CONFLICT MANAGEMENT, PREVENTION AND RESOLUTION

By Ifeanyi Peters

INTRODUCTION
Conflict is a situation in which people, groups or countries are involved in serious disagreement or argument. Conflict is a necessary process of life. Within the individual, there is always conflict of thoughts, choice and interest, to mention but a few. This is known as intra-personal conflict. This not only makes decision taking difficult, but also has been identified as one of the major sources of stress. On the other hand, the inter-personal conflict occurs between individuals, states, groups and organi ations or members of an organi ation, groups and states. Conflicts can also be either constructive or destructive. Whenever disagreement arises, we say there is a conflict. While conflict is universal and occurs naturally, crisis !or violence" is almost always the key by-product of conflicts. #f conflict is properly managed or resolved, there will be peace. #f on the other hand, resolution and reconciliation fail, the conflict will degenerate to chaos, crisis or war.

STAGES OF CONFLICT
There are four established stages of escalation of conflicts to crisis$ %. DISPUTE (or Latent) STAGE$ when there is a bitter argument, but no fi&ed position taken. Conflict situation e&ists, but not yet recogni ed. '. POLARISATION (or Perceived) STAGE$ When bitter arguments still go on and fi&ed positions are becoming discernible. We say conflict situation is recogni ed at this stage. (. SEGREGATION (or Tension) STAGE$ When the disputants have taken fi&ed positions that cannot be compromised and they are ready to fight to maintain their positions. ). DESTRUCTION (or Manifest) STAGE$ The disputants take steps which are usually violent, to maintain their positions. #t is important to note that conflict is not the only factor responsible for crisis*violence and that crisis*violence is not just limited to breaking of limbs and bones and spilling

iolence !rape. These factors are at play in contemporary 4igeria. using the intellect to glorify violence" . Thus apart from physical violence. by engaging individuals./nvironmental .iolence !state-induced poverty. conflicts. crisis and violence are midwifed by inordinate desires for political and economic advantages." . CONFLICT MANAGEMENT This deals on how to control or manage an e&isting conflict so that it does not escalate. #njustice and ine-uitable distribution of resources cause resentments.2omestic .#ntellectual .iolence !child abuse. curses. etc. etc" CAUSES OF CONFLICTS AND CRISIS 3ll over the world. etc" . denial of right to education. crisis and war.0ental*1sychological !keeping one in-communicado.iolence !unfair and discriminatory cultural practices.iolence !foul and aggressive language.erbal . etc" .+ocial . etc" . pollution./conomic .. which aims to prevent conflicts from even arising in the first place.of blood. Conflict management differs from Peace !i"din#.iolence !social ine-uality. CONFLICT RESOLUTION . etc" . we have$ . etc" . which invariably give rise to conflict situations. degradation. parties and stakeholders in processes that enhance peaceful coe&istence outside conflict situations. weird se&ual practices. groups.iolence !noise. greed.iolence !plagiarism. #n fact. spouse battering. violation of various constitutional and civil rights of individuals !and groups" constitute violence against these persons. ego-related problems and plain mischief. in which case they will be difficult to manage.+e&ual . 3t this.Cultural . etc" . thereby leading to chaos. efforts are made to ensure that constructive conflicts do not degenerate and become destructive.

There is always a winner*loser ending. This strategy has the following ( cornerstones$ . MEDIATION$ the parties appoint a neutral person who will guide them in their resolution of the conflict.This deals with settlement of conflict that may have already taken shape. convicted and sentenced. #n this type of dispute resolution strategy. 5egular 2ispute 5esolution '. #t also covers civil litigations.+eparate the people from the problem . 3lternative 2ispute 5esolution REGULAR DISPUTE RESOLUTION This includes the regular system of reporting a case to the police. #t can be by reconciliation or alienation. 6nder this system. that is. MET$ODS OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION There are two major classes or methods of resolving conflicts. this includes the methods that are alternative to the regular system. 7owever. the winner takes it all. ALTERNATI%E DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR) 3s its name implies. The resolution !award" is enforceable by a court of law. T&PES OF ADR AR ITRATION$ The parties appoint a neutral person*body to adjudicate on their differences. One very popular negotiation strategy !especially at the international and diplomatic levels" is the $arvard Ne#otiation Pro'ect. people are encouraged to go for a win-win solution !instead of a win-lose or lose-lose situation". through legal process. NEGOTIATION$ The parties meet without a third party and work at resolving their conflict. 0ediation is guided by negotiation. The mediator is not a party to the negotiation but a contributory observer. getting the offender prosecuted. Conflicts should be resolved before they get to the destruction !or action" phase. This is basically by litigation in court. The mediator does not adjudicate or give judgment. the procedure is different from the usual court process. %.

now when to withdraw. 7e should therefore not force his opinion on the disputants.:e confident .2iscuss the issues with any of the disputants in the absence of other party . )$AT A MEDIATOR MUST NOT DO 7e*+he must not$ . )$AT A MEDIATOR MUST DO 7e*+he must$ .9enerate a variety of possibilities before deciding on what to do . 8urthermore.3ssume authority or pass judgment .:e kind and friendly but firm. STEPS TO PROPER MEDIATION . the mediator has no authority to lay down decisions or enforce verdicts. patient and optimistic .5ecount what you heard somewhere else .Call the attention of the law enforcement agent*agency to the conflict . prejudice or bias against .2abble into any conflict without invitation .+tretch the issues .#nsist on some objective standards MEDIATING IN A CONFLICT :earing in mind that the essence of mediation is to reconcile the disputants.:e a good listener and observer .0ediate on matters he has personal interest in.:e diplomatic but honest .0aintain neutrality .Treat contenders as matured e-uals and give each person an opportunity to e&press him*her self in a calm manner and controlled environment . as well as maintain or improve on their social relationship.Withdraw as soon as you become emotionally involved .8ocus on interests not positions . the mediator must not do or say anything that can escalate the conflict. calm and disciplined..3ccept any form of gratification from any of the disputants ..3dvise them to go to court.

#t is rooted in the theological tradition as well as psychological concepts of reconciliation but does not refer to specific programme activities. destroying past development gains and leaving a legacy of damaged assets and corrosive mistrust that impedes future progress. .. we can minimi e and manage conflicts and by so doing eliminate crisis*violence or reduce them to an insignificant minimum. it is an activity within the practice of conflict resolution and focuses on transforming relationships at the personal level and therefore refers to reconciliation as a process. They are ill winds that do not blow anybody any good. crisis and violence. win or lose" .Take into consideration the cause and urgent purpose of each conflict. Conflicts. crisis and violence beget more conflicts.Compromising !which fails to satisfy either party" RECONCILIATION 3nother important element in conflict resolution is 5econciliation.+elect details and choose your words carefully. crisis and violence arising from unresolved conflicts have very high costs.8orcing * Competition !confrontation. $O) NOT TO RESOL%E CONFLICTS 1eople should also appreciate that the optimal conflict resolution strategy is problem solving*collaboration !that is. 3ccording to a special report by the World :ank. )$& RESOL%E CONFLICTS There should be sincere and continuous dialogue amongst all stakeholders where issues threatening peaceful coe&istence should be resolved. avoiding the conflict" . looking for mutually satisfactory solution" as against$ .+moothing * 3ccommodation !ignoring the conflict" . 3nd while conflicts are natural and even crisis to a lesser e&tent. #t is always better to talk over it than to fight over it.5emember that all conflicts are all about power .Withdrawal * 3voidance !neutrality. What people want to accomplish through a conflict has to be understood properly and taken seriously .Observe and consider the actions and reaction of the people involved . They destroy our present and our future.Take into cogni ance the e&tended and complicated series of happenings .

8or e&ample. 7earing other traditions and faith perspectives on reconciliation and forgiveness often helps us understand our own tradition more fully. employing multiple senses.5econciliation is a Christian concept.= #n Christianity. We have simple rituals. social. Rit!a" is commonly used in reconciliation process because it is a powerful way of recogni ing important events. lighting a candle is a powerful symbol of warmth and life that can change the ambience of an entire room without saying a word. /ach dimension must be addressed in order to achieve full reconciliation. Co-e&isting in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society like ours there is the need to e&plore some of the diverse approaches to reconciliation. renouncing personal sinfulness to 9od leads to forgiveness. like funerals among others. such as how we greet each other and eat our meals. This relationship is central to the other relationships$ an individual needs to restore his or her relationship with 9od before moving on to restoring other relationships. Christianity 7ere Christ is placed centrally in the reconciliation process. Socia"+ 5econciling with those around us. there are four dimensions of relationships in which reconciliation occurs$ spiritual. and harmony > reconciliation with the self. our neighbors and the larger human community. and linking us to the past. peace. and ecological. which Christians try to follow. S*irit!a"+ The spiritual dimension refers to creating harmony and restoring broken relationship with 9od. and more elaborate rituals. but it is also found in many other religions and takes on different characteristics in different cultures. The symbols used in rituals are able to convey much more meaning than words often are. When forgiveness is received. Christ embodies the promise of 9ods reconciliation. the Catholics promotes the role of the victim in initiating reconciliation and offering forgiveness based on a restored relationship with 9od. We need to restore relationships with our neighbors . it is e&pect to lead to personal tran-uility. whereas a more protestant perspective emphasi es that the process needs to start with the offender asking for forgiveness. present or even the future. 6nderstanding how reconciliation occurs varies across Christian groups. Persona"+ The second dimension involves reconciling with the <self. personal. +ome rituals for reconciliation are e&plored in the various tradition discussed below. is a third dimension. 3nother way to understand reconciliation within Christianity is to focus on restoring relationships.

#n this way. if we are not spiritually or personally reconciled. and !)" the offenders family hosting a meal. can be very powerful for acknowledging and . Sulh is a ritual that consists of three stages. #t is important that both parties retain respect within the community even while a crime is acknowledged > this is particularly important because large groups of the community are involved. 7ere. mercy. a public ritual is held that brings the community together as the main guarantor of the forgiveness. but based on the principle of the respect of the dignity of the human person as the image of 9od. The public ceremony of sulh includes four stages$ !%" the act of reconciliation. 5elationships here reflect reconciliation at the other dimensions. and songs among others to achieve reconciliation. Christian tradition employs different rituals that involve scriptural reflection. #n the process. such as sulh. the honour and dignity of both parties need to be upheld and restored.oran. !(" the family of the offender visiting the home of the victim to drink a cup of bitter coffee. which incorporates musalaha. #n the process. prayer. the mediators work to produce a pardon and settlement. not just individuals as often is the case in western. Islam 5econciliation and forgiveness are also e&plored in #slam and the . The second stage is the reconciliation or musalaha itself. it is unlikely that we be able to achieve social reconciliation. respect and love. #n the third stage. and musalaha. they publicly acknowledge that a crime is committed. 8rom a Christian perspective.and larger community to reflect justice. individual cultures. or settlement. or reconciliation. but does emphasise using a third party to help facilitate the process. !'" the parties shaking hands under the supervision of the mediators. Eco"o#ica"+ The fourth dimension of reconciliation can be called reconciling with nature. community relations are maintained and honour is preserved for both parties. this dimension recogni es that humans cannot be fully reconciled with 9od while disrespecting and abusing 9ods creation. The ritual of sulh does not necessarily emphasise either the victim or offender?s role in initiating the process. 5ituals. 5econciliation at this level calls for respect of and care for nature and ecological system in which we live. #n the first stage the families of the victim and offender choose respected mediators ! muslihs". One of the most powerful uses of reconciliation in #slam is linked to two rituals$ sulh.

*iode building College of Medicine. Development and Peace Commission JDPC! "agos.! Ibadan. Monitoring Officer Justice. @udaism. at a #or$shop on Conflict resolution organi%ed by &igeria &etwor$ of &on'(overnmental Organisations &&&(O! held at The Institute of Medical )esearch and Training.ospital +C. and their families to resume some kind of relationship. and allow the victim and offender.resolving a grievance. which is vital to conflict resolution. on Thursday.1 . March -. +niversity College .th /00. :uddhism and other religions including 3frican traditional religion have their own perspective on reconciliation. © This paper was presented by Ifeanyi Peters.

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