“Undeclared Wars”. Exploring a Peacebuilding Approach to Armed Social Violence

Titel“Undeclared Wars”. Exploring a Peacebuilding Approach to Armed Social Violence
Typ der PublikationReport
AutorInnenUnger, B, Dudouet, V, Dressler, M, Austin, B
Untertitel / SerientitelBerghof Handbook Dialogue Series No. 12
InstitutionBerghof Foundation
There is a growing awareness today that the nature of violence around the world is changing. A milestone in this assessment was the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report, which noted that civil war and interstate conflict are becoming less common but that there has been an increase in violence linked to crime, terrorism and civil unrest (World Bank 2011, 1). There has been, on the one hand, a decline in the lethality of conventional, large-scale inter-state wars, especially after the Second World War (Human Security Research Group 2014; Melander/Pettersen/Themnér 2016). This has been, overall, a steady development, despite the current deadly civil wars raging, for example, in Syria (Human Security Research Group 2014,80). On the other hand, there has been growing concern that the death toll associated with “undeclared wars” involving more amorphous and shifting enemies is increasing in a manner that demands attention, and action: “the almost 13,000 deaths from organized crime in Mexico in 2011 were greater than the 2011battle-death tolls in any of the three countries worst affected by armed conflict and violence against civilians between 2006 and 2011 – Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan” (Human Security Research Group 2014, 52). Also in the past decade, the rise of ‘extremist’ violence by non-state and especially Islamist actors (Melander/Petterson/Themnér 2016, 731ff.; IEP 2016, 28/29) has given further cause for concern that the “better angels of our nature”, to quote the title of the seminal book by Steven Pinker (2011), might be fighting a losing battle.
This twelfth issue of the Berghof Handbook Dialogue Series is therefore dedicated to better understanding what we call “armed social violence” (often also characterised as “non-conventional” or “non-conflict” violence). Which tasks, opportunities and dilemmas does this new global landscape of violence pose for the field of conflict transformation and peacebuilding, in comparison with the fields of security and development? We are aiming to shed some light on the forms, factors (i.e. sometimes “invisible” or remote influential aspects), force fields and actors of such violence, as well as on their connection to the “conventional” field of peacebuilding. We are setting out to explore the challenges such forms, factors and actors of violence pose for building peaceful societies and the efforts that have been made to date to deal with the phenomenon through constructive, comprehensive and/or holistic approaches. It is a dialogue issue which, by the nature of its subject, draws on and addresses a multitude of fields, levels and actors: from the local peacebuilder to the international policy-maker, from the development practitioner to the political analyst, from the Global South to the Global North. (Introduction)