Does Northern Ireland Peace Process offer a Model for Resolving Conflicts in Africa
DOES NORTHERN IRELAND OFFER A MODEL FOR RESOLVING CONFLICTS IN AFRICA?
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Does Northern Ireland Offer a Model for Resolving Conflicts in Africa?
Human Needs Model by John Burton
According to Burton’s Human Needs Model, conflict in the society is inevitable particularly when individuals or groups do not have the right(s) of security, identity, freedom [and recognition] or equality. The needs that appear ‘unmet,’ therefore, are classified under the category of those that led to the expected conflict. Burton’s model and theory reiterate that meeting the needs of human has a positive role(s) in the resolution of violence and conflict(s) (Demmers, 2012). Delving into Northern Ireland, specifically, there is an understanding that the human needs theory works toward adaptation of consociationalism that resolves the conflict by realizing its cause(s) (Walsh, 2015; Demmers, 2012). In fact, Burton’s model is thorough in its implementation of consociationalism since the latter is a mechanism of conflict resolution.
It is evident, therefore, that the consociational ideologies in Northern Ireland may be borrowed by nations such as Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda in Africa. Burton’s theory and model emphasizes that consociationalism is responsible for countering the frustration of human beings that augured from unmet needs (Walsh, 2015). If at all their human needs are satisfied accordingly; there will be no room for conflict(s) or violence to ensue. The case of conflict in Northern Ireland and its extrapolation of consociationalism is in-line with Burton’s theory as they are both inclined toward conflict resolution and maintenance of peace (Walsh, 2015). An exploration of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement (GFA) endorses the Human Needs Theory and its role(s) in the resolution of conflicts (Walsh, 2015). The ideologies of consociationalism meet the needs of human beings since it instigates a democratic society.
Conflict Transformation by Lederach, Bush, and Folger
According to this theory of transformation, nations are urged to eliminate any negative projection(s) and solely focus on peacebuilding. In the case where countries continually support the negative ideologies in a given nation; there is a possibility to accentuate the already existing conflict(s) (Ryan, 2016). Lederach, for instance, acknowledges that peace cannot be maintained in a negative environment(s). It is important for the nations to adapt constructive patterns that do not involve an increased focus on the ‘wayward’ ones (Ryan, 2016; Wiepking, 2011).The case of Northern Ireland has also experienced conflict resolution particularly after the instigation of the GFA which worked as a peace instigator in Ireland. It is salient that the nation’s offers a model for [conflict] resolution as it is also inclined toward conflict transformation.
Apart from the GFA; Northern Ireland also had agreements such as The Sunningdale Agreement and The Anglo-Irish Agreement which were useful in resolving “The Troubles” which was a long-lasting [1968-1998] conflict in Northern Ireland (Wiepking, 2011). All these agreements affiliated with this conflict in Northern Ireland worked toward peace-building and eradication of [negative] conflict (Wiepking, 2011; Ryan, 2016). Lederach, Bush, and Folger reiterate that adoption of ‘productive’ conflict is more feasible as it may augur productivity for both individuals and groups. All parties undergoing some form(s) of dispute should be encouraged to transform the conflict into positivity which allows them to understand the situation from various perspectives. In transforming conflict(s); it is salient that Lederach, Bush, and Folgeraddress the idea(s) that African countries should control any prevalent conflict(s) to avoid future complications.
Cooperative Model by Morton Deutsch
Deutsch’s cooperative model delves into the interactions depicted by conflicting parties depending on the cause(s) of conflict and their form(s) of dispute(s). Under the theory, there is an inclusion of both cooperation and competition ideologies which are useful in conflict resolution (Coleman & Deutsch, 2015). Cooperation requires the conflicting parties to reach a win-win situation while competition bestows victory only upon one of the parties. Competition leading to win-lose situations has the capability of intensifying the conflict(s) between specific individuals, parties or nations (Barsky, 2016). Delving into Northern Ireland as a model of conflict resolution, there is an understanding that the GFA works to instigate consociationalism and its ideologies in various nations. The process ensures that any particular nation is more democratic than dictatorial by encouraging power-sharing strategies. African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda should be inclined toward the cooperative part of this model as most of their leaders subscribe to dictatorial ideologies.
Only win-win outcomes work best in facilitating peace building through conflict resolution strategies. However, Deutsch’s theory also recommends conflicting parties to create a balance between cooperation and competition (Coleman & Deutsch, 2015; Barsky, 2016). There is the need to expose dictatorial leaders to consociationalism as a way of teaching them the ways of adopting democracy and power-sharing strategies. The model by Northern Ireland advocates for a balance between cooperation and competition and this is specifically witnessed in African countries. In Kenya, for instance, there are opposition groups that compete with the existing government for leadership. Such a situation may lead to negotiations [and power-sharing] among these diverse leaders and eradicate any form(s) of conflict(s).
Principled Negotiation by Roger Fisher and William Ury
Like Deutsch, Fisher and Ury delve into a cooperative conflict which is classified under their theory of principled negotiation (Thomson, 2014; Wunderle, 2008). Unlike the other theories, Fisher and Ury have specific principles that include:
Creating a barrier(s) between people and the problem(s)/issue(s)
Placing the interest before the position
Delving into various options before making conclusions/agreements
Focusing on objectivity while making agreements
Northern Ireland’s model of conflict resolution has some characteristics of principled negotiation (Wunderle, 2008). For instance; it is more objective than subjective thus the focus on GFA and consociationalism which work toward including all the conflicting parties. Conflict, here, is eradicated when even the minorities in a given nation receive equal rights as a result of the GFA.
The North Ireland’s agreement dictates that conflict(s) may ensue due to the suppressing of human needs such as rights and freedoms. The theory of principled negotiation advocates for the conflicting groups to avoid subjective agreements. However, Northern Ireland’s model does not encourage nations to only separate people from problems that do not involve their human needs (Thomson, 2014; Wunderle, 2008). If at all the rights of LGBT members are ignored simply because they are ‘problematic,’ there is a possibility of encountering worse forms of conflicts. The theory of principled negotiation means that a nation should remain considerate of human needs, whether or not they are constituent of the problem(s) (Wunderle, 2008; Thomson, 2014). Finally, the idea that this theory does not endorse vague agreements is salient since the GFA is crafted on various concepts despite the prevalence of consociationalism. Fisher and Ury have captured Northern Ireland’s conflict resolution model in their delineation of principled negotiation, as a theory of resolving the conflict. They focus more on the cooperative scope of conflicts just like Deutsch who dwells on both cooperation and competition.
Barsky, A. E. (2016). Conflict resolution for the helping professions: Negotiation, mediation, advocacy, facilitation, and restorative justice. New York : Oxford University Press.
Coleman, P. T., & Deutsch, M. (2015).Morton Deutsch: A pioneer in developing peace psychology. Cham [Switzerland]: Springer.
Demmers, J. (2012). Theories of Violent Conflict: An Introduction. Routledge.
Ryan, S. (2016). The Transformation of Violent Intercommunal Conflict.Routledge.
Thomson, B. (2014). Understanding yourself and others: Practical ideas from the world of coaching. London: Sheldon Press.
Walsh, D. (2015). “How a Human Needs Theory Understanding of Conflict Enhances the Use of Consociationalismas a Conflict Resolution Mechanism.” University of Birmingham.
Wiepking, R. (2011). “The Path to Peace: Conflict Theory and Northern Ireland’s Troubles (1968-1998).” The University of San Francisco.
Wunderle, W. D. (2008).A Manual for American Servicemen in the Arab Middle East: Using Cultural Understanding to Defeat Adversaries and Win the Peace. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
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