"It's a terrible and dangerous arrogance to believe that you alone are right: have a magical eye which sees the truth and that others cannot be right if they disagree"
- Isaiah Berlin
Why do we need it?
Governments and non-governmental institutions are in no doubt that a key challenge for this century is to find better ways to prevent rather than mitigate the devastating consequences of violent conflicts. Smarter ways must be found to prevent nascent tensions and conflict between parties, in any quarter of the globe, spiralling into outright war. Standing back and picking up the pieces afterwards, as so often happens, makes no political, economic or humanitarian sense.
Despite international rhetoric prioritising conflict prevention including early mediation, few, if any, of the world’s major players have managed to design or operationalize effective models for this kind of early non-military intervention. External interventions in recent times have too often been notable either by their absence, coming too late to prevent the slide into conflict, or for being ill thought through from the out-set. The impression has been created that governments can only intervene in conflicts militarily. New models of engagement are needed to pre-empt the escalation of internal or trans-border tensions into all-out conflicts. This is particularly true in the Middle East that continues to be a cauldron of on-going and potential conflict and violence.
Sitting back and watching conflict engulf whole populations, and then picking up the pieces after the event, is far too costly. Human lives are lost, infrastructure and environments destroyed, communal and social trauma inflicted, political chaos and instability amplified, and violence and revenge entrenched, possibly for generations.