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An introduction to the issue of conflict

As to the components of conflict, the focus should not only be on hostile behaviour, but also on prejudiced attitudes and incompatible interests.

From such wider perspectives meaningful insights may be developed about cultural values underlying conflicts, and power issues in the field of mediation.

More attention may be given to the effects of changes in leadership on conflicts and their resolution, and to several constitutional and procedural ways of promoting post-conflict confidence building. During the crucial stage of monitoring and managing the implementation of an agreement, the various forms of violence and the different components of conflict should seriously be taken into account.

Such a comprehensive understanding can even lead to a wider application of certain conflict resolution and restorative justice methods, so that they can contribute to conflict prevention. Diversified knowledge, insight and expertise can indeed improve the quality and effectiveness of present-day conflict resolution. Introduction Conflict management in general, and conflict resolution in particular, is almost entirely determined by our understanding of the composition of a conflict, and not only by its symptoms.

Politics by definition functions in contexts of scarcity: Competition is, therefore, inevitable, whether it an introduction to the issue of conflict between two or more individuals, groups or even states. In the absence of such a consensus, conflict becomes prolonged, an introduction to the issue of conflict and harmful. Many mediation processes have concentrated mainly on the behavioural aspect.

In the same vein Khan cautions against over-emphasis on a cease-fire in the Kashmir conflict in Khan 2001: Confidence-building mechanisms, on the other hand, concentrate on the changing of attitudes, while structural changes in the form of a negotiated constitution, for example emphasise the reduction of incompatible interests.

Some might argue that there is a causal relationship between incompatibilities and attitudes, and between attitudes and behaviour, with the resultant view that conflict resolution should concentrate primarily either on the incompatibilities or on behaviour as its point of departure.

Unfortunately for those who yearn for meta-theories in this field, no research has yet discovered such correlations. The art of conflict resolution expects a practitioner to analyse thoroughly all three components and only thereafter make a determination of where are the most appropriate entry points for facilitative interventions.

Chester Crocker Crocker 1999: In some instances a cease-fire i. In other instances the level of distrust between the parties is so immense that elements of mutual trust and confidence must first be established i. Sometimes the incompatible interests are addressed head-on like with the Dayton agreement between Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Yugoslavia in 1995 and only thereafter confidence-building and changes in attitudes are addressed Holbrooke 1999. Experience in conflict resolution and a sound theoretical understanding of the nature of conflict appear to be absolute prerequisites to determine how a facilitation process should be approached.

Textbook recipes are not available. The Value Base of Conflict Resolution The moral virtues of conflict resolution and peace are often taken for granted. According to him, struggle and not peace can be virtue in certain traditions, including Islam. Unqualified insistence on conflict resolution or peace-making is then perceived as a predominantly Christian or Western liberal value determination. It affirms the importance of understanding all three components of a conflict, including its very specific cultural context.

Does conflict resolution mean submission to the interests of the powerful? Current events suggest that most conflict resolution initiatives in the Balkan, Middle East, Latin America or South Asia will arguably be inconceivable without active American support or tacit agreement. The same principle is ostensibly applicable in respect of determining the approach to providing justice in post-conflict arrangements. Why did the international community not dictate the justice-seeking arrangement in South Africa the Truth and Reconciliation Commissionbut did so in Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda?

The answer lies in the fact that the decisions have been determined by political contingencies and not by general, universal principles. International public law is often considered to be the only universal value base of conflict resolution. Though diplomacy has always been determined by interests and political considerations, the increased prominence of political decision making has changed the de facto nature and practice of international public law insofar as it relates to conflicts.

Chapters 6 and 7 of the UN Charter provide a range of conflict resolution instruments. Of the two, Chapter 7 has been most effective because it allows for economic sanctions, blockades and use of military force.

International legal practices ascribe ultimate authorisation in those respects to the Security Council. Sweden has set an example by establishing in 1999 an international commission headed by Judge Richard Goldstone to investigate possible American violation of international law in Kosovo in 1999. Unilaterally imposed sanctions are equally controversial in respect of maintaining a universal value framework. Does a state have the right to impose sanctions on another as part of its domestic policies, while the international community in general disagrees with it?

Such a state of affairs complicates conflict resolution as a practice because its value base in the form of the UN Charter as its primary source has become negotiable. Chapter 6 remains relevant as describing instruments for peaceful means of conflict resolution.

Managing territorial conflict: An introduction to this special issue

But can they be combined with Chapter 7 instruments? General legal principles normally determine that all internal remedies have to be exhausted before certain external remedies are available. Arguably, Chapter 6 and 7 fit in such a framework. But, ostensibly, it does not fit current political approaches. Mediated Negotiations Mediation, as assertive facilitation by an external party, is a special form of negotiation. Mediation should not be treated as only deadlock-breaking facilitation, but also as exploratory and trust-building facilitation.

A prominent feature of mediation initiatives currently undertaken is the use of power or leverage i. The American approach to Kosovo is an example of it. The mediating agency, in fact, becomes a negotiating partner although it is not a direct party to the conflict.

Power mediators are seldom invited by the parties to facilitate, but most of the time impose themselves on the situation. Power or leverage mediation depends on a number of conditions: Theoretically, powers other than the USA can also play this role, but we have yet to experience it.

Its emphasis on diplomatic caution and consensus building also inhibits such direct interference. Can individuals apply leverage and use power mediation? Jimmy Carter has come closest to it in his intervention in North Korea. But he could not apply the same power in Burundi or in Yugoslavia.

His power is not based on national interest, economic or military capacity, but on moral authority and international status. The use of elderly statesmen is sometimes contemplated as a valuable source for mediation.

Issues in Conflict Resolution

Most of them cannot guarantee success, however. They have experience in negotiation as political leaders but not necessarily in mediation, and they seldom have the infrastructural support to sustain a settlement process. It is the phase during which civil society is most directly involved in conflict management. In the past, when conflict resolution resorted mainly in the domain of diplomacy, this form of mediation received little attention.

In recent years it has emerged as an indispensable part of almost any peace-making process. Almost without exception, those processes that have failed did so because of a lack of civil society involvement in preparing an atmosphere conducive to negotiations, and to the successful implementation of an agreement. Church leaders, business leaders, NGOs and academics appear to be most active and involved in this area.

The best-known recent example of such an initiative is the Oslo channel process for the Middle East, started by Swedish academics and continued by the Norwegian trade union movement. Business and church leaders in South Africa also took the initiative in 1991, which resulted in the National Peace Accord. In 2001, Turkish and Armenian business leaders, retired politicians and former military officers took the initiative to establish a commission for the promotion of dialogue between the two adversaries after recent Armenian efforts to gain international recognition for an Armenian genocide in 1915 in Turkey Aktan 2001: The success of track II mediation depends largely on a delicate balance between public exposure of the process and maintaining confidentiality.

This form of mediation can serve two purposes: Both purposes are directed against entrenched stereotypes of each other, which are kept intact by mutual isolation and an introduction to the issue of conflict absence of contesting impulses. Some attempts have been made to achieve both purposes in one process, but as a general observation it may be said that they are bound to fail, because of the tension between publicity and confidentiality.

An example of such a failure happened in 1996 in Turkey. The initial motivation for his initiative was the fact that a number of Turkish soldiers had been captured by the Kurds. On the other hand, examples of the confidential approach are the dialogue between Nelson Mandela then still in jail and the National Party NP government in the middle 1980s, and the dialogue between the African National Congress ANC and Afrikaner opinion leaders in the same period Sparks 1994: Though the National Party government denigrated them despite its own dialogue in secretthe IDASA initiative did not constitute the main dialogue process.

The Nacar initiative, on the other hand, was the main and only one. A certain level of confidentiality was applied in the Oslo process as the main dialogue process between the Palestine Liberation Organisation PLO and Israel, while the secondary dialogue process in Washington and elsewhere was public but did not produce any tangible results. It appears, generally speaking, that in its formative stages the main dialogue process should be kept confidential. When public opinion is not receptive for dialogue often as a result of prolonged negative indoctrination by the parties involvednegotiators are unwilling to risk their reputation in public.

In summary, an introduction to the issue of conflict contradiction between the dehumanised images of the rival cultivated for the public, and the images of negotiators talking to the very same people, is too much to reconcile in public and with their political colleagues at that stage.

A special type of rapprochement comparable to track II mediation, but not real mediation, is the emergence of social movements amongst rivals. In Northern Ireland, social peace movements organised by women emerged and placed insurmountable pressure on political leaders to engage in a peace process.

The earthquake in Turkey in August 1999 and the spontaneous Greek humanitarian response to it also introduced a period of improved relations between the two countries. Our understanding of mediation within the ambit of political conflict resolution is definitely changing. The fact that power mediation receives so much attention, although it is actually not mediation but a redefinition of the negotiation relationships, is unfortunate.

But a return to more classical forms of mediation is not likely. Leadership Changes A conflict resolution issue which has so far received only tentative attention is the influence of leadership changes on resolving conflicts. Negative memories of aborted agreements, unkept promises, superior tactics by the other side or attacks on the characters of leaders, are all serious obstacles for conflict resolution.

Because the costs of face-saving increases as the governing term of the leaders increases, a stalemate even a hurting one is often present, and deepens with each acrimonious exchange between the leaders. Term of office is mostly directly related to the age of leaders.

Younger generations appear to be more amenable to dialogue and change. A possible correlation between age and successful negotiation should be a worthwhile research topic. Examples where leadership changes have increased the chances of a negotiated agreement are the UK in 1997 for Northern IrelandSouth Africa in 1989 and the DRC in 2000.

The new British Labour government with a firm parliamentary majority definitely served as a catalyst for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The issue of leadership change raises two related political issues, namely the importance of consolidated leadership authority and the use of elder statesmen in conflict resolution. Leadership change normally means a new leader with a fresh mandate and high public expectations but not yet with consolidated authority in the machinations of the state.

A possible explanation for their willingness to engage in negotiation is their relative isolation from the military or armed wing.