Week 7: Origin and Development of Conflict Resolution
In „Conflict Resolution: Origins, Foundations and Developments of the Field” in “Contemporary Conflict Resolution: The Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts” Ramsbotham and Woodhouse give a brief summary of the development of conflict resolution as a scientific discipline from the very beginning until the presence.
The authors divide the development and progress of conflict resolution in four different periods or waves, emphasizing, that many scholars haven´t just contributed to one of these waves, but were active for a longer time and influenced several of them.
The first wave of conflict resolution started after the first World War with the formation of International Relations as own scientific discipline with the founding of the first faculty of IR at a university in Wales. These first approaches to conflict resolution were influenced by several disciplines such as political scientists, psychologists, biologists and medics. The motivation for the beginning of the attempt to find resolutions for conflicts were based on humanism and idealism, attempts to find possibilities that helps to prevent wars.
The second wave of conflict resolution lasted from 1945 to 1965 and were highly influenced by the cold war. The always threatening possibility of a “nuclear holocaust” created an urgency of conflict resolution and let to the creation of several organisations, institutions and think-tanks, which were dealing and engaging in conflict resolution. Leading scholars of these period were Galtung and Burton.
The third period of conflict resolution lasted from 1965 to 1985. The discipline found its subjects in the projects of avoiding nuclear war, removing extreme inequalities and injustices in the world, since they were seen as structural violence, which is a main source of direct, physical violence and the achieving of ecological balance and control.
The fourth period, the period of reconstruction, starting in 1985 and lasting to the present had to deal with the changes in the world caused by the end of the Cold War.
The text gives an overview over the development and progress of conflict resolution, but tends to overburden the reader with too much information. For every period the authors refer to dozens of persons, books, articles and institutions. This mass of information has the effect that it becomes hard for the reader to recognise the essential contents of the chapter. The authors fail in drawing clear red lines in the chronological order. They don´t concentrate on the connection between the several approaches to conflict resolution, but limit themselves to the quoting or shortly summarizing of the ideas of the relevant scholars. For people with limited knowledge about the field of conflict resolution, this article doesn´t really contribute to an approach to this field, but creates a lot of confusion.