Conflict Transformation and Interventions

The study of dispute and peace resolution examines the dynamics between issues like democracy, human rights, equality, poverty, & governance in order to find solutions to problems like violence and dispute. The causes of war and other violent disputes and their solutions are essential topics of study in this domain. Economic and social policy in "post-conflict" areas and disputes sensitive development agendas in areas currently undergoing war and dispute may be of interest to fellows whose primary focus is on peaceful dispute resolution.

The study of peace and war is interdisciplinary because it involves so many different fields: psychology, philosophy, sociology, politics, international law, economics, intelligence analysis, and history, to name a few.

Conflict Transformation

Conflict transformation arose in early conflict research and development research in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The concept of conflict transformation can be found in the writings of peace researchers such as Senghaas and Krippendorf. They proposed in 1973 that wars were linked to underlying social processes at national and international levels. Lesser conflicts were linked to national conflicts, and more significant conflicts were linked to the structure of global society and the international economy. Adam Curle proposed the change of asymmetric interactions from unbalanced to balanced partnerships earlier in 1971.

Development is essential in transformation for ACurle because it includes reworking a relationship so that the conflict or alienation previously rendered unpeaceful is eliminated and replaced by a partnership that prevents it from repeating. Johan Galtung was another conflict transformation proponent who felt that conflicts arise from social structure inconsistencies. In 1996, he reasoned that incompatibilities between the parties might be eliminated by transcending these contradictions, which could be accomplished in one of three ways: through compromise, deepening or broadening the conflict structure, or associating or disassociating the players. Furthermore, the conclusion of the Cold War and the publishing of the United Nations Secretary General's report, 'An Agenda for Peace,' in 1992, aided the development of the notion of conflict transformation within the context of peace-building.

Conflict Resolution Mechanism

The study of peace and dispute sometimes includes discussing dispute resolution methods or impartial processes in which all parties can have faith. A dispute resolution agreement might be formal or informal, depending on the circumstances. In his book Understanding dispute Resolution, Wallenstein references the writings of Lewis A. Closer, Johan Galtung, and Thomas Schelling, providing seven different theoretical mechanisms for resolving a dispute. One of the disputing parties' priorities is changing. Although it is unusual for a political party to change its fundamental ideas, it is possible to see a movement in the issues that the party views as most important. In such a situation, novel approaches to settling disputes would emerge.

There is now a split in the contested resource. This means that both disputing parties are willing to adjust their priorities, creating space for a compromise. There was some backroom dealing between the warring sides. This results in one side getting everything on one subject and the other getting everything it wants on another.

The parties reach an agreement to rule the contested resource jointly. It could be a lasting settlement or a temporary agreement for a transitional phase that, if completed, will resolve the disputes. There will be a handover of power between the parties. Through this approach, the original contending parties come to terms with the fact that a third party will now manage the resource in question. In order to settle their disagreements, the parties turn to arbitration or the courts. Developing a method outside the direct control of the parties involves finding a procedure for resolving the problem through one of the five ways outlined above. Certain things can wait. It is said that this is the case because political climates and public opinion can shift, and the importance of some topics may decrease if they are postponed for too long.

The task facing dispute and peace studies is to devise novel approaches to conducting politics and constructing moral standards that will create certain arenas for all persons to begin working toward a common goal of resolving the world's most pressing problems. Reasons for this include the belief that combative politics (from the microcosm of the family to the macrocosm of the community, the national, and the international levels) are proving more dysfunctional than functional and the resulting disenchantment with contemporary power and politics.

Perspectives on Conflict Transformation

Political, economic, social, relational, psychological, and short- and long-term perspectives on conflict transformation exist. Some of these have already been mentioned in the methods section; for example, the political and economic perspective addresses topics that fall under the structural approach (e.g., state reforms and development approaches). As a result, this section will focus briefly on ideas that have yet to be expressly explored in the preceding sections. A good example is the psychological approach. Conflict transformation thinks that it is critical to focus on trauma issues resulting from violent conflict situations and traumatizing individuals, groups, and communities. Trauma work should thus be an essential component of conflict resolution. The socio-cultural viewpoint is also essential.

Communities and groups must work together to process the events and outcomes of conflicts. They may decide as a community which events they want to remember and which they want to forget. Symbols, rituals, ceremonies, stories, conventions, and healing practices, which may be religious or spiritual, all play a significant role in this connection, particularly in traditional civilizations. Consequently, a specific society's or community's culture does help to conflict transformation. In his paper Conflict Transformation in Protracted Internal Disputes, John Paul Lederach, on the other hand, discusses a long- and short-term perspective. Written in 2006, The Argument for a Comprehensive Framework. The short-term perspective focuses on current conflict issues, such as ceasefires, whereas the long-term approach focuses on agenda items, such as electoral or constitutional revisions. Nonetheless, John Paul believes that these points of view are not mutually exclusive. He proposes a complete paradigm in which both perspectives can be considered legitimate concerns.

Interventions to Convert Conflict into Peace

The following are examples of interventions that may be used to convert dispute peacefully −

  • Encourage direct dialogue between parties at odds to better comprehend each other's points of view and negotiate solutions that satisfy all parties.

  • A mediator is an impartial third party who helps parties in a dispute talk to one another and reach an agreement.

  • Capacity development is the process of equipping individuals and communities with the knowledge, tools, and support they need to engage in peacebuilding and conflict resolution actively.

  • Restorative justice focuses on resolving the dispute through dialogue and reparation rather than retribution.

  • Justice that seeks to transform society by tackling structural inequalities like poverty, prejudice, social exclusion, and individual wrongdoing is called transformative justice.

  • Decreasing military presence while exchanging war prisoners are two examples of confidence-building measures that can ease tensions and create trust between warring parties.


Relationships are strained when there is conflict. Transforming how people relate to one another would be necessary to resolve conflict. Several strategies to achieve transformation are suggested by the field of conflict transformation. These methods range from traditional to western to a hybrid of the two. They cover a wide range of topics, including structure—which encompasses state reforms, economic, and systemic components; civil society, discussion initiatives, and nonviolence as a guiding principle. Some methods cover topics like the entire procedural framework or simple steps like confidence-building. Political, economic, socio-cultural, and psychological views are only a few of the many that people and communities confront during a conflict. Relationship-building is a crucial component of the numerous techniques and views to conflict transformation.

Updated on: 14-Mar-2023


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