home       biography       publications       speeches       organisations       images       @contact

Preventing Deadly Conflict

Keynote Address by Hon Gareth Evans AO QC, President of the International Crisis Group, to University of Adelaide International Symposium on Crisis in Asia: Local, Regional and International Responses, Adelaide, 17 February 2001

Crisis and Conflict in Asia

Asia made more than its fair share of contributions to the world’s crises and conflicts in the 20th Century, and is perfectly capable of doing the same in the 21st. Just look around.

In South Asia, we have for a start what Bill Clinton accurately described, before his trip there in March 2000, as “the most dangerous place” on earth. India and Pakistan have already fought three wars since 1947: in both there are strong nationalist and confrontational forces still at work, both now have nuclear weapons, and the dispute over Kashmir remains anything but resolved. In Sri Lanka, one of the world’s ugliest little wars continues with no sign of lasting settlement.

In Central Asia, there is increasing anxiety about the spillover of the continuing war in Afghanistan into Uzbekistan, Krgyztan and Tajikistan to the north, each of which have internal problems of their own, not least in the Ferghana Valley area where they meet - and where my International Crisis Group has last year established a field project.

In East Asia, the biggest question of all for international policy makers is, to quote the late lamented President Clinton again – this time during his visit to Australia in November 1996 – “how will the Chinese define their greatness in the 21st century”? Will it be in terms of realizing the country’s extraordinary economic and cultural potential, or will they define their greatness in terms of their ability to dominate others?

Two obvious arenas in which that question will be tested are the Straits of Taiwan and the South China Sea; another is the border with India, which has exploded before and could again. And, looking inward as well as outward, there is the continuing repression in Tibet and – in many ways even more ugly these days, with 200 executions of separatists in the last two years – Xinjiang.

Notwithstanding North Korea’s recent graduation, at least under the Democrats, from “rogue state” to “state of concern” the new Bush Administration’s apparent determination to push on with both theatre and national missile defence systems, with the new Defence Secretary disparaging the ABM Treaty as “old history”, has the potential to be profoundly destabilizing for the whole East Asian region, certainly with the capacity to trigger a new arms race as China and Japan eye each other’s capacity for dominance in the new order.

In South East Asia, the biggest concern by far is Indonesia, where the country has lurched and muddled its way through a number of crises over the years, but now is closer to the edge than it has been for a long time. Let me spend just a little more time on the situation there, both because it’s so close to home here – and because my ICG has established a major project there.

The reasons for the current massive disaffection with President Abdurrahman Wahid are not hard to find. Gus Dur, as he used to be known with rather more affection than is the case now, has given Indonesians little reason to believe that the state will protect them from corruption, chaos and violence. The economy is still limping badly, with investor confidence negligible. There is no resolution in sight of the separatist conflicts in Aceh and Irian Jaya, and the Maluku communal conflict has been fuelled by the security forces taking sides. Despite rhetorical commitment, the record in bringing major human rights violators to justice has been unimpressive, with convictions in only four major cases since 1998 (and reservations widely felt about three of those). Corruption charges against Soeharto were dismissed last year, and pursuit of other key figures has idled.

The immediate issue precipitating impeachment proceedings against him (which have about four months to run if the issue stays in parliament rather than the streets, and if the president’s opponents hold to their present course), is Gus Dur’s failure to provide a convincing explanation of his involvement in a financial scandal in which his masseur obtained, and apparently divided among figures linked to the president, US$4 million from a state food agency. A US$2 million dollar gift from the Sultan of Brunei intended for social welfare programs has also gone conspicuously astray. The sums involved are small compared to the plunder of state agencies carried out during the Soeharto presidency, and the funds seem more likely to have benefited Wahid’s party than him personally, but in the new reform era the public rightly expects much more of its leaders.

On the credit side, Gus Dur has maintained his lifelong commitment to the promotion of religious and ethnic tolerance. Political opponents are no longer detained, he has moved toward ending official discrimination against Indonesians of Chinese descent, and encourages public debate, emphasising that differences of opinion are normal. And his open, casual and jokey style is still personally engaging. But his friends and enemies alike wish that he would behave more like his country’s President, and less like (with all due respect to the profession in which I now find myself!) an NGO leader.

Wahid’s public political battle will be in the parliament where Vice-President Megawati Soekarnoputri holds the key to his survival. As head of the biggest party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), she controls 31 per cent of the seats. If Wahid, with only 10 per cent reliable support, is deposed, she would automatically succeed him. But she is cautious about taking action, and the support for her both inside and outside the country is lukewarm, hardly surprising given the available evidence about her own business and military connections, and her own leadership skills.

Waiting in the wings through all this, although weakened and demoralised, are the old political forces – those once allied with the Soeharto regime and especially the military. Earlier this month Defence Minister Mohammed Mahfud told reporters that the armed forces could seize power if politicians fail to lead the country, or if chaos or anarchy cannot be controlled. Mahfud is a constitutional lawyer, not a general, and his statement was more likely to have been a warning to the students massed against Wahid in the streets (perhaps inspired by Wahid himself) than a direct military threat. But there is no doubt that moderate reform elements within the military are finding it ever harder to hold the line against their more nostalgic colleagues.

Gus Dur’s guile and negotiating skills should not be discounted, but if he is forced to make concessions to more conservative elements to preserve his position – in particular retreating from greater accountability for military crimes, and effective action against corruption – Indonesia’s situation will become even more volatile and parlous.

Elsewhere in South East Asia, the potential for major conflict is not so alarming, but it is still there, perhaps no more so than in Burma/Myanmar – also the site of a new ICG project – where the level of dissatisfaction bubbling both in the traditional areas of ethnic dissent and in the mainstream population has been concealed only by the extent of the military regime’s repression. In most observers’ judgment the current moves to reopen some dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are no more than a cosmetic response to escalating international – and in particular ILO - pressure, but if they are no more than that, the regime certainly risks the lid blowing again as it last did in 1988.

In the South Pacific, to complete this less than optimistic picture of what conflict could flare up where, we have the unhappy emergence of what Ben Reilly has called the “Africanisation” of the region, a phenomenon characterised by civil/military tension, weak institutions and the appearance of conflicts driven by a mixture of ethnic grievance and resource greed. As he puts it, “ the perception of the South Pacific has changed from an ‘oasis of democracy’ to an ‘arc of instability’, with the violent overthrow of the elected government in Fiji, an ethnic civil war…in the Solomon Islands, military insubordination in Vanuatu, on-going political instability in PNG, the killing of a cabinet minister in Samoa, and, most worryingly, an apparent demonstration effect at work, whereby extra-constitutional actions in one island group can, it seems, trigger similar activities in another.”1

Comparative Perspectives

All that said, it helps to keep things in perspective. Maybe that’s a little easier from my present lofty and distant vantage points in Brussels and Washington, where I spend most of my time these days (hopefully not yet succumbing to the disease of those many trans-Atlantic policy makers whose indifference to the Asia Pacific , I found all too often when I was Foreign Minister, was matched only by their ignorance).

As seen from Europe and North America, and I think it’s fair to say from a lot of observers closer to home as well, none of the actual or potential conflicts which we can identify around this region - with the exception of what is happening now in Sri Lanka and what could all too easily happen in Indonesia - seem quite as ugly and intractable as the killing now going on in Chechnya, the Congo and Sudan; as capable of exploding again at any time as the violence in Israel and Palestine; and as difficult to ultimately resolve as the remaining issues in the Balkans, especially the situations in Kosovo and Bosnia. That may not be much source of comfort, but it’s some, and given the history of this region, we should welcome it.

Another perspective which should immediately be brought to bear on the situation in Asia, because it brings me to the heart of what I want to talk about today, is that what we can see around us today are a number of good examples – though we never seem to characterise them this way – of successful conflict prevention.

The quiescent situation in the South China Sea can certainly be characterised this way, with a lot of the credit given to the rather maligned Asean Regional Forum as the vehicle for focusing concerned attention and stimulating the dialogue which has kept the gunboats quiet – even if the underlying tangle of overlapping sovereignty claims remain quite unresolved, and are perhaps unresolvable.

So too can the situation across the Straits of Taiwan, where – notwithstanding the disconcertingly-close-to-real missile-firing theatre that was played out in 1995-6, and the election to power since then of a party with on the face of it an even more provocative approach to the mainland - some cool and deft diplomacy by the new Taiwanese president and his PRC counterparts has kept the lid firmly on.

But nowhere has the preventive diplomacy success been greater, although still only grudgingly acknowledged in many quarters, than on the Korean peninsula – where successive U.S. negotiators did a brilliant job in defusing the nuclear and missile crises of the mid 90s, translating them (through the KEDO nuclear reactor and alternative energy exercise in which Australia participated) into a new foundation for dialogue, and creating the conditions in which Kim Dae Jung could take a quantum leap forward with his ‘sunshine’ policy of opening to the north. Maybe it was only Kim Jong Il’s realisation of his utter helplessness to manage the horrendous food crisis afflicting his country that made the current optimistic environment really possible – but there are always multiple causes for any course of events, and there is no doubt that intelligent and effective preventive diplomacy was a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for the remarkable progress that has been made.

There’s not much argument from anyone these days that prevention, with conflict as with so much else, beats the hell out of cure. But it is still far too often the case that the force of this proposition is honoured far more in the rhetoric than the action. What can we who make up the international community – governments, intergovernmental organisations and, increasingly these days, international NGOs – do to make prevention work better, more of the time?

Making Prevention Work

For effective conflict prevention, three essential conditions have to be met. There has to be knowledge of the fragility of the situation, and the risk of impending conflict - so called "early warning". There has to be a set of appropriate and policy measures available that are capable of making a difference - the so called "preventive toolbox". And there has to be the willingness to apply those measures - the issue of "political will".

Early Warning. So far as early warning is concerned, there is no doubt that governments and intergovernmental organisations need all the help that they can get. As budgets for foreign offices around the world tend to go on shrinking (and in my view, and I say this not only as a member of the foreign ministers' club, that is bizarre and indefensible) there seems to be, even in large services like America's and Britain's, less capacity than ever to track and monitor fragile situations and crises and conflicts in the making. There is a role, as a result, to be usefully played here by non-government players including the media and, especially, NGOs.

All that said, it is easy to exaggerate the extent to which lack of early warning is a serious problem. My own suspicion - and the recent pathbreaking reports on the Rwanda tragedy certainly support this - is that far too often it is an excuse rather than an explanation, and that the problem is not lack of warning but lack of timely response. Most of the time key governments, the UN and certainly the major regional organisations, know perfectly well that there is a problem looming: they just hope that it will go away; or even if they know that it won't, they don't get around to doing anything about it because it is an iron law of both politics and the bureacracy that the urgent always drives out the important.

The Prevention Toolbox. If governments and intergovernmental organisations are minded to do something about conflict prevention, what should they do? What are the measures available in the preventive toolbox? 5

To explore this issue in any useful detail would involve looking at much more than we have time for now - the different causes of conflict ( greed, grievance or something else) to which those tools may be responsive2; what kinds of measures may be appropriate when; and how those measures might most usefully be operationalised. All I can really do now is hint at the breadth and complexity of the options available by summarising under two headings - structural measures and direct measures - the most familiar preventive options available.3

Structural Measures

Political. Democratic institution and capacity building; constitutional power sharing and redistribution arrangements; confidence building measures between different community groups; funding and training support for democratic opposition groups.

Economic. Development assistance and cooperation to address inequitable distribution of resources; promotion of economic growth and opportunity; aid made conditional on structural reform.

Legal. Building effective and non-corrupt judicial and police systems; formal protection of minority rights; establishment of local human rights commissions.

Military. Reform, professionalisation and civilian control of the military; encourage adherence to arms control and disarmament regimes.

Direct Measures

Political/Diplomatic. Fact finding missions; dialogue and mediation; international appeals - from subtle and encouraging to 'naming and shaming'; threat of political sanctions - diplomatic isolation, suspension of organisation membership; targeted personal sanctions - visas, bank accounts ; non-official 'second track' dialogue and problem-solving workshops.

Economic. Threat of trade and financial sanctions; withdrawal of investment; threat of withdrawal of IMF or World Bank support; aid curtailment.

Legal. Mediation; arbitration; adjudication; threat of application of international criminal process.

Military. Preventive deployment; threat of use of military force.

This list still only scratches the surface of discussing the range of options available - not only at the stage of preventing the initial outbreak of conflict, but also at the later stages of preventing its escalation and preventing its recurrence, bearing in mind that in these later stages of prevention, many of the techniques available are indistinguishable from those involved in conflict resolution.

The question on which I do feel it is worth spending a little more time on here - both because it is so important and because it is so often sped over - is the third condition for effective conflict prevention, the mobilisation of political will.

Mobilising Political Will

The difficulty with most discussions of political will is that we spend more time lamenting its absence than analysing what it means. We tend to talk about it as a single missing ingredient - the gelatine without which the dish won’t set.

The trouble with this metaphor or any other way of thinking about “political will” as a single, simple factor in the equation is that it understates the sheer complexity of what is involved. To mobilize political will doesn’t mean just finding that elusive packet of gelatine, but rather working your way through a whole cupboard-full of further ingredients. What then are those ingredients?

Institutional Measures. In the first place, some of them are institutional. There is a great deal to be said, in any organisational setting, to have some organisation - i.e. in this context, some institutionalisation and routinisation of prevention, someone or some group within the system whose responsibility it is to think about prevention, and devise and recommend up the decision-making food chain appropriate policy responses. Another way of putting it is in terms of deliberately trying to build, through more focused arrangements of this kind, a "culture of prevention" .There have been some encouraging recent developments of this kind in a number of foreign affairs and development bureaucracies, including in Britain.

More substantial organisational innovations are possible, for example the possible regional preventive diplomacy centres I spoke about at the outset. Probably the most successful example of the approach of creating a new organisation on the principle that there is thereby a better chance of its functions being employed, has been the OSCE's appointment of a High Commissioner on National Minorities. Max Van der Stoel's full time application over many years to the task of devising and encouraging preventive measures to stop ethnic communities tearing at each other's throats in many parts of Europe has been hugely more effective than a series of case-by-case diplomatic excursions is likely to have been.

If you are going to get things happening in political and governmental systems, overcoming the inbuilt inertia which seems to inflict them all, the other crucial institutional element is some decision-forcing mechanism - something to bring the issue to the top of the decision-maker's in-tray. In the case of conflict prevention, there is nothing as readily implementable as for example the agenda forcing associated with the annual budget process, though regularly timetabled report and review sessions can work with the occasional idiosyncratic minister who happens to possess a disciplined cast of mind.

The best attention getter and decision forcer, apart from a real crisis itself, is likely to be media attention - and it is always a prime objective of those outside government, including NGOs, to concentrate decision making minds in this way.

The Right Arguments for the Right People. Institutional innovations will only take you so far in mobilising the political will to get something actually done about prevention. From my own experience both in government and beating on the doors of government, you just have to recognise that there are key individuals at or near the top of the food chains, and you have to at the end of the day find good arguments that will appeal to them. The well-equipped political- will- mobiliser needs to be equipped, as I see it, with five different kinds of argument in favour of preventive action.

Moral Argument. However base and self-interested their actual motives may be, governments always like to be seen - - both internally and internationally - - as acting from higher motives. Preventing human suffering, and all the catastrophic loss and misery associated with deadly conflict, can act as both an inspiring and a legitimising motive in almost any political context. Getting this moral motive to bite means, however, being able to convey a sense of urgency and reality about the threat to human life involved in a particular situation - - always difficult when there’s no blood or amputees for CNN to film.

Financial Argument. The best financial argument for preventive action is that it is likely to be cheaper, by many orders of magnitude, than responding after the event - whether through military action, humanitarian relief assistance, post- conflict reconstruction, or all three.

This is not a hard argument to establish. For example I tasked my Department after the Gulf War to assess the cost to the allies of waging it, as compared with what the cost would have been in setting up a credible worldwide system of preventive diplomacy centres, staffed by professionals, which might conceivably have averted Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait – still generally acknowledged to be one of history’s best examples of missed opportunities for such diplomacy. The result? Cost of establishing the centres $21 million; material cost to the allies of fighting the war - not to Iraq, and leaving aside any calculation of human cost - $70 billion.

National Interest Argument. Preventive action can often serve a country’s national interests as very narrowly and traditionally defined in security and economic terms. Avoiding the disintegration of a neighbour, with the refugee outflows and general regional security destabilization associated with it can be a compelling motive in many contexts. National economic interests can often be equally well served - by keeping resource supply lines, trade routes and markets undisrupted. Whatever may have been the case in the past, these days peace is generally regarded as much better for business than war.

There is another dimension of the national interest which is highly relevant here. It is what I have been arguing for some years is every country's national interest in being, and being seen to be, a good international citizen. There is a lot of direct reciprocal benefit to be gained in an interdependent, globalised world where nobody can solve all their own problems: my assistance for you today in solving your drugs and terrorism problem might reasonably lead you to be more willing to help solve my environmental problem tomorrow. The interest in being seen to be a good international citizen is simply the reputational benefit that a country can win for itself, over time, by being regularly willing to pitch into international tasks for motives that appear to be relatively self-less.

Domestic Politics Argument. Making an argument that will address domestic political concerns is a subtler business than just calculating what the majority reaction will be. Governments - even those directly dependent for their support on the ballot box - often do things without knowing what is the majority view, and even when they know that the majority sentiment might be against the proposed action. What matters more is that they have arguments that will appeal to, or at least not alienate, their own political support base; and that they have arguments that they can use to deflate, or at least defend against, the attacks of their political opponents.

A good deal of the political debate, when it comes to preventive measures, is really shadow play, in which it’s enough that the government be seen to be acting competently and credibly. As often as not, there won’t be a majority reaction to have to take into account, and if there is one, it will be muted. This is because few issues, when it comes to prevention, are really likely to have strong political salience, in the sense of directly winning or losing a government enough votes to be relevant to its survival.

The kind of arguments a government will find most useful in dealing with its supporters, and its opponents, will largely depend on what kind of government it is. Governments of a left-of-centre persuasion, if there are any these days, will by and large find more comfort with their support base in moral arguments, and in national interest arguments of the good international citizenship variety, while governments of the right have traditionally drawn more comfort from economic and security interest arguments.

Manageability Argument. There is one final kind of argument that it is very helpful to be able to make in advocating any kind of preventive strategy to any kind or colour of government in the world - and that is that the commitment is somehow finite, and won’t be the forerunner for more and more demands: in other words, that it is limited, and manageable.

It’s not always easy to persuasively make this argument. It has to be acknowledged that prevention won’t always be successful - and making an effort at prevention might be seen, reasonably, as implying a commitment to full-scale reactive response if prevention fails, although there will always be separate criteria to be applied, and separate arguments to be had, on that score. Certainly in the case of deterrent prevention by use of military threats, credibility can only be maintained if there is an absolute willingness to follow it through.

One of the biggest fears that all governments have is the fear of precedent: that having been drawn into a preventive response in this situation, what’s to stop the country being drawn into a never-ending and ever-expanding set of such responses, in a world where conflict, and the threat of conflict, seem to be forever growing.

The best possible argument to be able to make in response to this fear is that which is suggested by the work of Ted Robert Gurr and his team at the University of Maryland - viz. that notwithstanding appearances, conflict not only between states but within states is declining, and there is every reason to believe that this trend will continue. In their just-published survey, Peace and Conflict 2001,4 which is formidably detailed and meticulous, they conclude that while serious armed violence obviously persists in a number of parts of the world "the turbulence that accompanied the end of the Cold War was largely contained by the end of 2000", and that the "number and magnitude of armed conflicts within and among states have lessened since the early 1990s by nearly half". This is extremely comforting for governments - and extremely useful as a result for those advocating higher government action profiles in the conflict potential areas that do remain.

Generally, I don’t think there is any reason for particular despair on the subject of political will. It is always going to be difficult to mobilise for the preventive causes we care about, but it’s not impossible. But there is a lesson here especially for NGOs - that we have to work much harder at advocacy than we have been, and adopt a much more extensive repertoire of arguments, and much more carefully targeted arguments, than we have been in the habit of doing.

The Role of NGOs - and the International Crisis Group

This is not the occasion to be waxing either lyrical or indignant about the growing place of non-governmental organisations in international affairs.5 It's sufficient to say that the last time someone tried to count, for the Global Governance report in 1995, there were 29 000 of us operating internationally, and a lot more have been created since; that NGOs operate in as many different areas as life itself and defy easy classification that we are no longer as easy to ignore as we used to be; and that by and large governments and intergovernmental organisations are seeing increasing virtue and utility in drawing upon the skills and experience that a great many NGOs can offer.

In the peace, security and human rights band of the spectrum, in which my own organisation , the International Crisis Group, is located, if one leaves aside the aid and humanitarian relief organisations (whose work does quite often overlap what the others of us are doing), the most active, prominent and useful NGOs generally concentrate on one or other of three quite distinct kinds of activity, viz, thinking, talking or doing.

The 'thinking' NGOs are by and large the research institutes and think tanks, whose product is books and papers, and who engage in data gathering, idea generating, network building, paper publishing and conference organising. Their rationale tends to be contributing to the ideas pool and general debate, though some are more sharply focused.

The 'talking' or advocacy NGOs - for example Asia Watch and Amnesty - engage in research and analysis, but their primary emphasis is on spotlighting governmental abuses and engaging in tom-tom beating advocacy accordingly.

The 'doing' NGOs - and Search for Common Ground, International Alert and the Community of San Egidio are examples - tend to focus on field operations which bring people together, build confidence, and mediate disputes; they also tend to be much involved in improving governance through training and general capacity building programs.

My own organisation is something of a unique hybrid, but I think a good example of what NGOs can and should be doing to help the cause of conflict prevention. ICG concentrates essentially on conflict prevention and containment rather than on conflict resolution or peace building more generally; and, while being very much field based, engages in research, analysis and advocacy - ie. thinking and talking - rather than operationally doing things.

The group was formed in 1995 by a group of prominent internationalists and foreign policy specialists who wanted to create a wholly independent new organisation which might be capable of injecting - through high quality analysis, policy prescription and advocacy - a little more substance and responsiveness into the international conflict prevention effort.

ICG now has a team of 55 worldwide, with field operations in Africa, Asia and the Balkans and advocacy offices in Brussels (the headquarters),Washington, New York and Paris;and a budget of $6million with funding coming 40 per cent from sixteen governments, 44 per cent from major foundations and 16 per cent from individuals. Last year we produced and distributed in printed form and electronically, to many thousands of recipients, 49 reports and briefing papers on the prevention or containment of conflict in eighteen countries; and had in the last twelve months seven million hits on and half a million visitors to our website, www.crisisweb.org .

Measuring the impact and effectiveness of an organisation like ours is extremely difficult. You can measure a whole lot of easily measurable things - which will give you a picture of the level of output, of activity, of media exposure, of website access, of the number of supportive letters and comments from Foreign Ministers, or of the increase or decrease in funding support which all this is generating.

You can measure the extent to which your policy recommendations bear fruit, in the sense of being implemented by someone, somewhere at some time, wholly or in part, but that exercise has its limitations. We make hundreds of recommendations in the course of a year, ranging from the very narrowly focused - eg. local government administration in Mitrovica or Mostar - and others much larger, eg. a security guarantee for Montenegro or a resetting of peace priorities in Central Africa. Many of them are implemented, but there is always the difficulty of establishing a cause and effect relationship when they are; and when they are not, there are often other good explanations than that they were wrong-headed, for example that they were overtaken by events, or were seen as right but not yet timely, or affordable.

About the only personal contribution I think I can completely confidently claim to have made to the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic last year, despite all my innumerable face to face meetings and speeches and print and electronic media excursions on the Balkans, was acknowledged in this letter I received in November after addressing an Institute for International Mediation and Conflict Resolution (IIMCR) seminar in the Hague a few weeks earlier:

One of our female students from Belgrade was particularly energised by your talk. As a leading member of Otpor, she served as the go-between in getting the gentleman to drive his construction crane into the parliament building.

There's no doubt that you need a certain masochistic streak to get involved in the conflict prevention and containment business. Because the blood isn't yet running in the streets the media don't find it nearly as fascinating as conflict resolution, and the attention of decision makers is hard to grab. The most frustrating thing of all is that when a government or an intergovernmental body, urged on by NGOs like mine, does actually put together a conflict prevention or containment strategy which triumphantly succeeds, so that instead of the feared violence nothing at all happens, then you can be absolutely certain that nobody will notice. And of course for a politician, to perform good works without anyone actually noticing is like having a tooth pulled without anaesthetic.

The frustrations notwithstanding, this is a deeply satisfying business to be in. Nothing is worse to contemplate - against the background of all the horror that has been wrought this last century, and all the avoidable horror of the last ten years - than the thought of the pain and terror and misery that lies ahead for so many men, women and children if we fail yet again to prevent what is preventable, and deadly conflict again breaks out. To play a part, however small, in making that horror just a little less likely, is to be as richly rewarded as one could ever be.