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It has long been accepted that prevention is better than cure; that preventing conflict is more cost-effective than responding to a situation after the event. This is true in terms of the cost in human lives as well as of the rebuilding of devastated countries, regions and economies when conflict ends.

Soldiers from Eastern Europe and the UK share international peacekeeping duties in Kabul
© Crown Copyright

Soldiers from Eastern Europe and the UK share international peacekeeping duties in Kabul

The UK is committed to preventing violent conflict from emerging or re-emerging, helping to resolve conflicts that exist and to building peace in fragile post-conflict situations. Many of today's conflicts are within states rather than between them; and the poorest countries are amongst the worst affected. The root causes are often complex and vary from conflict to conflict, but may include discrimination, denial of rights and poverty; and the risks are heightened where security forces are not subject to proper discipline or civilian control, and where there is ready access to weapons. UK armed forces are involved in Peace Support Operations around the world providing the benign conditions that allow peace and security initiatives to flourish and which allow these causes of conflict to be tackled.

There is clearly a limit to what an individual state can achieve on its own. Effective conflict prevention and resolution needs a concerted effort by the international community as a whole, and there is an increasing awareness of the need for a greater emphasis on preventative action.

The UK is working with international partners to push conflict prevention up the international agenda. The UK is also providing support to stable democracies to encourage support for and participation in international peace support operations.

The UN has a key role in conflict prevention and the UK is committed to reinforcing this role in preventing and resolving conflicts around the world. The Government welcomes the Secretary-General's efforts to create a 'culture of prevention' within the UN Secretariat by enhancing its early warning capacity and its ability to identify early opportunities for preventative action. The UK has supported the actions of the UN to secure international agreement on conflict prevention issues.

The UK attaches great importance to the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The UK is now focused on implementing the provisions of SCR1325, ensuring that the necessary mechanisms are in place for monitoring its implementation and raising awareness of SCR 1325. Details of how the UK is supporting the implementation of SCR 1325 are available in PDF format, from the UN website.

This is an external link UN: SCR 1325

The UK Government's Conflict Prevention Activities

In 2001 following a series of cross-cutting reviews to improve the UK Government's approach to and effectiveness of conflict prevention activity across departments, two conflict prevention 'pools' were created. These brought together the knowledge, skills and resources of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Department for International Development (DfID). Initially, each department put in funds from their own budget, with the Treasury providing additional resources. Today the Pools bid for money alongside their parent departments in each Governmental Spending Round. There are two Pools: one for sub-Saharan Africa (the Africa Pool, chaired by the Secretary of State for International Development) and one for the rest of the world (the Global Pool, chaired by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs). The Pools have a unique funding arrangement specifically voted by parliament for conflict prevention and reduction. For 2004/05 the allocation for the Africa Pool is £60 m (rising to £67.5 m by 2007/08) and for the Global Pool is £74 m per annum. These figures relate to programme costs not administration. The Pools also finance peacekeeping and other operations, which are funded annually by Parliament in accordance with expenditure forecasts.

Public Destruction of firearms organised by the Rio de Janeiro state government, the Brazilian army and the anti-violence NGO Viva Rio.

Public Destruction of firearms organised by the Rio de Janeiro state government, the Brazilian army and the anti-violence NGO Viva Rio.

The UK government strongly believes that through a process of team-working across these departments (FCO, MoD and DfID), from policy formulation to programme delivery, a more strategic and cost effective approach to conflict reduction can be realised. Activities of the Pools seek to harness the expertise available within these government departments across a wide range of sectors including development, security reform, public administration, good policing and equitable justice systems.

The text of a paper 'The Causes of Conflict in Africa' can be found on the web site of the Department for International Development. DFID: Africa.

Find out more on the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool:

PDF Africa Pool  (PDF, 99K)

When the Global Pool was established in April 2001 Ministers agreed strategies for eight priority areas, four geographical and four functional. It is a testament to the flexibility of the forward-looking nature of the Pool system that since its inception priorities have changed. Some strategies have been removed and others have been added. The addition of strategy for Iraq in August 2003, and the formation of the joint Latin American, Caribbean and Belize/Guatemala strategy in August 2004 brings the number of strategies for 2004/05 to 14 (11 geographical and 3 functional).

The geographical areas are:

  • Balkans
  • Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
  • Afghanistan
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • Central and Eastern Europe
  • Indonesia and East Timor
  • India and Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Nepal
  • Latin America (including Belize and Guatemala) and, Caribbean
  • Iraq
The functional strategies are:

  • United Nations (UN)
  • Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)
  • Security Sector Reform (SSR)


The Global Pool also funds Afghan Counter Narcotics activities.

Short summaries of the strategies can be viewed by clicking on the links on the top left of this page.

The Conflict Prevention Pools (CPPs) are already being recognised as contributing significantly to an improvement in the UK's conflict prevention activities and as a model for others to consider. A major external evaluation of the two CPPs in 03-04 concluded that the CPPs are funding worthwhile activities that make positive contributions to effective conflict prevention, and that the progress achieved through the CPP mechanisms is significant enough to justify to justify their continuation. They also considered that the Pools were demonstrating increasingly joined up working between the 3 pool departments.

In September 2003 a booklet detailing the first two years of operation of the Global Pool was published. It includes detailed sections on all the strategies which operated during this time. To view the text of the following documents, click on the links below:

This is a PDF file The Global Conflict Prevention Pool: A joint UK Government approach to reducing conflict  (PDF, 1419KB)

PDF Evaluation of the Conflict Prevention Pools  (PDF, 83K)

PDF Evaluation of the Conflict Prevention Pools: UK Government Response, July 2004  (PDF, 100K)

This is an external link DFID website: Evaluation of Conflict Prevention Pools - Reports and Summaries


To find out more about conflict prevention contact:

Conflict Prevention Team
Conflict Issues Group
International Security Directorate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH
Tel: 020 7008 2491
Fax: 020 7008 3910

You can also send an e-mail to: Global.Pool.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk
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