Gerrit Kurtz

King’s College London

Gerrit Kurtz
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The Role of Frontline Diplomats in the Prevention of Civil Wars

An increasing number of governments include the prevention of violent intra-state conflicts in their foreign and security policy. Yet, early preventive action creates an inherent challenge for frontline diplomats, i.e. members of the foreign policy architecture posted in missions abroad. As an essentially political objective, conflict prevention relates to core governance issues such as rule of law, social inclusion or civil-military relations. How do foreign diplomats, that are supposed to refrain from interfering in another country’s domestic affairs, manage this challenge? Which practices do frontline diplomats and national elites view as effective in conflict prevention? The research project investigates contemporary practices of preventive diplomacy on the ground. Based on field research and in-depth interviews with members of the diplomatic community as well as national elites in the country concerned, it elucidates common practices in raising sensitive political issues and differences between countries. It studies three areas of preventive action: field-capital relations (knowledge production, analysis and policy advice), international coordination between different actors on the ground, and engagement with local elites in government and society.