International Approach to Conflict Management

Discuss three reasons why an international approach to conflict management might be more successful than a regional or state approach.

Essay, 2009

4 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Task: Review the conflict management approaches presented in the module to this point. Then answer one of the questions below. Your essay should be 500 words. A. Taking into account the material in Unit 06 concerning warlords and private security contractors, discuss three reasons why an international approach to conflict management might be more successful than a regional or state approach.

States being disordered by long-term conflicts are often marked by a high situational vulnerability, i.e. they are weakened from social conflicts, have inefficient peace capacities and malfunctioning political institutions (see Maulden 2009, p. 3). In this situation warlords and mercenaries represent alternative power structures, trying to get control of the situation by exploiting it for their own purposes. Subsequently, I am going to present three reasons regarding these spoilers why an international approach to conflict management might be more successful than a regional or state approach.

Often, such conflicts occur in the developing world, in which states are innately weak in economic and military terms. On the one hand the international community of states (e.g. UN missions) disposes of better military capacities to stop such spoiler activities, on the other hand it disposes of more economic and financial power to successfully invest in certain conflict management strategies (capacity building) to improve systemic conditions – what the usually surrounding weak nations might not due to a shortages of means. These differences in capabilities also facilitate the possibility for the strong (Western) donor powers to exert pressure to do something about the situation (Möller 2005, p. 3).

One such example can be found in the building of leadership capacity in Kosovo, promoting the cooperation among local leaders and the establishment of law enforcement bodies in Sierra Leone – countries which are now in a state of formal peace. This “‘peace’, when it finally came, was not inspired by local leaders but ushered in by international political and military strength” (Peake, Gormley-Heenan, Fitzduff 2004, p. 57). With regard to financial and technical aspects, regional conflict management seems not equally effective as to international conflict management (Ghebremeskel 2002, p. 29).

Second, in many cases external actors, i.e. neighbouring states become involved as warlords expand their networks (e.g. economic ones in terms of small business structures, facilitated by ethnic ties across the border – causing so called “spillover effects”, Maulden 2009, p. 5), thus increasing their resources to maintain power and structures (war economies, Möller 2005, 11). Furthermore, incoming refugees and economic weakness in the neighbouring states can deteriorate their situation, resulting in instability and even conflict. Under these conditions, i.e. when the regional neighbours themselves become troubled and unstable, the supposedly positive learning effects via diffusion from neighbouring states towards the troubled state as propagated by Mooney (2001, p. 105) bear a high probability for failure. Therefore, it may be saver and more effective to call in the international community of states, i.e. actors which are not affected by the conflict state.

Last but not least and coming from outside, international actors (NGOs) can take over conflict management strategies in a neutral way. Through learning processes, but also with regard to building leadership capacities1 plus strengthening legitimate state institutions, private actors can be integrated into a functioning state, and thus change their attitudes bit by bit (Maulden 2009, p. 8). In addition, since an ever larger share of development aid is brought in through NGOs, their capacity to exert pressure in order to transform existing structures can be increased (Möller 2005, p. 3).

To sum up:

In many cases, actors on the international level can offer effective and sustainable conflict management solutions regarding warlords and private security contractors. However, not in all cases an international approach necessarily provides the better solution. It definitely depends on the respective conflictual context and its surrounding conditions exerting a certain influence. On this bases the apt conflict management tools should be chosen, be it a state, regional or international approach, or a mixture of all.


Ghebremeskel, Adane (2002): Regional Approach to Conflict Management Revisited: The Somali Experience, in: OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Research, volume 4, no. 2, pp. 9-29. (Case Study)

Maulden, Patricia (2009): Warlords & Private Security Contractors, in: Script IR Online FU Berlin, Unit 6, pp. 1-10.

Møller, Bjørn. (2005): Privatisation of Conflict, Security and War. DIIS Working Paper no 2005/2. Danish Institute for International Studies.

Mooney, Christopher Z. (2001): Modeling Regional Effects on State Policy Diffusion. In Political Research Quarterly, volume 54, no. 1, pp. 103-124.


1 E.g. the Washington based NGO NDI (National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) works on building leadership capacity, but also USAID or the World Bank offer such programmes (Peake, Gormley-Heenan, Fitzduff 2004, p. 7)

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International Approach to Conflict Management
Discuss three reasons why an international approach to conflict management might be more successful than a regional or state approach.
Free University of Berlin  (Center for Global Politics)
Conflict Management
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ISBN (Book)
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Assignment im Rahmen meines Studiums International Relations (Internationale Beziehungen) an der FU Berlin
conflict management, Konfliktmanagement, Sicherheit, security, conflict, Konflikt
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Natalie Züfle (Author), 2009, International Approach to Conflict Management , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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