How successful have efforts at conflict prevention been since the end of the Cold War?
The world has transformed rapidly in the decade since the end of the Cold War. An old system is gone and, although it is easy to identify what has changed, it is not yet clear that a new system has taken its place. Old patterns have come unstuck, and if new patterns are emerging, it is still too soon to define them clearly. The list of potentially epoch-making changes is familiar by now: the end of an era of bipolarity, a new wave of democratization, increasing globalization of information and economic power, more frequent efforts at international coordination of security policy, a rash of sometimes-violent expressions of claims to rights based on cultural identity, and a redefinition of sovereignty that imposes on states new responsibilities to their citizens and the world community. These transformations are changing much in the world, including, it seems, the shape of organized violence and the ways in which governments and others try to set its limits. One indication of change is the noteworthy decrease in the frequency and death toll of international wars in the 1990s. Subnational ethnic and religious conflicts, however, have been so intense that the first post-Cold War decade was marked by enough deadly lower-intensity conflicts to make it the bloodiest since the advent of nuclear weapons. It is still too soon to tell whether this shift in the most lethal type of warfare is a lasting change: the continued presence of contested borders between militarily potent states in Korea, Kashmir, Taiwan, and the Middle East gives reason to postpone judgment.
The new world conditions are validating some past conflict resolution practices that can now be more precisely defined and conceptualized and are bringing to prominence some techniques that had not been taken very seriously by diplomatic practitioners in the recent past. We consider the implications of these new developments for the practice of conflict resolution. What can knowledge base conflict resolution practitioners rely on in a world in which their accumulated experience may no longer fully apply? What can the careful examination of historical experience and other sources of insight offer them? We identify the ways in which a careful and judicious examination of empirical evidence can be of use to conflict resolution practitioners and the limitations of generalizations from past experience. Finally, we introduce the rest of the book, in which contributors address the above questions in the general case and in the context of a set of conflict resolution techniques that are likely to be important in the coming years (Hartzell, C. and Hoddie, M., 2013 p. 345).
This essay attempts to understand how these new situations affect conflict resolution theory and practice. It does this by compiling “generic knowledge” on contemporary conflict resolution from various sources. While much of the knowledge necessary to successful conflict resolution is context specific (political forces and trends, personalities of leaders, contested terrain and so on) some knowledge is considered “generic,” in that it holds up across cultures and geography. “Generic knowledge” includes general conceptual models, which identify critical variables, and the “general logic” which guides analysis, conditional generalizations or the general conditions under which a strategy is successful, and an understanding of the causal processes of conflict resolution practice. Conflict Resolution after the Cold War attempts to compile such “generic knowledge” on conflict resolution, which applies to the contemporary geopolitical context. This essay will divide into four conceptual models: power politics, conflict transformation, structural prevention and normative change, each of which is addressed separately below. Though treated as distinctly separate categories, they are highly interconnected and their boundaries are indistinct and blurry.It is therefore true that the efforts of conflict prevention have been very critical as far as international conflict is concerned since the end of the Cold War. This paper therefore supports this statement in the following ways;
The definition of power politics goes some way towards ameliorating this problem of world conflict. It removes the state as the focus of politics and defines politics as a particular kind of process. Power Politics, in this definition, is a particular method for resolving theconflict. Among the best-known proponents of such an understanding of politics was the political scientist Bernard Crick (19292008). Crick defines politics as the activity by which differing interests within a given unit of therule are conciliated by giving them a share in power in proportion to their importance to the welfare and the survival of the whole community. Later on, he defines politics even more broadly, suggesting that politics is a solution to the problem of order which chooses conciliation rather than violence or coercion.
If we keep moving from the narrow towards the broad side of the spectrum, the political scientist Andrew Heywood offers a somewhat broader definition of politics. He defines politics as the activity through which people make, preserve and amend the general rules under which they live (Heywood, 2013, p. 2). He goes on to characterize politics as a process of conflict resolution, whereby an attempt is made to reconcile rival interests. Although, in the end, the conflict may not be resolved, politics is characterized by a search for such resolution. With its focus on conflict resolution, this definition shares some commonalities with Cricks, yet there are also some differences. Crick defines politics as a particular way of resolving theconflict the proportional sharing of power by different interests and narrows its scope by noting that it takes place within a given unit of rule (such as the state). Arguably, Heywoods definition is broader, extending political activity beyond units of rule, and defining it as a search for conciliation as opposed to its achievement. The tools of power politics include threats of force, defensive alliances, interest-based bargaining, power meditation, military action and economic sanctions. Since the Cold War, such tools have been increasingly employed by non-state actors as well (such as a multi-national cooperation boycotting a specific country or market, or paramilitary groups utilizing negotiation, threats of and actual violence, albeit, not the traditional military campaign). In general, the authors argue, power politics is more effective at deterrence than at coercing compliance.
Conflict transformation, as described by Lederach, does not suggest that we simply eliminate or control conflict, but rather recognize and work with its “dialectic nature.” By this, he means that social conflict is naturally created by humans who are involved in relationships, yet once it occurs, it changes (i.e., transforms) those events, people, and relationships that created the initial conflict. Thus, the cause-and-effect relationship goes both ways–from the people and the relationships to the conflict and back to the people and relationships. In this sense, “conflict transformation” is a term that describes a natural occurrence. Conflicts change relationships in predictable ways, altering communication patterns and patterns of social organization, altering images of the self and of the other.
Transformation also involves transforming the way conflict is expressed. It may be expressed competitively, aggressively, or violently, or it may be expressed through nonviolent advocacy, conciliation, or attempted cooperation. Unlike many conflict theorists and activists, who perceive mediation and advocacy as being in opposition to each other, Lederach sees advocacy and mediation as being different stages of the conflict transformation process. Activism is important in early stages of a conflict to raise people’s awareness of an issue. Thus activism uses nonviolent advocacy to escalate and confront the conflict. Once awareness and concern are generated, then mediation can be used to transform the expression of conflict from “mutually destructive modes toward dialogue and inter-dependence.” Such transformation, Lederach suggests, must take place at both the personal and the systemic level. At the personal level, conflict transformation involves the pursuit of awareness, growth, and commitment to change which may occur through the recognition of fear, anger, grief, and bitterness. These emotions must be outwardly acknowledged and dealt with in order for effective conflict transformation to occur. It suggests that left alone, conflict can have destructive consequences. However, the consequences can be modified or transformed so that self-images, relationships, and social structures improve as a result of conflict instead of being harmed by it. Usually, this involves transforming perceptions of issues, actions, and other people or groups. Since conflict usually transforms perceptions by accentuating the differences between people and positions, effective conflict transformation can work to improve mutual understanding. Even when people’s interests, values, and needs are different, even non-reconcilable, progress has been made if each group gains a relatively accurate understanding of the other (Jentleson and Britton, 2012 p. 405).
Conflict is not a static situation, but a dynamic one where the intensity level changes over a conflicts life cycle.An understanding of the conflict cycle is essential for an understanding of how, where and when to apply different strategies and measures of conflict prevention and management.Conflicts are described as cyclical in regard to their intensity levels, escalating from (relative) stability and peace into crisis and war, thereafter de-escalating into relative peace.This cycle is important, especially during electioneering time.Conflict prevention can either be direct prevention or structural prevention.Direct conflict prevention is about measures aimed at preventing short-term, often imminent, escalation of a potential conflict.One of the key subjects in the conflict cycle is the structural prevention (Kalyvas and Balcells, 2010 p. 421).
Structural prevention involves a wider perspective, i.e. a larger scope of targets and actions in a longer term. Structural prevention does not only aim at reducing violence but also, if not above all, at addressing its root causes and the environment that gave birth to it. Here latent conflicts are dealt with and the final goal is to ensure human security, well-being,and justice.15 The importance of gender issues is, for instance, highlighted by the United Nations Development Fund for Womens actions (UNIFEM), which seeks to give a gender perspective to conflict prevention mechanisms. It thus answers the Security Council. Resolution 1325 that affirms the important role of women in the prevention of conflicts and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Structural prevention may, therefore, be incorporated in development assistance programs, all the more so due to the increasing role of development in conflict management/peacebuildingquestions. Poverty reduction is indeed thought to be related to human security and both issues should be tackled together: poverty should not be merely considered as a situation of unfulfilled material needs, but above all as a lack of protection and empowerment. Thus, a multidimensional approach is needed in order to prevent conflicts. Structural prevention should, therefore, include political, social, and economic features, among which the promotion of a vibrant civil society and good governance, the protection of human rights and reintegration of former combatants as well as economic development is intended to reduce poverty that leads to grievances. Also, sustainable use of natural resources should be promoted so as to avoid conflicts over resources. In sum, development cooperation actors have increasingly come to see that they need to work in and on conflicts, rather than trying to work around them, because all development activities affect, and are affected by, the conflict dynamics and structures (Gleditsch et al., 2012 p. 624).
A normative conflict arises when multiple plausible rules exist, specifying how one ought to behave in a given situation. In such cases, enforcingone normative rule can lead to asequence of mutual retaliatory sanctions, which we refer to asa feud. Normative conflict can arise naturally in many situations. Consider for example the production of a public good by a group of individuals. When individuals derive similar benefit from the public good, there may be an expectation that all beneficiaries contribute equally to its provision. However, in many instances, the value of the public good differs among individuals. The difference may be due to personal characteristics, past investments, luck or other factors. In such cases, determining the appropriate level of contribution becomes difficult, and disagreements or tensions between individuals could result in feuds.
Although past research has demonstrated a positive relationship between collective identification and normative conformity, there may be circumstances in which strongly identified members do not conform but instead choose to challenge group norms. This article proposes a normative conflict model, which distinguishes between nonconformity due to dissent (challenging norms to change them) and nonconformity due to disengagement (distancing oneself from the group). The normative conflict model predicts that strongly identified members are likely to challenge group norms when they experience conflict between norms and important alternate standards for behavior, in particular when they perceive norms as being harmful to the group. Data in support of the model are reviewed, mechanisms by which external variables may influence dissent in social groups are elaborated, and the model is linked to contemporary perspectives on collective identity. In regards to the normative change, institutions (also called normative frameworks) provide an effective mechanism to government agents in open intelligent systems. An institution specifies a set of norms, with respect to specific normative objectives, that regulate agents behaviors in terms of permissions, empowerments,and obligations. However, in most real circumstances, several institutions probably have to cooperate to govern the same entities simultaneously, which is referred as cooperating institutions in this dissertation. Depending on how individual institutions are connected with each other, three different ways of forming a cooperating institution are addressed: coordinated institutions, interacting institutions,and merged institutions. The dissertation firstly presents a formal and computational model for all three types of combination. Furthermore, when agent behavior is regulated by a cooperating institution, consisting of a set of independently-designed institutions, normative conflicts are likely to arise, as each individual institution has its own objective. For instance, a certain action may be permitted (or obliged) by a norm from one institution while being prohibited by a norm from another institution (Ellingsen, 2015 p. 234).
Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the world is a freer and more open place. From the former Soviet republics and the buffer countries of Central and Eastern Europe to Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Far East, the fall of the Soviet Union has led to a cascade of political and economic advances rarely before seen in human history. According to Freedom House, there were 69 electoral democracies in 1990; today there are 115 — an increase of more than 60 percent. In dozens of countries, centrally planned economies stifled innovation and entrepreneurship. Today, economic liberalization has, albeit imperfectly, created new opportunities and rising incomes that would have seemed unimaginable more than two decades ago. Yet beyond these advances, perhaps the most important development that came with the fall of the Soviet Union is frequently forgotten the world is today a demonstrably safer place.The work presented above suggests that much of what “we know” about conflict is still germane, but that our “old” knowledge requires some modification and “new” approaches are becoming increasingly relevant. It argues that the “traditional diplomacy” of power politics should be used more selectively and decisively than is currently the case. Further, the “new” approaches to conflict transformation, structural prevention,and normative change should be added to the tools employed by parties in conflict. References List
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How successful have efforts at conflict prevention been since the end of the Cold War?