Articles, papers and think pieces on contemporary issues and challenges.

Responding to the People

Many countries of the Middle East and North Africa have experienced years of instability, slow growth and social discontent, generating major regional and global challenges in the form refugees, forced migration and extremism. In this In-Depth article, distinguished diplomat Rolf Holmboe argues that the international community has tended to focus on addressing immediate crises – but that stability will not be achieved until deep reform processes are instituted across the region to bring about social, economic and political change.

Neglected Tool – Empathy in Conflict Resolution

Over 2016 and 2017 CEIA convened expert discussions on the role of empathy in conflict resolution and mediation. In an article for the European Journal ‘Perspektive Mediation’ CEIA Director Matt Waldman encapsulates insights, ideas and case examples generated by these discussions. In short, experts and practitioners believe empathy has limitations but furnishes mediators with important information, helps to build trust, enables individuals to feel recognised, and can catalyse new approaches to conflict resolution.

Virtual Reality – The Frontier of Peacemaking

Numerous evidence-based studies in social neuroscience and cyberpsychology have shown how Virtual Reality has immense potential to promote empathy, counteract biases and lead to changes in behavior. This article, by social entrepreneur Dr Alexandra Ivanovitch, explores how VR works in practice and its potential application in the field of peacebuilding and conflict resolution. She calls for a new wave of collaboration between technology, science and art to strengthen peace.  

Hard Feelings: Empathy in Engaging Armed Groups

In March 2017, the Center for Empathy in International Affairs and Conciliation Resources hosted a roundtable discussion in London involving 21 mediators, peacebuilders, and experts to consider the role that empathy can play in helping to establish and sustain dialogue with non-state armed groups. Our new report, Hard Feelings, published jointly with Conciliation Resources, captures their wide-ranging views and insights.

The Software of Geopolitics

Conventional approaches to international challenges are not succeeding. Read our briefing paper, The Software of Geopolitics, to gain insights from 20 leading experts on the critical but long neglected issue of empathy in international affairs. Serious efforts to understand what’s happening inside the minds of others could help reduce violent conflict and get foreign policy-making back on track.

Empathy in Conflict Resolution

In collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), CEIA held a consultation with 15 academics, experts and mediators in Washington DC on 14 March 2016. The critical role of empathy in resolving conflict was discussed, including the constraints and risks. Cases considered include Colombia, the Caucuses and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Views and insights are captured in our briefing paper: Empathy in Conflict Resolution: If, How and When.

Empathy in Mediation

The Center for Empathy in International Affairs, in collaboration with the European Institute of Peace, held a full day consultation with 18 experienced mediators and experts in Brussels in March 2016. The practical value of empathy in mediation was discussed, as well as its drawbacks and limitations. The experts’ views and insights are captured in our new briefing paper: Changing Minds – Briefing on Empathy in Mediation.

Syria – Avoiding a Dangerous Disconnect

Rolf Holmboe is a widely respected former Ambassador of Denmark to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. In this In-Depth article he writes about the role of empathy in avoiding a dangerous disconnect between a possible political settlement for Syria and the realities on the ground. He concludes that in order to achieve stabilization, ‘the focus should be less on what, in our eyes, should be, but on what could be, as seen through the eyes of Syrians.’