Chapter 2 Conflict Resolution: Foundations, Constructions and Reconstructions

НазваниеChapter 2 Conflict Resolution: Foundations, Constructions and Reconstructions
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1.1.8 The conflict triangle

Thirty years ago Johan Galtung (1969; 1996, 72) proposed an influential model of conflict, that encompasses both symmetric and asymmetric conflicts. He suggested that conflict could be viewed as a triangle, with contradiction (C), attitude (A) and behaviour (B) at its vertices (Box 8). Here the contradiction refers to the underlying conflict situation, which includes the actual or perceived 'incompatibility of goals' between the conflict parties generated by what Chris Mitchell calls a 'mis-match between social values and social structure'. In a symmetric conflict, the contradiction is defined by the parties, their interests, and the clash of interests between them. In an asymmetric conflict, it is defined by the parties, their relationship and the conflict of interests inherent in the relationship. Attitude includes the parties’ perceptions and misperceptions of each other and of themselves. These can be positive or negative but in violent conflicts parties tend to develop demeaning stereotypes of the other, and attitudes are often influenced by emotions such as as fear, anger, bitterness and hatred. 'Attitude' includes emotive (feeling), cognitive (belief) and conative (will) elements. Analysts who emphasise these 'subjective' aspects are said to have an 'expressive' view of the sources of conflict. Behaviour is the third component. It can include cooperation or coercion, gestures signifying conciliation or hostility. Violent conflict behaviour is characterised by threats, coercion and destructive attacks. Analysts who emphasise 'objective' aspects such as structural relationships, competing material interests or behaviours are said to have an 'instrumental' view of the sources of conflict.iii

Galtung argues that all three components have to be present together in a full conflict. A conflict structure without conflictual attitudes or behaviour is a latent (or ‘structural') conflict. Galtung sees conflict as a dynamic process in which structure, attitudes and behaviour are constantly changing and influencing one another. As a conflict emerges, it becomes a conflict formation as parties’ interests come into conflict or the relationship they are in becomes oppressive. Conflict parties then organize around this structure, to pursue their interests. They develop hostile attitudes and conflictual behaviour. And so the conflict formation starts to grow and develop. As it does so, it may widen, drawing in other parties, deepen, and spread, generating secondary conflicts within the main parties or among outsiders who get sucked in. This often considerably complicates the task of addressing the original, core conflict. Eventually however, resolving the conflict must involve a set of dynamic changes that involve de-esclation of conflict behaviour, change in attitudes, and transforming the relationships or clashing interests that are at the core of the conflict structure.

A related idea due to Galtung (1981) is the distinction between direct violence (children are murdered), structural violence (children die through poverty) and cultural violence (whatever blinds us to this or seeks to justify it). We end direct violence by changing conflict behaviours, structural violence by removing structural contradictions and injustices, and cultural violence by changing attitudes.

1.1.9 Conflict dynamics

This model then sees conflict formations arising out of social change, leading to a process of violent or nonviolent conflict transformation, and resulting in further social change in which hitherto suppressed or marginalised individuals or groups come to articulate their interests and challenge existing norms and power structures. Box 9 shows a schematic illustration of phases of conflict, and forms of intervention that may be feasible at different stages. A schematic ‘life-cycle’ of conflict sees a progression from peaceful social change to conflict formation to violent conflict and then to conflict transformation and back to peaceful social change. But this is not the only path. The sequence can go from conflict formation to conflict transformation and back to social change, avoiding violence. Or it can go from conflict formation to violent conflict back to the creation of fresh conflicts.iv

1.2. New developments in conflict resolution theory and practice

A new pattern of conflicts is prevailing in the post-Cold War period, which is evoking a new pattern of responses. The main focus used to be on international wars, now it is on internal conflicts. Much of the theory of conflict resolution developed in response to symmetric conflicts, now asymmetric conflicts are dominant. International wars have typically been Clausewitzian affairs, fought out by power centres which use organized force directed against enemy forces in order to break the opponent’s will to continue. Now, many post-Cold War conflicts are post-Clausewitzian, involving fragmented decision-making and disorganized forces directed against civilian populations. International conflicts were conducted between sovereign states; internal conflicts reflect breakdowns in states, which implies the disappearance of the structures through which internal power balances are organized and the appearance of ‘holes’ in the international fabric of sovereign states.

In response there has been a differentiation and broadening in the scope of third party intervention. Whereas classical conflict resolution was mainly concerned with entry into the conflict itself and with how to enable parties to violent conflict to resolve the issues between them in non-violent ways, the contemporary approach is to take a wider view of the timing of intervention. It suggests that efforts to resolve conflict should begin before armed conflict has broken out. They should be maintained even in the heat of battle and are applicable to peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention. They are still needed to assist parties to settle violent conflicts. And they continue to be relevant into the post-settlement phase, when peace-building must address the continuing issues in conflict (see Box 9).

In response to these prevailing patterns of asymmetric conflict, Curle's original model of conflict transformation (Box 7) has been further developed, as in Box 10, adapted from Diana Francis (1996). The asymmetry inherent in situations of unbalanced power and unsatisfied needs is reduced by increased awareness, mobilisation and empowerment, leading to open confrontation where necessary before moving on to the negotiation of a new relationship and changed attitudes. Further mobilisation and confrontation may follow, or the transformation of conflict resolution capacities may have reached far enough to accommodate future social and political change peacefully within agreed institutionalised processes. The elements bounded by the large box are those that are traditionally seen as conflict resolution, but they can be seen to play a complementary part in a larger process of transforming asymmetric relationships (van de Merve, 1989, 1-8).

Moreover, given the varied sources of contemporary conflicts and complex political emergencies, responses are required at different levels. Changes in the context of conflict may depend on international and regional arrangements, conflicts within or over the state may demand structural change at state level, the conflict between the parties will still require resolution at the relational level, and cultural change at all levels may be necessary for the transformation of discourses and institutions which sustain and reproduce viiolence. Greater emphasis is now placed on integrating the different levels at which peacebuilding and conflict resolution need to work within affected countries, with particular emphasis on the significance of 'bottom-up' processes (see Box 11).

Linked to this, there has been a shift from seeing third party intervention as the primary responsibility of external agencies towards appreciating the role of internal 'third parties' or indigenous peacemakers. Instead of outsiders offering the fora for addressing conflicts in one-shot mediation efforts, the emphasis is on the need to build constituencies and capacity within societies and to learn from domestic cultures how to manage conflicts in a sustained way over time. This implies supporting domestic peace constituencies, developing domestic institutions, and eliciting from those in conflict what approaches are socially and culturally acceptable. T. Encarnacion, C. McCartney and C. Rosas have suggested a helpful model here. Instead of using the blanket term 'third parties' with its implication of externality and detachment, they distinguish a spectrum of agents ranging from 'uninvolved parties', through 'marginal concerned parties' to 'actively influential concerned parties'. In Box 12, the farther a party is placed from the centre of the conflict, the lower will be its interest and commitment. Uninvolved outsiders may become progressively more involved and finally become core parties themselves in a widening of the conflict. Conversely, Encarnacion et al. introduce the idea of 'embedded parties', that is to say, individuals or groups who may emerge from within the situation (from the core parties) but wish to play the role of a concerned party in facilitating or expediting moves towards conflict resolution.

Behind all this lies an increased sensitivity to the 'culture question' in general, as discussed briefly at the beginning of this section, and the hope that, if the conflict resolution field has in the past been too narrowly western, it may in future become the truly cooperative cross-cultural venture that its founders conceived it to be.

The implication of this broadening in the scope and application of conflict resolution approaches has been to see the need for a complementary range of third-party interventions. They should be multi-track instead of either Track I or Track II, addressing elites and grass-roots, operating at structural-constitutional as well as at relational-community levels, with co-operation between involved international and internal agencies and a sustained commitment to the conflict in question over time. The increased emphasis on the importance of indigenous resources and local actors suggests the addition of what might be termed Track III peace-making (see Box 13).

1.3 Terminology

Before we introduce the conflicts that we are concerned with in this book and the types of agents capable of responding creatively to them, we need to clarify how we are using the terms 'conflict' and 'conflict resolution'. The terminology is often confusing, with the same terms used in different ways both within the academic literature and in general usage.

By conflict we mean the pursuit of incompatible goals by different groups. This suggests a broader span of time and a wider class of struggle than armed conflict. We intend our usage here to apply to any political conflict whether it is pursued by peaceful means or by the use of force. (Some theorists have distinguished between disputes about negotiable interests that can be settled by compromise, and more deep-seated conflicts that involve human needs and can only be resolved by removing underlying causes.)

Armed conflict is a narrower category denoting conflicts where parties on both sides resort to the use of force. It is notoriously difficult to define, since it can encompass a continuum of situations ranging from a military overflight or an attack on a civilian by a single soldier to an all-out war with massive casualties. The research community has identified a number of thresholds and rules for deciding what to count. We consider these definitions in the next section of this chapter.

Violent conflict or deadly conflict is similar to armed conflict, but also includes one-sided violence such as genocides against unarmed civilians. We mean direct, physical violence. We acknowledge the strong argument in peace research for broadening the concept of violence to include exploitative social relations that cause unnecessary suffering, but prefer to use the now well-known term ‘structural violence’ for this.

By contemporary conflict we refer to the prevailing pattern of political and violent conflicts in the post-cold war world, and by contemporary armed conflicts, only those that involve the use of force.

Conflict settlement means the reaching of an agreement between the parties which enables them to end an armed conflict. It puts to an end the violent stage of conflict behaviour. This suggests finality, but in practice conflicts that have reached settlements are often re-opened later. Conflict attitudes and underlying structural contradictions may not have been addressed.

Conflict management, like the associated term 'conflict regulation', is sometimes used as a generic term to cover the whole gamut of positive conflict handling, but is used here to refer to the limitation, mitigation and containment of violent conflict.

Conflict resolution is a more comprehensive term which implies that the deep-rooted sources of conflict are addressed, and resolved. This implies that behaviour is no longer violent, attitudes are no longer hostile, and the structure of the conflict has been changed. It is difficult to avoid ambiguity since the term is used to refer both to the process (or the intention) to bring about these changes, and to the completion of the process. A further ambiguity is that conflict resolution refers to a particular defined specialist field (as in 'conflict resolution journals'), as well as to an activity carried on by people who may or may not use the term or even be aware of it (as in 'conflict resolution in Central America'). Nevertheless, these two senses of the term are tending to merge.

Conflict transformation is a term which for some analysts is a significant step beyond conflict resolution, but which in our view is a development of it. It has particular salience in asymmetric conflicts, where the aim is to transform unjust social relationships. It is also used in the understanding of peace processes, where transformation denotes a sequence of necessary transitional steps. It implies a deep transformation in the parties and their relationships and in the situation that created the conflict. As indicated in Box 9, we see conflict transformation as the deepest level of change in the conflict resolution process.

Negotiation is the process whereby the parties within the conflict seek to settle or resolve their conflicts. Mediation involves the intervention of a third party; it is a voluntary process in which the parties retain control over the outcome (pure mediation), although it may include positive and negative inducements (mediation with muscle). Conciliation or facilitation is close in meaning to pure mediation, and refers to intermediary efforts to encourage the parties to move towards negotiations, as does the more minimalist role of providing good offices. Problem-solving is a more ambitious undertaking in which conflict parties are invited to reconceptualise the conflict with a view to finding creative, win-win outcomes. Reconciliation is a longer-term process of overcoming hostility and mistrust between divided peoples.

We use peace-making in the sense of moving towards settlement of armed conflict, where conflict parties are induced to reach agreement voluntarily, for example as envisaged in Chapter VI of the UN Charter on the 'Pacific Settlement of Disputes' (Article 33). Peace-keeping (traditionally with the consent of the conflict parties) refers to the interposition of international armed forces to separate the armed forces of belligerents, often now associated with civil tasks such as monitoring and policing and supporting humanitarian intervention. Peace-enforcement is the imposition of a settlement by a powerful third party. Peace-building underpins the work of peace-making and peace-keeping by addressing structural issues and the long-term relationships between conflictants. With reference to the conflict triangle (Box 8), it can be suggested that peace-making aims to change the attitudes of the main protagonists, peace-keeping lowers the level of destructive behaviour, and peace-building tries to overcome the contradictions which lie at the root of the conflict (Galtung, 1996, 112).

Finally, it is worth noting that the aim of conflict resolution is not the elimination of conflict, which would be both impossible, and, as is made clear in Curle's model of the transformation of asymmetric conflicts (Box 7), sometimes undesirable. Rather, the aim of conflict resolution is to transform actually or potentially violent conflict into peaceful (non-violent) processes of social and political change. This is an unending task as new forms and sources of conflict arise.

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