Belfer Center Establishes Program on Intrastate Conflict

Contact: Adrianne Kaufmann
Phone: 617-495-8290
Date: July 01, 1999

Cambridge — Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Somalia have provided vivid reminders for Americans over the last decade of the powerfully destructive forces of conflict within a state. With the ending of the Cold War, conflict within states fueled by ethnic, linguistic, and religious differences has become the prime cause of death in combat and of vast outflows of refugees.

The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government is pleased to announce the establishment of the Program on Intrastate Conflict, Conflict Prevention, and Conflict Resolution which will analyze causes of ethnic, religious, and other intercommunal conflict, and will seek to identify practical ways to prevent and limit such conflict.

The Program results from a newly-formalized association with the World Peace Foundation, an 89-year old research and policy organization founded by Edwin Ginn, the Boston publisher, and A. Lawrence Lowell, then Harvard’s president. Robert I. Rotberg, who teaches at the Kennedy School and is President of the World Peace Foundation, will also become Director of the new Program on Intrastate Conflict within the Belfer Center. Rotberg taught political science and history at MIT, was Academic Vice President at Tufts University and President of Lafayette College, and is the author of numerous books and articles on African, Asian, and Caribbean politics and history.

Rotberg and his associates are concerned currently with the consequences of the global proliferation of light weapons, with the vulnerability of weak states, with peace building and peace enforcement capabilities in Africa, and with the role of truth commissions in conflict prevention and conflict resolution. The team has been active in a major peace building project in Cyprus, and in understanding prospects for peace in Sri Lanka and democracy in Burma.

Graham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center, said that the new Program adds significantly to the Belfer Center’s capability to undertake research and teaching on issues of vital concern to global order at the end of the twentieth century. The new Program complements the Belfer Center’s existing work on international security and human rights. Founded in 1978, the Center is also home to the International Security Program, the Environment and Natural Resources Program, the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, and the Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project.

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