While the current COVID-19 pandemic and related economic, social, and other crisis have led to much misinformation, confusion, and some false hopes based on faulty or incomplete research, there is a silver lining and some good news. This moment is moving more people to be aware of the need for scientific research: this is certainly true with respect to medicine, but we also need scientific research into the long-term prevention of the factors contributing to social stigmatization, and into the link between stress and violence associated with global crises. This is where IPRA and its membership can step in. There are no quick fixes, and surely some systemic changes will need to be made in order to achieve lasting global solutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this painfully clear.
Investing money now to develop COVID-19 “cures” — through scientifically conducted studies — is the first step toward addressing the question: “What sort of a world should we be preparing for and building towards?” But we need a world that not only has a vaccine for COVID-19, but one in which we cure and heal from the other diseases and evils of our times. As a scientifically-minded organization, which has the word “research” in its title, this is an ideal time for IPRA, through its membership, to articulate and fight for the new world that must emerge amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. And we will share our research and visions when we gather for the next IPRA conference.
It is in this context that we continue to prepare for our 28th Biennial International Peace Research Association conference, which is themed “Peace Technology: Positioning Fourth Industrial Revolution and Emerging Technologies in Fostering Global Peace.” The conference will be hosted by the Multimedia University of Kenya and held in Nairobi from the Jan. 11-15, 2021. Since the establishment of IPRA in 1964, this shall be the first gathering of our global network of peace researchers to take place in the East Africa region, and the third of its kind to take place on the continent of Africa (following 1998’s gathering in Durban, South Africa and 2016’s in Freetown, Sierra Leone).
The conference is expected to attract participants from diverse academic circles, from practitioners from many disciplines, and from nationally, regionally and internationally renowned stake-holders—coming together to deliberate on issues affecting global security through the use of technology. It offers an excellent platform for researchers, educators and policy-makers to examine past and current approaches to peace, with a view of identifying viable options to addressing emerging global peace challenges, especially in the fields of information, communication and technology.
The event holds great significance for Kenya, as it will be coming prior to the country’s general elections, expected in August 2022. In the past, Kenyan elections have been hotly contested with numerous threats of violence. On the other hand, the country has also played a key role in promoting peace in the region. Kenya continues to execute its duties under the regional and international laws on peacekeeping, in keeping with the United Nations and the African Union.
Thus, the Multimedia University of Kenya and the IPRA Conference Organizing Committee will be monitoring the global outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus, meeting regularly to evaluate the risks and impacts the virus may have on the conference plans. Official announcements will be posted to the conference website, where papers and proposals are being accepted. We encourage all our colleagues to hold those dates and stay in touch.
Founded in 1964 to advance research on the conditions of peace and the causes of war and violence — with five regional associations covering every corner of the planet — the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) is the world’s most established multi-disciplinary professional organization in the field of peace, human rights and conflict studies.
Waging Nonviolence partners with other organizations and publishes their work.