Tsunami’s Impact on Peace Processes: A symposium of scholars and practitioners

The recent earthquake off the coast of Indonesia and the resulting tsunami left parts of Southeast Asia and East Africa devastated and shook the world. While the immediate destruction has been highly publicized and the funding for disaster relief appears to be abundant, the long-term affects as well as the impact of this natural disaster on the pre-existing conflicts in Sri Lanka, Somalia, and Indonesia are critical issues demanding attention. Disaster relief agencies, development practitioners, mediators and peace workers collectively have a tremendous impact on the post-disaster rehabilitation and peacebuilding efforts. Recognizing the nexus between humanitarian relief, development process and conflict mitigation work in the affected areas, it will be crucial for all of the internal and external actors to work together in engaging the conflicting parties without further aggravating the conflicts.

The first cohort of the Slifka Master’s Program in Coexistence and Conflict at Brandeis University, under the direction of Dr. Mari Fitzduff, is developing a scholarship fund for students from the tsunami-affected areas who want to receive advanced university training in conflict analysis, coexistence work, mediation and negotiation skills. The cohorts’ goal is to build the capacity of those already working and living in regions affected by violent conflict and the devastation of the tsunami. We believe that it would be greatly beneficial for those directly affected to gain access to the Masters Program at Brandeis University. After obtaining advanced training they can then return to their homes in order to teach others and apply there experiences and learning.

To raise the necessary funds for this scholarship and to open a dialogue on the link between conflict resolution efforts and long-term redevelopment in areas affected by natural disaster, the cohort will host a symposium on the impact of the tsunami on peace processes in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Somalia. The symposium, which will include a panel of academics and practitioners in the fields of conflict resolution, development/aid, and disaster relief, will seek to promote interdisciplinary dialogue amongst the experts, students and the general public. It is designed as a platform for exploring viable solutions to multifaceted problems faced by agencies working in the conflict regions affected by natural disasters.

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