Why attend Conflict Analysis Training anyway?

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A few months ago, I stumbled upon an email promoting a Conflict Analysis and Foreign Policy Training in Madrid. “Oh, wow” was my first reaction. First of all, because it was a topic I’m deeply into, second of all, because it seemed it’s going to be all new for me and I loooove to learn, and third, because it was in Spain. I think tapas was a good enough reason to apply for the training.

I’m kidding, of course. There’s no good tapas in Madrid (sorry, I was Granada Erasmus).

But there are many other reasons you should attend this training. For example, you will learn. A lot. When I attended the training in Madrid, there were people from various backgrounds: there were law, journalism, diplomacy, international relations and security experts and social psychologists (ok, only one – me). And all of them said the training was useful and that they acquired new skills. The training is almost completely practice oriented and you get a chance to implement what you learn about.

Photo: World Youth Academy

Which brings me to the second point – you will gain skills you probably won’t have a chance to learn anywhere else. Remember the variety of participants mentioned before? Yeah, well they all said it was all new to them, although they came from different universities and work backgrounds.

Which now brings me to the third point: exactly the people from different backgrounds. National, religious, work, study, experience, countries, we all differed. The opportunity to meet and engage with so many intelligent and motivated people is priceless. They all bring pieces of a puzzle with themselves, of different shapes, colours, texture, and during those three days we managed to put an amazing puzzle together.

Networking and planning potential cooperation is also an important part of the training. Different ideas emerge and you have a chance to do their reality-check because all those good people will help you understand when you are flying too high 🙂

But you also become inspired, many new ideas are born, you get to see and hear different viewpoints that make you think and enable your further professional and personal growth. And after all, it should be about development 🙂 Because only by investing in it, only by improving ourselves, we can improve the world we live in.

Photo: World Youth Academy | Ramiro Murguia

You make friendships. You meet an Axel who also has to spend a long night at the airport (the importance of this is kind of self-explanatory). You meet a Sara who instantly becomes a person you want to have in your life forever. You meet a Bek, whose charisma and night-time photo shooting skills bring huge amounts of joy to your day. (Yeah, there are stories behind these moments)

However, you should also attend this training because the world desperately needs it. We desperately need more people engaging in analysing such complex parallel realities called ‘conflicts’ and working through solutions that could potentially bring an end to them. Too optimistic? Well, as Gretzky (or Scott, or Michael Jordan for that matter, they were all attributed the saying) said – you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Of course, another key point you shouldn’t miss – an always-serious-super-experienced-never-smiling-extremely-witty-coffee-loving lead trainer. You really want to meet this guy.

Although we have no tapas in Novi Sad, the food is AMAZING. Coffee too. We have cakes and craft beer. We have culture. We have the Danube. We have a heart.

Welcome. I promise you won’t regret it.

Everybody should be talking about “Conflict Analysis”. Part I

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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’.

Definitions

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 Approach Human Needs Theory
Conflict Transformation
approach
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.

 

 END OF PART I