Conflict Resolution and Transformation Research Proposal

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Conflict Resolution & Transformation

external intervention in conflict

Evaluating the contributions of external intervention to internal conflict resolution and transformation

Violent conflict in many regions of the world is an issue of grave concern in the international relations today. As one pundit notes, the issue of modern conflict is one that is often compounded by internal politics, structures and forms of dissention that are related to various aspects of inequality in contemporary societies.

Although there appear to be fewer wars between countries there are more outbreaks of armed violence within countries… these are due to many factors, some internal to the country and others caused by external matters such as gross inequalities in world income distribution or perceived discrimination against those of a particular religious beliefs

(POSITION PAPER: CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION. Council for International Development).

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The complexity of contemporary conflict is also increased by the fact that we live in an interconnected and globalized world, where the impact or effects of conflict in one area is not isolated and has numerous ripple- effects on other regions and countries. This can be seen for instance in the conflict that has spread in the Middle-East; and in the fact that the religious dimensions of this conflict have spread far beyond regional boundaries and have taken on a much broader and international reality. This is also largely due to the way that ideologies and conflicts are disseminated via modern communication and the Internet to include many players and affected parties.

Research Proposal on Conflict Resolution and Transformation Assignment

The above points therefore have direct and important connections to the issue of external intervention and transformation of internal conflicts. In essence this means that external intervention in conflict situations has to take cognizance of the interlinked and complex reality of contemporary conflict in order to have a chance of realistically ending the conflict and preventing further conflict through transformation. As will be outlined in this proposal, there is a growing need for multidimensional awareness of the different valences and factors that constitute the nature of that conflict in order to prevent conflict and bring about lasting transformation.

The role and contribution of external intervention in the reduction and transformation of internal conflicts has consequently become a central theme in the study of contemporary international relationships. There are many instances where external mediation has made a positive contribution to the reduction of violence and conflict and towards a greater stability in the country or region. On the other hand there are also many instances, particularly in Africa, where external intervention has in fact exacerbated the conflict or allowed it to die down but emerge in new and even more violent forms.

Conflict intervention, reduction and reformation has a large body of literature associated with it. Even a cursory perusal of the literature provides insight into the complexity of the various factors and facets that are employed in international conflict intervention. These are aspects that all have to be considered in an evaluation of external intervention in conflict areas.

They include aspects such as the constitution of peace keeping forces - which are often problematic in terms of prior affiliations and alignments; the institution of civilian defense strategies in order "… to deter violent aggression by promising a nonviolent program of systematic non-cooperation with any conquering force " (Treatment List 2: Treating Core Conflict Problems)

There may also be other factors that become the responsibility of the external intervening body or agency; such as the issue of criminal procedures and prosecution of those who have committed war comes. This is a common a process that is intended to promote a sense of order and justice, which has the intended effect of social transformation after as period of conflict and instability. There are a host of other aspects, such as truth commissions etc. -- all of which requires a high degree of sensitivity and awareness of the social fabric and causative features responsible for the conflict in the first place.

1.1. The prerequisites to external intervention

A central factor that is mentioned in numerous studies on this topic is that, "Before practitioners attempt to Develop conflict transformation/intervention strategies, they would be well advised to take a closer look at the underlying vision supporting the stated wishes and needs to intervene" (Paffenholz). This is a cardinal issue that leads to a variety of related points and factors. In an article entitled Designing Transformation and Intervention Processes, the author states that,

When intervening actors lack a clear vision of a peaceful outcome, they usually run the risk that their intervention will be determined by the market of suppliers, rather than by the demand side or real needs of the region in conflict. Operating from a genuine commitment for peace and conflict transformation increases the chance that the intervention will minimise harm and eventually facilitate effective processes that will lead to constructive conflict transformation (Paffenholz).

This above is an important insight at it goes to the heart of any evaluation of the positive or negative effects of conflict intervention and attempted transformation. In other words, an important evaluation parameter is that the success of failure of intervention is largely dependent on the prerequisite information; understanding and insight, in order to ensure that the methods and procedure of intervention of the intervening body are conducive to peace and do not inadvertently result in further tension sand conflict.

Therefore, an analysis and evaluation of external intervention in internal conflict should bear in mind the elements that make up the most appropriate form of intervention. Intervention should in the first instance be as limited as possible. In other words, local input should be utilized as much as possible to reduce the conflict. Intervention should always be non-partisan and unbiased, as well as being as inclusive as possible. Any perception of selectivity to bias would obviously impact negatively on the effects of the intervention. In general intervention should also be as holistic as possible. These are only as few of the central criteria and parameters that will be used to evaluate external intervention in specified conflict areas in the world.

2. Brief literature overview

Numerous articles, reports and studies were consulted in order to access the latest theoretical as well as practical information on this topic. Sources that were used in the initial overview of the topic were relevant books and journal articles, as well as online sources and databases. The verified online sources were found to provide a wealth of informstion that was particularly up-to-date. The following represent a few samples from this diverse resource base.

In terms of the fundamentals of understanding international conflict and the background to conflict intervention, a work that was particularly helpful is Understanding Ethnic Conflict ( 2006). This work provided excellent insight into the theoretical underpinnings of modern conflict resolution. The study was also helpful in that it provided comprehensive case scenarios of conflict areas.

An article that provides insight underlying problematics of concept resolution in relation to the concept of transformation and nation building is CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION AS STRATEGY FOR NATION-BUILDING IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY: In Search for Alternative Solution for Iraq after U.S.-UK Occupation, by Dale ( 2009). This work discusses the contemporary aspects of transformation in pluralistic and conflict-ridden regions through nation building.

From a theoretical perspective, a study by Dr. Ho-Won Jeong, Understanding Conflict and Conflict Analysis provided good background and insight into the international dimensions of this issue. The book examines the variables that shape conflict and provides a basis from which to approach the processes and transformations of conflict intervention.

More specifically, there were many useful studies on the issue of the intervention and transformation process that were consulted. One that stands out is Designing Transformation and Intervention Processes by Thania Paffenholz . The author deals with central aspects that inform the present proposal. This refers especially to the view that in the intervention process, "…vision alone is insufficient: intervening actors must also turn their visions into operational and achievable goals that can then form the basis for the development of effective" (Paffenholz, 2006).

In Transitions from Violence to Peace, Veronique Dudouet deals with intervention in conflict transformation. In this 2006 report by the Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management, the author explores the factors that influence the transitional stages of conflict transformation in conflict areas. This article is also helpful in that it discusses the management of diversity. The intention of the study is to create more focused criteria for the design, timing and nature of peacemaking and peace building interventions.

3. Central aims and intentions

As Michael Olisa points out in Nyongo's Arms and Daggers in the heart of Africa (1993), conflict resolution when implemented by external or outside agencies can sometimes create more problems than there were initially. An imperative aspect of conflict intervention is that it should be perceived to be impartial and unbiased. This refers particularly to many conflict areas in Africa, such as the Congo, where external intervention in the internal conflict has largely failed or not produced the desired results.

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How to Cite "Conflict Resolution and Transformation" Research Proposal in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Conflict Resolution and Transformation.  (2009, November 20).  Retrieved January 27, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Conflict Resolution and Transformation."  20 November 2009.  Web.  27 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Conflict Resolution and Transformation."  November 20, 2009.  Accessed January 27, 2021.