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Conflict Transformation: a multi-dimensional task

Miall, Hugh (2004) Conflict Transformation: a multi-dimensional task. In: Austin, Alex and Fischer, Martina and Ropers, Norbert, eds. Transforming Ethnopolitical Conflict: the Berghof Handbook. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Berlin, Germany, pp. 67-90. ISBN 978-3-8100-3940-8. (KAR id:289)


What is the state-of-the-art in conflict transformation theory? Does a theory of conflict transformation already exist, and if so, what are its main foundations? Can practitioners rely on this theory to guide their practice? Can analysts make use of it to understand the dynamics of conflict and to assess the effects of intervention?

This paper aims to identify what is distinctive about conflict transformation theory and practice, as well as to identify its key dimensions. We need such a theory of conflict transformation if we are to have an adequate basis for the analysis of conflicts, as well as for devising appropriate responses to them and evaluating the effects of these responses. The paper argues that such theories need to be continually adjusted in response to the changing nature of conflicts, and that current theories must be adapted in order to take proper account of the globalisation of conflicts, and that current theories must be adapted in order to take proper acocunt of the globalisation of conflicts and conflict interventions.

The first section of the article distinguishes conflict transformation theory from theories of conflict management and conflict resolution. It explores some of the principal conflict transformation approaches in more detail, and then asks whether they add up to a coherent body of theory. Following this, it suggests a shift from theories of conflict to theories of conflict-in-context, arguing that in the context of globalisation our anlyses of conflict must give proper consideration to the social, regional and international context. We need to consider both the factors that promote peacebuilding and those that exacerbate conflict at these different levels over an extneded time period from before the outbreak of violent conflict to well after its resolution. Within the broader setting, this section thus attempts to extend Galtung's and Azar's theories of conflict formation to theories of conflict transformation. It also proposes a framework of five types of conflict transformation, which should be useful as a basis for planning and assessing intervention in conflicts.

The second section of the article discusses current developments in conflict transofrmation practice as they have occurred in the four principal kinds of practice - that of governmental and intergovernmental representatives, of development agencies, of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and of local parties and groups within the conflict setting. The issues involved in coordinating intiatives between these differetn groups are also discussed.

The final section of the paper discusses conflict transformation as a potential seed for change, requiring change both in the peacebuilder as well as in the societey in conflict.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Alison Webster
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 18:09 UTC
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 13:35 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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