Conflict and Peace Studies: Post-conflict Peace Building Process and Types of Conflict
Question 1: Write an essay on the post-conflict peace-building process of Nepal.
Nepal went through a decade long civil Conflict waged by Maoist rebels against the state.The rebellion was launched by the Communist Party of Nepal- (CPN-M) on 13 February 1996 with the stated purpose of overthrowing the Nepalese monarchy and establishing a People’s Republic.
The conflict was characterized by killings, massacres, kidnapping and other war crimes and crimes against humanity. The insurgency resulted in deaths of over 15,000 people including civilians, insurgents, army and police personnel, forceful disappearance of over 1300 people, hundreds of people left physically disabled and internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of people (mostly of rural Nepal). The conflict ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) on 21 November, 2006.
The post conflict Peace Process
Emerging from the decade-long bloody war, peace building and restoring normal relations among people and among institutions directly and or indirectly affected by the armed conflict through Transitional Justice (TJ) is very important and should be the priority agenda.
Transitional Justice (TJ) is the process of addressing serious crimes and grave human rights violations occurred during the conflict or controlled regime through prompt mechanisms established within the principles of due process and justice. It normally encompasses confession of past weaknesses or mistakes, prosecution of perpetrators based on proper process, appropriate and acceptable compensation and reparation to the victims and amnesty process as necessary with the consent of victim without undermining their dignity. It is related to the rule of law, and dealing with the past. It ensures respecting human rights.
The CPA and Interim Constitution of Nepal provisioned the formation of the TRC to provide prompt justice to the victims of conflict and ensure reparation to them, and bringing the perpetrators into judicial process through establishing Transitional Justice (TJ) mechanisms.
However, the establishment process of these commissions became extremely lengthy . In 2014 the Enforced Disappearances Inquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, got established and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) were formed on 10 February 2015 as opposed to the 6 months’ provision of the CPA. The mandate and formation process has been highly controversial, which is challenged by some conflict victims and it is now under the Supreme Court hearing.
Many issues are still not addressed such as-
- Conflict-era cases of human rights violations are not dealt yet
- Vetting has not started with the cases registered in Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP)
- The comprehensive reparations to the conflict victim and psycho-social counseling is still an issue. Providing peace dividends, reconstructions of the infrastructures are half done and psycho-social counseling, reconciliation is not properly started.
Ensuring transitional justice has been a grave concern in Nepal’s Post conflict peace building process. Agreeing on the TRC took nearly 9 year as opposed to the 6 months mandate, and that too became controversial and reached to court hearing, victims start losing hope and trust in the commissions and the system as a whole.
It is the responsibility of political actors who have been the signatories of the CPA to materialize their commitments in practice. Due to the absence of collective commitment and political willingness, and there is little chance of victims getting a sense of justice without collective efforts.
Dealing with the security issues (Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) addressing the issues and concerns of ex-combatants, ensuring transitional security got national priority. However, the DDR process neglected the reintegration of the former child soldiers. This is a huge mistake and shows weakness in the part of government. Nepal not being a state party to the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC), taking the issue to Hague is not possible.
Local level peace building efforts- several efforts have been made by national and local non-governmental organizations (I/NGOS), community based organizations, local offices of the government, private sector, media and especially Local peace Committee in achieving the durable peace.
However, peace initiatives at local level are uncoordinated, duplicated and scattered and therefore less effective. Local Level Peace, as a transitional mechanism works on prevention or reduction of violence, facilitate dialogues, reconciliation. Because of the composition of the committee (domination of the party representatives), lack of required resources, weak administrative mandate, LPC became weak in performing its roles. However, LPCs in several districts are working hard to promote peace at local level.
Nepal’s peace process is complicated with mix of success and weaknesses. There are few good achievements like integration of the ex-combatants in the national army, promulgation of the Constitution through Constituent Assembly, or inclusion of excluded in political decision-making, successful restructuring of the country through federalism etc.
However, there are several complications or less emphasized issues that are extremely essential for peace process being successful. These issues are ensuring transitional security, implementing rule of law and ensure transitional justice, reorienting development and focusing on unconventional security issues such as: food, water, health, climate, education, climate & environmental insecurities; land reform and socio-economic transformation.
Without addressing these issues it will be hard to achieve peace, justice, livelihood security and economic prosperity of the people, providing security to its citizens and there remains a possibility of risk of reemergence of conflict and unstable society.
Further, strong coordination mechanism between concerned ministries and departments and the district level offices is essential to strengthen the partially fragmented peace process of Nepal.
Question 2- Write a short (2 pages long) essay on ‘Conflict and Peace’.
Peace refers to a state of social, psychological, physical and spiritual wellbeing on an individual and society as a whole. The concept of peace varies with different people and context. For some peace is simply an absence of conflict of any kind. According to Johan Galtung, ‘Peace is the absence or reduction of violence of all kinds’ and “Peace is a non-violent and creative conflict transformation’
The concept of peace is more clearly understood in comparison with the concept of violence. Violence is an act of causing physical harm to others. According to WHO (2002) ‘violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual against oneself, another person or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death ,psychological harm maldevelopment or deprivation.
As an opposite concept of peace, violence is of two types, direct violence and structural violence. Direct violence is the physical injuries and the infliction of pain that is caused by a specific person, for eg, killing and beating that either in war or in interpersonal situation. Direct violence occurs fast and dramatically. Structural violence, on the other hand often works slowly in eroding human values and shorting life spans. Poverty, hunger, repression, social alienation etc are some of the ways that cause human misery. Denial of educational opportunities, basic human rights, inequitable distribution of resources, unequal decision making power etc reduces the quality and dignity of life. Exploitative actions such as oppression, discrimination, by the state or the power holders some forms of structural violence.
At an international level, absence of war for an extended period of time does not mean there is peace in the sense that this can be sustained by hegemonic order imposed by the empire of a powerful state.
Positive versus Negative peace
Contrary to the traditional definition of peace an absence of war, the concept of peace is broadly understood to include many situations that guarantee positive human conditions. The realization of peace prevents loss of human life and capacity.
Negative peace simply denotes the absence of war. It is a condition in which no active, organized military violence is taking place. It can be brought about by various approaches. Nonviolent means foster the avoidance of physical force. Total disarmament reduces the potential for future armed struggle. The notion of stable order is a form of negative peace. In real politics, international stability and order is often brought about by dominant military force. Negative peace policies are focused on the present situation or short term situations. Since the stability and order is maintained by an oppressive system, negative peace can be compared with the structural violence. Temporary absence of physical violence in a place cannot be considered as a lasting peace as long as the militarism remains a prevalent value.
Whereas, Positive peace is more than the mere absence of war, or even the absence of interstate violence. It refers to a social condition in which exploitation is minimized or eliminated, and in which there is neither overt violence nor the more subtle phenomenon of underlying structural violence. Positive peace is about justice and equality, elimination of all forms of discriminations. Equality is the means and goals of positive peace.
Negative peace usually results in a diplomatic emphasis on peacekeeping or peace restoring. By contrast, positive peace focuses on peace building, the establishment of nonexploitative social structures, and determination to work towards the goal even when a war is not ongoing. Negative peace is thus a more conservative goal, as it seeks to keep things the way they are, whereas positive peace is more active and bolder, implying the creation of something that does not currently exist.
The term Conflict is defined as ‘A struggle to resist or overcome; contest of opposing forces or powers; strife; battle’. It is a state or condition of opposition, antagonism, and result of opposing interests involving scarce resources, goal divergence and frustration. Conflicts exist at all levels of society. They reflect differences in interests, values, aims, needs and perceptions. Conflict shouldn’t be defined simply in terms of violence (behavior) or hostility (attitudes), but also include incompatibility or difference in issues position.
Conflicts are unavoidable in a pluralistic democratic society, and they can even be considered necessary elements of social change and progress. So conflicts as such are not “bad”, but are legitimate expressions of differing points of view and contending positions.
Types of Conflict
On the basis of the nature and form of conflict, it has been divided into five categories:
- Structural conflict- Differences and disagreements on the state structure- constitution, act and different law of the nation. This type of conflict prevails on the issues of unequal distribution of national resources.
- Ideological/Theoretical Conflict – Differences on norms, values and ideology create the conflict.
- Interest Based Conflict – Differences in interest, will and wishes among the people. Conflict remains in the latent and sometimes on the surface
- Factual Conflict – Some Published fact and information might create conflict among individuals, group and parties. Issues concerning the border of the two countries, result of the election, etc.
- Relational Conflict – Lack of communication, mis-understanding, misinterpretation, misconception of opponent
Stages of conflict
- Latent Conflict: Parties have different interests or incompatible goal. Hidden
- Confrontational: Open-people do not listen anymore to the arguments of the opponent.
- Crisis: Escalation of violence. Communication between the parties has come to an end.
- Outcome: Defeat of one side or a cease fire.
- Post conflict: Conflict resolved. But if the issues are not dealt properly, another pre-conflict situation will rise.
During the pre-conflict phase, tensions are building, but, except for some small acts of violence, no real fighting is happening. In the Conflict phase, the tensions from the pre-conflict phase reach the point that fighting outbreaks. There is systematic violence on the part of one or more parties to the conflict. When the conflict comes to an end with a ceasefire agreed between parties, during the Post-conflict phase violence has ceased, but the peace is precarious. Therefore peace building becomes crucial after the ceasefire.
Peacebuilding – occurs before and after fighting takes place. By establishing effective institutions for conflict resolution, enhancing a “culture of peace”, and pursuing preventive diplomacy, the disagreements and tensions can be resolved without resorting to violence. Peace-building can also include socioeconomic development. It involves creating infrastructure that supports the upkeep of peace. Peacebuilding is designed to build confidence among the parties, facilitate institutional reform, demobilize armies, and assist the reform and integration of police forces and judiciaries.
Peacebuilding is a long term enterprise undertaken by the United Nations or regional actors (in collaboration with host government of the conflict-torn country) involving multidimensional approaches through specialized and dedicated offices and field level elements with a view to preventing recurrence of conflict and building institutions to foster development, enhance security, and promote and protect human rights.