Chapter 9: FCE’s Early Warning System and Applicability to Other Countries

The 9th and final chapter of the FCE book on Third Generation Early Warning was co-authored by Kumar Rupesinghe and Tadakazu Kanno. This is an important chapter that seeks to draw on the lessons learned from the Sri Lanka experience to outline how a similar approach might be taken in other countries.

As the authors note, the Third Generation approach is particularly applicable at containing inter-communal violence. It is also very refreshing to read that the authors include a section on the weaknesses of FCE’s EW/ER system. It would be great to see other initiatives do the same.

Rupesinghe and Kanno write that “if there is no will for peace, the FCE-type Early Warning/Early Response cannot work effectively” and that the “cessation of violence is subject to the will of [paramilitary groups].” This is why I have been advocating for a tactical approach to conflict early warning and response; one that leverages the tactics of strategic nonviolent action and digital activism.

The authors also include a helpful section on “Criteria for the Application of FCE EW/ER System.” This section includes pointers on necessary conditions (e.g., inter-communal conflict) and subordinate conditions (e.g., causes of conflict are grievances). Another very helpful section of the chapter outlines how the FCE approach could be applied in specific countries such as Pakistan and Kenya.

In conclusion, Rupesinghe and Kanno write that FCE’s Early Warning/Early Response system “will contribute to saving a number of precious lives in conflict areas.” This is the last sentence of the entire book and a very important one. To be sure, the saving of lives should be the ultimate indicator of success and it is important that we apply rigorous monitoring and evaluation frameworks to assess whether we have any impact on this important indicator.

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