chapter  2
19 Pages

Managing intractable conflict

One of the main issues (which partisans face in a protracted conflict) is how to overcome the debacle and move on to solutions which are acceptable to them. In a continuing struggle such as a long-term civil war, waiting for fighting to subside naturally is too costly, further contributing to the intractability. Efforts can be made to mitigate a conflict prior to seeking settlement. Diverse methods and strategies can be adopted to control various types of escalation and entrapment. Long-term entrapment (such as US-Soviet relations during the Cold War period) was structurally managed by regular communication and other crisis management mechanisms. This chapter reviews actor behavior and decision making from the perspective of managing the adversarial relationships and dynamics involved in the resolution of differences. Though many conflicts may seemingly look chaotic, they can be characterized by a series of moves and countermoves. A conflict management and resolution process needs to focus on the behavior of parties, relationships, and institutions (which regulate the choices of individual actors) beyond the immediate issues under dispute. Peace building has become an essential task for a transition from conflict to the establishment of stable interactions between former adversaries in the process of reconstructing violence-torn societies. Given the costs of violence, conflict prevention has been promoted to respond to the surge of ethnic struggles in the post-Cold War era.