Conflict resolutionDefining conflict resolutionIn arriving at the correct definition of conflict resolution, it is important to define the words conflict and resolution independently. Conflicts occur at various levels which range from clashes between countries to interpersonal levels and ranges from hostility between persons to international wars. The Oxford dictionary (1976) defines conflict as ‘struggle, fight or clash on principles’. However, the definition has been found inadequate since interpersonal disagreements rarely result from clashes on principles. In his writings on conflict resolution and peace, Gandhi sees conflict as disagreements through which the concerned parties perceive threats to their interests, concerns or needs.
This arises from the fact that people/ parties are different and thus there might be differences in the positions taken by the two conflicting parties regarding the issue in question (Edmondson and Stanton 2011). Similarly Grossman, (2000) view conflict as struggle occurring between two individuals o r parties due to differences in values, competition for power and limited resources as well as competition for status. The writings of Martin Luther view conflict as resulting from real or perceived differences in interests such as needs, fears, concerns and wants which can not be simultaneously satisfied or when the needs or concerns between the conflicting parties are not compatible.
From the above definitions, it is no doubt that conflict results from both subjective and objective causes including competition for resources such as land, riches, power or status as well as differences in principles and beliefs, interests or parties of the conflicting parties. According to Kyle and Nigel, (2013) conflicts occur at various levels. For instance, Latent conflict is characterized by underlying as well as acknowledged tensions between the parties, Emerging conflict is where the disagreement is acknowledged and parties identified though the resolution process has not been identified while manifest conflict is where the parties to the conflict have reached an impasse despite attempts to resolve and resolution can only be attained through legal means, negotiation, mediation as well as physical and verbal violence. Just like conflict, conflict resolution can be defined in a number of ways.
Megan, (2009) regards conflict resolution as the process which resolves or ends the conflict using methods which could also entail violence and warfare at worst.
On the other hand, both Martin Luther and Gandhi view conflict resolution as the process of resolving conflict through pursuing peace by use of non violent means to arise at compromise. In this case, a third party may be involved in facilitating or imposing settlement and hence resolution (Weinstein, 2004). According to them parties to the conflict should strive to attain peace at the end of conflict resolution by all means. There are many conflict resolution approaches which range from formal, informal, collaborative, participatory, legally biding and non binding approaches among others.
While non - adversarial conflict resolution approaches such as mediation, conciliation or negotiation seek to facilitate communication between the conflicting parties and hence resolve the dispute in a cooperative way, adversarial approaches such as the court or tribunals seek to impose a settlement on the conflicting parties and hence they may not achieve cooperative dispute resolution.