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Issues surrounding gender are central to the work of DPI. The role played by women in conflict resolution and in fostering transition towards peace and security is a particular area of focus. Women are amongst the most vulnerable individuals in war and conflict situations, but they are also often the ones best placed to enable mechanisms for resolving conflict and advancing peace. Moreover, gender interacts with violence and post conflict reconstruction in complex ways, which can lead the experiences of men and women in conflict to diverge.
At DPI, we facilitate active participation of women in peace processes and provide opportunities for women and men from various countries and backgrounds to share practicable approaches and experiences.
Questions of governance and constitutional arrangements can be particularly challenging in post-conflict societies. Governance, which refers to the various ways and processes through which social life is coordinated, produces norms and rules which govern social life.
We aim to research and share insights into the many different forms of inter- and intra-state conflict in existence, through a focus on international case studies. The complexity of different conflicts today, which may include interventions by external actors due to political or humanitarian reasons, makes finding the right form of governance and solving constitutional issues especially complex in countries transitioning from conflict.
Human rights are rights to which all people are entitled by virtue of being human.
Access to justice is closely related to human rights, and never more so than in the aftermath of violent conflict and human rights abuse. Defined as a system enabling individuals to vindicate their rights and resolve disputes under the general auspices of the state, Just results for individuals and society can only be gained when access to justice is equally accessible to all.
Recognizing that genuine and effective democratic reform needs to be underpinned by human rights, equality and the rule of law, we work to promote those principles through our International Law and Human Rights programme and at every level of DPI’s work.
Addressing issues of language and identity is often key to resolving conflict, as well as to the building and sustaining of stable democracies. Yet conversely, questions of language, culture and identity have historically been part of the root causes of many conflicts across the world. These are vital issues relevant to a range of contexts, including as international adherence to law, the politics of language and identity, and the legitimisation and institutionalising of minority cultures and languages.
DPI closely examines the role language and identity play in resolving conflicts by drawing from contemporary and past international examples , with the conviction that understanding these dynamics is vital to building and maintaining stable democracies.
Mediation by third parties in particularly protracted conflicts, and negotiation which brings together all parties to a conflict are vital to securing lasting peace and democracy in many of the countries and regions on which DPI focuses its work.
We conduct research into effective methods of mediation and negotiation, and provide a forum for individuals from various countries and backgrounds to freely exchange their views and experiences regarding approaches and best-practice in the field.
Any successful transition from conflict to a peaceful, democratic society must involve the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of armed groups and their members into the community (known as ‘DDR’), and must reform its security services (known as security sector reform or ‘SSR’) to ensure that state security services serves, rather than oppress, its citizens and contributes to long lasting peace.
Both processes are mutually reinforcing and integral to the success of peace processes. DPI examines examples of DDR and SSR carried out worldwide through the study of various international cases, and brings together key figures involved in these vital processes to share, contrast, and communicate experiences.
Civil society has been increasingly considered to be vitally relevant to conflict resolution and democracy building in recent decades. This is particularly true for a number of the countries and regions on which DPI’s work is focused. In areas where official instruments of solving conflict, such as truth and reconciliation commissions, prove to be limited in their effectiveness, civil society can play a vital role in supplementing the process.
The media form a closely related institution, playing an important role in reporting on, reflecting, and ultimately influencing processes of conflict resolution. The increasing importance of social media and the rapid spreading of information and individual access to publishing content has focused attention on the complex role the media plays throughout conflict and peace-building, a role which at DPI we have focused much of our work on investigating and understanding.
Transitional justice is an approach to longer term conflict resolution increasingly applied to conflict and post conflict scenarios across the world. It refers to a set of judicial and non-judicial practices, mechanisms and measures arising after (or sometimes during) a period of conflict, civil strife or repression, and is aimed at addressing and redressing the legacy of past violations of human rights.
DPI researches and provides a platform for discussing related measures, such as criminal prosecutions, truth and reconciliation commissions, reparations programmes, and institutional reforms. We also look at transitional justice and its potential to achieve accountability, provide recognition of the rights of victims, promote civic trust, strengthen the rule of law, and thereby aid democratic advancement.
Democracy building refers to the process of creating, strengthening, and sustaining democracy, and is one of the focus areas at the core of DPI’s mission. In particular, it involves the consolidation of democratic institutions, ranging from the justice system and security services, to the constitution and the development of civil society.
For democracy building to be effective, it must ensure the participation of the entire spectrum of stakeholders within a society, and will often place emphasis on the education and engagement of disparate groups. Through all of DPI’s activities, we strive to broaden bases for public support of peace processes, at all levels of society.