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Yohannes Gebresellasie (Ph.d) Addis Ababa


Conflict occurs anywhere unfortunately. It is often inevitable in many situations. Conflicts may concern petty ones to the more serious ones which can lead to hostility among individuals and groups. The fact of the matter is that conflict is something that we live with. One cannot expect two people or groups to agree all the time. In one way or another, we are faced with many types of conflict in our day to day lives. However, conflict should not be seen as purely negative. It can also become an opportunity for better things and open up opportunities if dealt with properly. It isn’t as easy as it seems though. Hence, this is where conflict resolution comes in. The initial question would concern what conflict resolution is. What is it anyway? It actually is an end which has been brought about by conflict management. It is seen as a peaceful solution to individuals and groups that are in conflict.

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There are a lot of means and strategies involved in dealing with conflict, and all of these aim to come up with a resolution to it. Handling a conflict may take time and this will ultimately depend on its scale. Hence, a person who intends to acts as a mediator to parties in conflict need to have skills and know the strategies necessary to resolve conflict. There are even available trainings for those who intend to acquire these skills. Oftentimes, when we find ourselves in conflict with other people, we seem to get into a regressive and aggressive state. In such a case, we tend to become irrational and just unreasonable so that we could get out of the conflict based on what we deem is right. This kind of behavior is quite understandable but it shouldn’t be something to be tolerated. Hence, it is important for the parties involve paying attention to how a conflict can come to an end in a healthy manner. Conflict is a concept familiar to most of us. Hence, we are aware of the consequences that it can cause if it is mishandled. Thus, knowing how to go around a conflict by efficiently implementing conflict management is important for it to be resolved. Keep in mind that with the resolution of conflict comes an opportunity for growth, may it be personally or professionally.

Peacemaking is a complicated concept because peace can be defined in so many different ways. For our purposes, peacemaking is not a process of passive acceptance of mistreatment, a turning of the other cheek in the face of clear injustice or abuse, or other weak images of meekness or nonresistance. Instead, peacemaking is a vibrant, powerful concept. At its best, peacemaking creates relational and structural justice that allows for social and personal well being. This is an ideal objective, perhaps not attainable in all conflicts. Nevertheless, peacemaking implies the use of cooperative, constructive processes to resolve human conflicts, while restoring relationships. Peacemaking does not deny the essential need for adversary processes, but peacemaking places adversary processes into a larger perspective. Litigating disputes is not seen as a primary dispute resolution mechanism, but as a last-resort process.  Peacemaking is a varied approach to resolving conflicts, ending injustice, and preventing violence. Peacemaking is one that receives less media hype. Peacemaking is practical conflict transformation focused upon establishing equitable power relationships robust enough to forestall future conflict, often including the establishment of means of agreeing on ethical decisions within a community, or among parties, that had previously engaged in inappropriate (i.e. violent) responses to conflict.

Peacemaking seeks to achieve full reconciliation among adversaries and new mutual understanding among parties and stakeholders. When applied in criminal justice matters, peacemaking is usually called restorative justice, but sometimes also transformative justice, a term coined by the late Canadian justice theorist and activist Ruth Morris. One popular example of peacemaking is the several types of mediation, usually between two parties and involving a third, a facilitator or mediator. Peacemaking is not a passive act. Peacemaking is difficult to define because it is not just the absence of war and violence. The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union was not one where violence was constant, but it certainly was not a peaceful time. Some geopolitical entities, such as nation-states and international organizations, attempt to relegate the term peacemaking to large, systemic, often factional conflicts in which no member of the community can avoid involvement, and in which no faction or segment can claim to be completely innocent of the problems, citing as instances post-genocide situations, or extreme situations of oppression such as apartheid. However peacemaking is a universal and age-old approach to conflict at all levels and among any and all parties, and its principles may be generalized and used in many different kinds of conflicts. In contemporary international affairs, especially after the end of the Cold War, the concept of peacemaking has often been associated to the imposition upon warring parties of a peace settlement, usually under the auspices of an international organization.

Peacemaking in smaller, traditional societies has often involved rituals. The process of peacemaking is distinct from the rationale of pacifism or the use of non-violent protest or civil disobedience techniques, though they are often practiced by the same people. Indeed, those who master using nonviolent techniques under extreme violent pressure, and those who lead others in such resistance, have usually demonstrated the capacity not to react to violent provocation in kind, and thus may be more highly skilled at working with groups of people that may have suffered through violence and oppression, keeping them coordinated and in good order through the necessary, often difficult phases of rapprochement. Given that, and a track record of not advocating violent responses, it is these leaders who are usually most qualified for peacemaking when future conflict breaks out between the previously warring sides.  For example, Alula Pankhurst has produced films about peacemaking among Ethiopian communities. The leading figures in peace studies give us insight into what it means to actually make peace. One defining aspect of violence is that it takes two parties to perpetuate it. Violence is a tactic and oftentimes, it is also the counter-tactic to violence. Violence is a way of getting what one wants or of achieving a goal. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama's theories on peace provide us with the definition of 'peacemaking. For now, we shall take Martin Luther king and Mahatma Gandhi

Martin Luther King was placed in prison for his work to secure civil rights in America. From there, he wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail that explores the question of why those seeking justice should choose peaceful tactics. While King's writings do not discuss the steps to ending a conflict, he lays out a case for non-violence as an active means of resolving conflict and seeking justice. King's theory of peacemaking is that non-violent civil disobedience is a path of actively seeking to end injustice, without justifying violent responses. King used public displays of peaceful violation of segregationist laws to draw attention to the justice of his cause.

Mahatma GandhiGandhi's struggle for Indian independence from the British was based on ensuring that violence was met with non-violent resistance. Gandhi emphasized that non-violence could not just be a tactic, but had to be embraced as a life philosophy. Whereas King discussed the need to use non-violence as a means to an end, Gandhi speaks of non-violence and peace as a principle that should be embraced as a way of life in order to be effective. Gandhi argued that peace was only meaningful if it was consistently and universally applied. Gandhi noted in particular that leaders who had been successful at violent strategies were counter-productive in peacetime, simply because these strategies now had to be abandoned. But if a movement had adulated and emulated these people, it was unlikely ever to be able to make permanent peace even with those factions it had conquered or dominated, simply because the leaders lacked the skills and had become leaders in part for their suppression of the other side. Accordingly, even if a movement were to benefit from violent action, and even if such action was extremely effective in ending some other oppression, no movement that sought long-term peace could safely hold up these acts or persons as a moral example or advise emulating either. Gandhi's views have influenced modern ethicists in forming a critique of terrorism, in which even those who support the goals must decry the methods and avoid making, for instance, a suicide bomber into a hero. So peacemaking concerns a deeper way of looking at conflicts than just winning or losing. It looks at conflicts as opportunities for people to grow, to accept responsibility for the relationships they are in, and for the potential of apology and forgiveness.



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