The British Academy's activities under this theme aim to illustrate the importance of in-depth and broad understanding of the historical, political, linguistic, cultural and socio-economic context, as well as the importance of perspectives from the philosophical to the demographic when examining and responding to conflict and insecurity overseas.
In 2015 we published a collection of essays on Rethinking State Fragility by independent analysts and seasoned practitioners. The publication illustrates some of the challenges and contestation in working in areas of conflict and insecurity, and offers insights for future practice and policy. It developed from an international conference which the Academy held to explore post-conflict transitions, enduring political settlements, and engagement with so-called fragile states. The conference examined the lessons learnt from conflict prevention interventions, stabilisation operations and statebuilding exercises. Sessions included the UK’s engagement with conflict, stability and security; differing approaches and perspectives, particularly from emerging powers, dilemmas which engagement with conflict, stability and security can create, including resistance to the fragile states terminology; focused sessions on Somalia and the Horn of Africa, Ukraine, the DRC, and Lebanon; and how to achieve enduring political settlements and transitions.
Also in 2015 the Academy published an international policy report, commissioned and funded by the UK's Department for International Development, which explored the Role of Religion in Conflict and Peacebuilding. The report argues that religion is never a static or isolated entity but should rather be understood as a fluid system of variables, contingent upon a large number of contextual and historical factors. By observing how religion operates and interacts with other aspects of the human experience at the global, institutional, group and individual levels, this report aims to gain a more nuanced understanding of the (potential) role of religion in both conflict and peacebuilding.