Conflict Sensitivity and Do No Harm: Theory, Method, and Application
Balázs Áron Kovács and Joan McGregor
April 27 to May 27, 2021
Tuesday and Thursday | 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Philippine Time (GMT+8)
This course is intended for humanitarian and development aid workers and peace practitioners who work in conflict-affected areas or communities. In the first part of the course, participants will explore the concept of conflict sensitivity and demonstrate its importance throughout the program and project cycle, particularly at the design, implementation and monitoring stages. The course will offer a range of analytical design and monitoring tools, which can be used to make relief, development, and peacebuilding interventions conflict-sensitive. Participants will develop a shared understanding of conflict, violence and peace in their own contexts, explore the range of options available to them in considering their activities and identify what needs to be taken into account to design activities that are conflict-sensitive.
The second half of the course will introduce participants to the Do No Harm principles and approach. Do No Harm was developed in particular for humanitarian and development organizations operating in conflict-affected areas as a way to integrate and operationalize conflict sensitivity. This is especially the case in a complex emergency like the one the world is facing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conflict Sensitivity and Do No Harm are based on the recognition, stemming from years of experience in development aid and humanitarian relief, that well-meaning interventions can, and very often do have a detrimental impact on the communities they set out to help, as these interventions interact with a complex reality. Conflict makes both the complexity of such situations greater and the possible consequences of harm greater. While it will likely never be possible to completely exclude the possibility that an intervention goes astray, it is ethically and practically necessary to reduce the possibility of harm. This is what the approaches of this course seek to ensure.
Balázs Áron Kovács is the Philippines country director of forumZFD, a German NGO working in the field of conflict transformation. He combines an interest in the scholarly study of peacebuilding with its practice. Earlier he taught international relations at Webster University in Thailand, and peace and conflict studies at the UN-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. Balázs received his PhD degree in 2017 from the University of New England, Australia, in peace studies/politics and international studies. He has published books on peacebuilding, peace infrastructures, and democratization. His research interest is in critical peace and conflict studies, local-level peacebuilding, state theory, violent state-society interactions, and the international-state-local interface in peacebuilding. As a practitioner, he is concerned primarily with local-level peace formation.
Joan McGregor has been working in the field of conflict transformation for more than 40 years. Her engagement in conflict transformation started with work against apartheid in her home country of South Africa. Joan has a Master’s Degree in Peace and Reconciliation from Coventry University in the UK. She is currently working freelance as a conflict transformation practitioner, undertaking consultancies for clients.
Prior to this, she was a full-time Peace and Conflict Advisor at Responding to Conflict (RTC) in Birmingham, UK where her work encompassed managing, developing and facilitating RTC's program of courses and designing and delivering consultancy work. The consultancies included tailor-made training and participatory learning programs for practitioners of conflict transformation, development and humanitarian assistance from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Joan's expertise covers participatory approaches to conflict analysis, strategic planning, mediation and negotiation, conflict sensitivity tools and methodologies, monitoring and appraisal, lesson learning, training of trainers, and counseling. In 2017, Joan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Birmingham in recognition of her contribution to conflict transformation internationally. Joan has been with MPI since 2014.