A New Approach to Peacebuilding
The human and economic cost of armed conflict is enormous. Because many believe that it is inevitable, they are reluctant to spend money to reduce it. As a result, resources devoted to promoting peace are a tiny fraction of what is spent on warfare. Moreover, much of the activity that is funded fails to produce concrete results.
Operating independently, organizations working to reduce warfare are groping for ways to achieve their objectives. They tend to operate independently, with little strategic coordination. They identify many different “root causes” and seek to address them. They focus on the need for sustainable peace and engage in statebuilding and other methods that may foster political stability in the long term, but with uncertain results. Handicapped by the difficulty of measuring results, they pursue many different approaches, hoping that they will do some good. A better approach is clearly needed.
A better approach is clearly needed!
Wars can be prevented or stopped! A report listing 101 success stories appears in the Publications section of this website, proving that it is possible.
In other fields, such as medicine, for centuries people turned to witch doctors, snake oil, and blood-letting, hoping that they would cure diseases. When the field finally adopted the scientific method and based treatments on evidence as to what actually worked, results improved drastically.
A similar approach can work for reducing armed conflict. Much of the work now being done to promote peace has not been based on hard evidence of effectiveness. Allocating money and effort based rigorously on what has succeeded in the past can lead to achieving far better results.
Evidence of what works is widely scattered. Until now, it has not been readily available to those who could use it. Gathering existing evidence and developing more through research, and making it easily accessible to donors and practitioners can greatly improve the results achieved by those working for peace. In 2020, the Better Evidence Project was established at George Mason University to do just that.
The Better Evidence project
Collaborators in BEP's First Planning Meeting in February, 2020
The Better Evidence Project (BEP) promotes basing resource allocation on evidence of what has been demonstrated to be effective in stopping or preventing warfare. It gathers and produces such evidence and facilitates its use by making it easily available to donors, practitioners, policymakers, and scholars .
BEP is establishing a “hub” that helps to access relevant research and to initiate both formal and informal partnerships with experts through its referral network. It aims to identify, to develop, and to fund research on how to prevent war effectively and to bridge gaps between research, practice, policy, and giving.
The hub helps donors, practitioners, policymakers, and scholars to collaborate in their efforts to promote peace. Understanding that duplicative efforts have splintered the field of peacemaking and siloed individual efforts, the BEP hub instead works as a force-multiplier for collective, ongoing efforts to promote evidence-based peacemaking. Its Resource Library will provide the ability to identify, develop, and fund research on how to prevent war and bridge gaps between research, practice, policy, and giving.
BEP’s hub convenes peacemakers, partners, associates, evaluators, and trusted colleagues for the purpose of developing relationships based on the shared goals of preventing and ending wars. It creates a space for people to find guidance, to stimulate conversation, and to translate evidence-based research to be useful to practitioners. By bringing professional networks together in its hub, BEP intends to contribute to a significant reduction of armed conflict through global evidence-based research, funding, and action.
More information on it is available at the Better Evidence Project website
and our newsletter BEP Newsletter Spring 2021