Transitions from the politics of violence to democratic compromise are always messy’ --- Timothy Garton Ash

Transitions between conflict and peace are complicated and open-ended processes, the consequences of which may be positive, negative or some unsettling mixture of the two. Such transitions are often conceived as linear, with transition occurring smoothly and predictably, but they are rarely so. Transitions are ongoing, emergent, and unpredictable. Such ongoing transitions, such as those related to climate change, natural resources availability, demographic change, and migration, have a direct and volatile impact on institutions, societies, cultures and individuals. Impacts that bear a dual potential, to either give rise to a great amount of future conflict or to lay the foundations for sustainable peace.

Social science-led research with a far-reaching and interdisciplinary focus is needed to study and understand such transitions as a site for conflict or peace. Such research can provide decision makers and the public with the knowledge to help plan for and deal with the ramifications of such transitions both in the present and the future. It is the mission of the Institute for Conflict, Transition and Peace Research (ICTPR), based at the University of Aberdeen, to provide this understanding.

The ICTPR will, therefore, focus not only on conflict and on peace, but on the dynamics of transition, the complex interconnections between varying kinds of transitions across societies and geographical spaces, and the potentially disruptive or peaceful effects of transition on individuals, civil institutions and the natural environment. The aim is to develop in-depth theoretical and empirical understandings of the causes and consequences of transition to advance our knowledge of both the emergence and resolution of conflict and the conditions necessary for the promotion and maintenance of peace. By focusing on the problems faced by states, institutions and individuals as they cope with periods of transition and uncertainty, ICTPR will be at the vanguard of research on the evolving issues of global change and its bearing on future security needs.

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