Conflict resolution

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Conflict resolution is a collective term for the application of various techniques for dealing with conflict without the use of violence. As normally used it also excludes the use or threat of sanctions, or recourse to legal procedures. It applies to all levels of conflict, from the personal up to conflicts between states. The dispute may be between two parties or more complex.

Conflict resolution may be initiated by one of the parties to the conflict or by another party. In the first case, no outside person or agency may be involved.

Resolution without involving another party

Conflict avoidance may in certain, mostly trivial, situations be a realistic approach which prevents a dispute from escalating. However, if it leaves the original cause of conflict enduringly in place, then it is not "resolution".

Negotiation may take the form of bargaining or of attempts to find common ground. It can be conducted through an agent or representative, but if the agent takes an active role, it is more akin to mediation.

Where the conflict takes the form of oppression or structural conflict, then demonstrations or symbolic actions may be used as a means of getting a process started.

Resolution involving another party

One of the principal methods of conflict resolution at all levels is mediation. Typically this involves another party attempting to identify common interests, get them recognised by those in conflict, and building from there. It may be conducted with the conflicting parties face-to-face, using set rules, or with them separate until the conclusion.

Arbitration is another method, in which the conflicting parties agree to refer the dispute to an arbitrator trusted by all sides and to abide by the decision given.