Peacebuilding Manual/Conflict Prevention

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Conflict Prevention

A decade ago, conflict prevention referred only to actions undertaken in the short term to reduce manifest tensions and to prevent the outbreak or recurrence of violent conflict. Conflict prevention includes built‐in capacities of societies to deal with conflicting interests without resort to violence. It also extends to the management of disputes with destabilising potentials. Such work helps de‐legitimise the belief that violence is an inevitable or acceptable way of resolving disputes, making non‐violent alternatives known and more attractive, addressing structural and immediate causes and reducing vulnerability to triggers.

The goal of conflict prevention is not to prevent all conflicts. Some conflicts are natural, inevitable and often a positive part of development and other change processes. Instead, the emphasis is on preventing harmful violent responses to the inevitable diverging interests or clashing objectives extant in all societies.

The Utstein Palette is not an analytical framework as such, but a descriptive tool to define the scope of Conflict prevention and Peacebuilding (CPPB). It indicates a broad framework for an intervention. The basis of evaluative judgement is instead the analysis of the conflict, and the identification of those elements that would help donors and agencies have an influence on its course.

While a majority of local-level disputes are resolved peacefully, a significant minority of cases result in violence. The Afghanistan Human Development Report, prepared by UNDP in 2007, described how land disputes ‘lead regularly to violence between communities’. and "local disputes frequently flare into violence and lead to wider problems’. This report also concludes that ‘millions of Afghan women and girls continue to face systematic discrimination and violence, either in their homes or in their communities’ While the strength and importance of family and tribal affiliations in Afghanistan can be a source of stability, it can also lead to the rapid escalation of disputes. A dispute between two individuals can ultimately lead to conflict between families, extended families, communities, or even tribes. Although local disputes attract little attention, they prevent or deter families and communities engaging in joint initiatives, or providing mutual support – so often necessary in impoverished rural areas. Divided communities are further vulnerable to exploitation or domination by power-holders such as warlords, criminal groups, Talibans, in order to strengthen their positions and undermine the government. As the UN Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) observes in its profile on Daikundi, ‘Pashtun tribalism has taken a considerable toll on the overall stability of the district. The rivalry between the Malozai and Nikozai tribes has been used to great advantage by the Taliban. Both tribes wish to exert their control over the district and the Taliban have managed to exacerbate their divisions to further their own agenda’. In Helmand, for example, in 2006, the Taliban exploited protracted disputes and rivalries between the Alzai, Itzhakzais, and Alikozai tribes in order to help re-establish Taliban authority in the province.