Resolving Conflict Between States

Conflict is a disagreement in a setting determined by the participants' underlying objectives and worldviews, perceptions of one another, communications, and relevant facts. Violence is a communication process involving several linguistic and expressive spheres. Emotions and convictions become apparent, and the kind and degree of concealed interests come to light.

Conflict integrates underlying aims and shared conceptions into a balance between the significant focuses at risk, the settlement, and the capacity of the parties to sustain them to achieve a new structure of expectations. By making the conflict more precise, the balancing process may be sped up, intensity can be decreased, hostility can be diminished, and the consequent demands can be rendered more reasonable.

What is State?

A state is a political system with autonomous legal power over a people in a specific region based on the acknowledged right to self-determination. In practice, sovereignty is held by those with the ultimate authority to make political choices. They are referred to as government. In that sense, it is the state's tangible and apparent manifestation. According to Andrew Heywood, the word government is derived from the word govern.

To govern implies dominating or controlling others in the total sense. The government is defined as any system that maintains orderly rule, with its fundamental elements being the power to make collective choices and the ability to enforce them. More frequently, it refers to the legal and institutional procedures that work in the state to maintain public order and allow collective action. Thus, the primary duties of government are to create law (legislation), implement the law (administration), and interpret the law (adjudication). In certain circumstances, the political executive is referred to as the government, synonymous with the administration.

The presence of a state has been regarded as a requirement to provide citizens with the security of life and property. In time, its duty was expanded to include providing welfare, which is the management of necessities such as health, education, and basic material requirements. The maintenance of order and peace is also required for the fulfillment of these responsibilities. Only the state, as seen by the government, can employ force and exert control over resources.

Inter-State Conflicts

The dominance of the balance of power scenario, the rule of law, democracy, economic interdependence among 'rational' states, and the presence of regional/supra-national organizations have prevented outright outbreaks of violence between emerging civilizations. Although the globe has not experienced a conventional war, more than 30 nations, including Colombia, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Pakistan, Somalia, and Ukraine, are today facing guerrilla or terrorist opponents. Protracted (intra-state) disputes associated with the 'Great Transformation' overlaid by capitalist modernity have grown widespread in these cultures. According to Dietrich Jung and Klas Schlichte, modern governmental institutions in these nations are typically incapable of reconciling social disputes caused by society's change to capitalism.

The state is not the point at which collective identity crystallizes but rather a formal framework established through the colonial past and secured by world order and international law. In many Third World nations, the state is only a geographical and legal cover, an imposed structure whose social substance has yet to be established. Violence is a logical alternative for self-enrichment or acquiring political power under this consolidation phase.

How can Conflict be Resolved?

By itself, dispute settlement techniques/skills do not strive to impose any predetermined answers on the people concerned; instead, they solely work to support a peaceful settlement through conversations, negotiations, and other cooperative procedures. While talks alone might not result in the ultimate resolution of a dispute, they are unquestionably a crucial prerequisite and, thus, will continue to be an essential element for dispute resolution in general.

Ways to Resolve Conflict Between States

Major ways of resolving conflict between states are −


It is the most straightforward strategy for resolving issues peacefully on a global scale. The clauses of UN Charter Article 40 strongly emphasize this matter before asking the Human Rights counsel for assistance.


It suggests that disagreements will be resolved by sending them to a panel or an intermediary. "The procedure of resolving a disagreement by presenting it to a committee or individuals whose purpose is to illuminate the facts and recommendations for a solution, but which does not have a binding nature," writes Oppenheim. The UN also utilized the tool to settle the conflict between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.


It suggests that a third country is trying to mediate a conflict between two nations. By "reconciling the territorial disputes as well as calming the sentiments of animosity that might have evolved or between states at conflict," mediation is defined by Article 4 of the Hague Conference. An individual or company can practice the art of arbitration. In 1947, United Nations Ministry's position in Indonesia went beyond that of a mediator.


It suggests a third party's inquiry into the countries' conflicting assertions. However, the parties must abide by the ruling. It alludes to the resolution of a disagreement by an arbitrator, tribunal, or panel, the rulings of which are conclusive on the parties. Observing that "Arbitration is the settlement of a dispute amongst nations by a legal judgment of one or maybe more arbitrators or of a judiciary, outside the International Tribunal for Arbitration appointed by the States," Oppenheim defines arbitral proceedings as such.


In contrast to the win-win resolution, the participants in the disagreement arrive at a mutually advantageous resolution that partially meets their needs. This could happen while the two parties talk and try to comprehend one another's viewpoint. When the aims have not been justified, using more forceful or involved tactics or compromising may be the best course of action. It may be helpful when settling complicated disputes temporarily and as a starting step when the participants are unfamiliar with one another or still need to establish a high degree of confidence. Sometimes time is of the essence, and making a compromise could be the quicker solution.


This approach, also known as dodging, involves avoiding the problem altogether, delaying dealing with it, and simply retreating. This result is ideal when the matter is little and not worthy of the effort or even when more serious matters are present, and neither party has the necessary time to deal with them. When confronting a problem is not the best course of action, when enough time is required to deliberate and obtain intelligence before acting, or when being silent may result in some gains for at most some of the individuals involved, withdrawal may also be a wise course of action.

Forceful Ways to Resolution

When nonlethal means fail to tackle the concerns, force is utilized to settle legal conflicts. Oppenheimer asserts that "assertive techniques involve some degree of force. One state uses it to ensure that the other states agree to the compensation conditions. Whenever one side of the battle pursues its interests despite the other's opposition, this is often referred to as "competition" and may entail supporting one vantage point at the price of a different one or standing your ground against the other person's activities. Violence may be necessary when all other less drastic measures fail or are ineffectual when a person needs to defend their rights and fend against pressure and violence. As a last-ditch alternative to settling a protracted dispute, it is also considered an acceptable choice when a prompt settlement is necessary, and the use of force is appropriate.

Role of UN

The League's Covenant addressed several clauses about the peaceful resolution of international conflicts. Similarly, the United Nations charter has established procedures for amicably resolving disagreements. These topics are covered particularly in Chapter 6, which has six articles. According to Article 33, parties to a disagreement must first attempt to resolve it by dialogue, conciliation, reconciliation, arbitration, judicial resolution, recourse to regional institutions or procedures, or other peaceful ways of their choosing.


When significant status quo assumptions are upset, conflict focuses on what the parties want, could, and intend to do. Situational perceptions, aspirations, objectives, and resources will fuel conflict and peacemaking. Land, people, riches, ports, and borders—material things—are only the means or targets of battle. For example, the terrain of a nation or a mountain borderline among nations only serves to frame and restrict conflict.

Updated on: 13-Mar-2023


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