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Post-Conflict Peacebuilding and Reconstruction: Development of a Common Language to Improve the Response to Needs

Annual Call for Projects 2006


Post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction represents a major challenge for the international community and for war-torn societies. This thematic is rife with conceptual and terminological ambiguities, however, which inhibit understanding of the challenges inherent in such contexts and also of the actions undertaken by decision-makers and practitioners. The increasing gap between theory and reality requires an interdisciplinary and empirical study on the significance and relevance of various notions of peace-building, so that the needs of practitioners and concerned populations are taken into greater consideration.

The absence of systematic study of this type has motivated the various partner institutions to initiate the current research project. In concrete terms, the project sets out to produce a bilingual practical lexicon, titled: “Peacebuilding and Post-Conflict Reconstruction: A Practical and Bilingual Lexicon / Lexique pratique bilingue sur la consolidation de la paix et la reconstruction post-conflictuelle”. This didactic, action-oriented and practical publication will address a wide audience, including researchers, practitioners, international civil servants, press officers, diplomats, the military, humanitarian workers, the media, civil society, members of NGOs and so forth.

The publication will include 25 key concepts, with an equivalent number of chapters. Each contribution, written by a specialist in the relevant domain, will analyse the linguistic, historical, legal, political, economic and ethical dimensions of each concept. The goal is to provide a clear and objective vision of the current state of knowledge while putting into perspective any problems of definition or content (underlying ideological biases, institutional differences, difficulties in implementation, etc). Each author will propose a final consensual definition, and also list best practice recommendations.

In order to go further in depth in this distinctly empirical and interdisciplinary approach, a workshop bringing together all the participants in the project will be organised at the halfway stage in Geneva. External experts from international organisations, NGOs and national governments directly implicated in peace-building will also be invited. The inclusion of these practitioners will enrich the debates and also confront preliminary conclusions of the research with their concrete concerns. The outputs from the workshop will then be integrated to the final version of each contribution. Written contributions will also be translated so that a French/English reference translation will be available for optimal practical usage.

At a time when Geneva is trying to strengthen its role as a pole of excellence in international studies, the Project on Post-conflict peacebuilding and Reconstruction initiated by the University Centre for International Humanitarian Law (UCIHL), the University of Geneva School of Translation and Interpretation (ETI), the European Institute of the University of Geneva (IEUG), the Graduate Institute of International Studies (GIIS), the Graduate Institute for Development Studies (GIDS), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Library of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) represents a strong signal. It demonstrates the capacity of Geneva-based actors in the academic and international fields to combine their expertise in a spirit of openness on an increasingly important thematic. Above all, the research project is conceived as an instrument to help set up coherent and integrated strategies to respond to the many challenges of peace-building. As such, it responds to two exigencies: on the one hand, to promote the definition and diffusion of a common language; and, on the other hand, to provide a better understanding of the specific dynamics of peacebuilding while addressing to the needs of practitioners confronted with realities in the field.

The grant provided by the GIAN for this project totals SFr 114,167

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Project Team

Dr. Yvan Droz , Principal Member, Graduate Institute of Development Studies (GIDS) .

Prof. Riccardo Bocco , Associated Member, Graduate Institute of Development Studies (GIDS) .

Mr Gilles Carbonnier , Associated Member, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) .

Dr. Laurent Goetschel , Associated Member, Swisspeace - Swiss Peace Foundation .

Prof. Vera Gowlland-Debbas , Associated Member, Graduate Institute of International Studies (GIIS) .

Ms Anne-Marie La Rosa , Associated Member, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) .

Dr. Thania Paffenholz , Associated Member, Graduate Institute of Development Studies (GIDS) .

Mr Stéphane Pfister , Associated Member, Graduate Institute of Development Studies (GIDS) .

Mr Matthias Stiefel , Associated Member, Interpeace - International Peacebuilding Alliance .

Dr. Thierry Tardy , Associated Member, Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP) .

Prof. Daniel Warner , Associated Member, Graduate Institute of International Studies (GIIS) .

Prof. Nigel White , Associated Member, The University of Sheffield .

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