Action Research


The BCP project was established to deliver an early intervention strategy in the peace – conflict – war cycle. Such an intervention acts as a circuit breaker and help avoid downstream conflict. The resultant methodologies may be applied across the full conflict spectrum from domestic disruption to full scale war.

Dialogue is a proven method for facilitating strong interaction and understanding between individuals, groups and communities. What is not yet fully understood is how dialogue can be applied to build capacity in areas of pre-conflict and practically utilised as a tool to ameliorate potential conflict and promote sustainable peace.

Discussions with the UN in July 2005 led to the possibility of creating a team of individuals who would visit areas where there were very early warning signs of potential conflict, or areas of concern. These individuals will be sourced from a pool of people with sufficient gravitas and experience to be credible in the areas they visited.

The strategy of very early intervention requires a deep understanding of the likely outcomes of such a process.

A multi-phase research project was undertaken to:

  • Develop a framework for multi-site dialogues
  • Conduct a series of dialogues across a sample range of countries, cultures, socio-economic groups, ages and gender, against the Inglehart Values Map World Values Survey
  • Diagnose the skills and attributes required to successfully conduct the dialogues
  • Establish a group of individuals who will deliver on-the-ground interventions on an as- need basis
  • Establish an international network of dialogue resources for peace builders
  • Design, pilot and deliver courses for the peacemakers
  • Undertake in situ pre-conflict dialogues
  • Evaluate
  • The Building Capacity for Peace (BCP) project was undertaken in partnership with the FolkeBernadotte Academy, Sweden and receives funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

Why is this approach different?

Dialogue has been undertaken in many contexts, however the BCP project utilises Appreciative Inquiry techniques to take participants back to a time when they may have experienced peace in some context (characterised as ‘remembering’). From this point the dialogue will commence. This represents a paradigm shift in that the underlying premise of this project is not that there is a problem to be solved (and therefore a requirement for conflict resolution). Rather, there is an early warning that there is a dissonance, a shift in alignment in the players, an imbalance. If this imbalance is allowed to continue it will set up a movement; a resonance that will create discord. The discord will become magnified over time leading to potential conflict.

The BCP project intends to position the intervention in the early stages and by realigning the players, to shift the negative outcomes. It is not a problem solving strategy: it is one of fundamental realignment leading to sustainable engagement, empowerment and capacity building through local ownership.

Appreciative Inquiry techniques will be used to align the process and the participants of the dialogue, in a state of understanding, leading to sustainable results. One hypothesis is there may be participants with absolutely no experience, at any point in time, of a state of alignment in their lives. These participants will be taken through an additional process to create the experience of alignment, giving them an aspirational target state for the future. This may be described as leveraging the possible human.

Dialogue groups and participants are chosen across a wide range of countries, contexts, gender, socio-economic conditions and belief structures. A selection of dialogue methodologies will also be tested.

An International Reference Group is being established for the project and a variety of International Funding Partners will be involved in several phases of the project.

Potential international partners include:

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden
  • Australian Federal Government
  • Identities Project, United Kingdom
  • UK Government
  • European Union
  • United Nations Secretariat and General Assembly
  • Search for Common Ground Africa
  • Alliance of Civilisations
  • Governments of Spain and Turkey

Project Phases

  1. Development of an international prevention network system underpinned by transformational dialogue in six initial participating countries/sites – for example: Sweden, Africa, Australia , UK, UN, Spain, Turkey.
    • Design and development of dialogue structure and process for each site
    • Dialogues are being conducted in  countries at either single or multi sites
    • Africa – a retreat for Women leaders
    • Australia – dialogue in communities with a noted incidence of child abuse and neglect
    • United Nations – a cross section of General Assembly member Islamic/western dialogue
    • United Kingdom – a cross section of refugees
  2. Development of a body of content, dialogue techniques, skills and attributes in each of the five countries and methodologies and tool-kits for use in other countries worldwide.
  3. Establishment and training of an international group of  people with gravitas and humility to undertake generative dialogues in at-risk countries and situations.
  4. Project Outcomes
    • International framework for generative dialogue in at-risk situations
    • International network of dialogue resources for peace builders
    • Early intervention courses for the peacemakers
    • In situ pre-conflict dialogues undertaken
    • International group of  people to undertake generative dialogues in at-risk countries and situations
    • Increased number of Governments and Private and Public Sector organisations involved in Peace work