Creating Causal Chains from Disaster-Related Activities to Disaster Diplomacy

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Ilan KELMAN, UCL, United Kingdom
Disaster diplomacy http://www.disasterdiplomacy.org examines how and why disaster-related activities (disaster risk reduction and post-disaster actions) do and do not influence peace and conflict processes. The key analysis is whether or not a causal chain can be established between (i) dealing with disaster risk or a disaster and (ii) outcomes in peace (or conflict). The answer in all case studies examined so far is that the causal chain is complex with multiple inputs to and outputs from the chain. In effect, intersecting input and output sequences are generated with respect to disaster-related and diplomatic activities, yet it is rarely articulated where, when, and why these sequences start and stop.

Irrespective, no evidence has been found thus far to suggest that disaster-related activities are a prominent factor in conflict resolution. Instead, disaster-related activities often influence peace processes in the short-term--over weeks and months--provided that a non-disaster-related basis already exists for rapprochement. This pre-existing basis could be secret negotiations between the warring parties or strong trade or cultural links. Over the long-term, namely the timeframe of years, disaster-related influences disappear, succumbing to factors such as a leadership change, typical patterns of political enmity, or belief that an historical grievance should supersede disaster-related bonds.

This time-dependent conclusion suggests that possibilities might exist for active interventions at key nodes to ensure that disaster-related activities do actually create new, long-lasting diplomacy. If this approach might be successful, then it suggests that creating disaster risk could be a useful pathway, especially for permitting disaster diplomacy. Then, moral dilemmas emerge. Active disaster diplomacy efforts might backfire, disaster risk created might not be resolved, or it could lead to a slippery slope of aiming for a disaster in order to create peace.