Long before Africa was colonised, and way beyond the advent of slave trade, African societies had institutional mechanisms as well as cultural sources to uphold the values of peace, tolerance, solidarity and respect for, and of, one another. Thus, it was customary as well as common currency to happen upon people sitting down informally to discuss and agree on important issues.
The traditional African system of government was open and inclusive, where all people could participate in the decision-making process.
However, with slave trade and colonisation, these indigenous institutions were largely weakened and even destroyed in many societies, especially as the colonial masters introduced law courts, which came to pronounce judgments rather than resolve conflicts according to the African administration of justice. Of course, in this new legal system, the police took up cases that, hitherto, were handled through traditional amicable settlements, with emphasis on reconciliation and the restoration of social harmony, rather than on punishment of the conflicting parties.
The major sources of conflict in Africa were land, chieftaincy, personal relationship issues, family property, honour, murder or poisoning, and matrimonial fall-outs. In resolving these kinds of conflicts, the principles of equity and justice, which is entrenched in African customs and traditions, were upheld. This article highlights the traditional institutions and methods of conflict resolution in the Kom community of Cameroon.
The Kom people are one of the principal ethnic groups of the North-West Region of Cameroon — also known as the Bamenda Grassfields 4 — where traditional government institutions are very important.
The Kom kingdom, the second largest after Nso, is situated in the western central highlands of the Bamenda Grassfields, and occupies an area of about square miles at an average altitude of about 5 feet above sea level. The capital of the Kom people is Laikom, 5 which perches on a spur higher than 6 feet above sea level and is the seat of the ruler, the Paramount Fon, and his advisors, the kwifoyn , who continue to be the most respected leaders of the land. The Kom geographical location, as well as its social and political history, also play a great role in conflict resolution.
This is a highly secretive and hierarchical society, and membership of its inner circles is sharply restricted. The authority of this society is of an impersonal kind, and its agents are not held to account by the populace.
Peace Building and Conflict Resolution | UNDP in Kenya
Messages from the Fon are communicated to the Kom people through this institution, which is endowed with advisory, judicial and ritual functions. Its role in the Kom judicial system is that of arbitration, but not without the guidance of the Fon. As an institution, the Fon is regarded with infinite respect and surrounded with carefully guarded secrecy. From his religious position, sitting on the Kom ancestral chair and maintaining a nexus between his people and the ancestral spirits, he plays an instrumental role in the resolution of conflicts: that of chief priest and custodian of all land.
This is particularly so because he is considered to be an embodiment of the beliefs, hopes, fears and aspirations of his people. Thus, his judicial functions include reconciling human and spiritual forces. In pre-colonial African societies, crime was an act that offended the strong and definite dispositions of the collective consciousness, and so was considered harmful to the gods. This collective consciousness was enshrined in the laws of public and private crimes.
With an all-male membership open to the whole clan, this shrine is the centre of reconciliation, mediation and appeasement, which offers a forum for arbitration. If a person threatens the life of his neighbour or wounded him with a spear or cutlass, the two will be brought to the ntul shrine, where the first attempt will be reconciliation, while moral and legal sanctions will be meted out as well, and the wounded party will be treated with medicines from the ntul shrine.
Kom social institutions can be aptly classified as those where membership is either exclusively for men, women or mixed. Although the functions of these social institutions may vary, the underlying purpose is to maintain peace, alliances, justice, bestow honour and sanction people for deviant behaviour. The village council plays the role of the village court wherein minor civil and criminal cases are judged, while major contraventions are referred to the Fon.
As such, these juju houses are considered as the eyes of the kwifoyn and examine cases relating to spiritual matters, especially witchcraft and poisoning. It is the property of the Fon. To acquire or create chong , an individual may be authorised by the Fon or simply given the rights by the Fon as a favour. Most of the articles listed below require access to online research databases, which are available to staff working at NATO HQ.
Find more articles indexed by the Library on "Conflict management". Conflict Prevention and Diplomacy This LibGuide is intended to provide a few starting points to assist you with your research on issues related to conflict prevention and diplomacy. Essentials How Do I?
March SWP. Norm dilemmas and international organizational development: humanitarian intervention in the crisis of Bosnia and the reorganization of North Atlantic Treaty Organization ABE, Y. January However, what is broadly considered appropriate is not necessarily realized since concrete action can collide with other norms, just as prevention of human rights violations is generally viewed as desirable, but related action provokes a debate over sovereign integrity and the use of force.
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That is to say, if international mechanisms exist to deal with regional contingencies effectively, such dilemmas that accompany intervention are more likely to be pre-empted. For this reason, states move towards development of institutions for security management. In a conflict there are no clear trajectories, in which distinct phases follow one another in precise order. Nevertheless, it is possible to distinguish more acute and complex moments from more open and flexible ones in which it is easier and less costly to intervene.
30-09-2000 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 839, by Fred Tanner
Given the resources and the tools available, it is possible to decide if and when they can be used effectively. Intervention in the first phases is less costly and more effective, but third parties often lack the information and the incentives to act sooner than later. Some models of conflict cycles are presented in the ; here we adopt the division of conflict into five phases suggested by Donald Rothchild and Chandra Lekha Sriram.
Social Psychology of Conflict Escalation The field of social psychology offers important insights into the escalation phase of conflicts. For instance, according to Rubin, Pruitt and Kim, escalation occurs when a group is faced with aggression, or when one side perceives the other as the cause for loss or unfulfilled aspirations. Whether conflicts are internal or external, responses to such situations most often lead to actions which exacerbate tensions and result in violence. Escalation of violence is often described as a security dilemma, the situation that occurs when both sides attempt to pre-empt aggression by the other.
Information failures, in which neither side is precisely sure of the plans or intentions of the other, lead defensive actions by one side to be perceived as offensive by the other. Leaders believe that they have no other choice than to match or surpass actions taken by the other, leading to a cycle that can quickly spin out of control. Identity can also play a key role in the escalation of conflict, when individuals or leadership feel threatened.
When threatened, individuals in groups tend to cleave to factors of identity in order to establish a sense of security. According to Lederach , perceived threats encourage people to seek their security in increasingly narrow identity groups. Leadership whose legitimacy is threatened, either by their own actions or by an immediate crisis, can manipulate the identity of its population.
Rothchild Forthcoming terms the "rallying cry" to be the call of leadership to mobilize along nationalistic terms for collective action. Long experience of distrust or conflict means violence can be easily re-ignited. In crises of legitimacy, such mobilization is often completed through the manipulation of identities through nationalistic appeals.
Lack of political will or urgency are often presented as the main reasons why countries fail to act decisively to reverse incipient conflicts around the world.
However, while admitting that these factors may play a role, Michael Lund claims that they are not of primary importance. Rather, the most fundamental factor, he explains, is that politicians and middle-level elites in the US and elsewhere, have very little knowledge and understanding of the nature of post-Cold war conflict, as well as the mechanisms that can be used to reduce them.
In order to promote effective preventive diplomacy, policy makers need to know a number of things about the potential real cost of conflict, the risks and effectiveness of preventive action, and the mechanisms and ways by which prevention can be implemented. Developing frameworks that can predict conflict and devise the most effective operating procedures on the basis of the nature of the conflict, its context, and dynamics, is therefore vital for policymakers to feel confident enough to support preventive initiatives. Further, organizing and synthesizing pre-conflict information into meaningful categories that clearly indicate threat levels in each unique case, will be needed in order for such initiatives to be implemented.
In order for third parties and the international community to better be able to predict and prevent violent conflict, we have to know the warning signs that precede it. The earlier the reaction to an incipient conflict, the greater the opportunity of reversing a deteriorating situation. We can be forewarned of impending crises through early warning indicators or signs:. Models There are numerous early-warning systems at work in conflict-prone regions around the world. The Clingendael Institute of International Relations in the Netherlands, has made an effort to track these systems in their report "Conflict Prognostication: Toward a tentative framework for Conflict.
The report creates a three-fold typology of Conflict Prevention models: the correlation model, the sequential model, and the response model. Whereas the correlation model focuses on structural indicators and causality and how these will help us understand why conflicts occur, the sequential model focuses on shorter-term early warning by studying the sequence by which events that can trigger conflicts have occurred in the past.
The response model is different in that it is "policy-driven? Early-warning models differ in terms of their objective, structure, manner in which data is collected, and mandate of the monitoring authorities. When choosing a methodology each system has to determine whether to use short-term or long-term indicators, take a qualitative or quantitative approach, or collect generic vs.
Most of these choices have to be adapted to the specific context of the region where the data is collected, as well as to the availability and reliability of information. In addition, the task of setting up an early warning structure is far from simple: it requires a comprehensive and exhaustive strategy for the employment of the mechanisms.
Traditional methods of conflict resolution
Early warning projects should prioritize putting in place short-term systems that can provide information on the most immediate threats of the escalation of violence. Types of Indicators and Signs Monitoring programs have to be formulated so as to provide us with the knowledge needed to tackle the issues that eventually lead to violent conflict. General indicators-- such as economic, social, legal or environmental-- are monitored by most governments and often by international organizations in most areas of the world. However, information-collection requires resources and coordination, two aspects that are often missing in poorer countries, or in countries plagued by violence or conflict.
Some indicators may be harder to track than others and in many cases governments even make an intentional effort to disguise certain conditions that could put them in a bad light or give credit to a political opposition. Political or security-related indicators are typical in this regard. There is no consensus over what type of indicators most accurately predict the emergence of a conflict, and in some cases findings are contradictory.
Some examples of typical signs and indicators: Demographic. Some examples may be the increase in the sales of spray paint political graffiti , rising copying or printing costs used for creating pamphlets , children? Once developed and functioning, a project like this may serve as an effective way to predict and prevent the onset of genocide and rising inter-group tension. The following summation of the Minorities at Risk project is taken from Gurr?
Within this group there is an entity or association that claims to act on behalf of the group. The groups included in the MAR study had to meet one of various sets of operational criteria, such as:. According to the MAR dataset, there are minorities at risk in the world, constituting about