Chapter 2 Conflict Resolution: Foundations, Constructions and Reconstructions

НазваниеChapter 2 Conflict Resolution: Foundations, Constructions and Reconstructions
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2.5 Conflict costs

Before concluding this section on quantitative data we must briefly note the significance of the voluminous data on the material and human cost of contemporary violent conflict. Some 28 million people may have been killed in more than 150 major armed conflicts fought mainly in the Third World since 1945 (IISS, 1997). According to UNICEF figures, whereas only 5 per cent of the casualties in the First World War were civilians, by the Second World War the proportion had risen to 50%, while 'as the century ends, the civilian share is normally about 80% - most of them women and children' (Grant, 1992, 26). Others put the figure as high as 90% (Lake, 1990, 4). This is a reversion to older types of warfare. To this must be added UNHCR's estimate of the primary role of vicious internal conflict in generating 18.2 million refugees and 24 million internally displaced people in 1993 (Ogata, 1993, iii). In African countries like Angola, Eritrea, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan, up to half or more of the total population have been forced to flee at some point. All of this is compounded by the length of time that certain classes of conflict last - in some cases an average of 25 years (Gurr, 1995, 52). Whole generations have no other experience than war. The resultant size of the cumulative death toll is difficult to comprehend (see the figures under 'deaths' in Box 14), while the overall tally of material destruction, psychological suffering and human misery - what Michael Cranna calls 'the true cost of conflict' (1995) - dwarfs any gains by particular conflict parties. This provides the main impetus for the central aim of conflict resolution as outlined in the previous section: to find alternative non-violent ways of achieving structural and political goals.

3. Conflict resolution and the international community

Having identified the 'statistics' of deadly conflicts, we comment briefly on how the conflict resolution capacities of the international community are beginning to evolve in response to these problems.

The primary responsibility for responding to contemporary conflict no doubt lies within the affected states. Nevertheless, four factors dictate that outsiders are inevitably involved and often play a vital role. First, as noted more fully in chapter 3, the sources of many contemporary conflicts lie as much outside as inside the state. The international community in its various guises is often responsible for the conflict in the first place. Second, increasing interdependence means that contemporary conflicts affect the interests of regional neighbours and beyond. Third, the combination of human suffering and media transparency makes it difficult for outside governments to persist in doing nothing. Fourth, nearly all studies agree that many protracted conflicts can only be resolved when outside resources are brought to bear. In short, nearly all these conflicts can in one way or another be classed as 'international-social' conflicts.

Turning to the role of outsiders in attempting to resolve conflict, therefore, there has been a long tradition of third party mediation in international relations, documented since the time of the Greek city states and the Roman Empire in the West, and evolving into a recognisable pattern of inter-state diplomacy in the early modern period (Mitchell and Webb, 1998). The leading role was played in somewhat ad hoc fashion by neighbouring states and great powers, mainly in their own interests. In the nineteenth century attempts were made to construct more formal restraints on war, for example through the Congress system and the Concert of Europe. In the twentieth century, in the aftermath of the two world wars, these attempts were further systematised through the League of Nations and the United Nations. Since 1945 under Chapter VI of its charter the United Nations has been provided with a set of techniques which it can use in order to secure the peaceful settlement of disputes, including fact-finding, good offices, conciliation, mediation and negotiation. Under Chapter VII of the charter, the Security Council was given power to use coercion and armed force if necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Under Chapter VIII of the charter regional organisations were encouraged to play an active role in furthering its aims.

All the contemporary conflicts in 44 countries identified in Box 14, however, are non-interstate or international-social conflicts, many of which reflect a breakdown in state structures, the collapse of sovereignty and a local breakdown in the state system. It is ironical that the task of managing such conflicts has fallen primarily to international institutions which are still based on precisely the system of sovereignty and non-interference that the new conflicts undermine. It is not surprising, therefore, that the international community struggles to find effective means of response. This also has a marked effect on what kinds of solution are seen as acceptable by those organizations.

Non-interstate conflicts are not obviously the responsibility of any international institution. Governments of major states are reluctant to get involved with internal conflicts, when they do not concern their own state interests. And when they do get involved, governments and international agencies frequently act at cross purposes, on account of differences in their interests and mandates. At the same time, governments of states which are on the receiving end of international interventions have considerable misgivings about what they perceive as unwarranted meddling from the outside. Where the authority of the state has broken down altogether, a whole range of difficult questions arise. With whom should the international community negotiate, when the state has collapsed and the use of force is in the hands of local leaders commanding paramilitary militias? Should the international community negotiate with those in power, even if they have no legitimacy, and are in power only because of their ruthlessness and rapacity? Does the international community legitimise and even preserve such power-holders by negotiating with them? Should it negotiate with representatives of civil society even if these representatives hold no power? Satisfactory answers have yet to emerge in international practice.

Moreover, non-interstate conflicts impinge on the work of a range of organizations which have not previously seen their mission in terms of conflict management: organizations concerned with refugees, humanitarian assistance, development and human rights. Many of these agencies find themselves caught up in attempts to manage internal conflicts. At the same time non-governmental agencies, which in some cases might have better entry into the conflict than state authorities, are also making their mark. In practice, a redistribution of tasks and mandates is underway, but it remains incomplete and unco-ordinated. It is not surprising that, all too often, the international response to contemporary conflict has been marred by confusion, hesitancy and a lack of clear direction.

Apart from states, three main types of agent now play an enhanced role in the resolution of contemporary conflict: the United Nations, regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations. Each has strengths and weaknesses.

The United Nations and its agencies remain central to the international community’s response to conflict. During the Cold War, the overall effectiveness of the UN in managing settling international disputes was mixed. The UN did, however, become a prime instrument through which the international community attempted to defuse crises and de-escalate disputes, arrange ceasefires, organize peacekeeping, facilitate elections and monitor disengagement and demilitarisation. It has an acknowledged corpus of knowledge and experience in these fields. With the end of the Cold War, it was hoped that the UN would for the first time be able to take up the role that was intended for it. In practice the post-cold war experience, too, has been mixed, with notable successes (Namibia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Mozambique) alongside dismal failures (Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda). The vital factor distinguishing success from failure has usually not been so much the UN institutions, but rather the policies of the major powers on the Security Council and the intractability of the conflicts themselves. Where parties have consented to a UN mandate and have wished to settle, and where adequate finances and personnel have been available, mandates have been clear and chains of command and communication have been straightforward, the UN has been able to play a remarkable and useful role; but when the parties have been unwilling to accept a UN role, the UN has not been able to impose settlements.

In his ambitious Agenda for Peace, the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali proposed that the UN should be involved in peace-keeping, peace-making and peace-building, from the earliest stage of conflict prevention to the stage of post-conflict reconstruction. He was forced to retract some of his proposals, notably his advocacy of coercive peacemaking, one year later. Nevertheless, the scope of UN action has certainly enlarged. It now ranges from conflict prevention (chapter 4, section 3.1), peacekeeping and humanitarian action as well as crisis management in warzones (chapter 5), conflict settlements (chapter 6, section 2.2) to post-settlement peacebuilding (chapter 7). Unfortunately, combined with the organization’s global mandate and a severe financial crisis, this expansion of tasks has resulted in chronic overload for the Secretariat, resulting in inevitable degrading of performance and a sometimes slow response.

The principal agency of the UN is the office of the Secretary-General, and his political arm, the Department of Political Affairs. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations oversees the political and operational side of peacekeeping. The Secretary General is assisted by Special Representatives and Envoys, who frequently play an important role in the UN’s practical conflict resolution activities. In addition, the UN is equipped with procedures and agencies in the humanitarian and human rights fields which are now seen to be increasingly relevant to conflict resolution. When it comes to the use of coercion or force in responding to threats to international peace and security, there are the Chapter VII powers available to the Security Council.

For all its weaknesses, the UN remains the 'only existing framework for building the institutions of a global society' (Ogata and Volcker, 1993) and is thus the only institutional expression of the international community in its conflict resolution capacity.

Regional organizations make up the second tier of external agents in contemporary conflict resolution. In an effort to shed part of the UN’s load, Boutros-Ghali proposed that regional organizations should take on the primary responsibility for conflict management, leaving the UN to pick up cases only if the regional organizations had failed. Such a division of labour has yet to appear, however, in part because the member states of regional organizations do not always accept that these organizations have a legitimate role in their internal affairs. The regional organizations have developed widely varying mandates, which reflect the very different characteristics and historical experience of states in the different regions.

The members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have gone farthest in accepting a role for their regional organization in reviewing the human rights and security practices of member states. They have accepted a common set of wide-ranging norms affecting the human dimension, and have created new institutions for conflict management (including the High Commissioner on National Minorities, the Long Term Missions, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights). Within Europe, other regional organizations such as NATO, the Council of Europe, and of course the European Union also play significant roles in conflict management.

The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was established in 1963 with the aim of preserving the territorial independence and sovereign equality of the post-colonial African states. Its Charter precludes interference in the internal affairs of member states. It has therefore been reluctant to involve itself in internal conflicts, although in 1993 it set up the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (MCPMR) to provide assistance to states affected by war. In practice the most important interventions in Africa have generally been taken by leaders from neighbouring states. Other bodies with relevant roles include the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which has had a role in dispute resolution in West Africa, and the South African Development Community (SADC) which has agreed a regional peacekeeping role. The Commonwealth also plays a significant role in certain cases.

The Organization of American States (OAS) also operates a norm of non-interference in internal affairs. However, the member states undertook to act against violations of democracy, through the Santiago Commitment (1991), and have promoted conflict resolution in partnership with the UN, for example in Central America, and through the Secretary General’s Unit for the Promotion of Democracy.

The Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN) has been concerned to avoid involvement in member states’ internal affairs; indeed one of its main functions has been to regulate inter-state disputes between the members lest they spill over into internal challenges to regimes. The ASEAN Regional Forum has developed as a means for building consensus over security challenges in the region, and it has been used an an umbrella for Second Track initiatives and cooperation with the UN.

One region which strikingly lacks a comprehensive organization is the Middle East, where the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council represent the interests of their members, but no regional organization spans the region’s political fault lines. South Asia also lacks a forum similar to those mentioned above. The coverage of the regional organizations is therefore patchy, and their scope in internal conflict remains limited by concerns for sovereignty.

For conflict resolution, regional organisations have the advantage of proximity to the source of conflict and familiarity with the main actors, cultural values and local conditions. On the other hand, the interests of local actors and in particular those of regional hegemons may make regional organisations unsuitable fora for conflict resolution, and in most parts of the world regional organisations are also chronically short of financial and other resources.

Finally, the gaps in the coverage of internal conflicts by the official arms of the international community have thus left a space for humanitarian agencies and non-governmental agencies to play a larger role. Agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross have taken on an enhanced profile in internal conflicts. Non-governmental organizations have also become more important. The number of NGOs involved with conflict resolution increased rapidly in the 1980s, as development agencies, aid donors and governments became willing to fund their activities. The European Centre for Conflict Prevention lists more than 500 organizations which define themselves as being concerned in some way with conflict prevention and management (ECCP 1998), although the number of organizations which can sustain interventions for some time and in more than one location remains quite limited (see Chapter 6, section 2.2). Whatever the constraints on individual NGOs, as a whole they have the advantage of flexibility and adaptability given their muluplicity and variety. They are able to work with local protagonists without the worry of thereby conferring official recognition, and can operate at the middle and grassroots end of Lederach's peacebuilding pyramid (see Box 11). As described in later chapters, they have played a significant role in a number of peacemaking breakthroughs, although in individual cases the appropriateness and effectiveness of particular NGO initiatives have been criticised.

We do not, however, wish to give the impression that external parties are the most important agents. It is usually the parties themselves who are the key actors for managing their own conflicts. Domestic conflict management capacity is crucial, since it is likely to be culturally appropriate and sustained. Indigenous political parties, institutions, business organizations, church groups, and third parties of all kinds play important and often undocumented roles. For example, most of the new entries in the ECCP survey noted above (for example ACCORD in South Africa and CECORE in Uganda) are indigenous conflict resolution organizations.

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