Advancing Preventive Diplomacy in a Post-Cold War Era: Suggested Roles for Governments and NGOs

The high cost of armed conflicts to the affected countries and rich countries in terms of the rapid growth in expenditure on humanitarian aid, coupled with a growing recognition of the inherent difficulties associated with responding at a late stage to conflicts as they develop, is leading to an increased focus on actions which might be taken at an earlier stage to reduce tensions and prevent the development of potential conflicts. In this field of preventive diplomacy, humanitarian and development NGOs have an important role to play. The purpose of this paper is to provide RRN members unfamiliar with issues of conflict and conflict prevention with a brief overview of recent trends and research in relation to conflicts; to review the prospects for advancing preventive diplomacy and to suggest some options for action which governments and NGOs might pursue.