Resources based conflict

L’économie de guerre en DRC


Affirmative Action in ethnic conflict resolution




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Every society, relying on the assumption on the social contract, seeks to create a “just ground “where each member of the society fits and enjoys to be part of it. However, it is difficult to find “just society” which offers to everyone the same opportunities and equal access to social services.  Thus follows that where there is a society, it will be always a certain kind of exclusion or minorities therefore the society is somehow a cradle of minorities or differences that can cause   conflicts.  Conflicts can occur because of the social inequalities, oppression, exclusion or even marginalization of a small group. There are some mechanisms suggested to handle such scope. Affirmative action or indigenization is one of them.

For John Rawls (1971, p. 31), the way towards the empowerment of minorities is the way redistributive justice is done. It is to shift from justice to fairness, a type of affirmative action. He suggest two principles that should guide the practice of the Affirmative action; a) offering to each member an  equal right in the total system of freedoms which should be equal for all in the same structure and  b) when redistributing opportunities, economic and social inequalities should in the benefit of minorities. 

            The claim of minorities is sometimes based on rights, the rights of national minorities   related to education, language, socio-economic development and effective participation or political participation in social life. Coakley (2) offers four levels of typical demands related to state demands of subordinate ethnic group:  demand of equality citizenships (the unresolved problem of Tutsi and Hutus in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo), demand for cultural rights, demand  for institutional political recognition with symbolic representative and demand for session.

One of the ways to deal with that in order to keep peace will be to find mechanism to empower them and to make them to feel important as citizens of the state. It can be offering to them opportunity for same education system, public sector control, direct and indirect actions, state regulation (implementation from insulation to quota law): Schedule scale. In any case, the affirmative action targets a social and an economic development of minorities. I think that  the success and the long standing affirmative action is to offer to minorities  the easy access to education  so they can be can be competitive in the national labour market as well in international market.

Dialogu in conflcit resolution


Deetz & Simpson (2004) argue that “the struggle of our time is to build the practices of working together” (p. 141). The element of building a cosmic fraternity underlies to some extent the force driving the process of globalization.  Striving to create a mutual interdependence is the greatest challenge  characterizing the type of relationships among individuals or groups in today’s world. It expresses two approaches either objectivists or subjectivist in this semantic couple ‘cooperation-competition’. Some people find themselves in this ambiguous situation of cooperating for the sake of safeguarding relationships or competing for saving their interests.

In the process of conflict resolution, the troubleshot question is ‘which action is preferable to undertake in order to resolve, to transform or manage conflict? Some may prefer to ignore, to minimize, and to avoid acting in accepting to live with the issue; others seek for a cooperative orientation or integrative solution such as an agreement, mutually beneficial solutions, or mutual understanding through dialogue, negotiation, mediation to handle “peacefully” the issue. Others can choose to compete by either using threats of force, or by excluding the other group or by sanctions to save their interests.

For the sake of a social coexistence, the integrative solution is likely to be the most useful mechanism and action to deal with conflictful situation through interactive conflict resolution. The latter is defined as a process “involving small-group, problem-solving discussions between unofficial  representatives  of identity groups or states or states engaged in destructive conflict that are facilitated by an impartial third party of social scientific- practitioners”( Fisher, 1997, p. 8). It is“ a face-to-face activities in communication, training education, or consultation that promote collaborative conflict analysis and problem solving among parties engaged in protracted conflict( Fisher, 1997, p. 8). This definition refers to some extent one of the tools of conflict resolution namely dialogue which aim at achieving mutual understanding among parties.

This paper seeks to give an overview of dialogue as a tool of conflict resolution and through that asses its values through some authors. The first part of this paper will explore a theoretical framework and assumptions which cover the core aspects of dialogue. The second part shall discuss how one can define dialogue and its objectives. The third section will focus on the three areas of understanding dialogue including methodologies, procedures, strategies, and typologies. And the finally section will provide a comparative analysis between dialogue and other alternative dispute resolution. The paper concludes by offering a critical argument in an attempt to review some limits of dialogue.


There are three dominant positions on dialogue (Deetz and Simpson, 2004). The first position is the liberal humanist perspective which emphasises a normative interactive ideal founded on principles of understanding; empathy and active listening (p.141). This approach aims to find common ground as the basis of the co-existence within a society. The second position is the critical hermeneutic orientation and it is basically philosophical oriented (Gadamer, 1975, 1976) and (Habermas, 1974, 1989,). This position shifts away from an emphasis on private internal meanings and posits interaction rather than on the merely psychology of individuals as the focus of negotiation (Deetz & Simpson, 2004, p.142). It aims to understand how individuals relate to objects and interact with their environment. Finally, the third model of dialogue relates to the postmodernism, although its origin relates to the post-structuralist thinking of scholars like Bakhtin (1981), Derida (1973), Foucault (1970) and Levinas (1969, 1987). It “emphasises the role of indeterminacy and “otherness “in claiming conflicts, resting closure and opening new opportunities for people to be mutually involved in shaping new understanding of the world in which they live and work” (Deetz & Simpson, 2004, p.142). This approach is more ethical scheme and dialogue is the scheme toward social responsibility through a joint effort.

Saunders (2009) suggested three perspectives or advancements to assess the impact of dialogue. In the first perspective, dialogue covers a broader area of conflict. The second perspective expands the political paradigm of state-centred or government –centred as the only player of conflict resolution. Here state-actors do not play major roles in the process of conflict resolution. The third perspective states that dialogue is the continuous political and social process necessary to change a political or social environment or transform social relationships (p. 383).

The second perspective of Saunders (2009) frames dialogue in such a way that it sounds like Track II diplomacy in the sense that it justifies the interaction among individuals or groups that take place outside an official negotiation process. Thus while Tract I refers to all official governmental diplomacy, bilateral or multilateral. Track II describes all other activities that occur outside official government channel. (Kaye, 2007, p. 5). This linkage between dialogue and the unofficial processes suggests this transfer from the realist paradigm where only states are actors to a situation where non state-actors take up the central role in dialogue and conflict resolution.  As a result, the area of conflict resolution has become a subject of academics talk, among representatives of all parties to the conflict for mutual understanding.  It aims exploring dimensions of the conflict out the agenda of negotiation. J. Burton came up with the concept of “controlled communication’ serving as prenegotiation or circumnegotiation which could be used in any intervention in the interactive conflict resolution as pre-step or post-step of other alternative dispute resolutions. Under this idea lay the assumption that people do not negotiate over their human needs basics, unmet human needs but dialogue can offer a space to talk for and discuss the common good of the society. Thus it offers the possibility of creating the “ultimate target” that every party shares as the reason of their existence. Similarly, the concept of intercommunal dialogue implies “an interchange and discussion of ideas, especially when open and frank and seek for mutual understanding of harmony” (Fisher, 1997, p. 121).


Several contributions are given to understand the core value of dialogue.

The first relates to the notion that considers dialogue as the process for transforming relationships. According to Saunders (2009):

Dialogue is a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn. Each makes a serious effort to take others’ concerns into her or his own picture even when disagreement persists. No participant gives up her or his identity but each recognizes enough of the other’s valid human claims that he or she will act differently toward the other (p. 82).

Saunders makes a quick difference between dialogue as a process and dialogue as communication. As a process, it aims to offer to parties involved in a conflict situation a common ground of discussing and transforming attitude, beliefs and interests (Saunders, 2009, p. 376). While as communication, it refers to the normal way of living, our ordinary life. The way people interact directly, cooperate and collaborate in any conflict situation.

In his book, Talking to the Enemy, Kaye (2007) sees dialogue as the process when and whereby adversaries set down and talk about a long-standing conflict while violence and mistrust continue to define their security relation (p. 1). In this case, it aims to transform the image of the adversary or humanize the ‘other’ thus it leads to new relationships conductive to the resolution of deep seated conflicts (p. 3). The outcome of a such process aims to reduce tension, confidence building, and the formation of a common identity or a common goal among the parties involved to frame and approach problems in similar ways. Additionally, it aims at addressing policy problem in effort to analyze, prevent, manage, and ultimately resolve intergroup or interstate conflicts (p. 6). It seeks to establish ‘better image’ of the enemy for the allowance of good communication in exchanging views, perceptions and information among the parties to improve each sides understanding of the others positions and policies (p. 6).

Deetz & Simpson (2004) focuses more on the interactive value of dialogue which they consider to be a free and open interaction guided by the ‘subject matter’. From their perspective, dialogue is a “transformative process which values the productive (rather than reproductive) communication process likely to catalyze radical transformation” (Deetz & Simpson, 2004, p. 144). Open interaction seeks to break down the status quo and move towards achieving a new vision and a positive attitude. It is a continual social formation of consensus in interaction beyond the intentions and opinions of the participants so as to arrive to a consensus. Dialogue implies more than a simple ‘back-and-frothiness’ of messages in interaction; rather it points to a particular process and quality of communication in which the participants ‘meet’ to change and be changed. Such approach is similar to Anderson, Baxter, & Cissna (2004)’s approach which holds the view that when in the process, “we do not know exactly what we are going to say and we can surprise not only the other but even ourselves” (p. 1). Therefore, it is in the end of such process that the parties can come to an understanding of what underlies their misunderstandings.

Taylor (2004) refers to dialogue as a human interaction and it is communicative. As communication, it searches for the sustainable organizational ‘co-orientation. The co-orientation is about arriving at, and maintaining compatible A-B attitude to x which is the ultimate aim or ideal. In this process of communication, attitudes turn off, prejudices become a co-orientation within two prospects including subject-to-subject and subject – to- object linked to each other by their aim of common object. It is a communication which performs the essential function of enabling two or more individuals to maintain simultaneous orientation toward another as communicators and towards object (p. 127). The A-B-x system is about how A and B manage, coordinate, mutually understand, and resolve x. This forms a triadic puzzle of I-You and You-I which implicates reconciliation and matching of point of view (Newcomb, 1953) for a human interaction. There is an interaction or a conversation when there is respect of basic rules for the rotation of speaking. “Two people are having a conversation when we see that the stream of their interaction has the character of sequence of coordinated actions” (Taylor, 2004, p.128) and this will lead to the translation where “how ones person’s attitude translated into those of another” for A-Bness and similarity in difference when similar object drive their attention.

Dialogic process have also been fruitful in protracted social conflicts (PSC) (Azar, Jureidini, P., &  McLaurin, 1978). PSC is a situation where the humanitarian value basis such as communal identity, satisfaction of basic needs of security, recognition and distributive justice are the underlying causes of the conflict and cannot be compromised. In this specific context, the aim of dialogue is not to transform attitudes or relationships, but at least to reduce the intensity of violence. Fisher (1997) noticed that the central units of analysis in protracted social conflict, racial, religious, linguistic are not negotiable (p. 5); therefore only “controlled communication” can offer a common ground for discussion.

Finally Burgess and Burgess (1997) turn out some ways that dialogue offers to conflict resolution: learning from other group, encourages the formation of and linkage with other dialogue groups, collect, reinvent, or generate creative ideas that might contribute to a solution if the procedures, preconditions and strategies have been followed carefully.


Dialogue is an interactive game with rules and tactics. First of all, it requires forums (place for occurrence) and voices or parties. For Fisher (1997), dialogue can take the form of strategies such as the sensitive training, family therapy, academic seminars, decision –making seminars, reconciliation meetings, and problem-solving workshops. It lies on some strategies, factors, rules and principles.

For Deetz & Simpson (2004), dialogue depends on three factors: The context –situatedness (environmental reference), objective or target, and the language or the way of using it in the interaction. The success of dialogue depends on the preconditions concluded by parties to have “genuine conversation” (Gadamer) or the “ideal speech situation” (Habermas). It needs common presumptions made by speakers and listeners based on ‘what our society will be and what kind of people we will become in this dialogic process’ (p.148).

Deetz & Simpson (2004) inspired by Habermas (1987) suggest four basic guiding conditions for free and open participants in negotiating differences:

  • The attempt to reach understanding presupposes a symmetrical distribution of the chances to choose and apply speech acts. It requires having minimal conditions of skills and opportunities for expression.
  • The understanding of the external world needs to be freed from privileged preconception in the social development of “truth”.
  • Participants need to have the opportunity to establish legitimated social relation and norms for conduct and interaction.
  • Interactants need to be able to express their authentic interests, needs, and feelings; they should be free from various coercive and hegemonic processes by which the individual is unable to form experience openly, to develop situation competing identities, and to form expressions presenting them.

Later on, Saunders (2009) argued that the success of dialogic process is based on a genuine openness:

I do not know, while talking with you, selectively tune out views which I disagree, nor do I busy myself marshalling arguments to rebut you while only half attending to what you have to say, nor do I seek to reinforce my own prejudices” I fully take your view point, engaging with it in the deepest sense of the term. You do likewise (p. 378).

It implies that each of parties internalizes the other’s views to enhance mutual understandings and to widen his own perspectives. To reach this goal, the process of dialogue comprises three steps including socialization of the participating elites, ‘filtering of externally generated policy ideas to the local environmental, and the transmission to the official policy which is the level of the decision making and policies’ implementation.  The socialization encourages different groups to accept differences among them and in enhancing all their policies in contributing to build a common goal, thus cohabitation is possible among them for a better understanding of their mutual threat perceptions. It targets the elites who have access to official policy makers. Filtering facilitates the process of making other peoples’ ideas your own in supposing that their world is possibly better that your own, and transmission is based on the mechanisms of publicizing and implementing the policies with the officials.

For Fisher (1997), a sustainable dialogue must proceed by some steps that facilitators have to follow. Firstly, facilitators discuss their psychological contract so as to create an open and honest problem-solving approach. The second step is during the meeting; listening each group defining its preferred solutions, and third gathering information to clarify why each side prefers its solutions. That is crucial because the listening session will help in discovering the basis of misunderstandings (p. 124). From there, facilitators have to create new perspectives and solutions by providing the multiple options to reach the ultimate goal. An evaluative step has to come up with this scenario of shifting the process from the ‘focus function’ which has pinpointed the crucial elements of the conflict to a ‘flexible function’ which brings in variety and creativity: shifting from a static point to a dynamic or flexible perspective.

Nigel (2010) suggests four goals: a) Transforming cognitions in mental process of comprehending, understanding, and knowing; b) Transforming emotions such as anger, rage, hatred, fear, grief, dialogue provides the space for people to express their emotions; c) Brainstorming strategies for actions as an exchange of information and an exploration of beliefs  and assumptions; d) Strengthening civil society in offering public space in which citizens interact, work together common problems, build the social capital.


The type of dialogue depends on the units of analysis. It can be parties or subject matter. Rothman (1992) in Burgess and Burgess (1997, p. 98) suggest four types: a) Positional dialogue in which parties sit down and turn on the debate rather than on a free discussion. It opens an adversarial atmosphere where no one can listen to the other side and stand in opposition. b) The human relation dialogue occurs when parties are really disposed to cooperate and collaborate. It breaks down fears and dispels stereotypes; hence develop trust, friendships with people from the opposing side. c) The activist dialogue takes place where people opposing sides accept to seat together and are united in collaborative effort for a common interest. d) The problem-solving dialogue is a situation whereby opposed parties are brought together for developing a common definition of their problem, and eventually to come up with a joint solution, discuss freely in presence of facilitators what makes them fight one another.

In some intractable political conflicts, the clash of discourses can lead to a situation whereby parties hold their position and stand for a radical agreement. Ramsbotham, Woodhouse & Miall (2011) suggests that in order to break down the radical agreement, facilitators have to shift from the perspective of mutual understanding to the radical argument as the subject matter. That type refers to the agnostic dialogue defined specifically as the dialogue of struggle, dialogue between enemies. “It lies at the epicenter of linguistic intractability” (p. 377). Parties can’t listen to each other therefore there is no new alternative production. Other types of dialogue have been mentioned such as policy dialogue, study cycle, transformative citizen’s diplomacy (cf. Nigel,  2010).

In relations to the specific “subject matter”, we may refer to the interethnic dialogue where different ethnic groups in the same community, divided for specific issue such as land, political participation, social exclusion or ethnic cleansing, decide to seat and discuss for the common good of the society. The interfaith dialogue is about beliefs and values between devotes of different religions which choose to talk about how their differences and diversities of conviction can converge to a mutual understanding  for the sake of a durable peace. Similarly the intercultural or cross cultural dialogue seeks to reconcile cultural beliefs and heritage to build a mutual understanding for a peaceful coexistence of the society.


It is not easy to give a specific difference between dialogue, mediation and negotiation because of the fact that those mechanisms can in some extent be complementary in the whole process of conflict resolution. However, some technical differences can appear and be looked at in different levels of analysis namely the role of the third party, objectives, and outcome.

Fisher (1997) discusses the difference in the role of the third party, the facilitator for dialogue and mediator for mediation and negotiation. The facilitator is different from the mediator. The facilitator focuses on the design, the organization not on the substance.  He limits himself to regulating the process rather than making substantive suggestion what a mediator would do. A Facilitator works also usually with parties face-to-face; the mediator frequently relies on caucuses with individual parties and even shuttle diplomacy to bring about agreement.

Difference can lay on the legitimacy and formality of conflict resolution. Lederach (1997) & Saunders (2009) will place mediation or the negotiation  in Track One diplomacy  which is more official and reconcile states or government where a structural agenda is followed  to save and safeguard interests with an agreement to settle on, while dialogue will follow under Track Two diplomacy and involves unofficial parties, non-states player with an incalculable value to the peaceful resolution of differences for a mutual understanding to produce new lives in transforming attitudes and perceptions. Saunders (2009) claims that “the currency of negotiation is defining and satisfying material interests through specific jointly agreed arrangements. “The outcome of dialogue is to create new human and political capacities to solve problems” (p. 38).  In this perspective, dialogue is precondition or prenegotiation to prepare the ground for formal negotiations or mediations. Similarly, Fisher (1997) assesses that dialogue is prenegotiation or paranegotion process to supplement the success of mediation or negotiations.  That implies it can intervene before the process or after the process to either prepare parties to reach a desirable agreement or to enhance the desirable agreement for further social transformation.


However the positive outcomes discussed, dialogue has limits that we need to underline. The limit is based on the theory of basic human needs when it comes to non-negotiable needs and to conflict identity. It is not easy to reach a common ground of understanding

If dialogue is undertaken as a problem-solving strategy approach two limits can be noticed a) The Re-entry into societies of those who attended the problem-solving workshop is sometimes considered as treason or betrayal (Esra, 2005, p. 576), mostly in case of protracted conflicts. b) Dialogue in problem-solving workshop is perceived as unofficial process therefore there is a problem of transfer: there is a lack of impact on the overall intergroup relations and conflict in general transmission to official leaders in term of decision making and implementations.

Also, in the case of deeper structural form of violence such as genocide, war or dialogue is counterproductive to conflict resolution. It is difficult to convince all the parties to seat and talk about what constitutes their differences.


The ADR has produced such result that no one can deny. In fact, in each step of alternative dispute resolution, dialogue deserves the most important place. The value of dialogue in this process is over any form of justice, equality, equity, or agreement. It is more about social responsibility through an ethical approach that an individual has regardless of his fellows. It is not only transforming sample groups of the society, but the entire society and building relationships where people can leave together.

In Christian perspective, the concepts of ‘imago dei’ give the fundamental principle and attitude of the social interaction. Each person is a reflection of God since all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Thus, all human beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. In this way, dialogue can find its justification as this bridge to access other’s needs and interests in building the perfect social coexistence. It offers this opportunity of a shared inquiry, a way of thinking and reflecting together. Its changes attitude through the process of listening which is the fundamental concern of dialogue; this can be understood as the way to build trust, equality and identity (Saunders, 2009).

The role of dialogue is to break radical statement and progress towards reaching a resolution. It becomes a tool of conflict resolution in this frame work of seat-talk-listen-internalise for understanding, transforming, comprehending… the entire social structure.



Anderson, R., Baxter, L. A., & Cissna, K. N. (Eds.). (2004). Dialogue: Theorizing Difference in Communications Studies.  New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Azar, E.,  Jureidini, P.,  & McLaurin, R. (1978). Protracted Social Conflict: Theory and Practice in the Middle East,” Journal of Palestinian Studies 8, no. 1, 41-60.

Burgess, H. & Burgess, G. M. (1997).  Encyclopedia of Conflict Resolution. Oxford: Library of Congress.

Esra, C. G. (2010). Problem-Solving Workshops. In J. Y. Nigel (Ed.), the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace, Vol. 3, pp. 574-577. New York: Oxford University Press.

Fisher, R. J. (1997).  Interactive Conflict Resolution.  New York, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Gadamer, H-G. (1975). Truth and Method. New York, NY: New York Seabury Press.

Gadamer, H-G. (1976). Philosophical hermeneutics.  Washington, DC : Berkeley University of California Press .

Habermas, J. (1974). Theory and Practice. London:  London Heinemann.

Habermas, J. (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action Vol.1. Reason and the Rationalization of Society, tr. by Thomas McCarthy. Cambridge: Cambridge Polity Press.

Habermas, J. (1989). The Theory of Communicative Action Vol.2 Lifeworld and System: a Critique of Functionalist Reason, tr. by Thomas McCarthy. Boston: Boston Beacon Press

Kaye, D. (2007). Talking to the Enemy: Tract two Diplomacy in the Middle East and South East and South Asia. Santa Monica, A: Rand Corporation.

Lederach, J.P. (1997). Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies. Washington, DC: Library of Congress.

Newcomb, T. (1953).  An Approach to the Study of Communicative Acts. Psychological Review, 60, pp. 393-404.

Peters, J. D. (1999). Speaking to into the air: A history of the Idea of communication.  Chicago: university of Chicago Press.

Ramsbotham, O., Woodhouse, T., & Miall, H. (2011). Contemporary Conflict Resolution: the Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts(3rd ed.). Malden, MA : Polity Press .

Saunders, H. H. (2009). Dialogue as Process for Transforming Relationships. In J. Bercovitch, V. Kremenyuk & I. W. Zartman (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Conflict Resolution (pp. 376-391), London: Sage Publications.



Terror or freedom




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Terror of freedom

The current problem that the world is facing in this 21st century is without doubt the question of terrorism. Some see and foresee on that the nuclear of the global conflict.  Many researchers have driven in order to analysis this minding and various question.  There are many types and various typologies of terrorism. My purpose will try to analyze two labels under which terrorist groups are categorised and I will discuss later if one can conclude to the end of terrorism in the 21st century. 

            Terrorists can be categorized as groups driven by two motivations: the spread of secular terror and spread of sacred terror. In both case, they are considered as group of revolutionary. In addressing the issue terrorism, Rapoport in Reich (1990) argued that the revolutionary [terrorist] knows only one science: The science of destruction.  Under-grounding by bringing a certain change, terrorism as revolutionary group can “destroy the entire state to its roots, exterminate all imperial traditions, the whole social order” (p.108). They are considered as insurgent madmen who engage in irrational and futile acts of violence against individuals (innocent) with cold-blooded murder (Kellen, 1990, p.43) in order to pressurize the decision-makers to reform their policies or to respond their [terrorists] agenda.  

Secular terror refers to any insurgent group which uses terror as mean to achieve some goals: political, social and economic. Sometimes it turns under a political organization which is looking to destabilize the ruling party in transnational level or to break off an ideology in international level. While sacred terror refers to the use of any form of violence of a religious groups Christians, Muslims, Jewish and some religions from Asia in order to defend their faith and to have legitimacy or supremacy upper other religions, In this century, sacred terror refers directly to jihadist forces.  It is given by the ultimate objective that the world must be governed by the sharia’ia which is the Islamic law and terror must be expanded unbelievers and infidels (Qur’an 9: 5). This group form the extremist wing of Islamic groups.

Since the attack of September 11, 2001, the fight against terrorist has been declared as global war and strategies are ongoing in order to counter their activities. However, all those measures implemented don’t stop terrorist activities therefore we cannot conclude that the 21st century will see the collapse of terrorism. May be their activities are going decreasing but till they are able to change their strategies and tactics, terrorist’s question will be still a preoccupation.

Cool Marius Mufuta

cliquez dessus


International Transitional Justice as component of Neoliberal Intuitionalism

 New international systems created during the 20th Century have become more active in nowadays society, and mostly in Africa.  The case of United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, ICC, etc.  According to some scholars, International Systems are safeguard for domestic policy by tracking, in the post-conflict period, those we have committed crimes during wars. They control the case of violations of human rights; in the political context, they operate to regulate the implementation of democracy in state, the development enrolling in international cooperation standard. Thus, the actions taken by the states are resonances on the international political scene, therefore are frequently controls by international regimes.  This current policy in which International Systems interfere in the policy within a state is one of the main assumptions of the Neoliberal Institutionalism. Neoliberals embrace a structural theory of international politics and pay much more attention to the ways international institutions and other non-state actors promote international cooperation. The international cooperation agenda include economic factor, political factor, environmental, cultural factor, security factor and jurisdiction factor.

During the led students conference hold in October 11 to 12, 2013, one of the Keynote Speakers, Mr. Kegero underlined the importance of transitional justice in the post-conflict period.  He  defined transitional Justice as sets of practices, mechanisms and concerns arise following the period of conflicts, civil strife or repression which are aims directly at confronting and dealing with past violations of human rights and Humanitarian law.  It seeks to reform heal and transit from illegitimate and repressive rule situations of conflict to national reconstruction and good governance. The main aim is to end the culture of impunity and establish the rule of the law in a context of democratic governance. That is to say transitional Justice seeks to reconcile communities, to renew the citizen’s trust in the institutions of governance and public service. The guest speaker gave a case study of Kenya in the post election violence in 2007 where various crimes have been committed particularly on human rights abuses, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. We know by the fact that an International Criminal Court (ICC) was created during the Rome Status and came into force on 1 July 2002. The Rome Statute grants the Court jurisdiction over four groups of crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression (Art. 5). Most of Crimes committed by some Kenyans during the post election are claimed to be part of the four groups under the Jurisdiction of ICC.  There is a trial ongoing in Hague on international transitional justice on Kenya situation. That is to say that the presumed authors of those crimes must attend the Court.

The case of Kenya deals with the international cooperation in jurisdiction factor. ICC as international regime targets a sovereign country which is Kenya.  The very contrast insight is that those who are ruling the country are those presumed authors of those crimes, such as the President. What will happen if they don’t want to attend the trial? Henceforth, a war is opened between the complex structure of these international regimes and the sovereignty of a state. The pressure of international regimes which control the anarchy system in domestic policy seems to be demanding. Kenya may be sanctioned since the President refuse to attend the trial.

next to comw

                    HEKIMA COLLEGE


Theory of Conflict

 Rev. Kifle Wansamo, sj

Subject: Understanding Causes of Conflict in Social Structure Theories

By Marius MUFUTA




            Conflict is a component of each society since the society itself is a field that grows up minorities’ general values, ideals and resources distribution. In assessing the causes of conflict, we may notice that the really organization of the society is the basis of conflict. By organisation we don’t firstly understand social classes which give the macro side of the society, but we see the fact that each individual is micro society in his own taking and in the interaction with others for common interests which can be political, economic, cultural, religious, ethnic differences, etc. The diversity of opinions, the self interest into group can create as well as a context of different perceptions which can lead to exclusion of one another. This can divide the society into classes and lead to social classes struggle. For some Scholars that social struggle has to be sometimes root causes of conflict. Jeong (2008, p. 43) argues that “managing and preventing conflict begin with understanding the sources of social struggle”.

      Social struggle emerges from social structure. To understand causes of conflict in the case of social structural theory, better is to realize the way the society is organized in terms of interests, understanding, ideology or beliefs, religious, racial, and ethnic differences (Schellenberg, 1996, p. 92). The Realistic point of view in this perspective include material scarcity, limited positions and objective situations which produce differences of interests and competing aspirations, (Jeong, 2008, p. 44). For non-realistic, “the sources of conflict have been relegated to either larger social structures (shaped by institutional relationships and value differences) or an internal psychological environment (Jeong, 2008, p. 44). For Mitchell, at an institutional, collective level, conflict is embedded in socio-economic conditions that put different groups in opposing positions (1981,  p. 44).

        Many theories analyse in different ways the causes of conflict based on social structure. That is why, before us moving to the consideration on the disadvantages and merits of the social structural theories, we want to have a look through some approaches. The first approach, which is psychologist, will try to understand the concepts of structure, perception and society. The second approach will focus on Marxism in order for us to provide a real example of social struggle classes. To complete this analysis, Max Weber’s approach should be considered as a holistic view of social struggle in healing limited Marxism’s approach.


“Conflict is an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals” (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011, p. 11). The implementation of those goals can escalate conflict since parties are acting in diverse and different ways.

This may contribute to the breakdown of relationships among individuals and groups. The escalation of conflict is determined by deep (roots) causes or superficial causes divided in diverse areas and take into an account degrees and levels of conflict. Besides the intrapersonal level where the interaction is a struggle within the person, other degrees and levels consider the dimension of social interaction:  incompatibility of goals between two individuals, two groups, and two or more than two states. The grievances to lead in such misperception between two parties arise sometimes from the distribution of the resources, the position and values, social and political structures.

        In his theory of human needs, Burton has divided incompatibility of goals in three areas: Needs, values and Interests Those factors set up boundaries of the human activity and underline the component of social interactions. Needs are universal motivations as an integral part of the human being and can never be broken. They relate to growth and human development (Burton, 1990, p. 36).  According to him “the needs will be pursued by all means available because they are inherent to human being. In ontological terms, the individual is conditioned by biology or by a primordial influence and needs form the nature of being, inherent becoming and permanent existing. They are innate and universal since each individual want to protect them. By this fact, the misperception of needs is not trading because of the inherent stand for survival and development (Burton, 1990 p. 39). The intra-relation within the individual is sustained by the principle of being. During the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, some of those needs have been recognized as inalienable rights since they are inborn: the right of life, right to freedom and right to personal security (UDHR, Art. 3).

        The second area circumscribes values. Values are those ideas, habits, customs, beliefs and characteristic of particular social communities (Burton, 1990, p. 37). They are determined by the environment and social interactions in religious, cultural, political, and economical spheres. The interaction between individuals in those spheres is sustained by a specific conviction of belonging or being placed under the principle of reference or belonging to a tradition. This includes linguistic features, religious features, class, ethnic or other features that lead to separate cultures and identify groups (Burton, 1990, p. 37). Upon this area, the incompatibility of goals occurs in conditions of oppression, discrimination, under privilege and isolation of one identity or group. When a group is misplaced, without physical references or traditional heritage, conflict occurs in terms of recognition or replacement. In Galtung words, such fact is cultural violence. This is the case in some African States after the post-period of long war. The increasing of refugees who have lost their land and who want to rediscover them may lead to protracted conflicts (case of ethno-territorial conflict in the east of DRC, in Sudan, in Nigeria, even in Somalia).

        The third area is interests. They refer to the occupational, social, political and economic aspirations of the individual, and of groups of individuals within a social system. They are transitory and they are not in any way an inherent part of the individual since they are acquired. Somehow it relates to material goods in terms of incomes. Interests force individuals to find ways of implementing needs and values. As well as we shall see, interests constitute the driving force of the society when it means deeply economic interest. Individuals seek to possess and maximize their interest therefore the principle of possession constitutes the basis of this era. The three principles gave the wide board of the occurrence of the incompatibility of goals within the society in intergroup level and international or interstate level. Each individual, each group want to be, to belong to and to possess. Those principles are basic aims which form even if the structure of society individuals act and interact.


Social structure set of crystallized social relationships which its members have with each other which places them in groups and which relates them to the major institutional activities of the society, such as economic and occupational life, religion, marriage and the family, education, government, and recreation (Gordon, 1964,  p. 30). Social evolution and stagnation depend always on this structure.  Jeong (2008, p. 54) argues that “when structures fashion a situation of competition for power and status, conflict becomes cyclical, inherent, and endemic in social relations. The fragmentation and polarization of all interests reflect structural divisions, rooted in different social categories such as religion, language, and ethno-political affiliations. It refers to the interaction between individuals regardless of the principles that we have mentioned above.  


This approach assesses the concept of structure. It connects two main elements: the diversity of perception (i.e. the way each individual, each group create his own world) and ultimate structure (needs, interests, values) of this word (FLOYD, 1955). Structure is an organization of perceptions; an articulation in which once you remove an element within, all the structure is broken. The perception helps to form the reality. In the context of conflict,   the structure is what each individual try to put into order to form the reason of his existence and what’s necessary for him and become is basic needs. Then if you interfere to his perception a clash may occur. Perception is a fact our feelings. Feelings determine our attitude and behaviour. We have noticed in Galtung triangle that attitude and behaviour are key elements of the structure of conflict. The difference of perceptions which forms the individual word view is the main cause of conflict (FLOYD, 1955, p. 15). These perceptions are related to the whole factors in which human activity is driven.


Marxism refers to theory of Karl Marx. Marx is recognized as a social, an economic, and a political scholar. His ideas were influenced by the Hegelian idealist conception of history turned “up-side down” or “back upon its feet” (Tucker, 1969, pp. 6-9). According to Hegel, The history goes buy three steps of contradictions from thesis-antithesis-synthesis. This History is considered as man’s ‘’act of becoming”. Taking it in their account, Marx and Fredrick Engels have published in 1848 “The Manifesto of Communist Party” to blame the capitalism system in some states, particularly the Russian system of ruling. In his book, Capital, Marx underlines the assumption of history made by man and evolving through revolutions, the historical materialism. This revolution is within the structure of the society.  He understands by the structure of the society the relation between class forces or dynamics through history. “Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other – Bourgeoisie and Proletariat” (Marx & Engels, 1842, p. 15). The bourgeoisie form the superstructure of the society and the proletarians, the lower class.  Classes are the central factor in historical and social change of the society, even the key to understanding contemporary society. For Marx, history is the growth-process of humanity from the primitive beginnings to complete maturity and self-realization in future communism (Tucker, 1969, p. 9). The history has moved from the primitive communism to slave society, from slave society feudalism, from feudalism to capitalism, and shall move from capitalism to socialism and the communism shall be last stage ( ). Each stage has been determined by its mode of production.  During the Slave society, classes have emerged thus struggle between classes became overt. In his words, “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.  Freeman and slave [...] in a word, oppressor and oppressed, [...]now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes” (Marx et al., 1842, p.  14). In relaying this statement to the historical context of class evolvement, for Marx, conflict is natural, part of the history and the society. “As long as these differences exist, conflict along class lines will continue” (Galtung, Jacobsen, & Brand-Jacobsen, 2002,  p. 81).

According to Marx, social classes are based on the general structure of economic relations. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society which is the real foundation, and within rise legal, religious, economic and political superstructures. The mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social, political and spiritual processes of life. The cause of conflict rises from the social structure based on socioeconomic injustice.  This socioeconomic injustice is a consequence of the history of class struggle (Schellenberg, 1996, p. 80). Conflict is the interaction of productive forces (the workmen and those who own the means of production) and production relations (the way that result of those production relations interacts). The productive activity (the material production) is the constitutive factor of the society. The basis of the society is the social relations of production which lead to conflict. Specifically, property relations between the immediate producers and those who, by virtue of their ownership and control of the means of production, have been able to appropriate the producers’ surplus product as private property: Slaves and owners in ancient society; serfs and landowning nobles in feudal society, proletarians and capitalists in modern bourgeois society.  Each set had a specific form of the division of labour in production (Marx & Engels, 1951, p. 363). For Marx there is unfair situation in the distribution of the income following the law of the division of labour which lies at the division into class. The labour constitutes the primary component of the material life of society. It is the activity which people devote to the production of the necessities and comforts of their life-hood, clothes, housing, etc. This activity is an eternal natural necessity, an essential condition on which the very existence of society depends (Dutt, 1961). The result of this labour is on the disadvantage for lower class which really is dominated. In quoting Galtung, Marx opens the way for understanding the systems and explaining social and economic inequalities as resulting from differences in control of the means of production (Galtung et Al., 2002, p. 81). The lower class is exploited and by the fact marginalized and des-socialized from the real economic activity of the society.

To stop this unfair situation, Marx has suggested a revolution to lead to the collapse of Capitalism system by overproduction with a greater period of economic chaos and the arising of the socialism (social ownership and control of the main means of production) by a political revolution. This revolution is a social, an economic, a technological, a political, and a legal and ideological phenomenon in order to breakdown the oppressed capitalist system. This revolution will give born to a new form of organisation, socialism which further stage is Communism.  The aim of this society is “to organize society in such a way that every member of it can develop and use all his capabilities and powers in complete freedom and without thereby infringing the basic conditions of this society” (Marx et al., 1842, p.  37). Marx with his fellows wants to move from unequal society to classless society when everyone can enjoy freely the income of the labour. This short analysis of Marxism targets the cause of conflict on scarcity of resources or gains. His perspective sees only the economic side as the basis of the struggle within the society; this fact can be a limit of Karl Marx philosophy.

Max Weber

Weber makes a great critic of capitalism system. He perceived capitalism as great individual understandings, involving the control of large financial resources, and yielding riches to their masters as result of speculation, money-lending, commercial enterprise, buccaneering and war, is old as history (Weber, 1930, p. I). In his task, Weber demonstrates the relationships between economic forces and the rest of society (Schellenberg, 1996, p. 75). The question in which Weber attempts to answer is simple and fundamental. It is that the psychological conditions which made possible the development of capitalist civilization? Weber noticed that the capitalism system emerged as social counterpart of Calvinist theology based on rational, spiritual and ethic activity, thus capitalism has an ethic and spirit. A really Fight against this system has to begin by denying all spiritualism into the system. For Marx conflict is more the value of economic relations than the spiritual word. By contrast, Weber gives a holistic view of the conflict. He agreed that conflict was based on distribution of resources but it is neither the total picture of conflict within society but nor the fundamental cause.

Weber tries to include noneconomic factors. In the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber offered a different understanding of the Labour. According to him, labour is not merely an economic means: it is a spiritual end, in the service of rational organisation for the provision of humanity with material goods (Weber, 1930,  p. 76). This is to say within capitalism, the economic factor is not the fundamental component for the social structure, but the social ethic (Weber, 1930, p.54). The social structure is composed by three elements (1) Economic wealth or power which formed the basis of classes. (2) Social reputation and prestige, which formed the basis of status groups. (3) Political power, which formed the basis of political groups parties and interest of groups. Only on the first part we can see similarity with Marx. According to Weber, there is a potential independence between noneconomic aspects and economic criteria. Those noneconomic factors contribute to the occurrence of conflict. Going in the same line with Marx, there is a need of revolution which may take in account all the factors mentioned.

Social structure theory in contemporary society

In the twenty first century emerged a wide type of social structure based principally on ideologies. We know that the ideology of modern society is discredited by an “awareness gap” established by our spiritual values as well as intellectual, political and economic which are conducted from a fight that soothes minorities. The situation did not positively change from Marx generation to nowadays society. The revolution suggested by Marx had failed and the spirit of capitalism has taken many forms. After the Cold War and the collapse of Soviet Union, Globalization has inaugurated a century of interstate relations founded in the relationship between states within the expansion of the global village. If the social structure of Marx and Weber was well-defined by the boundaries of micro-society (intra-society), those boundaries are broken today by the evolution of technology in the macrocosmic level (intersociety). The flow of such brokenness is affecting relations between nations. A new maxim of class struggle has risen based on the interests between superpowers states and weak states. Globalization covers another kind of economic colonialism in small countries or undeveloped. We see directly this deep hole hollowed out in the modern society by Western imperialism. The profound gap they have been created confirms this new configuration over the world: North countries – South countries; developed countries -underdeveloped countries; industrialized country – unindustrialized countries, and so one. There is a sort of mistreatment. Big economic lobbies are leading this conflict. As Jeong have argued that “many issues beneath structural tensions in the twentieth century signify antagonistic relationships between rival political and economic systems” (2008, p. 126).

The standpoint of the crisis in the contemporary society can be perceived like the problem of resources (the interest of superstructure) and the struggle of leaderships among weak countries (masterly in Africa). The new gap arises from the global system makes the relations between states asymmetric since weak states cannot ensure their own protection. Moreover, we know that this marginalization dates from the clash of civilizations. In assessing conflict within the social structure, we can also and critically refer on the different periods of African evolution.  Many cultures have been denied during the period of slavery, colonialism and today neo-colonialism with those effects of globalization.   That is to say that the fact of globalization and the possibility of cooperation in international system contrast with the expression of real needs and values of specific culture. In the same line with Burton, we may say that frustrations arising from the removal or non-recognition of needs or values in a specific culture are the core of contemporary domestic policy and international problems.



Regardless of the debate above, the causes of conflict in the social structure are sensitive. The management of such conflict needs more skills to handle otherwise they man turn on intractable or protracted conflicts.  All those different and analyzed approaches proposed a solution to handle such conflict. Most of them call upon revolution to set an equal society and to end the culture of discrimination. For Marx, the kingdom of communism after the reign of evil capitalism is perceived like the stage of a balanced society. In the contemporary society, the social change is led in international level towards but the win-win game. International corporations and superpowers dominate the underdog countries and make them entirely independent. The relation which is supposed to be symmetric in power and means is turned up on the benefits of some parties; it has created a structural violence which promotes marginalization, alienation, exploitation, and discrimination of weak states in the international level. To break this inequality there is need of a real revolution as violent action to break those established structures then to look for sustainable peace and eliminate class differences and found society on social, economic, civil and political equality allowing for freer development of a more human society (Galtung et al., 2002, p. 81).


By considering the respect of different perceptions and different goals, a question can be asked if it is possible to set an equal society. While the existence of a society is unity in diversity. By protecting individual perception or goals, the consequence is the settlement of relativism. Such society may suffer from of lacks of common ground, common interest, and common destiny since truth is relative, God is relative, wrong or right is relative; there is not any universal reference.

In relation to the de-escalation of a conflict, social structures promote the necessity of revolutions or some violent actions to change the structures. However by considering the destructive dimension of those actions, there is no way to go through revolutions in order to establish peace.  A peace settled by violence could no longer be a perpetual one. Violence creates some latent grievances. According to Kant peace is perpetual. Thus the hope of conflict resolution is a settlement of such “lasting peace”. We were wondering if a violent action is always by the way to bring a peace without new grievances to be manifested in the future. Because those who were hurt or molested by the first end, may look for an opportunity to revenge. In this case, the end of conflict is the beginning of another therefore today’s victims are tomorrow’s murderers.



  1. Burton, J. W. (1990). Conflict Resolution and Prevention.New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
  2.  Dutt, C. (Ed.). (1961). Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism: Manual. Moscow: Moscow Foreign Languages Publishing.
  3. FLOYD, H. A. (1955).  Theories of perception and the concept structure, JOHN WILEY & SONS, INC.
  4. Galtung, J., Jacobsen, C.G & Brand- Jacobsen, K. F. (Eds.). (2002). Searching for Peace. The Road to Transcend.  London: Pluto Press in association with TRANSCEND.
  5. Jeong, H-W. (2008). Understanding conflict and Conflict Analysis. Los Angeles: SAGE Publication Inc.
  6.  Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1842). The Manifesto of Communist Party.
  7. Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1951). Selected Works. Moscow  : Moscow Foreign Languages Publishing House.
  8. Mitchell, C.R. (1981). The Structure of International Conflict. London: McMillan.Schellenberg, J. A.  (1996). Conflict Resolution: Theory, Research, and Practice. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  9. TUCKER, R.C. (1969). The Marxian Revolutionary Idea. New York, NY:  W.W.NORTON & COMPAGNY. INC.
  10. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from  2/10/2013.
  11. Weber, M. (1930). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  12. Wilmot, W. W. & Hocker, J. L. (1998).  Interpersonal Conflicts (5th ed.).  Boston: McGraw Hill.


never give up

Le temps  que la vie nous donne de passer sur terre n’est pas toujours à la faveur d’une existence paisible.

Il faut que nous trouvions loin des bruits de l’existence des raisons d’être des hommes et des femmes pour les autres.  S’il nous arrive de trébucher, le courage de continuer doit dompter notre innocence toujours prête à nous faire aimer du monde.

Jamais nos fautes ne peuvent trahir notre dignité surtout si elles viennent des sources qui avaient englouties notre liberté.

Si les roseaux ne nous permettent  plus jamais de cueillir  les roses de l’espoir,   nous pourrons ramener pour cueillir  les roses qui sont sur l’autre  rive car elles respirent l’odeur profonde inodore des eaux paisibles. Sur la rivière, les crocos ne pourront jamais nous happer car nous n’avons jamais lutté contre eux et jamais la rose a été leur proie de toujours.  

Les luttes de notre vie, les efforts que nous faisons, ne peuvent jamais trahir notre  désir de tout aimer pour tout aimer. Il arrive que nous nous trouvions à bout de notre combat, mais la dernière  minute de cette bataille  est le passage vers une mer profonde qui abreuve notre soif de tout réussir pour le monde.

Il faut partir, toujours partir même si le combat que nous menons n’a pas son sens et de raison d’être au milieu des combles ; peut  être qu’il fait des générations désespérées une fontaine intarissable. Alors pourquoi abandonner ?  


Marius MUFUTA Cool 

Never give up

Meet a new hope

The time that life gives us to spend on earth is not always in favor of a peaceful existence.

We need to create a way beside the noises of the existence which disturb our really reasons to serve men and women. If it happens to us to stumble, the courage to continue may keep us aware in order to be loved by the world.

Our sins can never betray our dignity especially if they come from sources that had engulfed our freedom.

If the reeds do not allow us to pick the hope roses, we can return to pick the roses that are on the other side of the sea because they breathe smell deep waters odorless. On the river, crocodiles will never suck us because we never fought against them and never rose has always been their prey.

The struggles of our lives and our efforts can never betray our desire to love everything forever. Sometimes we were at the end of our fight, but the last minute of this battle is the gateway to deep sea that quenches our thirst to success through the world.

We must go, always leave even if our struggle is not anymore the meaning and the purpose in the middle of the attic, maybe it  help desperate generations to find reasons of hope. why  to give up ?

Marius Mufuta Cool


A l’aube

«  Seigneur Dieu des Chrétiens, des Musulmans, des  Hindous, des Bouddhistes et des Athées, ” Je préfère encore être colonisé que néo-colonisé ou globalisé (la colonisation m’a appris a lire, a prier et a aimer  quoique aliène et sans pilier de stand).  Cependant avec le néo-colonialisme ou la globalisation, j’apprends à tuer, à appauvrir et à profiter”. Me voici au bord d’un choix qui n’a pas de merci.  je ne sais comment m’y prendre. Je suis perdu.  Vient a mon aide et manifeste toi comme tu le fais dans ces différentes  idéologies religieuses qui croient te chercher et trouver  en avant alors que tu es derrière eux les cherchant sans les trouver ».    Cool


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