Role of Civil Society in Conflict Resolution

It is possible that civil society would be more strongly mobilized in times of war due to the increased politicization and less organized institutional setup that would result. Given the potential consequences of political action, the politicization here is fundamentally different. The vital essence of politics and the subsequent debt instruments provide distinct social incentives to organize outside calm conditions.

Therefore, a greater quantity of public activity covering many sectors of society is produced by the intersecting character of fundamental as well as collateralized debt obligations politics. Civil society players may emerge and take steps that either further inflames tensions, keep the status quo, or foster peace due to divergent views on the origins of and appropriate solutions to conflict. This essay examines the environment in which these differences in civil humanity's effects on conflict arise.

What is the Role of Civil Society?

Whether civilized society exists in a sovereign or non-state setting, or more generally in a collapsing or failing political concern, is the first and most fundamental generic contextual differentiation. Early consensus was that civilized society and the state were interchangeable concepts. In more recent research, civil society has been seen as engaging with the state, simultaneously impacting and even being influenced by it. It also exists in the liminal zone between the nation, the family, and the market. As a result, the boundaries between the government and civil society are highly porous, convoluted, and constantly renewed.

This is especially true in the article War age when internationally recognized countries often disintegrate while a viable national physical languishes in limbo. The boundaries between the state and civil society already dissolve when there is no state or if it is weak, divided, or collapsing—civil society steps in when it cannot perform certain of its functions. Without formalized rules and regulations, however, civil society members create and construct their informal forms of government, such as self-help groups and native courts. However, cronyism, as well as corruption, are more likely to shape civil humanity's development and function when governments are weak as well as failing. This occurs when people in civil society are encouraged to provide services that the government formerly did.

Civil Society and Conflict

Civil society organizations play an essential role in conflict avoidance, containment, and settlement. It is beneficial to dwell on this issue for some time. In most cases, the state has a near-monopoly on prescribing and enforcing dispute resolution. However, because the causes of conflict continue to grow and the state, even in the best circumstances, cannot continuously operate successfully in this area, civil society organizations have become their own. The sheer expansion of the notion of participatory democracy includes, among other things, two crucial demands for widespread engagement.

The first is a demand for a more fair distribution of society's resources and access to the enabling rights and privileges that modern nations are obligated to grant individuals. The second argument is about the desire for engagement in societal governance. Both of these issues vividly represent human rights claims in society and the widespread popularisation of decentralization in democracies.

As a result, non-governmental organizations have an open invitation to play a more significant role. They have a role in informing these persons of their rights to these claims. As a result, they play a more comprehensive role in conflict avoidance, containment, and even conflict resolution. In this perspective, public health and educational entitlement are excellent examples. Another example is the preservation of environmental equilibrium.

As is generally known, these privileges can cause friction between citizens and governments. However, in the end, the engagement of voluntary, non-governmental organizations results in the settlement of claims and counterclaims. A few examples will illustrate this tendency. The role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in promoting minority rights by invoking the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and the UN Declaration of Human Rights and putting pressure on the government to implement these rights goes a long way toward containing the long-term potential for conflict and, above all, achieving ends for society's peace. Similarly, when massive irrigation and other development projects cause wide-scale disruption to their natural environment, the NGOs involved serve the whistleblower function and much more to assist in averting damage to the greater public interest.

In recent decades, civil society, as a separate institution from the state, has developed as a decisive factor in conflict settlement. This is partly due to the view among some sectors of populations inside states that the latter is incapable of dealing with conflict or is pursuing socioeconomic policies that directly or indirectly contribute to conflict.

Seven Civil Society Functions in Peace—building

These are −


Protecting citizen life, freedom and property against attacks from state and non state actors. Membership organizations, human rights, advocacy NGOs.

Monitoring/ Early Warning

Observing and monitoring the activities of government state authorities, and conflict actors. Monitoring can refer to various issues (human rights, corruption), particularly those relevant for drivers of conflict and early warning.

Advocacy/ Public Communication

Articulation of specific interests, especially of marginalized groups and bringing relevant issues to the public agenda. Creation of communication channels, awareness raising and public debate. Participation in official peace processes.


Formation and practice of peaceful and democratic attitudes and values among citizens, including tolerance, mutual trust and non-violent conflict resolution.

Social Cohesion

Strengthening links among citizens, building bridging social capital across societal cleavage.


Establishing relationships (communication, negotiation) to support collaboration between interest groups, institutions and the state. Facilitating dialogue and interaction. Promoting attitudinal change for a culture of peace and reconciliation.

Service Provision

Providing services to citizens or members can serve as entry points for peace-building, if explicitly intended.

Conflict Escalation in Civil Society

The character of the state itself is another contextual factor that shapes civil society during the war. The amount of democracy, which outlines the scope of association liberty and the presence of other essential rights and freedoms generally inscribed inside democratic nations, affects civil society's existence, character, and function.

Whenever these liberties are hampered, civil society tends to expand illegally to subvert the state instead of interacting with it, further complicating the line between civil and uncivil societal players. The characteristics of democracy also influence the structure of civil society inside ostensibly democratic regimes. In patriotic democracies, antisocial elements with racist or xenophobic goals are more likely to be part of civil society. Efforts to democratize and civilianize politics are typically linked to civil society in republics where the army and militarised culture are pervasive.

The discriminated-against group, in response, may take covert, nonviolent, or violent action, activating the conflict. This juncture in the conflict's development also emphasizes the conflict's external context. Attempts by local CoSOs to achieve influence and legitimacy may include making global norms claims, often in concert with transnational and transnational CoSOs.

Since sufferers are often prevented from accessing local cultural and legal assets, people are often compelled to turn to external finance as the sole method to influence the national power structure. As a result, conflicts often materialize on both sides of international borders, with rising interpersonal and interracial conflict and murder. On the one hand, and appeals to law and rights; on the other, which may be utilized deliberately and exploited to intensify conflict.

Conflict Management in Civil Society

Managing conflicts and reaching agreements have long been at the forefront of realist and neo-realist approaches to studying war. Given the pervasive character of war, peace can only be achieved by its containment or resolution. In this approach, governments or state-like entities play a central role in conflict resolution, either as conflict parties or as neutral third parties. CoSOs provide next to nothing, if anything at all.

With the issue of gender, this is especially true since in the managing conflict tradition, not just are CoSOs considered as a 'black box.' However, also, power dynamics along racial and ethnic lines are often tolerated or ignored. One clear example is the first Iraq war, in which the government of Iraq was negotiated between political parties from diverse ethnic and religious constituents. However, women's groups and concerns were overlooked.

In most cases, the duties of CoSOs in conflict management are just supportive. Official arbitration by a CoSO, as opposed to third nations or international organizations, is sought but sometimes accepted by conflicting parties. Therefore, CoSOs are only sometimes directly engaged in peace-making efforts, defined as the steps to reach an agreement on a peaceful resolution.

The exceptions to this rule were the successful arbitration of the Mozambican conflict by Sant'Egidio during 1992 and 1990, as well as the spine talks among Israelis and Palestinians sponsored by Norwegian non-state actors before the Oslo Accords in 1993. CoSOs, however, often only aid in first-track discussions. Among them are 'track-two' discussions behind the scenes to provide the groundwork for a formal track-one level to assume over and sign a contract when the time is right.


The interplay determines the effect of CoSOs on conflicts among several factors, including context, personality, to organizational and democratic political systems. The term "impact" is used to describe not just the immediate outcomes of an action but also its effect on the broader environment that gives rise to that conflict. The identity of CoSOs in the larger conflict context affects their direct and situational effect.

Updated on: 13-Mar-2023

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