Peace research brings calm to chaos

Magnus Elfwendahl
Magnus Elfwendahl

By Magnus Elfwendahl, past governor of District 2350 and a member of the Rotary Club of Uppsala-Carolina, Sweden

Some months ago, I participated in the celebration of 50 years of Peace and Conflict research at Uppsala University in Sweden. During the anniversary symposium some prominent international scholars reflected on big societal challenges and the future of peace and conflict research. Experienced practitioners shared their thoughts on how peace and conflict research can contribute to policy and practical peace work. The keynote speaker, Jamie LeSueur, head of Emergency Operations of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), was a Rotary Peace Fellow during 2013-2015 when training for future peace work at Uppsala University.

In 2020, LeSueur received the university´s prestigious Alumnus of the Year award. Today Jamie is working as a specialist in humanitarian relief and management in disaster and conflict situations, based in Turkey. He is also an excellent ambassador for Rotary´s work to increase the professional capacity in peace work. Jamie acknowledges the importance of his academic research training. This training skill is now helping him during assignments.

Rotary Peace Fellow alum Jamie LeSueur on assignment in South Sudan. Photo by Corrie Butler IFRC

Requests for international help in connection with disasters or crises is leading to a growing number of multi-agency operations. The diversity raises issues on the appropriate management and operational framework in agency collaboration, when individual mandates, views, and approaches easily stonewall the administration of a common problem set. Jamie’s job is to set an operational frame that supports collaboration and decision making in multi-agency emergency operations.

During his assignments around the world, Jamie has found that research data has become a powerful mediation tool when bridging dividing approaches. Putting the widespread problem in the center and letting research be the foundation base for decision-making brings much needed calm to chaos in multi-agency operations.

For Jamie, the Rotary Peace Fellowship opened a window to a better understanding of the world. He is now a resolute peacemaker and experienced professional doing good in the world – just like numerous other Rotary members. He is an excellent example of why we should keep supporting the Rotary Peace Centers program.

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