International assistance to alleviate suffering and support peace in conflict-affected countries involves a wide range of efforts: security assistance, life-saving humanitarian relief, reconstruction and development, peacebuilding and peacemaking work with civil society and governments. Over the last two decades in conflicts such as Kosovo, DRC, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Afghanistan, and Sudan complex peace operations have grown to involve a dizzying array of international actors - diplomats and UN personnel, international military forces, international humanitarian and development agencies and non-governmental organizations, both international and national.
The learning accumulated over the last decades of experience suggests that better coordination and even formal integration of such efforts are necessary to achieve more impact, yet the record of recent attempts at better coordination is mixed, and some actors have principled and practical objections to current approaches. Furthermore, there are still few commonly agreed strategies for how to move countries from war to peace, and dialogue between donor governments, the UN, IGOS, and NGOs and civil society remains difficult. The key question remains: What linkages between relief, peacebuilding, development and security providers in conflict affected countries are most effective in relieving suffering, ending war and building sustainable peace?
The mission of the Peacebuilding, Development and Security (PDS) Program (hereafter, PDS) is to foster both practitioner-focused and scholarly research, interagency and civil-military dialogue, field projects and training to improve the effectiveness of international assistance to conflict-affected countries. This will involve examining the utility and potential hazards of existing approaches to promoting peace and human security, identifying and filling gaps in knowledge, and advancing the understanding of effective linkages between relief, peacebuilding, development and security.
Four programs serve as the major pillars of PDS: (1) Research on policy and practice; (2) Practitioner dialogues and workshops; 3) Curriculum development and instruction for advanced graduate students, including practicums in applied settings; and (4) Trainings in best practices.
The principal objectives of PDS are to increase the store of practical knowledge on effective approaches to multi-pronged international assistance efforts in conflict affected countries, principally through field-based and practitioner-led research; to disseminate research findings to communities of practitioners and researchers, through workshops, policy briefs, occasional papers and longer studies; and to improve practice through education and training. PDS programs and publications are designed to have impact at the policy level and on the ground in applied settings.
Among those served by PDS are practitioners in peacebuilding, humanitarian and development assistance, military planners and field personnel, conflict resolution practitioners, the policy-making community in donor governments and international organizations; academics and independent scholars, graduate students; and the wider public interested in peace and security issues.
PDS is housed in the Centre for Military and Security Studies (CMSS) at the University of Calgary. It is co-directed by Lara Olson, Associate at CMSS and Hrach Gregorian, President of the Institute of World Affairs, Washington, D.C. General policy guidance is provided by an advisory group of international experts.
VII. Program Support