Violence Prevention Options for the Destructive Escalation Phase
A general article on limiting escalataion is available here. In addition, one can:
- Use persuasion, diplomatic incentives, good offices, and fact-finding commissions to alter dangerous or threatening behavior.
- Intiate negotiations to try to settle the dispute before it becomes intense.
- If negotiations fail, mediation can be tried to assist in reaching a mutually satisfactory settlement of grievances.
- Sanctions can also be utilized if incentives fail, although the success record of most sanctions is not particularly good.
Violence Limiting Options for the Stalemate Stage
The stalemate stage is both the most difficult and at times the most hopeful. It is here where the violence and the destruction from the conflict may have reached its peak, but at the same time, it is the point when the parties may come to realize that neither (or none) of them can prevail unilaterally, no matter what they do. It is then that trying alternative approaches begins to make more sense.(This point is commonly referred to as reaching "ripeness." Although it can be difficult to encourage decision makers to transform violent approaches to conflict into nonviolent ones, the stalemate stage is often the most likely time to foster such a transition. Some articles describing how such a transformation might be encouraged include:
- Ripeness-promoting Strategies
- Intervention Processes
- One of the most commonly utilized approaches to breaking stalemates in violent conflicts is mediation. In addition to this overview article, Beyond Intractability discusses the use of mediation in intractable conflicts, and contains a number of articles about specific mediation strategies and techniques.
- Problem-Solving Workshops and Track II (citizen diplomacy) are also often useful when the conflict is not yet ripe for official (Track I) diplomatic negotiations.
- If the conflict is ripe for negotiation, official diplomacy can be used to negotiate any one of a number of different types of peace agreements. A particularly useful document, The Peace Agreement Writers' Handbook describes the nuts and bolts of drafting peace agreements. In addition, short descriptions of particularly important aspects of those peace agreements include:
- In addition to peace agreements, interposing peacekeeping forces between the fighting parties as soon as is allowed is often helpful in diminishing the level of violence.
Violence Limiting and Prevention Tools for the De-Escalation Stage and Peacebuilding Stages
Scholar-practitioner John Paul Lederach asserts that peace agreements are not the end of conflict or conflict resolution, but actually the middle. "Intractable conflicts", he says, "take just as long to get out of, as they take to get into." For that reason, much work must be done to consolidate the peace settlement detailed in any peace agreement. If people assume that the peace agreement has been signed, so the conflict resolution work is done, they will almost always be disappointed as people who want to derail the peace agreement (commonly called "spoilers") will re-ignite violence for their own, usually selfish ends. In a large sense, the steps needed to consolidate the peace are the subject of most of the other challenges analyzed in the Governance Forum. However, a few overview articles are included here, describing particularly important ideas: