Support for mediation and dialogue using a variety of methods, at all levels of society and during all phases of conflict
The Austrian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution was established in 1982, in the context of the Cold War, and located in the medieval castle of Stadtschlaining, just twelve kilometres from the Iron Curtain. Since its founding at the heart of a then divided Europe, the ASPR has sought to promote mutual understanding and peace not only in Europe, but throughout the world. Over the course of the past four decades, the ASPR has been a meeting place where differences and conflicts can be constructively addressed – whether in the context of the Cold War in the 1980s, amid the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, protracted conflicts in the South Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, as well as for conflicts further afield, such as in Uganda and the African Great Lakes region and Sri Lanka.
The ASPR’s commitment to promoting peace and conflict resolution is implemented into action through facilitating informal dialogue processes, providing consultations for conflict party, supporting peace official negotiation processes, as well as engaging in direct mediation with conflict parties. These activities are at the core of the Centre’s mission.
ASPR’s initiatives often focus on a national level, which currently include facilitating dialogue within and across secular and religious worldviews in Israel and Palestine, conflicts over water infrastructure in Libya, and providing support to the Sudan Peace-Process. In addition, the ASPR is addressing regional challenges, such as through a dialogue addressing US-Iranian strategic competition in Iraq. At the same time, the ASPR is also addressing conflicts on a local level, such questions of societal cohesion in the Ninewa Governorate in Iraq. Closer to home, the ASPR is facilitating dialogue and facilitating conflict resolution at the request of stakeholders within its neighboring communities.
The ASPR’s engagement in conflict contexts is informed by its interdisciplinary and multi-track know-how and experience. With each initiative, the ASPR develops a context-specific approach that is designed and redesigned based on ongoing dialogues with conflict stakeholders and local project partners. The experienced team at the ASPR draws on its diverse network of international experts, while also engaging with experts and key stakeholders from the conflict contexts themselves, including insider mediators, researchers, as well as political, religious, and civil society leaders.
There is no successful mediation. But every mediation, and especially because of its failure, opens the path to the next mediation, which will go beyond the first attempt, but will also fail again. The dauntless narrative of human kind is composed of these never-ending concatenations… And still the mediator inside me never resigns. The hope… might be subject to eclipses… ten days, ten years, a century…. My most existential decision is to remain the herald of a constantly renewed equilibrium.
Stéphane Hessel in “Danse avec le Siecle” (Danse with the Century), first published 1997