In Memoriam – Tony De Reuck

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We were very sorry to hear the news about Tony de Reuck’s passing. He was one of the pioneers of conflict research and a delightful and unforgettable character.

  Tony saw the potential significance of conflict research very early in its development. Johan Galtung had started the Peace Research Institute in Oslo and a diverse group of mathematicians, economists and psychologists had started a Centre for Conflict Resolution in Michigan. These two centres became the basis of the Journal of Peace Research and the Journal of Conflict Resolution, stilll the two prime journals in the field. But nothing equivalent had yet started in Britain. Tony was then the deputy director of the CIBA Foundation and convened a series of conferences on health and social issues for them. In that capacity, he took the initiative of holding a conference on Conflict in Society, whicvh brought together leading lights of the new field, including Kenneth Boulding, John Burton, Morton Deutsch, Johan Galtung, Anatol Rapoport, Michael Nicholson and others. Tony worked with Jack Mongar and Cedric Smith of University College London – Cedric of course went on to chair the CRS for many years and was himself a distinguished biomathematician, working in the Galton Lab. Tony edited a book on the conference and wrote of the significance of the ‘new discipline, or more properly perhaps, a multi-disciplinary field of inquiry into the causes and control of conflict in human society.’

  The conference laid the basis for a new group working on conflict resolution in Britain under the leadership of John Burton, who had served in a senior role in the Australian foreign ministry, but had come to believe that a problem-solving approach based on conflict analysis and facilitated communication could yield dividends that traditional positional bargaining could not. Challenged to demonstrate this approach, Burton chose the then contemporary conflict between Malaysia and Indonesia, and with the permission of the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, he convened the first problem-solving workshop, which seems to have been remarkably successful in heading off a potential armed conflict. Tony supported Burton’s initiative and arranged for the CIBA Foundation to provide the accommodation, meeting facilities and travel support to enable the meeting to take place.

  This first meeting has become the model for literally hundreds of track two diplomacy initiatives, which have had positive effects in many parts of the world. Tony’s personal characteristics – his easy charm with people, a ready wit and a shrewdness in seeing opportunities where others saw none – must have contributed to the positive outcome.

Tony also supported Burton in setting up the Conflict Analysis Centre, first at University College, and later at the University of Kent, where it became a network for people interested in promoting problem-solving workshops and conflict studies. The Centre has now developed into the Conflict Analysis Research Centre at Kent, which is the administrative base of the CRS.

The Conflict Research Society, which Tony helped to establish, has become increasingly well-known and successful in recent years, thanks particularly to the efforts of our former chair Gordon Burt. Its conferences have been addressed by leading lights of today’s field, including Steven Pinker, Joshua Goldstein, Stathis Kalyvas, Kevin Avruch, Kevin Clements, and Kristin Bakke. And there are now some 20 or 30 universities in the UK where conflict studies are offered. The approach that Tony pioneered has come to have a recognised place in international studies.

  Tony’s written contributions were always penetrating and engaging. He had a knack for crisply formulating the essence of a matter, as when he described conflict as a predicament people had to work on together, rather than a battle to be won. His interview for Chris Mitchell’s ‘Parents of the Field’ project is still available on the internet and gives a nice sense of how he used to talk.

  Gordon Burt wanted to add the following personal note:

‘Tony had been central to the CRS from the very beginning. When I joined in 1982, he was one of a small group of people at the centre of the CRS and of the joint CRS-PSS(I) conference in Reading in 1982 he gave a vivid and emotionally intense account of the CRS problem-solving workshops in Cyprus. Thereafter I have met him on many occasions, and he encouraged me in my work and it was always a pleasure to be in his company. The last time we met was at the celebration of John Burton’s life at Kent in 2010 (the special event was organized by John Groom and attended by John Burton’s family). I joked with Marjorie and Tony that I had always placed them extremely high on the social scale, not realising that their address, ‘The Mall’, was in full ‘The Mall, East Sheen’! (My childhood knowledge of London was based on the Monopoly Board.’

  Tony had a sizzling intelligence and a very engaging personality and his life has demonstrated how much can flow from seeing a new possibility and committing yourself to its fruition.

Pre-Dublin: CRS at 2016 University of Bradford Symposium

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On the eve of the Dublin 2016 CRS conference hosted by the Irish School of Ecumenics, CRS representatives participated in the University of Bradford Peace Studies Symposium celebrating one hundred years since the birth of Mediator and Peace Studies founder Adam Curle. This was follow-up to the 2015 Theory/Practice workshop at the University of Kent undertaken in cooperation with the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS), University of Otago, New Zealand. CRS was joined by Goran Bozicevic, co-founder and current director of the Miramida Centre, Regional Peacebuilding Exchange in Groznjan-Grisignana (Istria, Croatia) and co-founder associate of the Centre for Peace Studies in Zagreb. . In a session entitled ‘From Biafra to Osijek: Curlian Mediation Development’ they traced the work of Adam Curle from his track one intermediary engagement in the 1967-1970 Biafran war, to his subsequent writing and involvement in community-based, grassroots transformative mobilization during the dissolution civil war of former Yugoslavia, particularly in Osijek, Croatia. The role of research findings, the need for documentation and data were highlighted, with an invitation to participants to flag their own current key questions or burning issues in this regard. Highlighted points included:

  • Religion, Reconciliation and active peace building
  • Rescuing the Pursuit of Knowledge in the Academy (amid growing constraints)
  • Cross-generational projects for resolution of conflict
  • Innovation in cross-sectoral mediation, bridging commercial and political approaches
  • Building social movements and linkages through action research
  • Tensions between Peace and Justice, and in a similar vein: Peace Making, Peace Building and Transitional Justice Issues

Discussion touched on the need of practitioners themselves for good research practice, and the experience of those who are ‘researched’ when working and experiencing their own real time conflict contexts. Prof. Kevin Clements of the NCPACS Otago also addressed the symposium plenary (over two hundred participants) in the opening ceremony, via video from New Zealand.  Kevin, who had known and worked with Adam Curle, was Visiting Resident Scholar at the Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC) University of Kent 2015/2016. He was closely involved in the development of the CRS session.

Judith Large

John Paul Lederach – How Does Humanity Unite

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John Paul Lederach won the book of the year award at our Coventry Conference in 2012 for his book When Blood and Bones Cry Out: Journeys in the Soundscapes of Healing and Reconciliation. He is one of the main innovators in connecting theory and practice in peacebuilding, a theme which is highly relevant to CRS members.

His most recent piece, How Does Humanity Unite, identifies four lessons on what we have learned as conflict resolvers/peacebuilders in responding to extreme violence of the kinds evident in recent incidents globally.

The blog can be accessed here:

This post first appeared on Humanity United’s blog on July 18, 2016.

2016 Conflict Research Society Book of the Year Prize

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The Conflict Research Society congratulates Dr. Kristin Bakke on winning the 2016 Conflict Research Society Book of the Year Prize for Decentralization and Intrastate Struggles: Chechnya, Punjab and Quebec published by Cambridge University Press (2015).

The prize honours research on conflict and peace that is contemporary, exceptional, and world leading, and which provides an invaluable contribution to the literature on conflict and peace.

The prize committee received over 50 nominations from conflict/peace researchers, institutions, practitioners and publishers. The committee chose the winning title out of 4 short-listed books based on criteria such as how well the book demonstrates a significant contribution to conflict/peace studies, impact factor, methodological rigour, robustness and credibility of the findings, the extent to which it is interdisciplinary, quality of writing and presentation. The committee also prioritized first time book authors.

The prize committee noted that Decentralization and Intrastate Struggles is “an excellent critical study of decentralisation as a response to secessionist conflicts.” It is an impressive first book from “an academic who has very quickly been established as a leading researcher in conflict studies.” Committee members praised the book for its “clear thesis that significantly adds to the theoretical and empirical debates on conflict management.” In particular, the committee concentrated on the extent which it uses robust methods to contribute to existing debates: “The study uses new data, new quantitative analysis and presents original case studies done on the basis of a mass of interviewing and travel to the regions concerned (except Chechnya). It is a very thorough-going piece of original research.”

This year’s prize committee had to choose out of 4 very good books. Further congratulations are extended to the following running up titles (in no particular order):

Wallensteen, Peter. (2015) Quality Peace: Peacebuilding, Victory and World Order. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Mitchell, Christopher (2014) The Nature of Intractable Conflict: Resolution in the 21st Century. London: Palgrave Macmillan

Bar-Tal, Daniel (2015) (first published 2013) Intractable Conflicts: Socio-Psychological Foundations and Dynamics. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

The prize winner (Dr. Kristin Bakke) is invited to the CRS annual conference to receive their prize and to provide a short presentation on their work at the CRS conference at Trinity College, Dublin, September, 2016.

For more information on the CRS Book of the Year Prize please see


Professor Hugh Miall (Chair of the CRS) attended the eighth conference of OxPeace, the Oxford Network of Peace Studies, in St John’s College, Oxford on Saturday 14 May. Kristin Bakke, CRS Council member, was among the presenters. The conference highlighted the work on peacebuilding of the strong group of conflict researchers now at Oxford, including Richard Caplan, Keith Krause, John Gledhill, and Annette Idler, winner of last year’s CRS Cedric Smith Prize. Speakers included Peter Wallensteen (Uppsala), Roger Mac Ginty (Manchester), David Keen (LSE), Denisa Kostovicova (LSE), and others. The chair was Liz Carmichael (Oxford) of OxPeace.

Podcasts of the presentations will be made available at the Oxpeace site, where podcasts of previous conferences can also be found: For the programme of this year’s conference, see here.

OxPeace is seeking £4m to endow a Chair in Peace Studies, with the University’s blessing . Patrons of the appeal include President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Justin Welby and Chancellor of Oxford Chris Patten. Any billionaires reading this please contact Liz Carmichael. You can read the Oxpeace proposal here.

Hugh Miall