How society deals with conflict
We talk about the dynamics of conflict and crisis situations, and how organisations like CMI are building peace internationally. Over the past century, a number of facets of humanities development have contributed to this, including:. Economics: From early colonialism to modern capitalism, our western economic growth has often been at the detriment of other nations where, for example, we have aggressively acquired assets, created trade routes, or leveraged economic scale to source products, assets, and services artificially cheaply.
These processes, while creating great wealth and development in Europe and the USA, have exacerbated poverty and economic inequality in many nations, creating a great deal of tension and potential for conflict. Agriculture and Energy: Our world is hugely dependent on agriculture and energy. Both of these asset classes are in huge demand, with their protection and development becoming serious debate. Population and economic growth also puts huge strains on these assets, as our world comes close to consuming greater than is sustainable. Technology: While technology has been a huge enabler for global development, it has also made our injustices and inequalities more visible to external and internal participants in any situation.
Climate Change: This is now becoming a real and significant issue with millions worldwide becoming displaced by climatic effects. The organisation focuses on issues critical to creating sustainable peace and security, and making strategic contributions to the capacity of local, regional and international actors operating in war-torn and conflict-ridden societies through preventive diplomacy, peace-mediation and state building. In a privileged interview we spoke to Mrs. Kristiina Rintakoski, executive director of the Crisis Management Initiative, about global conflict, its relationship with economic inequality, climate change and energy.
I think that inequality within societies and between regions has become a key cause for conflict, exacerbated by rapid information dissemination, as people are now more aware of inequalities.
The two faces of conflict and their outcome – World Mediation Organization
Economic, social and environmental trends come together, for example, looking at resource competition and climate change the latter intensifying the lack of resources, leading to political conflict. State fragility continues to be a key source for internal conflicts, instability and human suffering.
Q: How do you go about reconciling sides who have seemingly irreconcilable differences? Often, a common-agenda comes from issues outside the source of the conflict, such as economic and social well-being, but these areas are ones where all sides have an interest though, often, it is these areas which have caused the conflict.
Another strategy, which we inherited from our Chairman, President Martti Ahtisaari, is to work towards finding practical solutions to political disputes grounded in everyday realities in conflict situations. These strategies can lessen tension between parties to concentrate on solution oriented thinking. Q: What does it take to create peace? And what is the role of conflict resolution in your overall strategy? In one respect, this has become part of our practice of peace building, but fundamentally the role of the people within conflicted societies is critical.
You cannot import peace, it is created within society. There are also a number of key issues that a sustainable peace process has to address. Physical security is often the first priority, creating space for societal developments and processes to take place.
Conflict Resolution in a Community
Creating rule of law, good governance, and democratic political system take time and patience. Sometimes what comes too late, and does not receive adequate attention is economic recovery, guaranteeing the livelihoods of individuals in a society. Concepts like democracy and human rights will always remain fairly abstract if you cannot feed your family. It is therefore important to ensure that job creation, and protecting livelihoods occurs early on in the process.
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Q: How do you work alongside governments, supra-nationals e. UN , and military forces? Where we can add value to a situation such as peace mediation and state building, we may get funding from governments to carry out specific missions.
How to Deal With Conflict
We also work with policy development and support, for example we are working with the European institutions in creating a mediation capacity for the EU, and similarly we are working with the African union on preventative diplomacy and mediation. We encourage transparency and sharing of information, but it is important to note that there are many places where non-government actors such as ourselves do not face the same limitations as government actors do, and thus we can be more flexible.
We aim to complement these organisations, acknowledging our relatively small size, but our excellent international network. Together, we create a collective capacity for peace-building. Q: Are we now at risk of more complex threats? Such as cyberterrorism, financial terrororism, etc? What is important to look at is the causes of conflict, the issues of state fragility, injustice and inequality impact EU and Global security, and link strongly with issues like terrorism giving rise to it not only in conflict areas, but in our society.
As a society, though, we have to be prepared for threats we cannot conceive, we must build resilience not just in developed countries, but particularly in conflict areas. We, as nations, must also consider, for example, how climate change and financial crisis affects them [conflicted and developing nations]. Q: How important is technology within your overall strategy? And are there any innovations which you think are going to dramatically affect crisis and conflict management? Technology should be an enabler to support local and national administration, who may have limited resources.
In these contexts, technology builds their capacity to provide services and provide administration, and also increases transparency and accountability within these processes. Looking at the potential for dramatic changes. From the side of responders, technology is bringing a greater level of interoperability between agencies, but it is a long way from being seamless. Looking at the regions of conflict and development, connectivity plays a big role. In Africa, for example, connectivity is being brought in predominantly from mobile technologies, and this will have a dramatic influence in finding solutions for these countries.
Technology is one of the biggest gaps dividing western societies and developing countries, improving this will help provide solutions also in education and state administration.
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One of the main positives is increased knowledge and visibility of situations, specifically the transmission of human rights violations and other internal issues. This makes it difficult to turn a blind eye or deny knowledge and means that we as society have to react if governments are not protecting their citizens; it brings a sense of responsibility.
We see this too where, for example, when peace workers are kidnapped, the media pressure can help make things happen. The reporting must, though, be factual and appropriate. There must be a good dialogue between practitioners and the media. We limited media comment by parties, protecting our negotiation environment, and preventing any false victories in the process. This is a good example of how sometimes you have to maintain privacy in a situation. In many cases, former rebel groups such as the ANC have made the transition from war-wagers to political candidates.
Hopes are pinned on the ballot box replacing the battlefield as the principal way in which social conflicts are waged. Today, countries such as Burundi, Sri Lanka, Russia Chechnya , and Kosovo are seeking to design new systems of democracy to help manage long-standing conflicts.
How to overcome conflicts and grow a community.
Given the depth of enmity among contending groups after a long period of deadly violence, democracy in these cases is defined in these fairly minimalist terms:. These characteristics of post-war democracy are a function of newly created institutions, structures for representation -- particularly important are ethnic, religious, or racial factions and parties -- and patterns of political participation.
Democracy is a system of conflict management because it allows for the resolution of social conflicts through the rough-and-tumble competition in electoral and legislative arenas, replacing open confrontation on the battlefield for a seemingly unending process of bargaining and negotiation within the rules of the democratic game.
As scholar Donald Rothchild perceptively argues in a seminal work on Kenya's independence negotiations, democratic institutions offer ongoing opportunities and incentives for the continuation of bargaining and negotiation among parties in conflict. That is, some types of democratic institutions and practices may provide tangible reinforcement of moderation in politics, reinforcing the management of conflict among contending groups.
Other scholars such as Ben Reilly and Andrew Reynolds have offered in-depth, penetrating analyses of how different election systems, for example, can provide complex systems of incentives to encourage moderation, ethnic, racial, and religious integration, and meaningful public participation in high-conflict, post-war societies.
Despite its promises for nudging parties to compromise , there are deeply entrenched reasons why democracy is inherently difficult in deeply divided societies, especially those seeking to escape intractable conflicts and violent encounters. The perils of introducing democracy after civil war are many and serious. Trust is weak, the issues are emotionally strong, the parties are faction-ridden and incoherent, and much is required of outside parties to guarantee a settlement. Can democracy work in deeply divided societies?