from Center for Preventive Action

Deadly Conflicts

Anticipation, Assessment, and Presentation

January 31, 2001

Report

More on:

Conflict Prevention

Read an excerpt of "Deadly Conflicts."

Overview

On January 31st, the Center for Preventive Action held a workshop that gathered scholars and practitioners to examine the issue of early warning and conflict prevention. Important points that emerged from the discussion are the following:

  • A workable system for Early Warning is indispensable to making conflict prevention a credible foreign policy option.
  • The challenge of early warning does not reside in the lack of information but in its adequate processing, and the adequate link to policy-making and politics.
  • A number of approaches were considered: the U.S. government uses a list process to flag potential crises, the U.N has created a "framework for coordination team" to encourage departmental interaction and monitor potentially troubled regions.
  • Tools are being developed by governmental agencies and private contractors using new technologies to build models and software to help decision-makers anticipate, assess and address conflicts.
  • Policy makers stress two principal functions for early warning: avoiding surprises and identifying possible policy options.
  • Establishing a dialogue between relevant interlocutors in the intelligence and the policy-making community is of crucial importance.
  • The difficulty of relating early warning to policy making results from policymakers' time constraint and their aversion to acting on indeterminate events; in addition, the intelligence community maintains an institutional aversion to suggesting policy-options.