Missing Peace Initiative

Led by Inger Skjelsbæk
Feb 2013 -

The Missing Peace Initiative is a collaborative project of PRIO, the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Women In International Security (WIIS).

Sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings is increasingly recognized as a threat to international peace and security. From conflicts in the Balkans to the Democratic Republic of Congo and from East Timor to Guatemala, state and non-state armed actors have used sexual violence against women, men, and children to intimidate and to terrorize populations, and as a means of displacing people from contested territory, destroying communities, and silencing victims. Even after these wars have ended, sexual violence often does not – which, in turn, undermines reconstruction efforts and the transition to more stable, secure, and peaceful societies.

Despite the increased international recognition of the serious impact that sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict poses to security and peace, initiatives to prevent or mitigate these violent acts continue to fall short. Even with the adoption of UN Security Council resolutions and important rulings in international criminal courts, existing international interventions may lack an integrated understanding of the causes for sexual violence and its implications for societies at large.

In February 2013, the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, PRIO, USIP and WIIS convened a group of scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and military and civil society actors to examine the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings, identify gaps in knowledge and reporting, and explore how to increase the effectiveness of current responses to such violence.

An explicit aim of this overall initiative is to include findings from the latest academic research as well as insights from practitioners working in conflict and post-conflict situations, including civil society actors, the military, and police. This initiative has also launched the Missing Peace Young Scholars Network, aimed at supporting PhD researchers and recently minted PhDs in their research and the dissemination of research results to the practitioner and policy communities.

Missing Peace Young Scholars Network

The Young Scholars Network, formed in 2013, is an extension of the Missing Peace Initiative to bring together a global community of scholars currently researching innovative methodologies to address the prevention of sexual violence in conflict.

Some of the most innovative research on sexual violence is being undertaken by Young Scholars who spend months in the field researching, analysing and writing about the complex and difficult aspects of understanding and preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings. These scholars are frequently on the cutting edge of data collection methodologies and have important insights to share with the broader academic and policy communities.

However, Young Scholars often face challenges in disseminating the results of their research to mainstream international relations and security studies communities. In addition, they may lack the necessary networks to disseminate their work to the policy and practitioner communities.

The partners of the Missing Peace Initiative, with their combined extensive networks and contacts in academia, the policymaking and non-governmental communities, decided to help with the development of a network to help overcome these challenges.

Activities

Look for #MissingPeace on social media to follow the initiative's activities.

UPCOMING: Missing Peace Symposium 2017: Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict: Is fighting impunity the only game in town?

On 7–8 December 2017, the PRIO Centre on Gender, Peace and Security and partners of the Missing Peace Initiative will organise the Missing Peace Symposium 2017. The aim of the symposium is to to take stock of what the legal responses to conflict-related sexual violence have accomplished, where they fall short, and how combatting sexual violence is integral to peacebuilding. 

The PRIO GPS Centre together with the British Embassy Oslo will also hold a public opening event, both to kick-off the Missing Peace Symposium 2017 and as a follow-up to the side-event organised in 2014 by the British Embassy Oslo on the margins of the UK's Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. The public opening event will focus on how international criminal prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence impacts peacebuilding and contributes to preventing relapses into new conflicts.

Fifth Annual Missing Peace Young Scholars Network Workshop, July 2017

The fifth annual Missing Peace Young Scholars Network workshop will focus on the topic of 'SGBV and SEA: Bridging the Research and Practice Divides'. More information can be found on the event page here

Missing Peace Practitioners' Workshop, August 2015

The Missing Peace Initiative partners organised the 'Missing Peace Practitioners' Workshop on Accountability for Sexual Violence' in Kampala, Uganda, 26-18 August 2015.

Read more about the workshop in PRIO Gender, Peace and Security Update (3-2015) here.

Missing Peace Young Scholars Network Workshop, June 2015

The Missing Peace Initiative partners hosted a workshop for the Missing Peace Young Scholars Network on 4-5 June 2015.

The workshop provided an opportunity for scholars to update the Network on their research, examine the current state of research and identify gaps, challenges and new strands of research on preventing and ending sexual violence.

Panel Event: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, May 2014

The Missing Peace Initiative partners hosted the Missing Peace Initiative Young Scholars Network for a panel event on 23 May 2014 at USIP.

One of the outcomes of the event is a letter to the co-chairs of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, (former) UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Read the letter published in Huffington Post here.

Missing Peace Symposium, February 2013

The Missing Peace Initiative partners together with Stockholm International Peace Research Institute North America convened a group of expert scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and military and civil society actors on 14-16 February 2013 at USIP. Participants examined the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings, identified gaps in knowledge and reporting, and explored how to increase the effectiveness of current responses to such violence.

To mark the first meeting of the Missing Peace Initiative, the special report 'Wartime Sexual Violence: Misconceptions, Implications, and Ways Forward' was developed by Dara Kay Cohen, Amelia Hoover Green, and Elisabeth Jean Wood, and launched at the symposium. Read the report here.

The following policy briefs on sexual violence were published on the occasion of the first Missing Peace Symposium: 

Research Groups

Publications

PRIO Policy Brief

Nordås, Ragnhild (2013) Preventing Conflict-related Sexual Violence, PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.
Cohen, Dara Kay & Ragnhild Nordås (2012) Sexual Violence by Militias in African Conflicts: Not a question of ‘delegation’ by states, CSCW Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: CSCW.
Cohen, Dara Kay & Ragnhild Nordås (2012) Sexual Violence in African Conflicts, 1989–2009: What the data show, CSCW Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: CSCW.
Nordås, Ragnhild (2012) Sexual Violence on the Decline? Recent debates and evidence suggest ‘unlikely’, CSCW Policy Brief, 3. Oslo: CSCW.

Newsletter

Lorentzen, Jenny & Julie Marie Hansen (2015) PRIO Launches New Centre on Gender, Peace and Security, PRIO Gender, Peace and Security Update, 2015: PRIO.
Tryggestad, Torunn L. & Jenny Lorentzen (2013) The Missing Peace Symposium 2013, PRIO Gender, Peace and Security Update, 2013: PRIO.