The Thematic Network on Peace and Conflict Studies is part of the ASEM Education Hub, which came into being in a decision by Asian and European leaders at the ASEM London Summit in 1998. It is lead from NIAS by Timo Kivimäki, and its board consists of many important peace practitioners, such as President Martti Ahtisaari (Chair, European), (Ph.D.H.C.; President of Finland 1994-2000, mediator of several peace talks, including Aceh Peace Talks), Amb. Sastrohandoyo Wiryono (Chair, Asian), (Center for Strategic and International Studies Jakarta, Negotiator of Aceh Peace Talks, Mediator in Cambodia and Mindanao Peace Processes, Chairman of the ASEF Board until 2006) and Amb. Prof. Chung-in Moon (Professor at Yonsei University, and Ambassador for International Security Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Korea). Furthermore, the board consists of ten leading European and Asian specialists of security and conflict; including Prof. Carolina Hernandez, Dr. Stein Tønnesson and Dr. Zhang Tiejun.The purpose of the AEH Thematic Network on Peace and Conflict Studies is to launch and implement comparative teaching and research projects on peace and conflicts. The intention is to promote scholarship that is directly relevant for peace processes and conflict prevention in Europe and Asia. The network will utilise Asian and European comparative and case specific expertise and scholar-practitioner expertise for the development of better research, research education, teaching and policy expertise in conflict prevention, dispute resolution and conflict transformation. The network will generate university teaching and research projects, and offer its comparative framework for existing independent non-partisan research and university teaching projects related to the study and praxis of conflict prevention.
Among many projects the network has generated a few are more interesting right now. One is related to conflict resolution capacity building among the ethnic leaders that mobilized the recent cannibalistic riots in West Kalimantan. The reason why this ongoing project is getting interesting is that it has moved on to a new phase. There is a consensus on the establishment of a permanent provincial inter-ethnic communication forum. Secondly, there is a consensus on mechanisms to prevent escalation of communal conflict once there has been a violent crime where the perpetrator and the victim are not from the same ethnic community. Since the process is moving beyond education, the vice president’s office has offered to take over the process and formalize in an inaugural meeting of the inter-ethnic communication forum in November, the issues where there already is consensus and launch dialogue on issues that have been seen as problematic but on which an agreement is lacking. This way educational project has spilled over into a peace process and the fact that the vice president has taken over the initiative, had meant that whatever will be agreed upon has an extra weight. Ethnic leaders could backtrack on ideas they have agreed upon when applying global lessons on conflict resolution, but they will not wiggle themselves out of commitments they have given to the office of the vice president.
Another extremely interesting prioject in the network will be the establishment of a VIP PhD class at NIAS, focusing on peace processes, and involving as students the secretary of the vice president of Indonesia, political advisor of the secretary general of the ASEAN, and the director of social affairs of the BRR (presidential council for the reconstruction of Aceh and Nias Island). This project has just received its core funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Negotiations are underway to include a “Pattani prince” in the training with Swedish funding. Majority of the Swedish funding has already been secured.
Thirdly the network has a project that aims to link two research projects on durable peace periods in Asia and Europe to foster Asian – European cooperation. The European side of the project aiming at the explanation of the long peace of East Asia has received part of its funding from Sweden, and there is also funding for a conference within the network, that could facilitate the comparison of the East Asian Peace 1979- with the West European Peace 1945-.
The network is in the process of establishing a research program on migration conflicts. The rectorate of the University of Copenhagen has estabilished a Migration Initiative at the university and this initiative has joined the ASEM network, and now the program is seeking ways to include the comparative and cooperative ASEM element into it. The selection of the theme of the Banda Aceh conference of the ASEm network is part of this effort.
In addition to these topical projects, the network has a lot of interesting activities that can be studied at
Information of the network can also be found at ASEM Education Hub internet pages at http://www.aeh.asef.org/initiatives/index.asp?st=197
It is possible for European and Asian Scholars to initiate new projects for the network. New projects will be discussed and accepted by the board of the network, which also gives advice and comments to network projects and tries to link them to practical initiatives in order to create added policy relevance for academic research and teaching initiatives. Furthermore, the network organizes annual conferences that help communicate and launch network projects in ASEM context of equal cooperation between Asian and European scholars.
Submissions for network projects can be sent to the leader of the network at [email protected] or they can be submitted at these pages (see “submit a proposal for a new network project” at the main menu of the network home page).