Assessing Conflict Transformation and Stabilization

USIP is helping develop metrics for measuring progress in reconstruction and stabilization operations. This effort is a partnership between USIP, the U.S. State Department (Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization), the Fund for Peace, the U.S. Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, and US Army Corps of Engineers.

All too often, lofty and politically attractive goals have been proclaimed for peace and stability operations that are then rendered unattainable by unrealistic assessments of the underlying sources of conflict, unreasonable timeframes, inadequate resources, and constrained authorities. To bring goals and resources into better balance and to provide feedback on the efficacy of strategies being implemented, policy makers require an objective system of metrics that will enable them to take stock of the magnitude of the challenges before intervening and to continuously track the progress of their efforts toward stabilization.

In 2005, a Working Group on Measuring Progress in Reconstruction and Stabilization that resulted in a Special Report establishing a framework for measures of progress. This framework conforms to the strategy for conflict transformation developed in The Quest for Viable Peace and addresses the five end states of the “Framework for Success for Societies Emerging from Conflict.”

Working in collaboration with the US Army Corps of Engineers, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and PKSOI, we completed drafting the framework for Measuring Progress in Conflict Environments (MPICE) and a User’s Handbook in February 2008. The MPICE framework was used at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and the Army War College (AWC). At FSI, classes in the Integrated Conflict Analysis Framework (ICAF) are part of courses that aim to build an interagency community of professionals trained to participate in reconstruction and stabilization operations. ICAF incorporates USIP’s conflict transformation framework, which tracks drivers of conflict and institutional performance. At the AWC, a recent workshop used USIP’s measurement framework for a hypothetical scenario on Chad.

Dennis Skocz, a specialist on strategic planning and professional development, lauded the USIP framework. "The concepts are clear, intuitive, and flexible. Aspects of a conflict that might be ignored using a stove-piped approach to lining up tasks come out through the analysis, allowing for a holistic response to situations that typically involve many 'moving pieces,'" he said. "As for the metric framework, it's an idea whose time has clearly come. It combines the sophistication that comes from almost two years of development along with a foundation in the conflict analysis that USIP has pioneered."

The MPICE framework was approved by the Reconstruction and Stabilization Policy Coordinating Committee in July. The initial field application of the MPICE framework took place in mid 2008 in support of the Haiti Stabilization Initiative (HSI) in the formerly gang-infested Port au Prince slum of Cite Soleil.

USIP is currently working on publishing the Metrics Framework and Handbook and supporting the operational application of the MPICE Framework.  A current copy of the Framework is available on the "Resources and Tools" tab of this page.

The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s).