Other approaches to securing peace

Researcher and peace activist Amina Ahmed in conversation with women in a market in Abuja

Social inequalities often cause conflict. The results of the r4d programme, funded by the SDC and the SNSF, combine scientific knowledge and personal conflict experience. The synthesis products present insights that will benefit development policy.

Nils Rosemann knows all of the projects very well. "Based on various results, we had suspected for a while that, for example, gender plays an important role in social conflicts," he says. As a representative of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), he has been closely involved in the Swiss research programme on global development issues (r4d programme). The research module "Social conflicts", one of six r4d modules, was the first to conclude its work in spring 2020. Nils Rosemann was a member of the evaluation panel of this module. After eight years of research, the researchers are now presenting the consolidated results of their projects.

Strengthening development policy

"After systematically comparing experiences in different countries, we began to recognise patterns," says Nils Rosemann. A new knowledge base has emerged as a result of analyses focussing on collective processes of memorialisation and ethnic conflicts in so-called fragile states. "When we started consolidating the various project results, we could confirm that gender plays an important role in social conflicts," he adds. In his opinion, the results open up new avenues for peace research. "In negotiations, we can rely on analyses that are scientifically sound and broadly validated," he says. This strengthens development policy.

Personal and analytical knowledge

Programme coordinator Claudia Zingerli of the SNSF is impressed by the great variety of methodical approaches that were used to explore inequality. "The projects of the module 'Social conflicts' have highlighted new ways of analysing fragile contexts and addressing the resulting conflicts." As the programme went on, she explains, it became clear how important the continued exchange among the researchers was.

A documentary film, "Inequality and Conflict – Beyond us and them", was produced as part of the module synthesis. Claudia Zingerli is particularly pleased to see how in the film the personal knowledge of the protagonists is presented side by side with the analytical knowledge of the researchers (see box). "The very personal experiences of discrimination, hardship and prejudice are combined in a novel way with analyses and insights from different contexts," she explains. She is convinced that the film makes it possible to spread the results beyond the scientific community.

Evolving research

By launching the r4d programme (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the SNSF are promoting transnational partnerships between Swiss researchers and researchers in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Between 2012 and 2022, almost 98 million francs are being made available for the programme. 57 projects are bringing together more than 290 researchers and their research groups in 50 countries. 13 synthesis projects are generating cross-cutting insights.

57 projects with researchers from 50 countries

Mit dem r4d-Programm (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development) unterstützen die Direktion für Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit (DEZA) und der SNF gemeinsam transnationale Partnerschaften von Schweizer Forschenden mit Ländern in Afrika, Asien und Lateinamerika. Zwischen 2012 und 2022 stehen fast 98 Millionen Franken bereit. 57 Projekte vernetzen über 290 Beitragsempfängerinnen und -empfänger und ihre Forschungsgruppen in 50 Ländern. 13 Syntheseprojekte generieren projektübergreifende Erkenntnisse.

Film on inequality and conflict

The documentary film "Inequality and Conflict - Beyond us and them" combines results of the projects of the module "Social conflicts" of the r4d programme. As of now, it is available in full length online. The film offers remarkable insights into struggles related to inequality and conflict in five countries.

Researchers in a market in Nigeria, activists at a demonstration in Guatemala, statues of heroes in Sri Lanka: the scenes illustrate long-term research on social conflicts on three continents and in very different circumstances. Every person who appears in the film has their own, often traumatic, history but also knowledge and experience in solving conflicts.

The concluding event of the module in Bern, including screenings of the film, had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. New dates will be published.