Stabilisation Research Initiative

Over the past years, developments in the broader MENA region have emphasised the need to tackle the challenges of peacemaking and stabilisation efforts across the full conflict management cycle (from prevention to resolution).

A consensus has formed among governments, donors, development agencies and scholars alike, that, to be sustainable, any stabilisation programming needs an integrated, comprehensive approach. This means making use of the full spectrum of instruments of national power, thereby bringing together the dimensions of military stabilisation and security, with humanitarian and development objectives, economic recovery, good governance and justice and reconciliation.

With its Stabilisation Research Initiative (SRI), Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy aims at increasing understanding of various aspects of stabilisation and conflict-resolution and at adding value to the broader debate on peace, stabilisation and conflict resolution efforts in the region.


  • Mar 2020 + AGDA Working Paper

    The Practice and Theory of Stabilisation in the Arab Gulf States

    Dr Timo Behr

    This Working paper seeks to come to a better understanding of the practice of stabilisation amongst Arab Gulf States, as well as the theories that inform their vision of stability, while recognising the significant differences in their approaches. In order to do so, the paper traces the way that Arab Gulf States have sought to promote regional stability over time, identifying a clear shift from a narrow reliance on bilateral assistance as a tool to foster limited foreign policy goals, towards a more comprehensive and ambitious crisis management approach that effectively combines a broad spectrum of hard and soft power tools to reach more ambitious objectives.

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    A Diplomatic Perspective on Stabilisation Jan 2020 H.E. Bernardino León Gross View More
    Jan 2020 + Working Paper

    A Diplomatic Perspective on Stabilisation

    H.E. Bernardino León Gross

    This AGDA Working Paper looks at the role of diplomacy in contemporary stabilisation missions. It highlights the need for diplomacy to occupy a central place in the debate on the future of stabilisation. The paper is divided into three sections. The first section describes the need for diplomacy at a macro level to reach viable parameters for stabilisation. The second section posits the reflection from the MENA region perspective. Finally, the paper presents some thoughts on the experience of Libya as an essentially diplomatic process of stabilisation, which was strongly indigenous in nature.

  • Sep 2019 + AGDA Working Paper

    The Evolution of the Regional Security Complex in the MENA Region

    Dr Christian Koch

    This AGDA working paper looks at the geopolitical changes that have taken place in the MENA region over the past decade with an emphasis on the consequences for established actors and the new opportunities arising for new actors to establish themselves within the existing geopolitical spaces. Three factors can be identified as critical in terms of understanding the current transition. First is the fear of domestic uprisings or disturbances. Second is the growing concern among the Arab states of the MENA region of an expanding Iranian power especially through the use of non-state actors and proxy forces. Third is the fear of US abandonment or re-orientation. All three factors come together to present a different picture of the MENA region than in recent history.

  • Sep 2019 + AGDA Working paper

    Global Tipping Point? Stabilisation in Afghanistan Since 2001

    Dr Mark Sedra

    In many ways the international intervention in Afghanistan represents a tipping point in global thinking on externally-supported stabilisation processes in conflict-affected and fragile states. The Afghanistan stabilisation and state-building project has struggled to achieve sustainable change. In fact, the intervention has had the perverse effect of exacerbating instability and creating new conflict faultlines in some areas. While the stabilisation concept is not without flaws, this paper argues that it was the lack of appropriate preconditions for stabilisation activities coupled with poor implementation that undermined its application. The AGDA Working paper draws six primary lessons from the Afghan stabilisation experience with the potential to inform more effective programmes in comparable contexts.

  • Jan 2019 + AGDA Working Paper

    Urban Warfare: Stabilisation of Cities

    Virginia Comolli

    The aim of this AGDA working paper is to inform the reader about the specificity and challenges of stabilisation efforts in cities. In doing so, the paper first provides a broader overview of key demographic and urbanisation trends before introducing the subject of urban conflict and approaches to deal with it from both a security and humanitarian perspective. The discussion relies on lessons learnt from past conflict and post-conflict situations, with a specific focus on Middle East-specific examples.

  • Jan 2019 + Working Paper

    Non-State Armed Actors and Transitions from Conflict to Peace: Lessons from Peace Processes and Implications for Stabilisation.

    Dr Ed Marques and Sylvia Rognvik

    This paper looks at ways we can constructively engage with Non-State Armed Actors (NSAAs) in peace processes, and what are the implications of such engagement for international stabilisation efforts in the Middle East and North Africa. It first describes the characteristics of NSAAs in the MENA region and then discusses the various roles NSAAs can play in decentralised states. It finally analyses the complicated relationship between NSAAs and peace processes, drawing some lessons learned from various experiences.

  • Dec 2018 + Working paper

    The Soldier and the Curator: The Challenges of Defending Cultural Property in Conflict Areas’ December 2018

    Dr Jean-Loup Samaan and Jean-Gabriel Leturcq

    This AGDA Working Paper aims to bring to light the numerous initiatives of international actors to defend cultural property before, during or after conflicts. The paper starts by retracing the issue of protecting cultural property in times of war in modern history. It then analyses recent developments, in particular the creation in 2017 of an International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas. Finally, the paper highlights some of the most significant issues policy-makers will need to address in the near future, including the uncertainties regarding the legal framework relating to ongoing conflicts.

  • Nov 2018 + Working Paper

    Competing for Justice: Transitional Justice and Stabilisation in the Middle East/North Africa

    Dr Zinaida Miller

    This AGDA Working Paper identifies factors that shape the potential for transitional justice in the MENA region to reinforce stability, foment change, and allocate power. Rather than focusing on a single case study, it references salient characteristics and challenges raised by different national and regional situations. The paper is structured around four categories: (1) the choice and design of mechanisms; (2) the conditions of transition; (3) the inclusion of economic factors; and (4) the role of memory, history, and reconciliation.

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    Stabilisation and Peacebuilding Efforts Since the 1990s Oct 2018 Dr Jonathan Fisher and Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert. View More
    Oct 2018 + AGDA Working Paper

    Stabilisation and Peacebuilding Efforts Since the 1990s

    Dr Jonathan Fisher and Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert.

    Stabilisation has increasingly become the central guiding rationale behind international interventions in situations of conflict and peacebuilding. It has also become a core policy discourse used to articulate and describe both the content and ambitions of such interventions. This AGDA Working Paper explores what has been the nature of stabilisation missions since the end of the Cold War. It compares three case studies (Uganda in the 1990s, Haiti in the 2000s and South Sudan since the mid-2000s) that have been on the recipient end of stabilisation practices.

  • Oct 2018 + Working paper

    Contemporary Approaches to International Stabilisation Efforts

    Dr Victor Gervais

    This AGDA Working Paper looks at a variety of relevant international attempts to build the conceptual and institutional toolkit for stabilisation activities. It first provides an overview of what makes stabilisation distinctive from competing concepts and practices, and then reviews a range of institutional models and bureaucratic mechanisms developed in various Euro-Atlantic countries with experience leading stabilisation responses. Along the way, the paper lays out priorities, options and ways forward that together could support ongoing attempts by new actors involved in stabilisation efforts, in particular in the MENA region, to develop their own conception of stabilisation and build the instruments they need to build state resilience and promote peace and security across the region.

  • May 2018 + AGDA Working Paper

    Yemen: Immediate-To-Short Term Actions to Improve the Humanitarian Situation

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    This AGDA Working Paper looks into ways to improve the humanitarian situation in Yemen in the immediate to short term. The focus is on finding solutions in four areas: the increase in food insecurity, the disruption of basic services, the spread of communicable diseases and the needs of those that are internally displaced. It argues for solutions with regard to access and distribution of vital goods throughout Yemen, stabilisation of Yemen’s financial system and ensuring indiscriminate basic service provision and for scaling up assistance and living up to aid pledges.

  • Apr 2018 + AGDA Working Paper

    Consolidating the Iraqi State: Challenges and Opportunities

    Dr Victor Gervais

    Iraq stands at a pivotal moment - once again. The military defeat of Daesh represents a renewed opportunity to reorient the country's trajectory towards long-term stability and economic prosperity. While the task of rebuilding areas liberated from Daesh will require sustained efforts in the coming years, the Iraqi elites must also ensure that problems of a deeper structural nature will be tackled. Without this, the military success again Daesh will soon vanish; This working Paper analyses the broad structural challenges facing the Iraqi state, along with possible solutions, in order to establish clearer priorities and options for dealing with them. In particular, three key elements of structural fragility are identified in three dimensions of the state's capacity and sustainability.

  • Apr 2018 + AGDA Working Paper

    Stabilisation in the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa: Different Dimensions of an Elusive Concept

    Dr Saskia van Genugten

    Politicians and commentators commonly talk of the need for ‘stability’ and ‘stabilisation’ when referring to the current situation in the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Indeed, stabilisation is what the broader MENA region seems to be in desperate need of, but a lack of consensus around what stability entails and how to get there, might keep fueling instability instead. This paper is a first of a series that will be published as part of the AGDA’s Stabilisation Research Initiative (SRI), led by AGDA faculty members dr. Saskia van Genugten and dr. Victor Gervais. In this framing paper, the author offers an initial exploration of the different dimensions of stabilisation as can be found in the existing literature, thereby combining current ideas, approaches and lessons identified by practitioners and academics alike. Along the way, the paper identifies common challenges and areas for further exploration within the AGDA’s research initiative.