The Program for Contemporary
Silk Road Studies Conference
“Conflict prevention and Conflict Management in Northeast Asia”
Beijing 26-28 November 2004
This conference is a natural step in the since January 2003 ongoing project on Conflict Management in Northeast Asia at the program for Silk Road Studies at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research in Uppsala. The project is a collaborative venture between researchers from Sweden, China and Taiwan. Through its research the project aims to bridge the gap between academics and policy makers on issues of conflict prevention and conflict management, and at the same time develop findings customized for the region under investigation. At the core of this project is the ambition to facilitate cooperation on issues of conflict prevention and conflict management, to make knowledge and results readily available and suited for implementation in practice, and to assist in the development of a culture of prevention in Northeast Asia. The first stage of the Conflict Management in Northeast Asia project will be completed in December 2005 and the conference will serve as a forum for discussing the direction for the continued collaborative research project as well as the expansion of the research network.
This conference has three main aims. First, participants will present articles and share knowledge gained in their research. This is part of the collaborative effort of constructing a theoretical and empirical framework for the development of conflict prevention and management focusing on the regional context. The research findings will be published as a joint volume. Second, the conference will serve as a forum for discussing and planning an expansion of the ongoing research collaboration with researchers from China and Taiwan. The new project will include additional members from the Northeast Asian region, such as Japan, North Korea and South Korea, as well as the United States. Third, and linked with the expanding collaboration, discussions on the initiation of a new project focusing on the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Straits will take place. The idea to initiate a project that utilizes the methodological and theoretical findings from the current project in order to concretize tools for conflict prevention and management for the region, has surfaced during the course of the Conflict Management Project.
Approach and Impact
The conference will follow Chatham rules in the sense that discussions will be closed and the conference open only to selected participants. The reason for this limitation is to realize the rare opportunity of creating an environment of confidence and trust where the participants, many of whom normally have strict restrictions from their home department and/or government, can engage in a more open dialogue than is usually the case. This setting will create a dynamic both between practitioners and scholars, as well as between different national perspectives. Yet even though discussions will be closed, conference proceedings will be open. This way, the findings of the conference will be spread in both the academic community and in regional and international policy circles.
The output of the conference will be a joint volume with focus both on the development of the theoretical understanding of conflict prevention and management with regard to the Northeast Asian region, and on how to implement the theories in practice. The volume will be divided into three parts, starting with an introduction mapping the aim and purpose of the volume (ch.1), followed by a section on general theory starting off from the current status of international research (ch.2). Thereafter current conflict prevention and management in the region will be mapped and analyzed (ch.3), to then continue with how conflict prevention and management theory in Northeast Asia can be advanced and enhanced (ch.4). In the following three chapters’ three different approaches to conflict prevention and management will be explored: regional cooperation (ch.5), informal networks (ch.6), and negotiation and mediation (ch.7). In the second section, five experts from the region will present and analyze the perspective on conflict prevention and management in Northeast Asia from their respective political entities (ch.8-12). There will also be two chapters for the European and American perspectives (ch.13-14). In the last chapter the sections will be drawn together and developed, and the future for conflict prevention and management in Northeast Asia will be discussed (ch.15).
Plans for the future
The conference will also provide the opportunity to discuss and plan for the character of future collaboration as well as expansion of cooperation with other researchers. As opposed to the more general approach of the ongoing Conflict Management project, a potential new project could study particular existing conflicts in the region, preliminary the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait. Our previous research has focused on developing methodology and theory for analyzing and understanding the mechanisms of conflict management and prevention that exists in Northeast Asia. This research has lead to the development and implementation of specific conflict management and prevention tools customized for the region. A new project would have the benefit of, and could build on, these findings. With the continuing emphasis on the interaction of regional academics and practitioners from the political and military elite, the findings from such a project would have a great disseminating effect and be beneficial for policy decisions.