Conflict Assessment and Early Warning Tools
Before political violence or war breaks out, there are usually many indicators that stresses are building. A variety of tools are available for assessing such stresses and the likelihood of future violence.
- Indicators of Violence Potential:
- Preventing Mass Atrocities: An Agenda for Policymakers and Citizens - Pages 3-4 of this report provide a succinct summary of approaches to early warning.
- Preventive Diplomacy and International Violence Prevention - Provides an overview of many standard early warning indicators.
- Early Warning Indices: A variety of organizations and projects track such indicators and publish indices of violence potential. Among these are:
- Crisis Watch
- The Failed States Index
- Before, a partership between Swisspeace and the Alliance for Peacebuilding.
- Fewer (The Forum on Early Warning and Early Response), which has an African unit and a Eurasian unit.
- The Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland (U.S.) maintains a variety of relevant databases and reports:
- How early warning is done:
- Early Warning
- Anticipating the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: An Early Warning Approach to Conflict and Instability
- The Governance and Social Development Resource Center has an extensive online guide to preventing and mitigating violent conflict.
- Conflict Assessment Tools:
In addition to looking for warning of impending violence, broader conflict assessment tools can be used to understand the nature of brewing conflicts, including who the parties are, what the issues are, and what the intervention possibilities are. Conflict assessment is an essential first step in any conflict mitigation or violence prevention strategy. In the early 2000s, the Conflict Information Consortium commissioned one of our members to collect and assess the major conflict assessment tools which were available at the time. To our (and his) surprise, he found several hundred, almost all slightly different. A good overview of approaches is illustrated in the tools listed below.
- CAST: The Fund for Peace's Conflict Assessment System Tool. This tool provides the data underlying the Failed States Index (see above), as well as providing individual country alerts, conflict assessments and country profiles. In addition, the Fund For Peace provides a detailed description of the CAST analytical model at CAST.
- Also of interest is the United States Institute of Peace's How to Do a Conflict Assessment
- A conflict assessment tool from the Consensus Building Institute.
- Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework developed by the Interagency Working Group, formed under the auspices of the Reconstruction and Stabilization Policy Coordinating Committee (R&S PCC) of the U.S. Government.
If the early warning or conflict assessment suggests that violence is likely or imminent, a variety of steps can be taken to try to prevent that violence from occurring. See the section on violence prevention steps to learn more.