Sunday, February 15, 2009


Conflict occurs between people in all kinds of human relationships and in all social settings. Because of the wide range of potential differences among people, the absence of conflict usually signals the absence of meaningful interaction. Conflict by itself is neither good nor bad. However, the manner in which conflict is handled determines whether it is constructive or destructive (Deutsch & Coleman, 2000).

Conflict is defined as an incompatibility of goals or values between two or more parties in a relationship, combined with attempts to control each other and antagonistic feelings toward each other (Fisher, 1990). The incompatibility or difference may exist in reality or may only be perceived by the parties involved. Nonetheless, the opposing actions and the hostile emotions are very real hallmarks of human conflict.

Conflict has the potential for either a great deal of destruction or much creativity and positive social change (Kriesberg, 1998). Therefore, it is essential to understand the basic processes of conflict so that we can work to maximize productive outcomes and minimize destructive ones.

Conflict Reduction
In the unfortunate event where conflict will have taken place, the task will involve reducing or moderating the escalation of conflict. The standard procedures will involve the adoption of specific strategies. Among the key strategies are:
• To institute consultation projects
Key Parties to the conflict must be identified and their demands or positions clarified.
• Promote Public awareness and protests to end violence
• Offer support to non-and semi-partisan local actors
• Undertake negotiations
At the stage of negotiations, ideally, it would have been more meaningful should the parties to the conflict have been able to enter into such negotiations by themselves. Experience however shows that this is usually not the case. Under such a situation, negotiations can only take place under a facilitator. Often the facilitator has to be a person of high standing, agreeable to parties to the conflict and one who does not harbor any other interest in the conflict than to resolve it. The key institutions for the negotiations are peace commissions and Peace Roundtable's.

Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution is much broader process. It addresses all aspects of life and not merely a case of conflict that may have taken place. Accordingly, the steps towards conflict resolution will entail both negotiation and mediation strategies. In more concrete terms Conflict Resolution is a step towards the conclusion of the management of conflict. By and large conflict resolution goes through a series of tasks and undertakings. These tasks include:
• Rehabilitation and Trauma Healing,
Conflict can be injurious and parties to the conflict can physically and psychologically become traumatized as a result of the conflict. Programs that are intended to put the conflict behind and look forward to amore rewarding future are underlined by this task different councilors can be consulted to help, especially those who are psychologically wounded.
• Education for peace programs,
This activity entails, among other things demobilization and civilization of hardened and militarized political and structures. Among the activities along this task is to undertake social reconstruction and conduct reconciliation workshops for militants from the parties to the conflict.

Other activities are more straightforward. These activities include community building initiatives, confidence building projects, and offer Support for Power Sharing efforts. There is no standard sequence for the implementation of the strategies above. Rather, depending on the situation on the ground, each task of conflict resolution will be affected in response to specific demands. Other activities can run parallel to the others until stability and peace are restored while the others can terminate in between.

Methods of Conflict Resolution:
Regardless of the level of conflict, there are differing approaches to deal with the incompatibilities that exist. Conflict can result in destructive outcomes or creative ones depending on the approach that is taken. If we can manage conflict creatively, we can often find new solutions that are mutually satisfactory to both parties. Sometimes this will involve a distribution of resources or power that is more equitable than before, or in creating a larger pool of resources or forms of influence than before. Creative outcomes are more probable when the parties are interdependent, that is, each having some degree of independence and autonomy from which to influence the other, rather than one party being primarily dependent on the other.

Given interdependence, three general strategies have been identified that the parties may take toward dealing with their conflict; win-lose, lose-lose, and win-win (Blake, Shepard & Mouton, 1964).

Win-lose approach
The win-lose approach is all too common. People learn the behaviors of destructive conflict early in life – competition, dominance, aggression and defense permeate many of our social relationships from the family to the school playground. The “fixed pie” assumption is made, often incorrectly, that what one party gains, the other loses. The strategy is thus to force the other side to capitulate. Sometimes, this is done through socially acceptable mechanisms such as majority vote, the authority of the leader, or the determination of a judge. Sometimes, it involves secret strategies, threat, innuendo – whatever works is acceptable, i.e., the ends justify the means. There is often a strong we-they distinction accompanied by the classic symptoms of inter group conflict. The valued outcome is to have a victor who is superior, and a vanquished who withdraws in shame, but who prepares very carefully for the next round. In the long run, everyone loses.

Lose - lose strategy
The lose - lose strategy is exemplified by smoothing over conflict or by reaching the simplest of compromises. In neither case is the creative potential of productive conflict resolution realized or explored. Disagreement is seen as inevitable, so therefore why not split the difference or smooth over difficulties in as painless a way as possible? Sometimes, this is indeed the reality of the situation, and the costs are less than in the win-lose approach, at least for the loser. Each party gets some of what it wants, and resigns itself to partial satisfaction. Neither side is aware that by confronting the conflict fully and cooperatively they might have created a more satisfying solution. Or the parties may realistically use this approach to divide limited resources or to ore stall a win-lose escalation and outcome.

Win-win approach
The win-win approach is a conscious and systematic attempt to maximize the goals of both parties through collaborative problem solving. The conflict is seen as a problem to be solved rather than a war to be won. The important distinction is we (both parties) versus the problem, rather than we (one party) versus they (the other party). This method focuses on the needs and constraints of both parties rather than emphasizing strategies designed to conquer. Full problem definition and analysis and development of alternatives precede consensus decisions on mutually agreeable solutions. The parties work toward common and super ordinate goals that are ones that can only be attained by both parties pulling together. There is an emphasis on the quality of the long term relationships between the parties, rather than short term accommodations. Communication is open and direct rather than secretive and calculating. Threat and coercion are proscribed, for example posing a threat that the country will be excluded from a certain organization, or it will not receive any humanitarian help fro any country. The assumption is made that integrative agreements are possible given the full range of resources existing in the relationship. Attitudes and behaviors are directed toward an increase of trust and acceptance rather than an escalation of suspicion and hostility. The win-win approach requires a very high degree of patience and skill in human relations and problem solving.

International Approach to conflict resolution.
1. Using the International Law.
Under this approach theorists believe that there is and should be one legal system around the world. This method seemed to have the weakness that it is not possible to have one legal system around the world because the context differs because of culture or interests.

2. One World Government/State
Theorists look to conflict as governmental issues (uniformity) and not as an individual because sometimes people fight because of the system. Under this approach resource use and control problem will not be available. In this approach it is emphasized that the rule of law must be exercised properly and not to go beyond by abusing human rights. For example shooting people the case of Zombe in Tanzania. This method has some limitations which include
Culture: It become difficult to put people together and obey the same stand.
There will be a struggle for power.

3. Regional International
Organizations such as SADC, EAC, Great Lakes Region, AU, ECOWAS may be used to intervene. The limitations found under this approach include the following:
Discrimination (some rebel groups fighting)
Resources power – Mediators should be powerful in terms of resources.
Personal integrity of those people in the region.

4. Balance of Power (weapons)
Two conflicts parties must have equal power. Using peace keeping process (force) intervene by neutral force (which can be formed by military from sure that all parts have equal a runs etc. Volunteers can be sent for discipline keeping for example polices. For example, political crisis in Tanzania from 2005 to 2007. Intervention can be in the form of requesting, they may come: - Security Council are allowed to intervene and they can come by using another part who are the peace keeper for example in Somalia, Liberia, Congo, and Sierra Leone.

6. Diplomacy (Third part)
They use of the embassies of the countries which fight or can come outside the groups. For example when the Kenyan fought in 2008 Koffi Annan came to solve the problem. The only weaknesses found in diplomacy are that they have to be accepted. For example President Mugabe in Zimbabwe refused to meet with some of the teams

7. Disarmament
Taking away, destroying the weapons groups which are good in peace keeping which come from Humanitarian instruments such as FAO, WHO, NGOs like Red Cross and others.

Local/African Methods/Applications in Conflict Resolution
According to the Local or African Approach point of view, Internanational approach are based on the use of force for example armament, use of groups, no negotiations and they mostly use command. Critics of the International approach in the Africa context is that command are not acceptable in the African countries and the use of force does not work in the African conflicts.

African approaches:
In the African context there are two-Belief
(1) Change the attitude
Under the African approach it is believed that before you intervene you must change the attitudes of the fighting parties by educating the conflicting parts, change their mind setting and also change their Beliefs. For example the Tutsi and Hutu war in Rwanda

(2) Use negotiation (agreement)
Make them understand the causes, impacts and soon. After making them understand (changing their mindset) then use negotiation the two parties may reconcile. Negotiations can be undersized by using laws so that there will be uniformily in resolving some conflicts. We can also borrow some ideas of/from big philosophers (Read UTU by Nyerere) the book insisted about African dignity love etc.

(3) Mandela’s Approach – Forgiveness comments: The approach insisted on how to end or avoid war by forgiving the other parties who mistreated the other party. Though it was also criticized that it requires more thinking, it is more psychological/spiritual understanding and thus insist people to “Think before do”. He also added that It we really need peace in African countries; we need love, spiritual, humanity and no revenge.

Criticism of the African Approaches:
African approaches are criticized for being too slow as there is too much delay and wastage of resources. The use of third parties dialogue also seemed to be a problem because sometimes the parties do not accept the person chosen.

Recommendations and Conclusion
The African leaders has to be commited for their people and not for self interests. When leaders are more committed affairs may reduce some misunderstanding as many African countries wars are caused by poor distribution of resources.

When a leader or a certain community take everything for themselves, it always end up with problems. For example construction of schools and hospitals should be equally distributed to all region not only to those region which are represented by large number of ministers.
Some of the third party who come to intervene have their interest in one side (basing on resources or other sources) seems to be biased to one side which causes more hate between the two parties.

Conclusively, Conflict in many ways shows its negative impacts to be the world, development and relationship in general. Different method of resolving conflict have been discussed above which have been used to resolve many conflicts. But it is very unfortunate that to some countries the war have never been stopped, for example in Somalia, Sudan and many others in the world, the diplomacy have to find what is the real source of the war, and then give the very strong reasons as to why they have to stop fighting without being biases to any side.

Conflict is an inevitable fact of human existence. If we work to understand and manage it
effectively, we can improve both the satisfaction and productivity of our social relationships.

(1) Blake, R.R., Shepard, H.A., & Mouton, J. S. (1964), Managing intergroup conflict in industry: : Gulf, Houston, Texas

(2) Deutsch, M. and Coleman, P. (eds.).( 2000) The handbook of conflict resolution: Theory and practice: Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

(3) Fisher, R.J.(1990) The social psychology of inter group and international conflict resolution. Springer-Verlag, New York

(4) Kriesberg, L. (1998) Constructive conflict: From escalation to resolution. Lanham, MD: Rowman &Littlefield.











Individual assignment

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