Model may help prevent conflict

A forecasting model developed by University of Otago researchers to predict where atrocities might occur could be used to prevent future conflicts.

The model, which uses determining factors such as political instability and neighbouring state conflicts, has gained international attention after presentations in Washington DC, Berlin, Paris, and Canberra.

Otago University National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies researcher Dr Charles Butcher said the ''Atrocity Forecasting Project'' predicted atrocities now happening in the Central African Republic.

The model placed the country at the top of its list for at-risk states for genocide/politicide for the period 2011-15. The model could be used for predicting genocide and could help prevent instances of mass violence, Dr Butcher said.

''One of our primary aims was to provide policy-makers with an early-warning system that complemented shorter-term monitoring and peace-building efforts,'' he said.

The Genocide Model

The Peace and Conflict Studies' model at the UoO seems like a waste of time to me. It is designed to predict outbreaks of violence and prevent genocide. Apparently it predicted the Muslim vs Christian genocide in C.A.R., but I don't see this as a difficult test.

However, even if it can predict conflict, in general few or no countries are prepared to interfere. And the ones that do step in, often do so, not because they are morally pure peace-nicks, but because they have something to gain. So the question is: when the big red light starts flashing, who are you going to call? And whoever does the job, there seems to be a reasonable chance that they will make things even worse. We have seen in Syria the UK and US and others deliberately create a holocaust by secretly and overtly supplying weapons and equipment to opposition groups. The western powers have thereby created a balance of power that is continuing to cause many civilian deaths. They are also supporting the wrong side. Will you trust governments like that to do what is right? The NZ Government also seems to support the Syrian genocide.

There are times when a fast victory will save lives, but this is not the method of the UN. Politics often interferes with good decision-making of governments and this is true of the UN also. Apart from the risk of a wrong decision, the UN is often paralysed into inaction or so slow that all it can do is bury the bodies and have a few meetings.

The Otago University peace researchers should not expect to save lives until it actually happens. It seems like there are some gaps in their plan. Also their computer model is a waste of time if Foreign Affairs experts can do more accurate and timely predictions. I am not yet convinced that the Otago University National Center for Peace and Conflict Studies has any useful purpose.