Learning from governance initiatives for conflict resolution: Local agency, inclusive dialogue and developmentality

Summary

This report seeks to draw lessons learned from several of the governance initiatives for conflict resolution under examination in the Cultures of Governance and Conflict Resolution in Europe and India (CORE) project. The report finds that there is a general lack of consideration for local agency and its potential capacity in the design and implementation of initiatives, and that trusting and communicative relations are key to increasing the impact of governance initiatives in the conflict resolution process.

The first section of the report attempts to measure the impact of four specific initiatives on their respective conflicts and peacebuilding processes. The second section looks at how initiatives, particularly in the field of economic development, are often implemented without any consideration of the other factors which are necessary to bring about sustainable peace.

Key findings:

  • Throughout the CORE project similar mistakes are made in conflict resolution strategies and measures, regardless of whether the conflict is taking place in India or Europe. These mistakes are made by all designers and implementers of initiatives, whether it is the European Union, national governments, or external non-state actors:
    • there is little acknowledgment of the role that local agency can play in conflict resolution
    • the absence of empathetic and respectful dialogue amongst conflict stakeholders is a problem that exists in all cases
    • the use of the peacebuilding discourse as a remedy for pacification in conflict areas is not limited to India, but is used extensively by peacebuilding actors within the European cases of the CORE project
  • For researchers, practitioners and policymakers involved in governance initiatives for conflict resolution, a more holistic view of conflicts and their root causes is necessary. There are often more conflict stakeholders than acknowledged, and conflict dynamics are much more complex than the traditional understanding of two factions opposed to each other. It is essential to recognise that even those who are not involved in the violence (for instance local actors) potentially have a crucial role to play in conflict and its resolution. Recognising these broader conflict dynamics can assist in improving the missing elements of conflict resolution, namely local agency and inclusive dialogue.
  •  Accepting that each violent conflict is unique in terms of actors, causes and dynamics, and recognising that its resolution will be a long-term process can greatly assist in developing a holistic perspective on conflict. Conflict can rarely be attributed to one cause; most conflicts have various and interlinked causes. Treating one cause without addressing the others is not only futile, but can also potentially lead to the prolongation of the conflict.

Source

Das, S. K. & Galvanek, J. B. (2014). Learning from governance initiatives for conflict resolution: Local agency, inclusive dialogue and developmentality. Berlin: Berghof Foundation.