From Interests to Identities: Towards a New Emphasis in Interactive Conflict Resolution

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Rothman, Jay; & Olson, Marie L. (2001) From Interests to Identities: Towards a New Emphasis in Interactive Conflict Resolution , Journal of Peace Research 38(3): 289–305.

This article explores the methods by which practitioners have traditionally approached international conflicts. Approaches focusing on the resources or the interests of the parties can be appropriate methods of resolution in conflicts where resources and interests are the only issues at stake. However, conflicts raging today often contain issues of identity. These identity-based, ethnopolitical conflicts are often resistant to traditional resource- and interest-based resolution methods. This article suggests a different approach, one that emphasizes needs, and in particular identities, of conflicting parties. We suggest that such a focus is essential in working towards resolution in many of the deeply rooted conflicts in today's world. We explore the ARIA model of conflict engagement as a mechanism for a systematic approach to interactive conflict resolution that specifically deals with the complex issues of identity. We also offer a preliminary evaluation of interactive conflict resolution as a general approach in varied international conflict situations. The question of interactive conflict resolution effectiveness is explored using Licklider's data for civil war termination and Bercovitch's data for international conflict mediation.