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Nature Often Forgotten in Peace Processes – Could Lead to New Conflicts, According to Pufendorf IAS Theme

What is the Nature of Peace? Picture from Sulaymania, Iraqi Kurdistan.

The research within the theme, Nature of Peace, starts from the basis that nature is often forgotten in peace processes, which tend to focus on military disarmament and the withdrawal of an army/guerrilla group. However, participants in the theme argue that if nature is forgotten, it may affect the longevity of peace, as disputes concerning the future allocation of a country’s resources could lead to new conflicts. The group also argues that the struggle for resources may be the reason for the conflict in the first place.

According to the group, peace can, strange as it seems, also lead to previously unexploited nature, such as the rainforest in Colombia, being devastated by companies that now dare to enter areas previously controlled by various guerrilla groups.

- This complexity is precisely what we want to investigate within our theme. It becomes very clear that nature’s resources, and who controls them, play a major role in creating and contributing to lasting peace. We believe that the local population must also be heard, says coordinator Lina Eklund.

The Nature of Peace theme was previously an Advanced Study Group (ASG) at the Pufendorf IAS.

- The time we spent as an ASG involved many discussions”, says Lina Eklund. We needed to find common standpoints and establish an even level of knowledge within the group. But now we want to work more concretely.

This includes defining which type of nature is to be covered in the theme’s research. The theme has also identified a number of new issues; the members want to explore the political dimensions linked to peace processes and gender issues.

- While working as an ASG, we agreed that the research issues are largely related to power structures and sustainability. Therefore, we now want to incorporate gender and politics – since women as a group often have less power and influence.

Nature of Peace is currently working on a systematic literature review to identify any existing research on nature and the environment in post-conflict situations, and see what areas require further exploration. The theme is also preparing for its final conference in April 2018, at which they will present and discuss their results.

Two visiting researchers will spend a few months with the theme this spring: Florian Krampe from the Stockholm International Peace Institute and Rania Masri from the Academic-Activist Co-Produced Knowledge for Environmental Justice group.

When the theme’s period at the institute comes to an end, the group hopes to have developed a framework that can be used for further research in the field, and by decision-makers who want to approach these complex issues.

 
 

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