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Role and Effectiveness of External Third Parties in Resolving Conflict with Special Reference to Israel-Palestine and Sri Lanka

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Role and effectiveness of external third parties in resolving conflict with special reference to Israel-Palestine and Sri Lanka

Introduction:

Conflict is an undeniable reality of life. As there is conflict in the life of an individual, there is conflict in the life of an organisation as also in the life of a nation. The processes and methods that one adopts to find a peaceful solution to any conflict are known as conflict resolution. There are many ways to tackle a conflict and find a lasting solution. In most cases dedicated members of warring groups communicate to others information about the motives or the ideologies that have given rise to the conflict between the groups. But to do this the warring groups will have to talk to each other's representatives. Therefore negotiation or willingness to negotiate is the first step towards conflict resolution. Apart from collective negotiation the other processes towards conflict resolution are mediation - often done by a third party, who is equally acceptable to the warring groups, diplomacy and finally the creative peace building, a process which once initiated will ultimately find a solution to the problems ( Ramsbotham et al. 2011).

The different theories of conflict resolution:

Of the various models of conflict resolution, dual concern model seems to be the most effective:

Dual Concern model: According to this theory an individual or a group of individuals is guided by two underlying principles, namely concern for the self which implies assertiveness and concern for others which implies empathy, while trying to resolve a conflict. The interests of an individual as also the interests of the group are kept in mind while arriving at a solution

( Ramsbotham et al. 2011). According to this Dual Concern Model there are five strategies that one may employ to resolve conflict depending on his/her pro-individual and pro-group leanings. The five strategies are:

a) Avoidance conflict strategy: This implies that the one practising this style has little concern for both individual and the group, hence the inaction and passivity of avoiding the conflict altogether and letting it reach a slow death with time. However, the shortcoming of this strategy is that by avoiding a conflict one may allow it to spiral out of control (Wallensteen, 2012).

b) Competitive conflict strategy: This strategy implies that concern for the self gets prominence over concern for the group, whereby individual assertiveness is maximised and empathy minimised.

c) Yielding conflict strategy: As opposed to the earlier style of conflict solving this strategy implies that individual assertiveness is given less priority over empathy.

d) Cooperation conflict strategy: This implies that there would be active concern for both individual and the group. This means that while solving the conflict the involved persons cooperate with each other to reach an amicable solution which serves the purpose of both the warring groups (Wallensteen, 2012).

e) Conciliation conflict strategy: This implies that both individual and group interest would be kept in mind and the conciliators would be ready to accommodate some of each other's demand and this agreeability would lead to conflict resolution.

Resolution of political conflicts:

Conflicts in the political sphere can be best defined as presence of some grievance within some group/s against the government of a state to which they belong or grievances that two states nurture against each other. The grievances may so intensify as to break out in form of an armed struggle of the group/s against the government in power or the two states declaring war on each other. The resolution to these conflicts may happen in form of either a peace agreement or a ceasefire. While a peace agreement would mean end of the conflict a ceasefire would mean that the conflict would come to a temporary halt. It might however be a fledgling step towards a lasting peace process (Darby and Mac Ginty, 2008).

External third parties have always played an important role is resolving political conflicts. However, their role and effectiveness vary depending on the gravity of the conflict and the complex socio-economic and political issues that had originally given birth to the grievances among the warring groups. The external third parties, however, may employ any or a combination of some of the above-mentioned strategies to resolve the conflict (Darby and Mac Ginty, 2008).

The Israel-Palestine experience:

The conflicts between the Arabs and Israelis on the whole and the Palestinians and the Israelis to be particular have been age old. While Israel thinks that the problems began in the year 1967 that saw a war and occupation by Israel of Palestinian territory, some thinkers believe that actual problems began with the creation of the Jewish state way back in 1948. While the present thrust of the peace process has been on the two-nation theory, Israelis see Hamas as the most potent danger as they refuse to accept Israel's right to exist (Hauss, 2001).

The various issues that will have to be resolved before any lasting Palestine-Israel peace accord comes into force include:

a) Concern of Israel for its own security, especially of terrorism perpetrated by some Palestinian group on her and safe border

b) Status of Jerusalem

c) Borders and division of land

d) Right of Palestinian refugees to return to their home land

e) Concerns of the Palestinians over Israeli settlement in West Bank

f) Strong emotion - hatred- that both sides have for each other that in turn fuels violence.

To solve all these issues and more external third parties like the US, the European Union and the UN have been active for years as they did and still do nudge the warring parties to the negotiation table so that they find a lasting solution to all their problems through peaceful negotiation. In order to fully understand the role of these external third parties a brief survey of the various abortive peace treaties that have been signed by these warring parties would be worthwhile (Hauss, 2001). The peace plans:

The Rogers Plan: The Rogers Plan was initiated by the then US Secretary of State William P Rogers in 1970 that called for a military no action zone on each side of the Suez Canal, a 90-day cease fire and initiation of the process to reach agreement

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