Conflict Management and Resolution


School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development

Additional Department

Geography and Anthropology

Document Type


Publication Date


Embargo Period


Journal Title

Oxford Bibliographies in African Studies

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199846733-0207


Conflict management and resolution are processes for dealing with discord or facilitating peaceful and satisfactory cessations to conflict, and even potentially its transformation. Ideas and actions about how disputes are handled within various historical, geographic, political, economic, and cultural contexts and structures come from a range of positions, people, and institutions, with some approaches having empirical, experiential, precedential, authoritative, or intuitive support. The aggregation, analysis, and dissemination of these processes have led to the development of related fields within peace and conflict studies. Identified approaches to conflict management and resolution include, but are not limited to, alternative dispute resolution (negotiation, facilitation, mediation, case analysis, early neutral evaluation, conciliation, and arbitration), peacebuilding, and diplomacy. As an interdisciplinary field, scholarship is drawn from a broad range of academic disciplines, including social psychology, law, economics, and political science. These theories and processes are often systematically designed toward specific ends (e.g., management, analysis, resolution, transformation) and get applied at the individual, community, institutional, regional, state, and/or international levels. Through an analysis of the extant African studies resources focusing on conflict management and resolution, emergent themes fall into two broad categories: applied mechanisms of conflict management and resolution, and conflict issues affecting the continent. The African continent has seen its fair share of violent and intractable conflicts, both intra- and interstate. From the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya beginning in 2010 to the Niger Delta conflict and Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, Kenyan presidential election violence, or South African water shortages, conflict and the need for its management, analysis, and resolution are abundant. Engagement (not isolation) and active dialogue, collaboration, and conflict sensitivity (i.e., do no harm) are essential keys to studying, managing, resolving, and transforming the diverse range of conflict situations found throughout Africa. External, internal (i.e., indigenous or localized), and hybrid models can open and sustain pathways to peace. Many scholars now argue that conflict management, analysis, and resolution must address root causes, take an interdisciplinary approach, not conflate conflict and violence, use multiscalar perspectives (i.e., individual, group, state, interstate), and employ multicultural sensitivities attuned to cultural contexts and global sources of conflict. Scholars and practitioners must investigate and better understand the origins, causes, resolution, and consequences of conflicts in contemporary Africa in relation to their postcolonial contexts. Concerns include ethnic, religious, political, and environmental conflict factors, as well as demographic pressures. The stakeholder roles in post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction should also be determined and continually evaluated to ensure effectiveness in African conflicts.