Exam On Perspectives And Theories In Conflict Resolution Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Preventing violent conflict is the main aim of conflict resolution. It's easier to tackle conflict earlier, before they reach the point of armed conflict or mass violence. Therefore, one of the best ways to intervene and stop the violence is early warning with effective early warning capacities. Here the strategy, conceptual framework is needed, which includes effective methods for successful intervention and prevention the violence.

In the case of "ethnic cleansing", early warning methods are accepted to be one of the effective prevention methods. One of the key points in early warning action is risk assessment and in the "ethnic cleansing" process is direct measures. Besides identification of the risk, early preventive actions will draw the possible scenario of violence escalation and to highlight the potential opportunities for prevention the violence. But here we have the question, what will international community do (UN, regional organizations, great powers, top-leaders, civil society, grassroots, etc) to prevent the "ethnic cleansing" and how can the action be legitimized?

Proceeding from the task, in this paper, which consists of two parts, I highlight the possible measures for preventing "ethnic cleansing". In the first part I review the methods of conflict prevention in general, based on Ramsbotham et al works. In other words, what international community will do to prevent the conflict. In the second part I consider the importance of prevention in the case of "ethnic cleansing" process. In other words, what exactly should be done in "ethnic cleansing" process to prevent it and how can it be legitimized. In conclusion I bring the results of all work.

1. Tools for conflict analysis and prevention

This part of the paper attempts to introduce the possible methods, which can be used in general to prevent the conflict or to cancel the further escalation of the conflict. Active measures in preventing conflict can be divided into two types: to prevent situation with a clear capacity for violence from degenerating into armed conflict or "light prevention". The aim in this type is to prevent latent or threshold conflicts from becoming severe armed conflicts. (diplomatic interventions, long term missions and private mediation efforts). The second type is "deep prevention" in contrast aims to address the roots causes, including underlying conflicts of interest and relationships. In international level it means addressing recurrent issues and problems in the international system, or a particular international relationship, which lies at the root of conflict. Within society it may mean engaging with issues of development, political culture and community relations (Ramspotham et al, 2006:108)

Shorter light prevention means diplomatic approach, deep prevention economic and political measures to address the sources of conflict by encouraging economic development, meeting the needs for identity, security and access of diverse groups, strengthening shared norms and institutions, addressing sources of conflict in poverty, marginalization and injustice and building domestic, regional and international capacity to manage the conflict. (ibid)

Oliver Ramsbotham at al in the book of Contemporary conflict resolution defines conditions which are necessary for starting conflict (capacity of killing; sufficient prevalence among states that there are circumstances under which it is their function to resort to arms against one another; the absence of the antiwar advice from international system; existence of weapons) and states that if we exclude one of these conditions, violence can be prevented (Ramsbotham, 2006:111). In other words, violence can be preventing by changing human nature (Suganami 1996, Waller 2007). Causes of a particular war, has its parallels in efforts to prevent a particular conflict from becoming violent. Its possible to cancel the question of war, if we can transform the background causes. If it's possible to modify the intermediate causes, the conflict may be prevented from coming to a head. If we can remove the triggers, violence may be avoided even if conflict remains. (Ramsbotham, 2006: 110) If light prevention relies only on the situation that is cause of the violent conflict, the underlying causes of conflict will remain and may still produce a violent conflict, in a slightly different situations. So, here the task is not to prevent the particular war, but the "family" of wars (Ramsbotham, 2006:112)

In the early warning system two tasks will be considered: first, identification of the type of conflicts and location of the conflicts that could become violent, second - monitoring and assessing their progress with a view to assessing how close to violence they are. The first task requires to establish the circumstances under which wars are likely to take place. The second focuses on indicators of genocide, human rights abuse, state failure, refugee flows, food crisis, tracking arms flows and indicators of environmental conflict. (Ramsbotham, 2006:113) The important point here is that very often policymakers don't listen to the observers, or they just don't give any response (Yugoslavia) or they just don't want to change anything (Rwanda). For some time the key issue here is not providing early warning, but mustering the political resources to make an appropriate early response. (Ramsbotham, 2006:114)

When there is an agreed and legitimate basis for a political community and the community provides public guides and secures the accepted values of its members, violent conflict can be avoided. When coercion is used as the basis for the allocation of resources and roles and when this allocation is uneven, illegitimate and unacceptable to people, violent conflict is more likely to occur.

This applies at any level of political community: at the level of global society as well as at the national level and at the level of particular communities. (Ramsbotham, 2006:115) the agenda for conflict prevention is thus to deal with conflict formations at the global, national and sub-national levels, which includes following actors: states and inter-governmental organizations; development and humanitarian organizations; international NGOs concerned with conflict prevention and transformation; parties to the conflict and other relevant groups within the affected societies (Miall, 2004:12).

When the situation is close to the point of violence, early warning or "preventive diplomacy" methods are needed. Here much attention should be done to the external interveners. Direct negotiations between the contending parties may limit the risk of conflict escalation at the early stage. A combination of actions by internal and external actors to combine them together to limit potential conflict also can be done, as in the case of Estonia and Macedonia (Ramsbotham, 2006:121)

A wide range of policy operations can be done here like official diplomacy (mediation, conciliation, fact-finding, good officies, peace conferences, envoys, conflict prevention centers, hot lines) through non-official diplomacy (private mediation, message-carying and creation of black-channels, peace commissions, problem-solving work shops, conflict resolution training, round tables) to peacekeeping efforts by local actors (church-facilitated talks, debates between politicians, cross-party discussions) (Ramsbotham, 2006:122)

Even after all these operations in some cases, conflict continue at a political level, with successive negotiations, breakdowns, agreements and disagreements, in the other cases a negotiation process prevents a political conflict reaching any risk of violence. So, the effectiveness of measures to prevent violent conflicts depends on circumstances.(Ramsbotham, 2006:123)

Here we have also different capacities to prevent the conflict: capacity varies regionally too: capacity exists an international level (in the form of international institutions, norms), at the national level (in the form of state institutions, parliaments, laws, etc.) and at sub-state levels (local communities, civic associations etc) (Smith, 2004).

A combination of factors, including different configurations of structural causes and preventors of conflict, distinguish regions with little or no violent conflict from those with epidemic violent conflict. (Ramsbotham, 2006:126)

So, to prevent the escalation of conflict the conflict will be analyzed. It means is needed to take the context of conflict and the interaction between intervention to minimize the negative and maximize the positive impact. Here we have four key points: profile, causes, actors, dynamics. To understand the context of conflict we need to know the profile of the conflict (political, economic and socio-cultural context, specific affected areas, history) and analyze it on local, regional and continental levels. To make the intervention into the conflict we need to know the causes (structural, proximate causes and tiggers) of the conflict and its better to intervene before conflict to prevent the violence. To minimize negative and to maximize positive impact we need to know the major important actors of the conflict and their interests, goals, positions, capacities, relationships. Here we can find out is it better to negotiate on top level, middle level or grassroots level. (Galtung, 2000: 3-35)

2. Exact tools to prevent "ethnic cleansing"

"Ethnic cleansing" is not legitimate act and it is proved by 130 states which took an obligation to prevent genocide by becoming party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide [€ª] . The prohibition of genocide also considered as the fundamental norm, so no country can derogate from it.

The preventive act for taking measures in advance includes the collection, analysis and communication of information about considered situation and its escalation, that can potentially lead to genocide and massive "ethnic cleansing".(Suhrke, 1996) Here is needed not only to collect and analyse the information, but also the communication of information as a core for preventive action. The preventive action will be early enough for effective prevention, not for mitigation. Here three interrelated activities are required like to work with data, to generate warnings and to negotiate to prevent an action. (Austen, 2004)

To work with information and data helps for risk assessments. Any preventive action must use some procedure to identify a manageable number of situations of concerns to track closely. Very often considering long-term or structural violence, these methods help to estimate the relative risk of states based on slowly changing attributes. It serves two main purposes: 1. identifying high-risk situations for intensive monitroing, 2. providing context for subsequent analysis of ongoing process.

An explicit strategy based on risk factors is needed. This kind of narrowing of «watch list» amounts to risk assessment. Risk assessment screens some situations in more details and many situations out, that's why it is the key stage in situation analysis. This is extremely important stage for most correct ways of estimating risk of "ethnic cleansing". At the same time long-term analysis helps to estimate and interpret the situation in a particular time. Very often considering the results of structural risks, the interveners can err on the side of caution, while the same pattern of events in a country with few or no known structural risk factors should cause less concern.

To decide what kind of risk estimating strategy will be considered, the following factors will be included: - the correct assessment of the risk of genocide and related crimes; - the effectiveness of using methods, - the process legitimacy by stakeholders. (Keohane, 2006)

In the stage of generating the warnings and intervening in the best time, interveners need more details information and analysis than is produced by long-term analysis. In this stage the information need to be systematically analyzed close to real-time monitoring of potential crisis situations identified in risk assessments. (Harff and Gurr, 2000) Our abilities to predict the risk of genocide in policy-relevant timeframe is more limited than our ability to identify states at elevated risk over a period of years. Usually causal factors are more different in different situations and random in nature than the pre-disposing conditions, which makes the analysing process mroe difficult, because we can never know for sure that the situation will develop as we consider.

The main tasks for interveners in the predicting the forthcoming events are framing, drawing strategy and scenarios and identifying the possible best time for action. Its necessary to mention that interveners need to draw also the worst and catastrophic scenario, to have more alternative approaches in different situations. The failure in preventing process can be underestimateing genocidal situations and mix it with civil wars of other "normal" phenomena. In this stage interveners have two key points: - obtaining, filtering and interpreting information on evolving situations, - to decide when is the best time to intervene and prevent the further violence. (Paffenhols, 2004)

As for information, its necessary to mention, that nowadays interveners have a lot of information sources, which needs to be filtered and analyzed, and despite the big amount of information, sometimes interveners face the lack of necessary information. For intervention and prevention the violence, the knowledge of positions, interests and capabilities of a host of regional and international actors are required. (Miall, 2004) To draw the successful strategy, following points will be considered: correct anticipation of situation development, effectiveness of using methods and perceived legitimacy by key stakeholders. Timeliness also is very important point. (Austen, 2004)

Finally interveners need to negotiate with decision makers or other important organs in the process of making mass violence. This is very important point. The negotiations can be held in top, middle level and in grassroots level. (Miall, 2004) In the stage of analysing we can consider grassroots level, but in the stage of preventing the violence, we need to contact directly to decision-makers - top liders, to get respond as quick as possible. This phase is called "client-centered decision-support system" by Davies and Gurr in their work «Preventive measures». (Davies and Gurr, 2001)

There are many methods and tools, which can be applied to violent conflict or to "ethnic cleansing", but in case of "ethnic cleansing" the following special aspects are required in preventing the violence.

In the case of genocide or «ethnic cleansing» high level of accuracy is required. Trying to analyse the conflict interveners will be able to foresee not only that «ethnic cleansing» is coming, but also, that the violence takes a particular case.

The principle of «responsibility to protect», which has been accepted by many countries is not limited directly to genocide. World Summit Outcome Document in 2005 states that responsibility to protect refers also to "genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity." (2005, par. 138-139) In terms of this principle, all accepted countries are responsible to protect humans from inhuman actions like genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity.

In the case of "ethnic cleansing" we don't have enough institutions for analyzing exactly this case, that is why we have lack of analysis. In this paper I want to present model suggested by Barbara Harff, which is based on preventing the violence by statistical risk assessment. In her model she states six risk factors that explains in which situations violent crimes can grow to the "ethnic cleansing", genocide, etc. The following factors are: autocracy, prior genocide, ethnic minority ruling elite, low trade openness, magnitude of political upheaval and exclusionary ideology of ruling elite. (Harff, 2003) According to Harff, when the model is applied to the exact information, it becomes the basis for a global "watch list", that identifies countries in which the conditions for a future episode are present. Harff at al state also that genocide or "ethnic cleansing" can occur during state failure.(Harff 2003, Milliken, 2003) Her model explains mostly the events happened in the past and seeks the best fit model to the historical data, then that model assesses future situation. But the «best fit» model in explaining past events not always work for explaining future situation. Here we have lack of investigation in her model. But, anyway, Harff's model remains the most correct statistical model for risk assessment of genocide and «ethnic cleansing», but in the preventive actions it will be wrong to rely only on this model. New models will be tested to get the best goal in preventive actions.

Thus, for success in preventive action more detailed information is required, especially in the case of «ethnic cleansing». In this case despite detailed information, all the preventive strategy must be drawn in short-term capacities. Statistical models on near-term anticipation of «ethnic cleansing» and other crimes will be developed, not only on statistical bases, but also in complex environment to provide the traditional approaches, that rely on stable cause-effect patterns. Besides methods of risk evaluation and anticipation, there are wide political and institutional barriers to effective "ethnic cleansing" and other violent crimes. It seems that the conflict analysis in "ethnic cleansing", genocide and other inhuman crimes is developing, but at the same time we have lack of institutions exactly in this field. Furthermore, it is very difficult to monitor early warning and preventive actions and make them the part of global policymaking. To influence on decision making process of policymakers, the preventive strategy will be based on the realities of cognitive processing and decision making. The fair of the development of situation into "ethnic cleansing" often occurs when we don't have enough time to analyze the situation, when we have lack of information and very limited time.

The problem is that the concepts drawn before mostly maybe have fit one's understanding and interpretation and was successful. The concepts for "ethnic cleansing", genocide etc. must be created on the different models and tools, because we cannot compare "ethnic cleansing" with just violent conflict, because the second one can be identified with armed conflict, civil wars etc., while «ethnic cleansing» is purposeful action.


Effective early warning tools can not guarantee absolute successful prevention. But the correct risk assessment and warnings can transform further actions in policymaking and cancel violence development into massive killing. Current concepts and models can be seen as imperfect, because every concept miss some factors, we don't have complete model or concept to prevent the violence and "ethnic cleansing", because every case is unique in it's historical, geographical, sociological contexts. But in my point of view two types of institutions are necessary to reduce the violence and, in particular, to cancel the "ethnic cleansing", genocide etc.

First we need research institutions, which will investigate not the conflict in general, but exactly the genocide and "ethnic cleansing" cases.

Second we need more strict legal institutions, which will punish not only the country, but exactly the leader, by whom the violence have been realized [1] 

Today due to technological progress we can easily check and observe what have been happened and where and lead to liability all the responsible persons, from officers to the country leaders. For this we need independent institutions, which will fight for law order, not for own interest in different events. UN is already very dependent for making any independent decisions.

Third interveners need to affect policymakers in psychological way, not distinguishing their interests or benefits from the conflict, because these wills to gain have lead to the conflict escalation, we need «another way» to go out from it.

It is just short overview of the conflict prevention and reducing violence escalation, which should be intvestigated in more detailed way.