Asia: Summer School on Conflict and Planning

 

From August 20-31 2007 SPRING alumni from nine countries gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia, to attend a DAAD funded Summer School on ‚Conflict Transformation, Peace-Building and Development Planning in South and Southeast Asia‘.

 

The summer school was organised by SPRING Dortmund (Prof. Dr. Einhard Schmidt-Kallert, Hasan Sinemillioglu and Johannes Lückenkötter) in collaboration with the Centre for Research on Inter-Group Relations (CERIC) of the University of Indonesia and the Indonesian SPRING alumni organisation. The 27 participants, who came from Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and the Philippines, had been selected on the basis of their personal and professional exposure to conflicts and their interest in further training in conflict resolution techniques.


The Conflict-Peace-Planning Nexus

The political situation in many Asian countries is characterised by protracted ethnic, religious or resource-based conflicts. Often these conflicts lead to individual or communal violence. Urban and regional planners working in these countries are directly or indirectly affected by these conflicts. The development projects they are planning and imple-

menting are often acutely threatened  and thus the medium and long-term sustainability of project outputs. On the other hand, development projects always have the potential to either aggravate and intensify or defuse and transform civil conflicts. Thus pro-active peace-building and conflict-mitigating measures should be integrated into projects operating in conflict areas. Dealing with conflicts in a sensitive and professional manner is therefore a cornerstone for effective and sustainable development planning.

Lectures, Exercises, Simulations

The Summer School brought together a wide range of conflict experiences, due both to the different professional backgrounds of the participants as well as the different history and current political situation in their home countries. Making sense of theses differences and identifying underlying causes, triggers and mechanisms of conflicts was an important first step towards more practical methods of conflict analysis and conflict transformation. Participants then practiced their new skills in comprehensive simulations based on two real-world examples.

Visit to Conflict Areas

An important component of the summer school was a field trip to two conflict areas within the Jakarta Metropolitan Area. Talking with local officials, NGO representatives and inhabitants of different neighbourhoods that were previously involved in violent fighting contextualised and reinforced what had been learned in a classroom setting but also opened up new questions and areas for further learning.

Symposium with Conflict Experts

Another hightlight of the summer school was the final symposium, which opened with a summary of experiences presented by summer school participants. Afterwards the former Minister of Human Rights and Justice, Hamid Awaluddin,  gave a detailed and moving account of the negotiations that led to the Helsinki Peace Accord for Aceh. Dr. Imam Prasodjo, director of the CERIC institute and founder of a national NGO then discussed Indonesian experiences with conflict management in development projects. The afternoon was then devoted to panel and open discussions with experts from GTZ, UNDP, the national planning agency, two research institutes and a conflict and development-oriented NGO.