If there is something most of us can agree with is that we don’t like conflicts. However, conflicts are a part of life, they just happen! As a matter of fact, in many times conflict leads us to grow up. Some people go to extreme lengths to avoid conflict. If you’re in a leadership position you might know that an unresolved conflict leads directly to unreached potential.

Without understanding the context in which interventions are situated, organizations implementing them may unintentionally fuel conflict. While conflicts are too complex for a single process to do them justice, key features of analysis are conflict profile, causes, actors and dynamics.

Therefore, I have to start this post with one of the most basic and important understandings by Norwegian theorist Johan Galtung, one of the pioneers of the field of Peace Research on ‘Positive Peace’.


Peace as absence of violence is called the traditional notion of peace. Later the definition of peace has been extended to include human rights, equality between mean and women, social justice and ecological balance which is now considered as positive peace. Therefore, the understanding of peace is as the followings:

  • Absence of war and violence.
  • Respect for and promotion of human rights.
  • Establishment of good governance and rule of law. 
  • Presence of democracy and power sharing.
  • Protection and preservation of environment.  

Conflict analysis is the systematic study of the profile, causes, actors, and dynamics of conflict.Conflict Analysis helps development, humanitarian and peace-building organizations to gain a better understanding of the context in which they work and their role in that context. Conflict analysis is not an “objective” art. It is influenced by different world views, and therefore three approaches are frequently used: 

Harvard ApproachHuman Needs TheoryConflict Transformationapproach
It emphases the difference between positions (what people say they want) and interests (why people want what they say they want). It argues that conflicts can be resolved when actors focus on interests instead of positions, and when they develop jointly accepted criteria to deal with these differences.It argues that conflicts are caused by basic “universal” human needs that are not satisfied. The needs should be analyzed, communicated and satisfied for the conflict to be resolved.This sees conflicts as destructive or constructive interactions, depending on how conflicts are dealt with or “transformed”. Conflicts are viewed as an interaction of energies. Emphasis is given on the different perceptions and the social and cultural context in which reality is constructed. Constructive conflict transformation seeks to empower actors and support recognition between them.

In reality

The understanding of the context of interventions and acting upon this understanding to maximize positive impacts is what CA is about. It helps define new interventions and conflict-sensitize existing interventions at the planning stage. It informs project set-up and decision making at the implementation stage. At the monitoring and evaluation stage, CA helps measure the interaction of interventions and the conflict dynamics in which they are situated.

We invite you to learn more about our unique training on Conflict Analysis and Foreign Policy.
We invite you to learn more about our unique training on Conflict Analysis and Foreign Policy. It is going to be held in Madrid, 11-13 October 2019

Therefore, at the World Youth Academy, we aim to increase the building capacity within the youth for conflict analysis may involve: Helping them better understand the context in which they work, prioritizing and integrating conflict analysis into established procedures and budgeting for conflict analysis.

CA can be undertaken for a number of purposes: Promoting participation in social and impactful projects, developing a strategy for engagement, decisions on further project activities and project monitoring. These determine who conducts the analysis: Members of the community, local project staff, national or international staff.

In practice

If you are already into a CA project, remember:

  • Gather information from a wide range of sources and listen to many different actors to broaden understanding of context. Not all information will be available, reliable and unbiased. Research methods such as triangulation aim to reduce such limitations.
  • Conflict analysis itself needs to be conflict-sensitive. It is good practice to get stakeholders on board early and avoid antagonizing potential spoilers.
  • When planning to use a specific conflict analysis framework, consider strengths and weaknesses. Tools are not a substitute for detailed local knowledge and should not stifle creative thinking.
  • Organizations can customize tools to specific needs, objectives, and capacities.


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