‘Conflict early warning and response’ (EWR) was conceived as a means of preventing violent conflict in order to protect people’s life. The purpose of this research paper is to present a systematic overview of existing key EWR mechanisms and to analyse whether, to what extent, and under what conditions these mechanisms might be a useful peace and security promotion tool for regional organisations.
This report first takes stock of early warning research. It compares and categorises the most advanced early warning systems in their achievements and shortcomings and assesses what they have to offer to policy makers. In the following section, it undertakes a comparative case study of five regional/sub-regional organisations. Several regional and sub-regional organisations have established, or are building up, EWR mechanisms. In Africa, we will focus on the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), an intelligence-gathering and analysis centre of the African Union; the Conflict Early Warning Response Mechanism (CEWARN) of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa (IGAD); and the West Africa Early Warning Network (WARN) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). As contrasting examples, we will analyse and discuss why such EWR mechanisms have not been established in Asia and Oceania by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its Regional Forum, and the Pacific Island Forum (PIF); and how far this had impacted on the organisations’ ability to react to upcoming crises. The final section aims at finding answers to the question of whether an EWR mechanism can be considered a useful tool and spells out policy implications for how regional organisations could capitalise on this.
Working Paper No. 49 (series 2), London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 52 pp.