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Elijah Hall
Elijah Hall

Conflict Resolution And Prevention John Burton Pdf Free

"By becoming the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, we've started the next phase of our journey as an institution committed to furthering both the research and practice of conflict resolution. In this effort, we are taking the Carters' unwavering dedication to peace as our beacon and our guide."

Conflict Resolution And Prevention John Burton Pdf Free

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One of the most notable debates on free trade agreements currently evolves around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The lens of peace and conflict studies offers a unique angle. An international trade policy like TPP has the potential to lift environmental, labor, human rights and living standards. If designed and implemented that way, trade can indeed reduce root causes of destructive conflict. However, the history of free trade agreements, the secrecy around TPP, and the leaked information of the actual agreement suggest tremendous potential for social conflict if implemented.

The conflict resolution community seems to pursue conflict resolution efforts in Africa from a variety of purposes and interests and with policies that are often replete with ambiguities and contradictions. This situation may be the reason why many African conflicts may be silenced but remain largely unresolved. As Zartman (2000:3) has pointed out, although African conflicts involve the activities of seasoned peacemakers using the best of personal skills and recently developed knowledge about ways of managing and resolving conflicts, international efforts at conflict management have not been particularly effective or efficient in overcoming the disasters that have brought them to the continent. The critical question then is how we understand the problem of conflict resolution in Africa when the actors, mainly external to Africa, propagate the idea of peace and conflict resolution corresponding mainly to their own interests and view of Africa and the world.

After cataloguing and categorising the different conflict types in post-independence Africa, it may now be appropriate to highlight the debate on conflict resolution and conflict management, consider the main intervention agencies and examine the different approaches employed to deal with the different conflicts.

Stephen Ryan (1990:50) has asserted that too often conflict resolution is used as a cover-all term that fails to face up to the different processes involved in the reduction or elimination of violence. This statement seems to be very evident of the African conflict situation especially when scholars and practitioners alike refer to the handling of conflict in Africa. It is necessary to explore the main features of conflict resolution and conflict management, two approaches in conflict scholarship, in order to better understand and assess the motivations and actions of intervening agencies or actors. The first major difference between the two approaches concerns the desire or not to raise the fundamental issues that divide the parties to a conflict. Proponents of the resolution approach favour the raising of fundamental issues because they believe that conflict can be resolved. As Mitchell (1989:9) pointed out, not merely will disruptive conflict behaviour cease and hostile attitudes and perceptions at least be ameliorated, but the ultimate source of conflict (that is, the situation of goal incompatibility) will also be removed so that no unsatisfied goals remain to plague the future.

Proponents of the management approach, on the other hand, believe that attempts to resolve conflicts are unrealistic, so rather than dealing with basic issues, attention should be concentrated on ameliorating the symptoms of the conflict, and in this way reducing suffering (Ryan 1990:102). Scholars of the resolution approach argue that the unsolvable nature of a particular conflict is more apparent than real. They maintain that it may be incorrect to view conflicts in zero-sum or win/lose terms, and that positive sum or win/win outcomes may be possible if we base our thinking on different assumptions. John Burton (1979; 1984; 1987; 1990), for example, calls for the adoption of a human needs approach, arguing for a paradigm shift in how we analyse conflicts. For Burton, most conflicts arise because one or more groups are denied their basic human needs as advanced by Galtung (2004), Doyal and Gough (1991) and others.

The second major difference between the two approaches relates to the chances of obtaining a self-sustaining settlement or outcome. Light (1984:151) claimed that conflict resolution offers a more viable outcome to conflict, because it converts the conflict into a shared problem, setting up a process in which both sides participate equally in finding solutions which are acceptable to both and which, therefore, are self-sustaining. Those who advance the management approach argue rather that given the lack of a community of interest, the most that can be hoped for is the suppression or perhaps the elimination of overt violence. One wonders whether the latter view is not the basis for all the peace-keeping forces prescribed for conflicts in Africa over the decades.

The third main difference concerns the role of the third party in responding to violence. Many proponents of the resolution approach tend not to believe in enforced settlements, a process upheld by proponents of the management school. In the resolution approach, the consent and contentment of the parties to a conflict are central. The solution to the conflict in this approach ought not to be imposed from outside. In this case, the third party plays a vital role, but only to the extent that the third party facilitates the interaction process. Edward de Bono (1985:76) popularised much of the thinking on how this can be done. As he put it:

While Burton (1979:120) on his part suggested that enforced settlement is not resolution of conflict, Groom (1986:86) also favoured the resolution of a conflict above a settlement, arguing that resolution is not a settlement imposed by a victor or a powerful third party, but rather a new set of relationships freely and knowledgeably arrived at by the parties themselves.

This situation is different from the management of conflict viewpoint. Ryan (1990:105) has pointed out that even the term management implies a certain amount of arm-twisting, and to do this effectively power is required. The belief, according to Ryan, that basic issues cannot be resolved logically encourages the assumption that the natural state of affairs between the parties is conflict and that a third force is needed to ensure an acceptable degree of order and stability. This will have to take the form of a coercive intervention, sometimes by military or paramilitary forces; sometimes through economic measures. A review of conflict intervention in Africa over the decades reveals that conflict resolution in Africa has rather been about conflict management since it has focused mainly on a certain amount of arm-twisting and coercive intervention with military and para-military forces. Zartman (2000:2) has indicated that the United Nations Security Council deployed nine peace-keeping missions to Africa in the 1990s alone.

A review of intervention efforts in African conflicts in the last two or three decades of the 20th century brings out two main trends in regard to the main actors or agencies and the intervention approaches involved. The first trend shows that the main actors intervening in African conflicts were almost entirely from outside of Africa. These were individuals, countries, groups of countries, institutions and organisations. As Herman Cohen pointed out, until 1993 Africa was almost totally dependent on outside entities for conflict management (1996:2). Some of these outside entities or actors included former colonial masters, international organisations and foreign powers like the United Nations, the European Community, and the United States of America; as well as regional efforts like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in West Africa, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Desertification (IGADD)3 in East Africa, and a number of non-governmental actors such as former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Julius Nyerere. The second strong idea that emerges from intervention literature is the increasing emphasis on conflict management rather than resolution as the intervention approach in Africa.

While conflict resolution is a skill that is best built through years of practice and experience, starting out with some of the most common and effective conflict resolution strategies will give you a strong foundation to work from for years to come.

If you're dealing with a conflict between two members of your team, it's important that you get all the facts. Sit down with each individual involved and find out exactly what the issue is. How is each individual perceiving the situation? What needs are not being met? What does each party see as an appropriate resolution? Make sure that all parties involved understand that you are acting as an impartial mediator, and let them know they can feel comfortable to share sensitive information.

After both parties have had a chance to discuss the situation at hand, it's time to identify what a satisfactory resolution might be - and how to get there. Ideally, by this point, both parties will understand the other's side, and oftentimes the conflict will be resolved just through facilitated, open dialogue. However, if the situation requires further resolution, you will need to step in and help them negotiate a reasonable solution. This phase can require some time and effort, as it requires both parties to set aside their differences and preferences and find some common ground to work towards (which may involve not getting everything they want out of the situation). Then, work with both individuals to come up with a concrete list of steps that will result in the solution being achieved.

Just because a solution has been identified and addressed doesn't mean it will just go away. As a manager, it's your responsibility to check in with both parties to ensure that the conflict has truly been dealt with, and that the steps identified to reach a solution are being followed. If all seems to be going well, simply remember to stop and observe from time to time, just to see if things really are going smoothly or if there are still lingering tensions under the surface that need to be handled. If it's clear that the solution didn't work, or wasn't the right resolution for the situation, make sure to be proactive in working with both parties to readjust expectations, identify alternative solutions, and continue their dialogue to create a positive and healthy work environment.


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