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Proper Conflict Analysis is Key to Conflict Resolution

Injustices, conflicts, tensions and open violence are common place in the world and the current trend shows that these social evils are on the rise around the world. Governments and non-governmental entities have been searching for “solutions” with permanent solutions to the crises being nowhere in sight so far. Relief workers, diplomats, mediators, peacebuilders, as well as private sector actors, the media and a worried general public, are all trying to understand what is happening and how these negative dynamics can be halted. This is a very important component of conflict resolution and the search for peace – conflict analysis. It so appears, that now more than ever before we need more experts in conflict resolution. Often times the solutions that have been suggested in resolving and transforming conflicts are not viable and others have led to escalation of the situation leading to relapse and contributing to intractability of other conflicts.  

Conflict analysis is so important that if you get it wrong; the conflict cannot be resolved and may escalate. In order to resolve any conflict, you must get its analysis right – that is the basis then resolution or transformation may be directed towards creating more constructive situations where there is some compromise and common view on the agreeable way forward by the parties to conflict. We conduct conflict analyses to deepen our understanding of what is going on, who is involved and what the confrontation is all about. Conflict analyses are intended to help us decide how to position ourselves in a complex landscape, and to design appropriate actions aimed at unlocking stalemates, bringing actors into negotiations and dialogue, finding the middle grounds, figuring out the best way (at least acceptable way) forward in terms of agreements and how such can be implemented and monitored. 

But in such processes, many actors have reported failure, mainly due to certain important mistakes that should be avoided. In order to make the most of it, Koenraad Van Brabant, a seasoned practitioner, has suggested thirteen frequently observed weaknesses that undermine the potential of conflict analysts that should be avoided for the success of conflict analysis. These are: (1) wrong attitude, (2) connection between our programming and the analysis, (3) mandate and supply-driven conflict analysis, (4) confusing context-conflict-situational analysis, (5) making too much of ‘phases’ of conflict, (6) seeing only ‘open conflict and, (7) making too much of ‘root causes'. Others are: (8) uncertainty about the chosen time frame, (9) pushing for one conflict analysis, (10) insufficient attention to the economic interests in violence and conflict, (11) failing to acknowledge somewhat separate yet also interlocking conflict dynamics, (12) neglecting the capacities and initiatives for peace and finally, (13) failing to inquire into what has been tried before and lastly analysis paralysis.

For conflict analysis experts and those interested in trying this science out especially in practice, take keen attention and make deliberate efforts to overcome these 13 weaknesses and you will see some progress. Never give up so soon or too fast since conflicts are often complex and analysis may take you to many directions – even to little known territories but stay the cause and remain open to new challenges and possibilities. Remember, we can resolve conflicts (at least some of them) if and when we get analysis right but we may resolve none or even escalate some with poor and/or incomplete analysis. 
Proper Conflict Analysis is Key to Conflict Resolution Proper Conflict Analysis is Key to Conflict Resolution Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on February 23, 2017 Rating: 5

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