ICAR Professor to Study Zones of Peace

Posted: December 18, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

Christopher Mitchell, Druscilla French Cumbie Professor of Conflict Resolution at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR), is beginning a two-year study of Zones of Peace within societies affected by protracted civil conflict. His research is funded under a $35,000 grant from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), an independent, nonpartisan federal institution created and funded by Congress to strengthen the nation’s capacity to promote the peaceful resolution of international conflict.

Mitchell will focus particular attention on Colombia, examining the nature and durability of Zones of Peace and drawing lessons about the establishment, maintenance, and extension of such zones in the broader process of democratic development. More than 100 villages and towns in Colombia have declared themselves neutral zones–defined areas where the residents try to keep themselves from being caught between warring government para-militaries and guerrilla factions by taking sides with neither one.

Mitchell will survey the literature on local Zones of Peace to determine whether any patterns of success or failure exist, then focus on on-site studies of areas where residents are trying to set up Zones of Peace. The expected result, in addition to the report to USIP, is a handbook in Spanish and English on how to successfully set up a Zone of Peace.

USIP has given Mitchell two previous grants: in 1989 to study the various initiatives taken to resolve conflicts in the Horn of Africa from 1960 to1989; and in 1990 to study measures to enhance the Organization of African Unity’ organizational competence in mediation and to develop an institutional framework or processes for facilitated conflict management by the OAU.

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