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Of course, we are a long way from a world in which what is good for humanity consistently outweighs the prerogatives of states. Nevertheless, there are signs that universal norms, many of which are stated in the United Nations Charter and other international documents, are becoming embodied in transnational institutions that can exert influence on states. For example, human rights norms have, through the operations of the CSCE and OSCE, provided increasing leverage for the international community to curb organized state violence against minority groups.

Continuing dialogue about the tension in international law between the norm of noninterference on the one hand and those of human rights and self-determination of peoples on the other may be leading toward a new international consensus on how to provide for the rights of minorities. And the growing international acceptance of norms of democratic decision making are making it more legitimate for states, international donors, and NGOs to support struc-. It is too soon to be sure that the increased prominence of these new strategies of international conflict resolution is an enduring feature of a new world system.

However, it seems likely that many of the forces that have made these strategies more attractive are themselves enduring. If intrastate conflicts continue to pose serious threats to global security, if nonstate interests remain important, and if global integration makes foreign policy increasingly difficult to organize exclusively around coherent and unitary notions of national interest, conflict resolution is likely to rely more than in the past on the transnational activities of nonstate actors and on techniques that do not depend on traditional definitions of national interest.

Nation states are likely to remain important actors in international relations for some time to come, however, and the possibility of violent interstate conflict remains a serious concern. But recent events presage a more complex multidimensional arena of international conflict in which both state interests and nonstate actors are important parts of the mix. Under such conditions some recent trends are likely to stabilize.

For example, NGOs with humanitarian and conflict resolution missions have a good chance to remain prominent players in world politics. Their comparative advantage lies in using conflict resolution tools that do not depend directly on power politics. Although NGOs can facilitate negotiations that trade off interests, states are probably better positioned to do this.

NGOs are uniquely able to contribute by deploying the emerging tools of conflict resolution, as they have increasingly done in recent years. They have promoted conflict transformation by sponsoring interactive conflict resolution activities see Chapters 7 and 8 , providing training in informal dispute resolution techniques, and supporting various institutions of civil society that participate in democratic debate.

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The roles for NGOs in structural prevention are sometimes more prominent than the roles for states. And they have contributed to the development and enforcement of new international norms by promoting and monitoring conditions of human rights, treatment of minorities, and democratic governance e. Their continued importance will depend not only on their usefulness to diplomats in the aid-donor states but also on their acceptance by the parties to the conflicts they want to resolve.

Thus, to be effective, these NGOs must be accepted by their potential clients as democratic, accountable, and true to the humanistic principles they espouse. They must also find ways to ensure that their activities do not make conflicts worse see Chapter If the post-Cold War world is qualitatively different from what came before, does it follow that what practitioners know about conflict resolution is no longer reliable? A provisional answer comes from the results of a previous investigation by a National Research Council committee that reviewed the state of knowledge relevant to preventing major international conflict, including nuclear war.

Between and this group commissioned 14 comprehensive review articles covering major areas of knowledge about international conflict National Research Council, , , Stern and Druckman identified propositions that the authors of the reviews judged to be supported by the evidence available at the time.

Each proposition was coded in terms of how well it stood up against a list of five political surprises of the period. The Stern-Druckman investigation reached conclusions that may also apply to knowledge about conflict resolution techniques. First, the great majority of the propositions about 80 were not tested by the surprising events. Thus, these conclusions from historical experience remained as well supported as before.

Second, of the propositions that were tested by events, most were supported by the events that occurred. This knowledge was also unchanged by the shift in the world system. Third, however, some of the most critical events of were not addressed by any of the propositions.

Available knowledge about the international system had virtually nothing to say about the conditions under which an international epidemic of democratization would break out, or a great empire would peacefully liquidate itself, or a new historical era would dawn without a great-power war.


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So, although much of what passed as knowledge before was still reliable knowledge after that time, much of. The main lessons of the end of the Cold War were not that previous knowledge was wrong but that there was no knowledge about some of the most important phenomena of the new era. The results of that analysis suggest that, although it makes sense to look carefully and critically at what is known about the traditional strategies and tools of conflict resolution that have received considerable attention from scholars and practitioners, it is especially important to examine what is known about less familiar strategies and tools that received limited attention in the past and that may be of major importance under the new conditions.

This book does not attempt to comprehensively review knowledge about the effectiveness of the conflict resolution techniques based mainly on the influence of tools of traditional diplomacy. Generally, what the contributors find is that the new conditions in the world have not invalidated past knowledge about how and under what conditions these techniques work.

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However, the new conditions do call for some modification and refinement of past knowledge and suggest that the old tools sometimes need to be thought of and used in new ways. Each of the above chapters includes a summary of the state of knowledge about the conditions favoring effective use of the techniques it examines.

Much closer attention is paid to the emerging strategies of conflict resolution and to the techniques that embody them, about which much less has been written. For most of the conflict resolution techniques that involve conflict transformation, structural prevention, and normative change, there is no systematic body of past knowledge from the previous era that is directly relevant to current needs. Therefore, careful examination of what is known about the effectiveness of these techniques is particularly needed at this time.

The UN Security Council in an Age of Great Power Rivalry

Fortunately, these techniques, though underutilized, are not new. For example, one type of structural prevention strategy is to offer autonomy—special status and governance rights—for certain culturally identified subunits in a unitary or federal state. There is a fairly long history of happy and unhappy examples of autonomy that may hold. But it is only very recently that scholars have looked to cases like Scotland, Puerto Rico, the Soviet republics and autonomous regions, Catalonia, Greenland, the Native American reservations of the United States and Canada, the French overseas territories and departments, and the like to find lessons that might be informative in places like Chechnya, Bosnia, and Hong Kong see Chapter In the past, when such structural arrangements were the subject of scholarly attention, it usually came from specialists in domestic politics e.

The same situation holds for constitutional design. The world is full of constitutions and electoral systems, and their consequences for conflict management in their home countries are available for historical examination. However, until recently, relatively little systematic attention was paid to the question of how electoral system design shapes the course of conflict in a society see Chapter 11 for a review and analysis of the evidence.

War and Peace in International Rivalry

This book gives detailed attention to several nontraditional conflict resolution techniques in order to shed light on the potential for using techniques that employ the strategies of conflict transformation, structural prevention, and normative change as part of the toolbox of international conflict resolution. The intent is to draw out lessons—what George calls generic knowledge—about the conditions under which each type of intervention in fact reduces the likelihood of violent conflict and about the processes that lead to such outcomes.

Our primary intent in conducting this exercise is to provide useful input to the decisions of conflict resolution practitioners—decision makers in national governments, international organizations, and NGOs— who must consider a wider-than-ever panoply of policy options, some of which they have not seriously considered before. The contributors to this volume were asked to summarize available knowledge with an eye to informing these decisions. We also hope, of course, to advance knowledge among specialists about the functioning and effectiveness of the various techniques of international conflict resolution.

But the rationale for developing this knowledge is more than the curiosity of science.


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  • It is also to help in efforts to reduce both organized and nonorganized violence in the world. Conflict resolution practitioners need many kinds of knowledge to achieve their objectives. Some essential knowledge is highly situation specific and can come only from examining features of particular conflict situations in the present—the political forces currently affecting the parties in conflict, the personalities of the leaders, the contested terrain or resources, and so forth. Other kinds of essential knowledge apply across situations.

    They tell what to expect in certain kinds of conflicts or with certain kinds of parties, leaders, or contested resources. These kinds of knowledge are generic, that is, cross-situational, and therefore subject to improvement by systematic examination of the past. The chapters in this book are organized around problems in conflict resolution and techniques or classes of techniques for addressing them. Problems are situations encountered repeatedly, though in different contexts, in the conduct of the practice of diplomacy or conflict resolution, such as deterring aggression, mediating disputes, managing crises, achieving cooperation among allies, and so forth.

    Practitioners typically consider several specific policy instruments and strategies for dealing with each of these generic problems. In this process they can benefit from several types of knowledge about them. First, general conceptual models identify the critical variables for dealing effectively with the phenomenon in question and the general logic associated with successful use of strategies or techniques to address a type of problem. For example, deterrence theory in its classical form e. It presumes that the target of a deterrent threat is rational and thus, if well informed, can make a reasonably accurate calculation of the costs and risks associated with each possible response to the threat, and it prescribes the characteristics of threats that are effective with rational actors.

    A conceptual model is the starting point for constructing a strategy or response for dealing with a particular conflict situation.

    Second, practitioners need conditional generalizations about what favors the success of specific strategies they might use. This kind of knowledge normally takes the form of statements of association—that a strategy is effective under certain conditions but not others. Although conditional generalizations are not sufficient to determine which action to take, they are useful for diagnostic purposes.

    A practitioner can examine a situation to see whether favorable conditions exist or can be created for using a. Good conditional generalizations enable a practitioner to increase the chances of making the right choice about whether and when to use a technique. Third, practitioners need knowledge about causal processes and mechanisms that link the use of each strategy to its outcomes.


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    • Comments (16).
    • For example, one indication that an electoral system in a culturally divided society is channeling conflict in nonviolent directions is that each major party is running candidates from several ethnic groups. When party conflicts are no longer reflections of raw ethnic conflict, future political conflicts are likely to be less highly charged.

      Knowledge about such mechanisms is useful for monitoring the progress of a conflict resolution effort and for deciding whether additional efforts should be made to support previous ones. Fourth, in order to craft an appropriate strategy for a situation, practitioners need a correct general understanding of the actors whose behavior the strategy is designed to influence. Only by doing so can a practitioner diagnose a developing situation accurately and select appropriate ways of communicating with and influencing others.

      Faulty images of others are a source of major misperceptions and miscalculations that have often led to major errors in policy, avoidable catastrophes, and missed opportunities.