A Guide:

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A Toolbox to Respond to Conflicts and Build Peace
Toolbox Summary List - 24 tools for responding to conflict and building peace

A. What Does It Take to Respond to Violent Conflicts?

B. The Continuum of Interventions

1. Clarifying Terms

2. The Continuum of Interventions According to the Phase of Conflict

C. Policy Tools for Conflict Prevention

1. Policy Tools and Functional Areas

2. Tools for Conflict Intervention According to Principal Sources of Conflict Addressed

D. Tool Profiles


Below are links to 25 tools that may be applied in conflict prevention. Each tool is discussed following the same basic format:
  • A description of the tool—objectives, expected outcome or impact, and relationship to conflict prevention.
  • A discussion of the tool's implementation—organizers, participants, activities, cost considerations, other resource considerations, set-up time, and timeframe to see results.
  • A summary of the conflict context in which the tool should be applied—stage and type of conflict, cause of conflict the tool addresses, and prerequisites for the tool’s effective implementation.
  • In-depth illustrations of past practice in using the tool within and outside the Greater Horn of Africa.
  • An evaluation of the tool—strengths, weaknesses and lessons learned.
  • A list of references and resources.
A. Official Diplomacy:
Special Envoys
B. Non-Official Conflict Management:
Non-Official Facilitation
Peace Commissions
Indigenous Conflict Management
C. Military Measures:
Confidence and Security-Building Measures
Military Professionalization and Reform
Military Restructuring and Integration
Military Demobilization
Preventive Deployment
D. Economic and Social Measures:
Conditionality
Sanctions and Embargoes
Economic and Resource Cooperation
Humanitarian Assistance
Development Assistance
Power-Sharing Arrangements
National Conferences
Political Institution-Building
Electoral Assistance
Civic Society-Building
E. Political Development and Governance
Decentralization of Power
Judicial/Legal Reform
Police Reform
War Crimes Tribunals/Truth Commissions
F. Communication and Education:
Peace Media
Media Professionalization

A. What Does It Take to Respond to Violent Conflicts?

Responding to violent conflicts requires two steps:

B. The Continuum of Interventions

Conflicts can have multiple causes. They can be at various stages of escalation or de-escalation. Interventions can be undertaken at any point in the peace-conflict-peace continuum and can be performed by third parties as well as by parties to the dispute themselves. We are most familiar with interventions that third parties take at the height of violent conflicts such as shuttle diplomacy, peacekeeping, or, in times of full-blown war, direct military intervention. Yet efforts to intervene in conflicts can be and are taken by any party at all stages of the conflict—pre-violent, violent, or post-violent. Successful intervention depends on whether actions are appropriate to the conflict’s sources and stage.

1. Clarifying Terms

Policy-makers and practitioners must be able to communicate to plan and carry out conflict prevention and mitigation effectively. This requires consistent, unambiguous terms. A number of terms describe conflict interventions—"conflict management," "conflict resolution," "peacemaking," "peacekeeping," "peace operations," "peace enforcement," "peacebuilding," "conflict prevention," to name a few. These terms are used loosely, even interchangeably; few consistent definitions have been offered, and there is confusion about what is meant by each term and how they differ from each other.

One problem arises from a failure to distinguish between the means or tool used to intervene and the stage of conflict at which intervention occurs. "Peacekeeping," for example, describes deploying an armed force into a conflict situation, but often implies an action taken after a conflict has abated. From an analytical point of view, the means—insertion of third party armed forces—can also be used to defuse tensions in pre-violent situations as in Macedonia today.

We propose the following working definitions that integrate the phases of conflict and interventions.

Term

Definition

Conflict prevention (preventive diplomacy, preventive action, crisis prevention, preventive peacebuilding)

Actions, policies, procedures or institutions undertaken in particularly vulnerable places and times in order to avoid the threat or use of armed force and related forms of coercion by states or groups as the way to settle the political disputes that can arise from the destabilizing effects of economic, social, political and international change. Conflict prevention can also include action taken after a violent conflict to avoid its recurrence.

Crisis management

Efforts to keep situations of high tension and confrontation between conflicting parties, usually associated with threats of force and its deployment, from breaking into armed violence.

Conflict management (conflict mitigation; peacemaking)

Efforts to contain and if possible, reduce the amount of violence used by parties engaged in violent conflict and to engage them in communication looking toward settling the dispute and terminating the violence.

Peacemaking

(peace enforcement)

A third party’s use of armed force to deter, suppress or terminate hostile action by a party or a violent conflict between parties.

Conflict termination

The cessation of armed hostilities between the parties.

Peacekeeping

Efforts to maintain a ceasefire or other cessation of armed hostilities by separating conflicting parties’ armed forces.

Conflict resolution

(post-conflict peacebuilding)

Efforts to increase cooperation among the parties to a conflict and deepen their relationship by addressing the conditions that led to the dispute, fostering positive attitudes and allaying distrust through reconciliation initiatives, and building or strengthening the institutions and processes through which the parties interact. Conflict resolution can be used to reduce the chances of violence or to consolidate the cessation of a violent conflict in order to prevent re-escalation.

 

This definition of conflict prevention captures new emphases in recent discussions of international involvement in conflicts.

Conflict prevention specifically refers to actions that take place before political disputes between parties become a crisis or an active violent conflict.

Conflict prevention strives to intervene before threats to use force or coercion are made or before resort to significant armed force or coercion.

This means that conflict prevention can occur at two points in a typical conflict’s life history:

When there has not been a violent conflict in recent years, and before significant violence signals possible escalation to sustained violent conflict, conflict prevention aims to keep a conflict from escalating.

When there has been a recent violent conflict but peace is being restored, conflict prevention aims to avoid a relapse or re-igniting of violence.

Conflict mitigation or management covers to actions taken to contain and reduce violence in conflicts that have already exploded.

We highlight these definitions and intervention points because current discussions often use "conflict prevention," "preventive action" and "conflict mitigation" for interventions at any stage of conflict. Interchanging these terms obfuscates important descriptive and operational differences between interventions taken at the different levels of conflict and inhibits effective consideration of policy and programming options.

2. The Continuum of Interventions According to the Phase of Conflict

Conflict interventions can usefully be differentiated according to the stages of the typical conflict’s life cycle since different interventions might come into play at different stages in the conflict. The conflict lifecycle chart depicts the links between the various phases of conflict intervention and the gradations and stages of conflict described earlier.

The figure shows a typical conflict rising along the intensity curve. The stages of peace and conflict are specified alongside illustrative interventions as defined above as the conflict progresses along the continuum from peace to war, then back to reconciliation and peace.

Peacetime diplomacy or politics are the mode of relations for parties in a state of durable peace.

Conflict prevention or preventive diplomacy are appropriate interventions if tensions rise to a point of confrontation.

Crisis management becomes necessary when a dispute reaches the crisis point, with outbreaks of violence.

Conflict management or peacemaking are required in times of war.

Peace enforcement may be necessary to move a conflict to a ceasefire.

Conflict termination interventions describe actions to settle a violent dispute.

As conflicting parties begin rapprochement, peacekeeping may be needed.

Conflict resolution or post-conflict peacebuilding describe interventions for a conflict’s final stages, as disputing parties move towards reconciliation.

Conflict prevention comes into play during the level of conflict called "unstable peace." Conflict prevention occupies the position between regular peacetime diplomacy (or national and sub-national politics) that operates in times of stable and durable peace, on the one hand, and interventions calculated to minimize or manage crisis and war, on the other. Interventions in conflict mitigation are required in high-violence periods of war.

C. Policy Tools for Conflict Prevention

These phases of intervention into conflicts are not themselves techniques for intervention; they are ways to distinguish different periods in the life cycle of conflicts when interventions can usefully be made. A wide array of techniques, methods and programs can support conflict prevention or mitigation in each of these phases. These policy tools are methods to prevent or mitigate a conflict and to build peace. Policy tools can comprise several projects, procedures, programs, policies, or mechanisms. Each tool operates on a conflict’s sources and manifestations by manipulating different kinds of influence—"carrots" or "sticks." Tools can be implemented through different organizational channels: some are sponsored by actors outside a region in conflict, some by national governments, and some locally. Tools vary in the aspects of conflicts they address and in their effectiveness and efficiency in achieving results.

This section profiles a set of tools in different functional categories. Subsequent sections offer ways to apply these tools most effectively to conflict prevention and mitigation and suggest strategies for policy-makers and practitioners.

1. Policy Tools and Functional Areas

Tools directed at the same causes of conflict can be operated through different functional areas such as official diplomacy or military measures, to name two examples. Table 3-1 organizes 90 policy tools by major functional categories.

TABLE 3-1:  POLICY TOOLS FOR CONFLICT PREVENTION AND MITIGATION

Official Diplomacy

Mediation

Negotiations

Conciliation

Good offices

Informal consultations

Peace conferences

Unilateral good will gestures

Conflict prevention or management centers

Special envoys

Diplomatic sanctions

International appeal/condemnation

Crisis and war diplomacy

Coercive diplomacy

Diplomatic recognition

Withdrawal of recognition

Certification/decertification

Hot lines

Non-Official Conflict Management Methods

Mediation

Support to indigenous dispute resolution and legal institutions

Conflict resolution or prevention centers

Peace commissions

Civilian peace monitors

Visits by eminent organizations/individuals/

"embarrassing witnesses"

"Friends" groups

Non-violent campaigns

Non-official facilitation/problem-solving workshops

Cultural exchanges

Civilian fact-finding missions

Humanitarian diplomacy

Military Measures

Preventive peacekeeping forces

Restructuring/integration of military forces

Professionalization/reform

of armed forces

Demobilization and reintegration of armed forces

Military aid

Military-to-military programs

Alternative defense strategies

Confidence-building and security measures

Non-aggression agreements

Collective security or cooperation arrangements

Deterrence

Demilitarized zones

Arms embargoes or blockades

Threat or projection of force

Disarmament

Arms control agreements

Arms proliferation control

Crisis management procedures

Limited military intervention

Peace enforcement

Economic and Social Measures

Development assistance

Economic reforms

Economic and resource cooperation

Inter-communal trade

Joint projects

Private economic investment

Health assistance

Agricultural programs

Aid conditionality

Economic sanctions

Humanitarian assistance

Repatriation or resettlement of refugees and displaced people

Political Development and Governance Measures

Political party-building

Political institution-building

Election reform, support and monitoring

National conferences

Civic society development

Training of public officials

Human rights promotion, monitoring and institution-building

Power-sharing arrangements

Decentralization of power

Trusteeship

Protectorates

Constitutional commissions and reform

Judicial and Legal Measures

Commissions of inquiry/war crimes tribunals

Judicial/legal reforms

Constitutional commissions

Police reform

Arbitration

Adjudication

Support to indigenous legal institutions

Communications and Education Measures

Peace radio/TV

Media professionalization

Journalist training

International broadcasts

Promote alternative information and communication sources

Civic education

Formal education projects

Peace education

Exchange visits

Training in conflict mgmt., resolution and prevention

 

2. Tools for Conflict Intervention According to Principal Sources of Conflict Addressed

Some policy tools aim directly at immediate triggers of conflicts such as an ethnic group leader’s hostile rhetoric. Others target potential sources of conflict, for instance, anti-poverty programs intending to rectify disparities in resource distribution and living standards. Table 3-2 below classifies policy tools for conflict intervention in terms of whether they chiefly address:

Systemic or structural conditions such as material resource deficiencies and conditions.

Proximate or enabling factors such as institutions and processes, perceptions and attitudes, the means of coercion and force, substantive issues in dispute.

Immediate causes such as actions or behavior.

TABLE 3-2: TOOLS FOR CONFLICT INTERVENTION

BY PRINCIPAL SOURCE OF CONFLICT ADDRESSED

Tools Addressing Systemic (Structural) Causes

Main Aim and Target: To increase the aggregate, conserve and/or redistribute natural, economic and human resources—land, water, food, infrastructure, technical skills—in order to improve material conditions.

General or targeted development assistance

Economic reforms, including social safety nets

Economic integration/cooperation

Inter-communal trade

Private economic investment in conflict-prone areas

Humanitarian aid

Human resource development programs such as job training

Public/private health assistance such as sanitation facilities

Agricultural productivity promotion programs

Resource management/cooperation

Tools Addressing Proximate (Enabling) Causes

Main Aim and Target: To create or strengthen general political, social and economic institutions, rules, procedures, and other decision processes through which societies define their public problem agenda, set goals, form policies, allocate authority, implement public decisions, and settle grievances.

Constitutional commissions/reforms

Judicial/legal reforms

Support to local indigenous dispute resolution and legal institutions

Human rights promotion, institution-building and monitoring

Election reform, monitoring and support

National conferences

Political institution-building

Training public officials

Civic society development

Political and economic conditionality

Conflict prevention centers

Power-sharing arrangements

Decentralization of power

Tools Addressing Proximate (Enabling) Causes

Main Aim and Target: To reduce and put prior restraints on specific means of armed force or coercion that could be used to carry out violent conflicts.

Coercive diplomacy/economic and diplomatic sanctions

Human rights monitoring

International condemnation

Police reform

Restructuring/integration of military forces

Demobilization/reintegration/reduction of military forces

Military professionalization/reform

Non-aggression agreements

Security agreements

Demilitarized/peace/nuclear-free zones

Trusteeships

Protectorates

Arms embargoes

Surgical power projection/threat of force

Disarmament

Arms control agreements

Arms proliferation controls

Military aid

Alternative defense strategies

Preventive peacekeeping forces

Targeted deterrence policies

Permanent war crimes tribunals

Tools Addressing Immediate (Triggering) Causes

Main Aim and Target: To regulate parties’ manifest conflict behavior directly—actions, speech and interactions.

Special envoys

Mediation

Negotiation

Arbitration

Conciliation

Good offices

Adjudication

Civilian fact-finding missions

Conditionality

Humanitarian diplomacy

Sanctions

Arms blockades

International moral appeals/condemnation

Informal consultations

Support to indigenous conflict management/resolution mechanisms

Crisis management procedures

Peacekeeping forces

Conflict management and resolution training

Peace commissions/committees

Peace conferences

Reciprocated good will gestures

Non-official facilitation/problem-solving workshops

Peace monitors

Internationally sponsored peace consultations

Conflict resolution/prevention centers

Visits by eminent organizations/individuals/ "embarrassing witnesses"

Threat or use of force

Limited military intervention

 

D. Tool Profiles

Any conflict intervention tool offers strengths and weaknesses; successful application depends on the conflict context and associated conditions. Effective conflict prevention requires choosing tools with care; this choice in turn must rest on a thorough understanding of how each tool operates. To assist practitioners in considering a tool’s applicability to the particular situations they encounter and in implementing chosen tools, this section profiles 25 policy tools that have been used in conflict prevention or mitigation in the Greater Horn of Africa and elsewhere. Ways to pull this understanding into coherent conflict prevention and mitigation strategies are discussed in Part IV.

For ease of readership, the tool profiles are organized according to a consistent set of elements as listed in Table 3-3 below.

TABLE 3-3:  FORMAT FOR THE TOOL PROFILES

A description of the tool—objectives, expected outcome or impact, and relationship to conflict prevention or mitigation.

A discussion of the tool’s implementation—organizers, participants, activities, cost considerations, other resource considerations, set-up time, and timeframe to see results.

A summary of the conflict context in which the tool should be applied—stage and type of conflict, cause of conflict the tool addresses, and prerequisites for the tool’s effective implementation.

In-depth illustrations of past practice in using the tool within and outside the Greater Horn of Africa.

An evaluation of the tool’s effect on conflict or peace—strengths, weaknesses and lessons learned.

A list of references and resources.

A. Official Diplomacy:
Special Envoys
B. Non-Official Conflict Management:
Non-Official Facilitation
Peace Commissions
Indigenous Conflict Management
C. Military Measures:
Confidence and Security-Building Measures
Military Professionalization and Reform
Military Restructuring and Integration
Military Demobilization
Preventive Deployment
D. Economic and Social Measures:
Conditionality
Sanctions and Embargoes
Economic and Resource Cooperation
Humanitarian Assistance
Development Assistance
Power-Sharing Arrangements
National Conferences
Political Institution-Building
Electoral Assistance
Civic Society-Building
E. Political Development and Governance
Decentralization of Power
Judicial/Legal Reform
Police Reform
War Crimes Tribunals/Truth Commissions
F. Communication and Education:
Peace Media
Media Professionalization