To better understand what makes people, organizations and nations use violence or armed force against adversaries, this project examines various ethical and moral justifications used in past and present conflicts. Pre-conflict ‘justifications' also constitute important early-warning indicators of pending conflict. By understanding the grievances and justifications of potential adversaries, a wider range of prevention and mitigation strategies can become apparent.
Decisions by nations or armed groups to fight are life-and-death judgements informed by and sometimes determined by ethical principles and religious beliefs. All world religions provide guidelines on when armed force is justified. Are the permissions and prohibitions similar among religions? This research seeks to map out the range of religious approaches to armed force.
Peace operations, called peacekeeping operations by the United Nations, are an essential but problematic instrument for conflict prevention, management and resolution. Peacekeeping has had some remarkable successes (e.g., Cambodia, Central America, Mozambique, East Timor) and some difficult failures (the 1993-95 missions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda). The majority of operations have been qualified successes.
How can this instrument of the international community be made more effective? Dr. Dorn explores some possibilities.
Walter Dorn also conducts research in other areas, including: arms control; intelligence studies; the United Nations and international criminal law. He has a major research project on the UN mediation during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
For research on national/international security, especially relating to Canada, the US, and the UN, he has compiled a useful list of primary source documents (with full text links).