Contemporary Conflict Resolution (PowerPoint)

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Conflict Resolution

    The prevention,
    management and
transformation of deadly

     Oliver Ramsbotham,
  Tom Woodhouse, Hugh Miall
1918-1945        1945-1965        1965-1985      1985-2005

 Precursors   Foundations Consolidation   Reconstruction
Precursors: the First Generation

• Mary Parker Follett: negotiation as a shared
problem to be resolved
• Initiatives in the fields of psychology, politics and
international studies
• Historical traditions and practices of the Quakers
and Mennonites
• Ideas of Gandhi and the teachings of Buddhism
Foundations: the Second Generation

• First institutions of peace and
conflict research

• Kenneth Boulding: conflict resolution as the development of a knowledge base in
which “social data stations” would emerge
• “minimalist agenda”: seeking to reduce the incidence and extent of war- North
American pragmatists

• “maximalist agenda”: overcoming of structural and cultural violence as well-
European “structuralists”
• Johan Galtung – conflict triangle

• John Burton: works were to result in the use of the controlled communication or
the problem-solving method
• Concept of protracted social conflict
Consolidation: the Third Generation

•First systematic attempts to apply the problem-solving
approach to real conflicts
• The Harvard School
• Emergence of the concept of “ripeness”: different types of third party
mediation could be effective at different stages of the conflict process

• Track I/ Track II mediation
• Adam Curle: peace understood broadly in terms of development
• Four elements to the mediation process: the mediator acts to build,
maintain and improve communications, provides information to and
between the conflict parties, befriends the parties and encourages
“active mediation”

• Elise Boulding: “imaging the future”
Conflict Triangles
Reconstruction: the Fourth Generation

• Greater critical scrutiny as conflict resolution ideas are being tested
both at local and governmental levels:

• Peacebuilding from below and shift away from the idea of “top down”

• Power, participation and transformation: problematize the given
framework or social order with the aim of considering its origins and how
it might be changed

• A gendered critique of conflict resolution

• The culture question – question whether the conflict resolution field
constitutes a truly global enterprise
Right wing: there is no room for conflict resolution in dispute between
irreconcilable interests.
Can we say that there is such a thing as irreconcilable interests?
What would the role of the mediator be if we start from the premise that
interests at stake are inherently irreconcilable?

Need to adopt a “bottom up” approach to solving conflict, necessity to
include the local society into the process.
How can we put this into practice?
How do you include the people into the mediation process so as to
ensure that the solution is eventually accepted as their own (and not as
an imposed one)?
Who do you include in the conflict resolution process?
Difficulty to reconcile cultural differences:
To what extent can we say that conflict resolution is westernized?
If it is westernized, then how can we make the field more culturally sensitive?
How can traditional practices offer alternative ways to ending conflicts?

Different cultures have different negotiating styles (“culture box”):
Why and in what ways is cultural awareness relevant to conflict
What is the real importance of searching for alternative (common) values?
Do you know of a specific example, i.e. a mediation process, which was
facilitated or made more difficult because of a specific cultural issue?

What are the dangers of a conflict resolution attempt/approach that is largely
ignorant of the cultural specificities?
How can we ensure that the mediator does not become an extension of the
How to approach the difficult, but necessary task, of culture adaptation?
Are the discourses and institutions that reproduce militarism and
violence themselves gendered so that successful long term conflict
resolution requires radical transformations?

Uneasy compromise between the maximalist and minimalist poles:
What are the risks/advantages of the negative (absence of war) and
positive peace (overcoming of structural and cultural violence as well)

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