Preventive Action Update

May 1, 2010

Director's Note

This is the 2nd issue of the Center for Preventive Action Newsletter, which provides a periodic update of recent CPA publications, events, and other activities. So far this spring we have focused primarily on conflict prevention in Africa, releasing the Council Special Report "Somalia: A New Approach" and the Contingency Planning Memo "Renewed Conflict in Sudan," and holding a Contingency Planning Meeting on the possibility of a coup in Nigeria. We also launched a new "Conflict Prevention Resources" section on our website, which we will continue to develop into the future. I hope that this addition and our publications continue to serve as a valuable resource for you.

Paul Stares

Director, Center for Preventive Action


New CPA Publications


Somalia CSR

Somalia: A New Approach

by Bronwyn E. Bruton

In this Council Special Report, Bronwyn E. Bruton proposes a strategy to combat terrorism and promote development and stability in Somalia. She first outlines the recent political history involving the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) formed in 2004 and its Islamist opponents, chiefly the Shabaab, which has declared allegiance to al-Qaeda. She then analyzes U.S. interests in the country, including counterterrorism, piracy, and humanitarian concerns, as well as the prospect of broader regional instability. Bruton argues that the current U.S. policy of supporting the TFG is proving ineffective and costly. The TFG is unable to improve security, deliver basic services, or move toward an agreement with Somalia's clans and opposition groups that would provide a stronger basis for governance. Instead, Bruton advances a strategy of "constructive disengagement." Notably, this calls for the United States to signal that it will accept an Islamist authority in Somalia-including the Shabaab-as long as it does not impede international humanitarian activities and refrains from both regional aggression and support for international jihad.

Sudan CPMRenewed Conflict in Sudan

by Katherine Almquist

Sudan faces the prospect of renewed violence between north and south over the next twelve to eighteen months. Overwhelmingly in favor of independence, the south will either secede peacefully through a credible referendum process as agreed to in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) or pursue this by force if the CPA should collapse. This Contingency Planning Memorandum presents the likely triggers of renewed civil war and discusses the U.S. policy options for preventing it from happening and mitigating its consequences in the event that it does. Almquist concludes that U.S.-led international support for self-determination should be unambiguously affirmed without prejudice toward unity, and that it must be backed by preparations to recognize and assist an independent southern Sudan.

Conflict Prevention Resources

The Center for Preventive Action is working to make our website a centralized source of information about conflict prevention. In addition to the many CPA-sponsored reports and other publications, we have recently added a Conflict Prevention Resources page.  CPA's conflict prevention resources currently include an index of publicly available watchlists and datasets as well as the 2010 Preventive Priorities Survey. The Index is organized by dependent variable and, like the Preventive Priorities Survey, will be updated periodically to reflect the recalibration of existing online lists, the release of new data, and the completion of future Preventive Priorities Surveys. Follow the links below to browse the Index.


Index of Watchlists

Conflict and Instability


Respect for Human Rights

Economic Fragility

Preventive Priorities Survey


Recent CPA Activities

CPA in Washington hosted a Contingency Roundtable titled "A Coup in Nigeria" with John Campbell of the Council on Foreign Relations on April 19, 2010.

CPA in Washington held a meeting on "European Conflict Early Warning Mechanisms" with Nicolas Regaud, Assistant Director of the Strategic Affairs Directorate at the French Ministry of Defense, and Matthew Forman, Second Secretary at the British Embassy in Washington D.C., on April 15, 2010.

CPA in New York held a UN Roundtable titled "Assessing UN and U.S. Policy for Somalia" with Bronwyn Bruton, former CFR International Affairs Fellow, and Jaoa Honwana, Director of the Africa I Division at the UN Department of Political Affairs, on April 6, 2010.

CPA in Washington held a "Flashpoints" Meeting on "Future Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" with Gad Goldstein, Kreiz Visiting Fellow the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on March 25, 2010.

The 2010 CPA Advisory Committee met in New York on March 24, 2010 to discuss the Center's agenda for the upcoming year.

CPA in Washington held a Contingency Planning Roundtable on the "Prospects for Violent Instability in Iran" with Michael Singh,  former senior director for Iran at the National Security Council, on March 19, 2010.

Paul Stares presented on the early warning-policy interface in the context of mass atrocities at the "Instability Warning and Genocide Prevention Symposium 2010" organized by the National Intelligence Council, on March 17, 2010.