Dr. John "Jack" Jones spent 18 years at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work first as Dean, then Professor. Upon his retirement in 2004, he joined the Conflict Resolution Institute as Research Professor. Dr. Jones can be reached at
How did you become involved with the Conflict Resolution Institute at the
University of Denver?
Somewhat accidentally, actually. Years ago, I was invited to participate in an oral
exam for one of the master's students in the Conflict Resolution Program and was
very impressed with the caliber of students in the program. That got me started.
I asked for a spot in the program, and in time became Research Professor.
As a Research Professor, what particular ideas or events attracted your attention in the conflict resolution field?
As a Research Professor, what struck me about the field of conflict resolution was its apparent neglect of developments in human security. True, the role of conflict resolution in international affairs was widely discussed, but human security at the cutting edge of global development was receiving less attention in our discipline. I felt this was a missed opportunity. Traditionally, the notion of human security was based on "state security" – a concept that dates back to the 17th century when peace meant defending national borders militarily. Even today, you'll find governments primarily thinking of security as defending borders, accumulating arms, etc. In point of fact, if you're looking at human security, you should be concerned with people and communities. Human security has two aspects: first, provision (combating the fear of want, of poverty through the provision of livelihood and the social services essential for peace); and secondly, protection (combating the fear of violence and the denial of human rights as embodied in the UN Charter). Sometimes protection means a political approach – keeping combatants apart. Sometimes it means insisting governments protect their minorities from an oppressive majority and sometimes it means protecting citizens from their own governments. An example of failure in both provision and protection is Darfur in Sudan where you have genocide occurring. Insecurity is very often the direct result of poverty. If you look at Africa, for example, there is currently a great deal of violence arising from poverty – through lack of natural resources, lack of access to education, and lack of access to trade, all of which can give rise to violence.
Can you tell us a little about your recent work editing a journal for the UN?
The field of conflict resolution has always given attention to international affairs, but not specifically to human security. I set about trying to link CRI with the United
Nations, specifically with the United Nations Center for Regional Development (UNCRD), through my association with both organizations. Toward that goal, I
recently had an opportunity to edit a UN journal, Regional Development Dialogue
(RDD), a special issue devoted to human security and conflict resolution. The journal was a collaborative effort between the CRI Research Professor John "Jack" Jones
journal's publisher, UNCRD in Nagoya, Japan, and our Institute. It included among its papers articles by CRI faculty. CRI Graduate Program Director Karen Feste contributed a paper on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute with its conflict reso-lution strategies and peace prospects. Another paper by CRI Core Faculty member Denise Pearson deals with interethnic conflict in Trinidad and Tobago and its post-colonial challenges and opportunities.
What would you say are the greatest opportunities for conflict resolution students entering the profession today? Do you have any advice for our students?
Conflict Resolution expertise is increasingly recognized as a critical skill. Our students find jobs when they graduate. It takes a little time and a little patience to
get the exact job you're looking for – but conflict resolution jobs do exist and they exist in the international arena as well, both with the UN and also with NGOs that work abroad.
Do you think our students are entering the profession at a good time, when conflict resolution concepts are more widely accepted and acknowledged?
I do think this is a good time to be entering the profession. Decision makers at the international level now realize that we need conflict resolution practitioners. That is certainly true in Africa and South America. UNCRD, among other agencies, now stresses this – a huge step forward. My advice to students wanting to work in international conflict resolution is to scout out the field (including the broader area of social development), be patient, take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, and give themselves time to find that perfect job.