Peace and Conflict Impact Assessment - PCIA - Advantages and Limitations

  • The application of PCIA in the context of developmental cooperation supports a shift from ‘working around the conflict’ (Ignoring the conflict), to ‘work within the conflict’ (Being aware of the conflict and not influencing conflict dynamics negatively), and finally to ‘work on the conflict’ (Having a positive influence on the conflict).
  • PCIA encourages projects to continuously reflect on the interaction between their own activities and the dynamics of the conflict.
  • Making explicit attempts to “integrate a conflict lens” into a project usually results in assuming common good practices, such as participation, transparency and subsidiarity.
  • Understanding and observing the cultural, political and socioeconomic impacts and side effects of a project decreases the likelihood of unintended negative impacts of project work, and makes early re-orientation possible.
  • Maximises opportunities to improve the effectiveness of interventions that contribute to conflict prevention and reduction.
  • PCIA is not an exact science and it never will be. The main outcomes of a PCIA are merely hypotheses; they must continually be adjusted.
  • No PCIA can measure and observe all unintentional impacts.
  • Not everybody likes PCIA. A systematic observation of conflict-related impacts provokes various forms of opposition from within and from outside.
  • It cannot be applied until a certain relationship of trust has been established with project partners and staff.
  • In the process of conducting conflict analysis, underlying and unresolved issues are brought to the surface. This risks ‘adding fuel to the fire’. Potential risks have to be carefully weighed against potential benefits.
  • In areas where free articulation of opinion might entail personal security risks for staff, first-hand information cannot be obtained. Stakeholders directly involved in, or affected by, conflict may not be able to clarify their positions and interests sufficiently.
  • The quality of PCIA depends on the local capacity for professionally conducted conflict analyses and impact assessments.