Lesson 05: Conflict prevention tools


When it comes to capacity building activities, more consideration should be given to capacity building as a conflict prevention tool.

In general, it has been argued that conflict prevention should be prioritised by key international actors involved in capacity building activities (see EU-CIVCAP DL 3.2). Indeed, capacity builders should pay more attention to the fact that strong capacity might prevent conflict in the first place (whereas most capacity building efforts are purposed to build capacity after conflict). Building the capacity of local actors, and particularly of marginalised groups, can create a by-product contribution to early warning efforts. However, while many states and international organisations have dedicated considerable efforts and funding to conflict prevention activities, these are in many cases only focusing on the state/governmental level. This is despite the fact that research demonstrates that effective conflict prevention requires the involvement of a wide range of actors at the local level, including women, minorities, young people, many of whom are themselves stakeholders in the conflict. An example of such an initiative was the Forum for Early Warning and Early Response (FEWER), which combined local networks, information gathering and analysis from think tanks, NGO and academic analysis. More recent initiatives such as the Sendai Framework put more emphasis on prevention, local capacity building and people-centred approaches to peacebuilding.

Secondly, a bottom-up approach will also prove helpful in bridging early warning and early response by ensuring that the communities concerned are also involved in early responses to conflict. This model seeks to empower conflict-affected communities to identify their main security threats and to respond to them in a timely manner. Locally-conducted research can also be helpful in incorporating the cultural dimensions of conflict prevention which might not be always evident/accessible to external actors. International actors like the EU should do more to support such people-centred initiatives.

Hence, more attention should be paid to improve the capacity of local actors to contribute to conflict prevention through training in the field monitoring of indicators and early warning and by making more use of the new technologies available (see also PeaceCapacity Lesson 10). Moreover, risk assessment models must be tailored to meet the needs of local actors, paying particular attention to marginalised groups in order to promote inclusive conflict prevention and peacebuilding.


Where conflict is likely, conflict prevention initiatives should place more emphasis on capacity building. Locally-owned and people-centred initiatives should also be supported in order to improve the effectiveness of conflict prevention.