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The prevention, management and transformation of deadly conflicts
List of boxes
List of maps
Chapter 1 Introduction
1 Introduction to conflict resolution
2 Statistics of deadly conflicts
3 Conflict resolution and the international community
4 Structure of the book
Chapter 2 Conflict Resolution: Foundations, Constructions and Reconstructions
2 Foundations: the 1950s and 1960s
3 Constructions: the 1970s and 1980s
4 Reconstructions: the 1990s
Chapter 3 Understanding Contemporary Conflict
1 Theories and frameworks
2 Edward Azar's theory of protracted social conflict
3 Sources of contemporary international-social conflict
4 Conflict mapping
Chapter 4 Preventing Violent Conflict
1 Causes and preventors of war
2 Preventors of interstate and non-interstate war
3 The prevention of violent conflict
4 Case studies: Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo
Chapter 5 Working in War Zones
1 War zones, war economies and cultures of violence
2 Case study: Rwanda
3 Preparing the ground for conflict resolution
Chapter 6 Ending Violent Conflict
1 The challenge of ending violent conflict
2 Conflict resolution and war ending
3 Case studies: South Africa, Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland
Chapter 7 Post-Settlement Peace-Building
1 Post-settlement peace-building defined
2 The challenge of post-settlement peace-building
3 The UN's post-settlement peace-building 'standard operating procedure'
4 Reflections on UN post-settlement peace-building 1988-1998
Chapter 8 Conclusion
1 Hope and history
2 Difficult questions
3 A further shore
List of Boxes
1 Five approaches to conflict
2 Zero-sum and nonzero-sum outcomes
3 Prisoner's dilemma
4 Positions, interests and needs
5 Coercive and non-coercive third party intervention
6 Three faces of power
7 Transforming asymmetric conflict I
8 The conflict triangle
9 Conflict dynamics and conflict resolution
10 Transforming asymmetric conflict II
11 Actors and approaches to peace-building
12 The gradient of conflic involvement
13 Multi-track conflict resolution
14 Major deadly conflicts 1995-97
15 Conflict typlologies: a comparison
16 A working conflict typology
17 UPPSALA regional table of conflict types
18 The growth of the conflict resolution field
19 Virtual diplomacy
20 Interpretations of the Northern Ireland conflict
21 Azar's preconditions for protracted social conflict
22 Sources of contemporary conflict: a framework
23 Arms exports and conflict
24 Regional distribution of contemporary conflicts
25 A regional pattern of conflict interventions
26 Proximate causes of internal conflict
27 A conflict maping guide: conflict analysis
28 The prevention of armed conflict in Estonia
29 Wallensteen's table of 'universalist' and 'particularist' periods
30 Risk factors for ethnopolitical rebellion
31 Preventors of non-interstate conflict
32 Conflict prevention in Fiji
33 The Stedman-Lund debate
34 The variety of response to the break-up of communist rule in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union
35 A conflict resolution approach to Kosovo
36 Success and failure in conflict prevention
37 International Alert: programme in Burundi, 1995 onwards
38 Armed conflicts terminated by peace agreement 1989-96
39 Strategic dilemmas in peace processes
40 South Africa: a chronology of transition
41 The Israeli-Palestinian peace process
42 The Northern Ireland peace process
43 Northern Ireland community relations
44 Six UN post-settlement peace-building missions
45 The challenge of post-settlement peace-building in Cambodia
46 Major UN post-settlement peace-building missions 1988-98
47 Components of the UN Transition Authority in Cambodia
48 Post-settlement peace-building: a framework
49 Peace, justice and reconciliation
50 Complementarity in post-conflict peace-building: Eastern Slavonia, Croatia,1995-98
Chapter One Introduction
‘The international community is faced with a wave of new conflicts. Taken together they amount to nothing less than an epochal watershed: a time that future historians may describe as the moment when humanity seized—or failed to seize—the opportunity to replace obsolescent mechanisms for resolving human conflict’
Conflict resolution as a defined specialist field has come of age in the post-cold war era. It has also come face to face with fundamental new challenges.
It started in the 1950s and 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, when the development of nuclear weapons and the conflict between the superpowers seemed to threaten human survival. A group of pioneers from different disciplines saw the value of studying conflict as a general phenomenon, with similar properties whether it occurs in international relations, domestic politics, industrial relations, communities, families or between individuals. They saw the potential of applying approaches that were evolving in industrial relations and community mediation settings to conflicts in general, including civil and international conflicts.
A handful of people in North America and Europe began to establish research groups to develop these new ideas. They were not taken very seriously. The international relations profession had its own categories for understanding international conflict, and did not welcome the interlopers. Nor was the combination of analysis and practice implicit in the new ideas easy to reconcile with traditional scholarly institutions or the traditions of practitioners such as diplomats and politicians.
Nevertheless, the new ideas attracted interest, and the field began to grow and spread. Scholarly journals in conflict resolution were created. Institutions to study the field were established, and their number rapidly increased. The field developed its own subdivisions, with different groups studying international crises, internal wars, social conflicts and approaches ranging from negotiations and mediation to experimental games.
By the 1980s, conflict resolution ideas were increasingly making a difference in real conflicts. In South Africa, for example, the Centre for Intergroup Studies was applying the approaches that had developed in the field to the developing confrontation between apartheid and its challengers, with impressive results. In the Middle East, a peace process was getting under way in which negotiators on both sides had gained experience both of each other and of conflict resolution through problem-solving workshops. In Northern Ireland, groups inspired by the new approach had set up community relations initiatives that were not only reaching across community divides but were also becoming an accepted responsibility of local government. In war-torn regions of Africa and south-east Asia, development workers and humanitarian agencies were seeing the need to take account of conflict and conflict resolution as an integral part of their activities.
By the closing years of the Cold War, the climate for conflict resolution was changing radically. With relations between the superpowers improving, the ideological and military competition that had fuelled many regional conflicts was fading away. Protracted regional conflicts in southern Africa, central America, and east Asia moved towards settlements. It seemed that the UN could return to play the role its founders expected.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union brought to a close the long period in which a single international conflict dominated the international system. Instead, internal conflicts, ethnic conflicts, conflicts over secession, power struggles within countries, became the norm. These reflected not so much struggles between competing centres of power, of the kind that had characterised international conflict for most of the 350 years since the peace of Westphalia, but the fragmentation and breakdown of state structures, economies and whole societies. At their extreme, in parts of Africa, the new wars witnessed the return of mercenary armies and underpaid militias which preyed on civilian populations in a manner reminiscent of medieval times.
In this new climate, the attention of scholars of international relations and comparative politics turned to exactly the type of conflict that had preoccupied the conflict resolution thinkers for many years. A richer cross-fertilisation of ideas developed between conflict resolution and these traditional fields. At the same time, practitioners from various backgrounds were attracted to conflict resolution. International statesmen began to use the language, international organizations set up Conflict Resolution Mechanisms and Conflict Prevention Centres. A former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, became one of the most active leaders of a conflict resolution NGO. A former Foreign Minister of the USSR, Edvard Shevardnadze, set up an organization to address ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet Union. The Nyerere Foundation was established with comparable aims for Africa. Overseas development ministries in several countries set up conflict units and began funding conflict prevention and resolution initiatives on a significant scale. How to achieve a 'peaceful settlement of disputes' between states was a familiar theme in the international relations and strategic studies literature and had always been part of the stock-in-trade of international diplomacy. Less familiar was the challenge to statist international organizations of managing non-state conflicts.
A greater degree of impact, however, also brought greater scrutiny, and the development of searching critiques from different quarters. Conflict resolution had always been controversial, both in relation to outside disciplines, and internally amongst its different protagonists and schools. It also drew persistent fire from critics at different points on the political and intellectual spectrum. On the one hand, realists saw conflict resolution as soft-headed and unrealistic, since in their view international politics is a struggle between antagonistic and irreconcileable groups, in which power and coercion was the only ultimate currency. Might not lasting peace more often result from decisive military victory than from negotiated settlement? And might not third party intervention merely prolong the misery? The ideological preconceptions of some of those working in the peace research and conflict resolution field were regarded as compromising, and the attempt to combine 'scientific' academic analysis with a normative political agenda as intellectually suspect. From a different angle, neo-Marxists and radical thinkers from development studies saw the whole conflict resolution enterprise as misconceived, since it attempted to reconcile interests that should not be reconciled, failed to take sides in unequal and unjust struggles, and lacked an analysis within a properly global perspective of the forces of exploitation and oppression. Beneath this lay the fundamental question whether any value is worth fighting for at all. Other critics were less prepared to reject conflict resolution outright, but were sceptical of over-blown claims made for the field, and unconvinced that methods developed within a western setting could overcome their cultural boundaries and offer useful tools in very different cultures and political systems. They also questioned whether the models of conflict resolution that have developed during the Cold War still have application to post-cold war conflicts.
This last criticism was the most searching. Are we witnessing a fundamentally new kind of conflict, to which previous ideas do not apply? If modern conflicts are becoming neo-medieval struggles between warlords, drug barons, mercenaries and militias who benefit from war and have found it their only means of making a living, what value will be efforts to resolve conflicts between them peacefully? Can conflict resolution apply in situations such as those that prevailed in Bosnia, where ethno-nationalist leaders whipped up ethnic hatred and courted war in order to serve their own political purposes? Is conflict resolution based on values of liberal internationalism which fail to grasp that the new conflicts are a by-product of the impact of westernisation and liberal internationalism on the rest of the world?
This book argues that, on the contrary, the developing tradition of thinking about conflict and conflict resolution is all the more relevant as the fixed structures of sovereignty and governance break down. All over the world, societies are facing stresses from population growth, structural change in the world economy, migration into cities, environmental degradation and rapid social change. Societies with institutions, rules or norms for managing conflict and well-established traditions of governance, are generally better able to accommodate peacefully to change; those with weaker governance, fragile social bonds and little consensus on values or traditions are more likely to buckle. Strengthening the capacity of conflict resolution within societies and political institutions, especially preventatively, is a vital part of the response to the phenomena of warlordism and ethno-nationalism. We argue that conflict resolution has a role to play, even in war zones, since building peace constituencies and understandings across divided communities is an essential element of humanitarian engagement. We argue that conflict resolution is an integral part of work for development, social justice and social transformation, that aims to tackle the problems of which mercenaries and child soldiers are symptoms. We argue for a broad understanding of conflict resolution, to include not only mediation between the parties but efforts to address the wider context in which international actors, domestic constituencies and intra-party relationships sustain violent conflicts. Finally, we argue that although the theories and practices of conflict resolution we deal with spring from western roots, every culture and society has its own version of what is, after all, a general social and political need. The point is not to abandon conflict resolution because it is western, but to find ways to enrich western and non-western traditions through their mutual encounter.
In making these arguments, we recognise that conflict resolution itself is changing and developing, as it must, to deal with the changing nature of conflict. Our main purpose is to foster an understanding of contemporary conflicts and to indicate how the practice and thinking of contemporary conflict resolution is changing in response. In doing so, we aim to offer a picture of the range of organizations and individuals that are involved in the field, not only in international organizations and non-governmental organizations but also in political parties and at grass-roots level in societies in conflict. We will review the theories and practices of conflict resolution, pointing to the new methods and approaches, the difficulties and dilemmas they face, and the broadening scope of their application.
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