Conflict Prevention and Stabilization

Violent conflict and state fragility threaten freedom and human well-being globally by derailing democratic progress, inhibiting service delivery, and undermining trust between the government and its citizens.

A large crowd in protest against anti-government joins in Hong Kong

Violent conflict and state fragility threaten people’s freedom and well-being globally. Even at their least dangerous, unstable environments derail democratic progress, inhibit service delivery, and undermine trust between governments and their citizens. IRI works to mitigate violent conflict and help stabilize fragile states by supporting governments that are inclusive and support peaceful dispute resolution.

Fragility stems from a breakdown in trust between citizens and unresponsive state institutions. When citizens think their governance institutions are corrupt and unaccountable, conflict and extremism are more likely to occur. IRI helps build legitimate, responsive, and inclusive governments and political parties, with the goal of building trust and easing tensions.

Using a data-driven approach, IRI addresses deficiencies in governance and democracy in countries at each phase of a conflict cycle, from fragile communities where conflict could erupt to post-conflict societies moving toward peace and stability. IRI uses Do No Harm and Conflict Sensitivity considerations across its programming to avoid unintentionally contributing to instability.

IRI’s work includes preventing and countering violent extremism, peacebuilding, improving security, and addressing forced displacement and migration.  IRI’s programs have been validated by extensive conflict analyses and are based on approaches proven to work in similar situations.  

IRI focuses on preventing violent extremism (VE) by addressing the structural drivers of radicalism. IRI’s approach relies on both quantitative and qualitative research guided by local experts.  This work promotes a culture of democratic governance, reduces grievances, and improves community relations. 

In its work on peacebuilding, IRI adapts its programs to a given conflict cycle, addressing the core democracy and governance issues that drive unrest, with an emphasis on building inclusive governance, promoting tolerance, bolstering civic engagement, and bridging the gap between elected officials and their citizens. Using its networks and expertise, IRI tackles the political basis of conflict and creates opportunities for nonviolent resolution. IRI’s engagement does not end when conflict ceases but, instead, helps build institutions resilient to shocks, providing a stable foundation for a democratic future.

Insecurity due to gang violence, illicit trafficking, and organized crime tear a community’s social fabric. IRI takes a localized approach by working to strengthen violence prevention by joining with government officials to boost civic and political opportunities for people susceptible to recruitment by violent gangs.

Conflict, persecution, and insecurity have led to record levels of displacement. To help people affected by displacement and migration, IRI supports dialogue between people and communities to create mutual understanding. IRI helps host countries respond by offering inclusive service delivery, developing new communications strategies, and planning for a changing demographic.

IRI uses analysis and data to inform in-country programming in each of these areas. This is outlined in the Conflict, Governance and Legitimacy Assessment Framework, which lays out the steps required for successful peacebuilding and stabilization programming. IRI’s Field Guide for DRG Programming in Fragile and Conflict Affected Contexts provides insights on how to tailor interventions in fragile and conflict-affected areas, based on rigorous evidence.

Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

IRI works on preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) through the four-pillar Understand, Inform, Equip and Adapt methodology as described in the Institute’s Preventing Violent Extremism: A Technical Guide for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Implementers. IRI examines local contexts, identifying vulnerable populations and the leaders best situated to support anti-radicalization and resiliency efforts. Next, IRI builds on its civic and political networks to share data with those who can address issues of conflict or VE. IRI then develops, supports, and evaluates local P/CVE interventions, partnering with influential leaders.

This last is where creative solutions are key, and IRI relies on different programs in different regions. In the Sahel, the emphasis is on policy coordination between local and regional bodies. In Indonesia, the focus is on media training with journalists on responsible reporting to ease communal tensions, while in Lebanon and Tunisia, IRI works to boost women’s involvement in P/CVE. In all of these areas, IRI has done research to understand the dynamics of VE in a range of circumstances, including in the Philippines, Jordan, Bangladesh, and Kosovo, among others

Peacebuilding and Stabilization

When aiming to build peace in fractured regions IRI takes a whole of society approach to maintaining stability, preventing conflict, building institutions that can promote peace through transitions, and promoting community resilience. IRI’s approach in fragile and conflict-affected areas is to coordinate with legitimate actors and inform programming via a deep analysis of the situation. This is outlined in the Institute’s Conflict, Governance and Legitimacy Assessment Framework, which lays out the key steps required for successful peacebuilding and stabilization programming. IRI’s Field Guide for DRG Programming in Fragile and Conflict Affected Contexts provides insights on how to tailor interventions in fragile and conflict-affected areas based on rigorous evidence and conflict sensitivity considerations. Building on its conflict analysis, as well as evidence collected from its programming across the globe, IRI devises peacebuilding initiatives that address local conflict dynamics. This includes facilitating dialogue between conflicting parties, increasing the inclusion of marginalized groups in peacebuilding, and creating policies that address the root causes of conflict.

IRI’s peacebuilding work does not end when the immediate conflict concludes. IRI then helps build effective governance institutions through which people can resolve grievances nonviolently. IRI’s stabilization projects play a unique role in supporting responsive governance and inclusive political systems in places like Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Burma, Ukraine, the Sahel, and Iraq.

Citizen Security and Violence Prevention

In many countries around the world, organized crime and high rates of violence are often a result of democratic deficits. IRI takes an evidence-based approach to citizen security by conducting rigorous conflict analyses, capturing the full range of violence in a community in order to understand the interaction between different forms of insecurity. To promote citizen security and establish a culture of peace, IRI supports violence prevention strategies in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In these countries, IRI created municipal violence prevention commissions, aided by local governments, to improve coordination and draw on specialists in security, peace, and justice. Additionally, IRI focuses on how violence and insecurity interact with gender dynamics, and through its Women’s Democracy Network raises awareness of violence against women and addresses the gendered causes of insecurity.

Displacement and Migration

Displacement and migration require a response that include protecting and improving democratic governance and stability. In Uganda, Colombia, and Lebanon, IRI helps displaced, migrant, and host populations by promoting social cohesion and good governance to reduce potential tensions. IRI supports national and local stakeholders, helping them balance humanitarian challenges with the needs of their own populations and strengthening their capacity to govern effectively. This includes direct citizen consultation, especially at the local level, in government decision-making to better understand the needs of youth, returnees, and their social networks, as well as other marginalized populations.

IRI’s Social Cohesion and Displacement Toolkit outlines IRI’s approach to the myriad challenges associated with forced displacement, from civic engagement to government strategies to address the  challenges that displacement crises often bring.

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