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Workshop Explores Bond Between Economic Recovery and International Stability

Article By: MC2 Kellie Arakawa

Dr. Sophal Ear, an assistant professor from the NPS National Security Affairs Department, leads a group discussion at the CSRS economic recovery workshop. Photo courtesy of Orion Spellman.At the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Stabilization and Reconstruction Studies (CSRS), educational programs explore methods for creating jobs and rebuilding livelihoods in post-conflict environments, highlighting the important role economic recovery serves in maintaining peace and enhancing international security. 

In April, CSRS hosted its second economic recovery workshop for representatives of military, government, non-governmental and international organizations and agencies. The event, “Getting Back to Work: Rebuilding Livelihoods in Post-Conflict Environments,” gave a wide range of participants – many of whom have extensive experience in the economics of post-conflict reconstruction – greater knowledge of the different tools, methods and frameworks for creating jobs and rebuilding livelihoods. 

Dr. Sophal Ear, an assistant professor for the National Security Affairs department, who facilitated the workshop with Dr. Nat Colletta, former manager of the World Bank’s Post-Conflict Reconstruction Unit, believes exploring methods for effective economic recovery is critical to maintaining stability and securing peace in post-conflict countries. 

“Certainly with enough force, you can keep people from killing each other, but you can’t do this forever because you don’t have unlimited resources,” Ear said. “So you have to think about the next step, which is getting people into a normal life where they don’t have to plant IEDs [improvised explosive devices] or become an insurgent to make a living … and the bottom line is that security and public safety, justice and reconciliation, governance and participation, and economic and social progress need to work together,” he explained. 

“Economics doesn’t sound like it’s as important as security, but I think often times it’s overlooked,” Ear continued. “In fact, there’s a recognition now that because it has been overlooked, peace has failed in various parts of the world … they focused too much on one aspect like security or governance, and they didn’t think about the economics of it.” 

Similar in structure to other CSRS learning programs, the four-day seminar consisted of facilitated discussions, participant-led presentations, small group work and case studies. The program also focused heavily on the importance of networking and cross-community collaboration. 

“There were four specific objectives of this program,” Ear stated, “Help participants develop a deeper knowledge of post-conflict economic forces that influence stability, rebuilding livelihoods and job creation; gain familiarity with operational tools for designing livelihood and job creation programs; explore a range of policy approaches to rebuilding livelihoods and promoting job creation and economic recovery in countries emerging from armed conflict; and, enhance their understanding of professional networking among other communities involved in post-conflict reconstruction operations.” Participants from the “Getting Back to Work: Rebuilding Livelihoods in Post-Conflict Environments” workshop gather for a group photo outside the Casa Munras hotel in Monterey, Calif. Photo courtesy of Orion Spellman.

The workshop generated a high level of interest from organizations around the world according to CSRS program coordinator Nick Tomb, with more than 150 applications received for attendance. However, to build a more effective, open learning and networking environment, CSRS had to narrow the number of accepted participants to just 40. 

These select attendees represented a number of organizations and schools, including the U.S. Peace Corps, University of California Berkeley, United Nations, U.S. Army Civil Affairs, and the U.S. State Department. Nine different countries – Colombia, Guatemala, Nigeria, Japan, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Uganda, the U.S. and United Kingdom – were also represented at the workshop. 

Established in September 2004, CSRS provides cross-community learning programs for the U.S. and international armed forces, government civilian agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) involved in international stability and relief efforts. The center hosts a number of workshops each year which explore issues within one of five central themes: maritime and naval issues, health and humanitarian affairs, practitioner skills and tools, economic recovery and institution building / security sector reform. For more information about CSRS and upcoming workshops visit www.csrs-nps.org.

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