Dimensions of Conflict Resolution in Ethnopolitical Disputes

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Pearson, Frederic S. (2001) Dimensions of Conflict Resolution in Ethnopolitical Disputes , Journal of Peace Research 38(3): 275–287.

In this introduction to the special issue, the various dimensions of approaches to conflict resolution in identity disputes are explored. The implementation of existing peace accords in countries troubled by domestic fighting turns out to be a knottier policy problem than expected and subject to lingering distrust and miscommunication. The role of two sets of factors in bringing about agreement and/or implementation is explored: grass-roots versus elite initiatives and the identity versus instrumental nature of the negotiations. Factors such as the degree of preliminary dialogue and pre-bargaining, the involvement of officials versus civic representatives, concern about fear and distrust may be weighed against the more usual calculations of power balances, exhaustion, and stalemate in accounting for peaceful settlements. The interplay between these categories has a great deal to do with the prospects and outcomes of conflict management approaches and is the subject of the articles to follow. The studies were designed to test, utilizing a comparative case-study framework, which dimension, if any, turns out to be most influential in a series of local violent ethnopolitical disputes. Findings, while varied, point to the importance of grass-roots participation in the negotiation process.