Sunday, February 8, 2009

Conflict Levels and Dynamics

By Asoka Kumara

Defining Conflict“A struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources” (Lewise Coser )

“Any situation in which two or more social entities or ‘parties’……perceive that they possess mutually incompatible goals.” (Mitchell)

Conflict is always not a negative thing. Most people associate negative words or ideas with conflict

War, violence, anger or hurt feelings but, Peace building assumes that conflict is a natural part of human existence and that the goal is to transform the destructive ways we deal with conflict to lead to more constructive outcomes.

Conflict levels
 Intra - personal conflict: this refers to conflict occurring with in a person. Usually people need to work on their own inner struggles and issues in order to be constructive in social conflict
Ex.Nelson Mandela (South Africa)
 Interpersonal conflict: Conflict occurring between individuals or small groups of people
 Intra-group conflict: Conflicts that happen in a particular group, whether it is a religious, ethnic, political or other type of identity group.
 Inter-group conflict: occurring between large organized social or identity groups

Challenges in working at conflict
1. Communicating with “the enemy" without being viewed of a spy or traitor
2. To change national structures. Social, political and economic systems often need to change in order to achieve peace that is grounded in justice
3. Influenced by global economic and political systems national institutions and structures do not operate in a vacuums. They are influenced by other countries and actors (EU,ASEAN,IMF,WB)

Stages and Dynamics of Conflict
Conflicts are not static, they change over time sometimes increasing in intensity and some times decreasing. Conflict like fire, goes through a number of stages that have particular elements that make it unique

Stage one - Gathering materials/potential conflict
In the early stage, materials for the fire are collected. Some of these materials are drier than others, but there is no fire yet. However, three is movement towards fire and the materials are readily available
Ex.Donoughmore Reforms – 1931
Soulbury Reforms -1947
Official Language act no 33 of 1956
Citizenship Act

Stage two - Fire begins burning/Confrontation
In this stage, a match is lit and the fire begins to burn
Ex. Killed 13 solders in July 1983
Black July incidents

Conflict stage three- Bonfire/Crisis
The fire burn as far and fast as it can, burning wildly out of control. This stage, the conflict reaches a crisis and, just like the fire conflict consumes the materials fuelling it.
People purposefully do harm, maim of kill others and usually, both sides end up losing something.

EX. Killing and destruction occurred during 1983 – 2001

Conflict stage Four- Coals/Potential conflict
At some point, the fire abates, the flames largely vanish and just the coals continue to glow as most of the fuel is burn up. At this stage, conflict can either continue to burn them out or, if new fuel is added, can re-ignite. If peace accords are signed, then the violence usually decreases
Ex.CFA between GOSL and LTTE (22nd Feb 2002)

Conflict stage Five- Fire out/Regeneration
The fire is finally out and even the embers are cool. At this stage, it is time to focus on other things besides the fire and to re build and help regenerate what was lost.

Peace building Activities
Each stage of conflict has a unique element therefore peace building activities need to design carefully some activities for each stage are
Stage one & two: Transforming Material and preventing Fire
 Prejudice reduction
 Conflict resolution training
 Non-violent advocacy
 HR education
 Economic and agricultural development
Stage three: Limiting What Ignites and Preventing the Flames from Spreading
 Non violent advocacy & training
 HR education and training
 Encouraging local capacities for peace
 Economic & agricultural development
 Use media & communication
Stage four: Cooling the Coals
 Economic & agricultural development
 Trauma counseling
 Media and communication
 Demobilizing soldiers
 Peace education, mediation, interfaith dialogue
Stage Five: Regeneration
 Trauma healing
 Reintegrating IDPs
 Reconstruction
 Micro-finance and agriculture projects
 Reconciliation

Reference : Caritas Peace Building Manual

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