Adapt conducts applied research on peace and development topics and makes semi-regular contributions in the press on topics related to conflict and political transition. The full list of Adapt's publications since 2010 are available here for quick reference, and may be detailed further elsewhere on this site.

Adaptive Mediation, by Cedric de Coning and Stephen Gray, ACCORD, September 2018

This article, which appears in ACCORD's quarterly magazine Conflict Trends, introduces concepts and practices of adaptive mediation. Adaptive mediation is a set of principles and practices that are more suited to the challenges of mediation processes in complex environments. Adaptive mediation in the context of resolving interstate or intrastate armed conflicts recognises that uncertainty is an intrinsic quality of complex social systems, not a result of imperfect knowledge, inadequate planning or poor implementation. Adaptive mediation employs tools that anticipate complexity and help mediators of peace processes cope with uncertainty, setbacks and shocks.

Read full article here

Myanmar: Conflict, continuity and change, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, February 2018

This presentation, hosted by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, explores the current state of peacebuilding in Myanmar as it relates to the peace process, intercommunal violence in the country's west, and the role of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. It draws distinctions between the appearance of change and much deeper conservative forces of military and political power that maintain the status quo. Effective peacebuilding requires more attention to these deeper forces and their interaction with more visible political and conflict dynamics.

See presentation here

Myanmar: Conflict, continuity and change, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, February 2018

Myanmar: Conflict, continuity and change, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, February 2018

Peacemaking effectiveness: what can Myanmar learn from thirty years of international experience in peace process implementation

This work was produced and distributed ahead of the May 2017 national dialog process of Myanmar's peace process. Based on international comparative evidence drawn from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies Peace Accords Matrix, the animation addressed contemporary peacemaking challenges in Myanmar. It presents evidence for a peacemaking strategy based on genuine political compromise rather than military coercion, and shows how faithful implementation of agreements builds trust between conflict parties, brings in spoilers, and generates economic and social benefits that justify the initial economic and political costs of peacemaking.

Innovating new forms of public participation in peace processes in the midst of war, BuildPeace 2017

This short talk presented to the BuildPeace 2017 Conference in Bogota describes the process and outcomes from implementing systemic action research in Myanmar. The presentation argues that by taking a systems view and empowering local communities in conflict settings to be the agents of change according to the priorities that they themselves define, peacebuilding efforts can be more scalable and sustainable.

Myanmar and International Peace building with Stephen Gray, interview by Meredith Smith, 2018

In this interview to Columbia University radio, Stephen shares about the current situation in Myanmar and his recent work there, speaks to systems thinking and his theory of change in relation to sustainable peace, and gives insights and career advise for current students and aspiring peacebuilders.

See more here


Can Myanmar’s peace process learn from international experience?John Paul Lederach, Stephen Gray & Madhav Joshi, FRONTIER, 2017

The 21st Century Panglong Conference represents an important milestone in Myanmar's long march to peace. But it is only one step in a much longer process to end to the violence that has long limited this country's great potential...The pathway forward is outlined in a framework for political dialog that has been negotiated following 2015's Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

Read full article here

Can Myanmar’s peace process learn from international experience?

Can Myanmar’s peace process learn from international experience?

USIP: United States Institute of Peace

USIP: United States Institute of Peace

Group Cohesion and Peace Processes: Implications and Strategies for Mediators, USIP, 2017

Drawing on a wide range of cases, including Burma, Colombia, Senegal, and Uganda, this Peace Brief discusses the internal cohesion of non-state armed groups, explains how weak cohesion can undermine a peace process, and offers various strategies that those supporting peace processes can deploy to mitigate such risks.

Read full document here

Comparative Insights for Myanmar's Peace Process,

Comparative Insights for Myanmar's Peace Process,

Comparative Insights for Myanmar's Peace Process, Hope International Development Agency, 2017

"The peace process provides an opportunity to address the underlying causes of conflict in our country. Although our country is unique, there are common causes patterns in peace and conflict internationally that we can learn from..."

See full infographic here

IFC: International Finance Corporation - World Bank Group

IFC: International Finance Corporation - World Bank Group

Peace and Conflict Chapter: Baseline Assessment for Myanmar’s Hydropower SEA, IFC, 2017

This study explores the effects that armed conflict has on hydropower development, and inversely, the impacts that armed conflict has on hydropower development. It is one eight dimensions affecting hydropower development in Myanmar. More specifically, this component of the SEA seeks to understand the issues that give rise to and result from patterns of ethno-political conflict in Myanmar...

Read the full report here


Myanmar's New Government: Intentions Still Unclear, The Interpreter, by Stephen Gray

Myanmar's New Government: Intentions Still Unclear, The Interpreter, by Stephen Gray

Myanmar's New Government: Intentions Still Unclear, The Interpreter

"To genuinely deliver on its promises for peace and reconciliation, the new government will need to build more inclusive parliamentary and non-parliamentary processes than the country has ever seen, without allowing descent into the 'chaotic democracy' the army fears. The critical question is how broad the new government’s definition of reconciliation will be..."

Read the full article here

RANIR: Relief Action network for IDP & Refugee

RANIR: Relief Action network for IDP & Refugee

Community-led Peacebuilding in Kachin State: Findings and Recommendations, RAINIR, Kachin State

"The success of this process is built on the energy and commitment of local communities affected by conflict in Kachin and Shan States. They are those that primarily suffer the burden of a war that is not of their making, but rarely are they given space to voice their experiences, which so often contain lessons that can guide us towards more effective means of transforming conflict. It is their energy and determination to improve the lives of their people that has driven this process."

Read the summary or full report here


Intercommunal Conflict in Mandalay Region and Southern Shan State, Mercy Corps

Intercommunal Conflict in Mandalay Region and Southern Shan State, Mercy Corps

Intercommunal Conflict in Mandalay Region and Southern Shan State, Mercy Corps

This report, written by Caitlin Pierce in 2015 , was a follow up to 2014’s Intercommunal Violence in Myanmar report and explores specific local dynamics of intercommunal conflict and conflict management mechanisms in Mandalay, Meiktila, and Taunggyi. The study found striking differences between the degree of conflict present in each location, as well as in the capacities of local conflict management mechanisms.

The report is available here.

Hidden Patterns in Peace and Reform Processes, Josefine Roos and Stephen Gray

A March 2014 presentation that calls us to refocus on what's invisible in peace and reform processes, based on systems analysis on of Myanmar's political and economic transition. The animated version is also available below. Both serve as a primer of sorts of the anatomy of Myanmar's transitional political economy


The one place where Washington can make a difference, Foreign Policy

The one place where Washington can make a difference, Foreign Policy

The one place where Washington can make a difference, Foreign Policy

A successful transition would also require a resolution to the country’s continuing civil war. The state and Burma’s non-state ethnic armed groups are currently negotiating a political agreement — the nationwide ceasefire — which seeks in tandem to formally end all hostilities while formalizing a longer term process to resolve fundamental power, resource, and rights-based disagreements. To establish a sustainable peace, Burma’s old guard must recognize, at least in principle, the possibility of devolving power and resources to non-state actors within a new, possibly federal state structure.

Read the full article here.

Intercommunal Violence in Myanmar: Risks and Opportunities for International Assistance, Mercy Corps

This 2014 report was based on a comprehensive literature review and key informant interviews. The findings detail the root causes and proximate causes of intercommunal violence in Myanmar, examine risks and opportunities for international assistance, and provide recommendations for research and programming. The findings cover discourse and propagandising, geographies of risks, the need for local analysis, the need to strengthen social cohesion and conflict management networks, and other strategies for intervention. The report underpinned an interfaith peacebuilding program under implementation in Myanmar.

The report is available here.

Media and Peacebuilding in Myanmar, United States Institute of Peace

Written soon after Myanmar's historic lifting of media censorship, this 2013 assessment for the United States Institute of Peace explored opportunities for media peacebuilding initiatives. Considering citizen-state, intercommunal, and ethno-political conflict, the study combines a media landscape assessment with conflict analysis and recommended media peacebuilding initiatives, which are now under implementation. The study was co-authored with Theo Dolan from USIP.

Conflict Assessment in Rakhine State

In 2012 Adapt conducted a conflict assessment in Rakhine State, which had just been wracked by intercommunal violence which killed more than one hundred and displaced more than one hundred thousand. The assessment employed a systems methodology and highlighted the causal interdependencies between communal violence and Myanmar's broader ethno-political conflicts. The assessment provided recommendations to support conflict sensitive humanitarian assistance.

The report is available here


Peacebuilding and Conflict Sensitivity Recommendations, UNICEF Myanmar, UNPUBLISHED


Peace and Development Conflict Sensitivity Analysis, UNDP Myanmar, UNPUBLISHED

In 2013 Adapt supported the research and production of the United Nations Myanmar Country Team's first conflict assessment in Myanmar. Based on literature and interviews with several hundred people, the assessment provided detailed recommendations for peacebuildig and conflict sensitive development across all of the United Nations' thematic areas in Myanmar. The final report was not made public.


Applying Dynamical Systems Theory to Understand Local Violence, ACCORD

This paper and presentation provides an assessment of a ‘typical local conflict’ between two Dinka clans, based on field research in Jonglei State, using a systemic approach to conflict assessment adapted from dynamical systems theory. This approach not only captures the multiple sources and complex temporal dynamics of the conflict, but can also help identify patterns that are central to the conflict that are unrecognisable by other means (Coleman et al. 2007, 2011). The analysis reveals that typical explanations for local violence in post-civil war contexts such as resource and political competition and insecurity are an over-simplification in this context. These factors undoubtedly influence the conflict, but can be better understood as elements of a dynamical system where the probability of violence is strongly influenced by the clans’ competing desire to maximise group pride. The conflict has resisted transformation because traditional ‘pride-sensitive’ conflict mechanisms have become ineffective, while most interventions by state institutions have exacerbated the conflict. These findings reveal an emotional dimension to conflict that might be overlooked in conventional approaches to conflict assessment and peacebuilding, although the case study is not to be generalised to all local conflict in South Sudan.

The full paper is available via ACCORD. View presentation here

IDPs illustrate the Human Cost of War in Burma, Huffington Post

That the Kachin conflict continues daily and shows no sign of abating despite the raft of ceasefire agreements with other ethnic groups is in itself as reminder to be cautious about the (well intentioned but misleading) pro-reform, pro-peace message that we are hearing coming out of Burma.

Read the full article here.

What does Peace Mean to You?, Advanced Consortium for Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity

"like the myth of the invisible hand, peace doesn’t necessarily trickle down. Rather it has to be built by actors working at multiple layers of society over time. In other words, a peace agreement brokered at the bargaining table won’t bring sustainable peace if the population at large continues to misunderstand, disrespect or deny the needs of their fellow citizens. Peacebuilding is the responsibility of many actors working towards a common goal all the way from the grassroots to the governing elite"

The full article is available here.

In Myanmar, searching for the Roots of Peace, Earth Institute

"Recognizing a society’s latent capacity for peace is fundamentally different than focusing on problems or confronting an adversary on the battlefield or at the negotiating table. Our research seeks to identify pro-peace constituencies that are either not empowered or not connected to the power structures or change processes that might maximize their positive impact. Using mapping techniques, we identify relationships that need to be built and actors that need to be empowered to positively transform the landscape in which conflict emerges. You might call this fostering networks of effective action."

Read the full article here.