Wars produce the worst violations of human rights worldwide and are the greatest impediment to human development. Most of the more than 50 major armed conflicts since the Cold War have been internal clashes over religion, national or ethnic identity, and/or access to natural resources or wealth. The Conflict Resolution Program works to mitigate such conflicts and build sustainable peace.
The Center has become a trusted broker for peace, serving as an alternative channel for dialogue and negotiation until official diplomacy can take place. As a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization with access to world leaders and expertise in mediation, negotiation, and peace building, the Center helps warring parties when traditional dispute resolution methods fail, filling the space between official diplomacy and unofficial grassroots peace efforts.
The Carter Center has furthered avenues to peace in:
Monitoring and Mediating Conflicts
Program staff and interns monitor daily world events and armed conflicts, to better understand the histories, underlying causes, primary actors involved, disputed issues, and efforts being made toward conflict resolution. The Center will intervene at the invitation of the parties to a dispute if no current avenues for mediation exist or are working effectively. Conflict resolution program staff paves the way through ground level contacts, and President Carter may travel to the region in question and remain in close touch with key leaders. Learn more about our current work in the Middle East, including the Syria Conflict Mapping Project.
In addition to high-level interventions, The Carter Center works with local communities to prevent and mitigate conflict. The Carter Center's Conflict Resolution and Democracy programs, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and a Palestinian NGO implemented the Initiative on Dialogue, Consensus-Building, and Civic Awareness in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The project focused on issues of electoral reform and consensus-building across the internal Palestinian divide. The Carter Center convened a series of focus group discussions around the West Bank and Gaza designed to highlight the grassroots impacts of the Fatah-Hamas conflict and to elicit recommendations on a system for addressing these disputes. Participants included Muslim and Christian religious leaders, human rights activists, youth leaders, women's activists, and tribal leaders, with traditional responsibility for mediating community-level conflicts. Recommendations from the discussions have been shared with relevant Palestinian decision makers.
Implementing Peace Agreements and Peacebuilding
An end to fighting does not always mean a conflict has been completely resolved. The often protracted process that leads to a peace agreement represents the beginning of an even longer process of peace implementation and post-conflict reconciliation. All parties must be held accountable for implementing agreements in good faith. Beyond the implementation of a peace agreement, root causes of a conflict may linger and continue to fester to the point of reigniting the conflict. Bringing former combatants together to forge a shared future demands patient and persistent efforts. Steps may be taken to ease ethnic tensions, identify and build consensus around shared social goals, strengthen the rule of law, and bring justice to victims. Read about our current work in Liberia >
While direct negotiation to resolve armed conflict is the program's major focus, there is also an emphasis on preventing conflict. A series of minor crises can signal or contribute to deteriorating societal and political stability. In such situations, parties in dispute may approach the Center as a neutral third party to facilitate dialogue that can keep tensions from erupting into violent conflict. The Carter Center's conflict monitoring also helps to alert Carter Center staff to nascent crises.
Prevention is a vital peace function. CRP's work in Liberia focuses on conflict prevention through enhancing access to justice. The Carter Center's observation of elections in Lebanon in June 2009 is an example of supporting conflict prevention through democracy promotion.