Global Action to Prevent War and Armed Conflict: Mission and Priorities


“In this new century, we must start from the understanding that peace belongs not only to states or peoples, but to each and every member of those communities. The sovereignty of States must no longer be used as a shield for gross violations of human rights. Peace must be made real and tangible in the daily existence of every individual in need. Peace must be sought, above all, because it is the condition for every member of the human family to live a life of dignity and security.” Kofi Annan (2001)

Global Action to Prevent War and Armed Conflict (GAPW) was founded in 1999 as a UN-based, transnational network of civil society, academic and diplomatic partners dedicated to practical measures for reducing levels of global conflict. Our primary objective from the beginning was the removal of institutional and ideological impediments to effectively addressing armed violence, mass atrocities and severe human rights violations at the earliest possible stages.

The heart of our earlier organizational phase was the GAPW “Program Statement,” the first iteration of which was authored by GAPW co-founders Randall Forsberg, Ambassador Jonathan Dean and Saul Mendlovitz. The Program Statement grounded the goal of conflict prevention in specific, integrated phases of policy work and sought to demonstrate how we can move from an international system based on conflict and power relations to one grounded in law and robust multi-lateral institutions.

Over the past ten years, we have refined our strategies and agenda through diverse publications and practices with UN and regional affiliates and, in so doing, expanded our contribution to the development of a broad and comprehensive human security framework.  At the same time, we have highlighted the responsibility to nurture a new generation of leaders in the peace and security field coming from a wide range of national and cultural contexts.

GAPW continually seeks to highlight, integrate and advocate for advances in early warning, conflict prevention, and non-violent conflict resolution; peacekeeping and peacebuilding; Security Council transparency and other trust-building measures; nuclear and conventional disarmament; the implementation of legal, diplomatic and other complementary response capacities to address genocide and other mass atrocities; and efforts to end impunity for rape as an instrument of war and other gross violations of human rights. We collaborate with many regional civil society groups, as well as religious and academic organizations to underscore hopeful local practices and inspire more equitable and transparent engagements with global policy.


Through workshops, publications, direct UN advocacy and other strategies, GAPW has developed the following complementary program goals and priorities with our program partners and advisers. These are goals that both concentrate attention on the structural limitations and issue priorities of the UN, and address significant barriers within individual member states to assuming more leadership towards sustainable global security. Further information on our most recent program activities can be found on our homepage (including our policy blog) as well as on our twitter feed (@globalactionpw).

1. Civilian Protection: We promote full, fair and thoughtful engagement with the Responsibility to Protect norm (RtoP), clarifying and strengthening the UN’s civilian protection mandates, and ensuring more transparent, de-politicized and actionable findings regarding the potential for mass violence. We also promote and assess timely and reliable, civilian and military response capacities, including the proposal for a standing, rapid-response, gender and service-integrated UN Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS). We scrutinize mandates for Protection of Civilians created by the UN Security Council while urging Council members to collaborate more with the rest of the UN system on conflict prevention. Our goal here is to help restore the Council’s primary function of maintaining peace and security rather than always seeking to restore the stability of societies once the peace fails.

2. Disarmament: With key partners, we provide direct monitoring and additional policy guidance to UN officials, governments and diplomatic missions on core disarmament challenges facing the UN, including implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, expansion of Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zones (including to the Middle East), implementation of a robust and trustworthy Arms Trade Treaty, and strengthening the UN’s disarmament infrastructure to better service the UN’s still expanding roster of disarmament-related responsibilities and challenges.

3. Women, Peace and Security: We do our part to help ensure implementation of various Security Council resolutions (1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960) that seek to ensure the full participation of women in peace policies and practices and end impunity for gender-based violence, especially violence used as a strategy by state and non-state actors to intentionally intimidate and suppress women. GAPW works directly with governments and regionally-based civil society organizations to promote security arrangements that can more effectively guarantee the safety of women seeking their rightful places in political and social life.

4. UN Media: We facilitate opportunities for analysis and dialogue on the health of the UN media system, including outreach to working journalists and media experts in diplomatic missions, UN secretariat officials and civil society organizations. This work helps ensure fair and robust coverage of key UN activities, create a proper context for evaluating UN successes and failures, and promote open conversation among diverse media stakeholders. The UN remains a critically important conduit for policy change on issues from climate health to atrocity crime prevention and, thus, we promote coverage that can help improve the UN’s working methods and maintain its institutional legitimacy.