alien life

February 16, 2018

As humans reach out technologically to see if there are other life forms in the universe, one important question needs to be answered: When we make contact, how are we going to handle it? Will we feel threatened and react ...

Using Twitter to discover how language changes

February 16, 2018

Scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London, have studied more than 200 million Twitter messages to try and unravel the mystery of how language evolves and spreads.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.