Center for Systemic Peace

This Entry has been submitted.

Center for Systemic Peace

United States
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Center for Systemic Peace (CSP) is engaged in innovative, policy-oriented research on the problem of political violence within the structural context of the dynamic global system, that is, global societal-systems analysis. The Center supports scientific research in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal development. The focus of CSP research is on the possibilities of complex systemic management of all manner of societal and systemic conflicts. It was originally established as a Web portal to disseminate contemporary and current information regarding crucial aspects of global system dynamics and performance in three key areas of the global system: conflict, governance, and development. The main components of the initiative are the Armed Conflict and Intervention project, which monitors "major episodes of political violence;" the Polity IV project, which monitors general qualities of governance and regime changes; and the Political Instability Task Force, which analyzes the developmental conditions that increase the risks of serious political instability and contribute to a syndrome of "arrested development" and humanitarian crisis. The Center for Systemic Peace has developed special methodologies that allow it to track global and regional trends in conflict management and governance and measure the "peace-building capacity" of each of the (currently) 161 major countries that comprise the global system. It also issues topical and regional analyses of important issues, such as the societal- systemic roots of global terrorism, women in peace and war, political instability in African countries, and the problem of factionalism in democratization. The Center reports its findings in accessible text and graphics on the CSP Web site (http://members.aol.com/cspmgm) and in the biennial report series, Peace and Conflict, published by the Center for International Development and Conflict Management.

About You
Location
Project Street Address
Project City
Project Province/State
Project Postal/Zip Code
Project Country
Your idea
Focus of activity

Public Policy

Start Year

1997

Positioning in the mosaic of solutions
Main barrier addressed

Culture of violence

Main principle addressed

Create alternative systems

Innovation
Description of initiative:

The Center for Systemic Peace (CSP) is engaged in innovative, policy-oriented research on the problem of political violence within the structural context of the dynamic global system, that is, global societal-systems analysis. The Center supports scientific research in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal development. The focus of CSP research is on the possibilities of complex systemic management of all manner of societal and systemic conflicts. It was originally established as a Web portal to disseminate contemporary and current information regarding crucial aspects of global system dynamics and performance in three key areas of the global system: conflict, governance, and development. The main components of the initiative are the Armed Conflict and Intervention project, which monitors "major episodes of political violence;" the Polity IV project, which monitors general qualities of governance and regime changes; and the Political Instability Task Force, which analyzes the developmental conditions that increase the risks of serious political instability and contribute to a syndrome of "arrested development" and humanitarian crisis. The Center for Systemic Peace has developed special methodologies that allow it to track global and regional trends in conflict management and governance and measure the "peace-building capacity" of each of the (currently) 161 major countries that comprise the global system. It also issues topical and regional analyses of important issues, such as the societal- systemic roots of global terrorism, women in peace and war, political instability in African countries, and the problem of factionalism in democratization. The Center reports its findings in accessible text and graphics on the CSP Web site (http://members.aol.com/cspmgm) and in the biennial report series, Peace and Conflict, published by the Center for International Development and Conflict Management.

Description of innovation:

Conflict research and analysis has traditionally focused on the internal dimensions of particular conflicts. The fundamental premise of the Center for Systemic Peace is that one can not understand the dynamics of societal conflicts without taking into account its broader systemic context; that is, conflicts are not isolated events but focal processes in a complex network of social relations. Successful conflict management requires that all systemic influences be taken into account in order to design comprehensive and coherent solutions to both the localized and generalized problems of political violence in our evolving global system. This "societal-systems" approach combines several key innovations; these are detailed in the book Third World War: System, Process, and Conflict Dynamics. Its theoretical foundations (first order innovation) highlight societal-system "structuration" (understanding how the system works) and "problemation" (how and why the system fails). These inform a series of schematic (second order) innovations that combine conflict, governance, and development factors in dynamic, spatial applications of problem conditions, generally termed diffusion of insecurity, protracted conflict regions, and a syndrome of arrested development. The schematic approach informs a third order innovation in applied measurement and trends analysis. This has been especially important in informing the public and policy makers on general system performance and countering a "conventional wisdom" that mistook increasing "third world" warfare during the Cold War as a "long peace" and subsequently mistook the dramatic decrease in warfare following the Cold War as the "coming global disorder." The Center has developed innovative methods to convey knowledge of complex systems and dynamics utilizing computational and "conceptual visualization" techniques using four-dimensional, color presentations that allow greater emphasis on dynamic change rather than structural stasis.

Delivery model:

The Center for Systemic Peace is strongly proactive in reaching out to its target audience. Its strategy is multi- pronged, using different techniques and media to reach its three main audiences: scholars, policy makers, and the general public. Its six main channels of communication are 1) publication of scholarly books and articles; 2) engagement in research collaborations and governmental policy forums; 3) public addresses using dynamic, visual presentations; 4) information collection, dissemination, and dynamic display based in a multi-faceted Web portal; 5) publication of general information through its biennial report series (standard print and electronic versions) and through partnerships with governmental agencies and non- governmental organizations (such as the US and UK governments, various UN agencies, and the National Geographic Society); and 6) contact with journalistic and other public media sources.

Key operational partnerships:

Currently, the Center for Systemic Peace's principle partnerships include the Center for Global Policy at George Mason University, the United States Government, and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland was a principle partner from 1998 through 2005. The US Government, SAIC, and George Mason University are currently the main funding sources for the initiative. Other key partnerships have included the United Kingdom Government (DFID, ACPP, and the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit); the United Nations Organization (UNDP, UNDESA, and the Secretary General's Strategy Unit), the National Geographic Society, and the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies group. Other (ad hoc) partnerships have involved the United States Institute of Peace, Human Security Centre, The Brookings Institution, Center for Global Development, and other "think tanks" and research centers.

Impact
Financial model:

The Center for Systemic Peace has been maintained as a pure, public service and a life?s work; it receives no specific, operational funding. All its work draws from (and "piggy-backs" on) research that is contracted by governmental and inter-governmental agencies but is re- created, re-formulated, and packaged specifically for a broader public audience. The lone exception has been the Peace and Conflict series, the publication of which has been funded through the allocation of institutional operating accounts provided to a partnering university research center partly by the university itself and partly through foundation grants. Production costs for the series and the Center have come entirely from earned income; current annual earned income totals about US$250,000.

Costs as percentage of income:

85

Financing:

For its operating costs, the Center relies almost entirely upon annual renewals of US Government contracts. The Center has been very fortunate that these annual government contracts have be renewed, and incrementally increased and expanded, since its inception in 1997. However, this single- source model of financing is highly vulnerable to a disruption or discontinuation of its governmental funding. That governmental funding derives from a general four-year fiscal cycle that is reviewed with each change of executive government administration. Long-term financial stability will require a diversification strategy to gain foundation support that will make the Center less dependent on government contracts.

Effectiveness:

<ul><li class="entry-label">Project outcomes: <span class="entry-text">The Center's global trends and performance reports have gained increasing attention in the policy community and the general public. I have given presentations in many countries throughout the West and as far away as Taiwan. One measure of its effectiveness can be seen in the complementary 2005 publication of the Human Security Report, which grew out of a presentation I made to Andy Mack in 1999 when he was serving in the UN. Another measure of its effectiveness is the continuing debate it has generated in the media since Gregg Easterbrook featured the work in an article in The New Republic, titled "The End of War?" The Center's findings have been reported in newspapers around the world since then. Readership of the Peace and Conflict series grew from 4,000 in 2001 to over 100,000 in 2005.</span></li><li class="entry-label">Number of clients in past year: <span class="entry-text">It is difficult to estimate how many people have benefited from the Center?s unique systemic perspectives on peace and its continuing analysis, evaluation, and dissemination of information on global performance. As mentioned, the attention given our work by the policy community, particularly the international development and diplomatic agencies, has been especially gratifying. The Peace and Conflict series has been adopted as an educational tool by many university courses, including the US Army War College. Despite the rise of intense violence in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, the global trend in peaceful settlements of wars we first documented in 1999 continues. Our audience continues to expand despite our limited resources.</span></li></ul>

Scaling up strategy:
Stage of the initiative:

<i>Scaling Up</i> stage.

Expansion plan:

Current plans focus on better utilizing and reporting our current information stocks; many of our assets remain out of the public domain due to lack of resources and support staff. The Center has developed an extensive core of products that require substantial resources to update and maintain; this basic activity limits the expansion of our resources and analytic coverage. Ironically, one measure of the Center's success has been an attempt by outsiders to take over the Peace and Conflict series for profit. We are currently busy developing new products, outlets and partnerships to disseminate our information. Most importantly, we are investigating ways to expand and diversify our financial support base to ensure sustainability of the project. Given the vagaries of both governmental and academic support, it is essential that the project gain greater financial and intellectual independence.

Origin of the initiative:

The Center grew from the United States' "loss of innocence" during the turbulent years of nuclear "duck-and-cover," Vietnam, civil rights, and assassinations of John, Martin, and Robert. In 1969, I began an existential quest for practical knowledge to solve the Gordian Knot of political violence. The pervasive culture of the Cold War pointed to an evolutionary, systemic perspective on peace. In turn, a sustainable, systemic peace would require a complex management system linking conflict, governance, and development dynamics in a global system that no longer privileged organized violence but, rather, elevated the power of productive enterprise and creativity. The original plan envisioned 3 15-year learning periods: 1) gaining practical knowledge; 2) gaining academic, cross-cultural, and cross-disciplinary knowledge; and 3) applying these twin knowledge bases in peace entrepreneurship.