Berghof Glossary on Conflict Transformation
This glossary defines and discusses 20 core terms related to conflict transformation in the work of the Berghof Foundation.
Why another glossary, and why especially a glossary on conflict transformation?
First of all, the “conflict transformation” concept is still a relatively new and distinct strand in the global discourse about conflict and peacebuilding. Conflict transformation views the existence of conflicts as a valuable, indeed indispensable, part of social change and development, but does not see violence as inevitable in the relations and interaction between conflicting parties.
That’s why it also does not see the “resolution” of conflicts as the most important or ultimate goal of engagement. Instead, it aims to establish constructive relations among the conflicting actors and help create the structures that are needed for lasting peace.
It does so by influencing the root causes of conflicts in such a way that sustainable non-violent strategies can prevail.
Secondly, the concept of conflict transformation builds on a systemic and inclusive approach to conflicts which takes account of their interdependent dimensions and dynamic nature. This perspective impacts on the manner in which, in the language of peacebuilding, terms seemingly based on common sense are used to define and describe phenomena of social change and transformation. In the field of conflict transformation, precise terminology helps us to better understand the root causes and the nature of conflicts and peace. It can also help in shaping theoretical and conceptual approaches to peace, and in developing appropriate political and social strategies.
Thirdly, this glossary also presents the Berghof Foundation’s vision and policy of conflict transformation to our friends, partners and clients. From our perspective, “transformation” must address the underlying causes of conflict and the prevailing con flict dynamics and encourage and empower the drivers of change towards just and peaceful societies. Our concept of conflict transformation is inspired by and draws on the combined knowledge, skills and methodologies from research, practice, education and grant-making, thus enabling us to address complex transformation challenges adequately and in a systemic way. The language of this glossary therefore reflects our own (ever-evolving) understanding and knowledge gained from all these different fields of engagement.
The Berghof Foundation sees its mission as being to contribute to the creation of spaces for conflict transformation. These spaces need to be safe, trustworthy, sustained over the long term and empowering to actors on different levels and tracks. They offer new opportunities for constructive, non-violent interaction among conflicting parties, and between these parties and their partners such as governments and NGOs.
Creating such opportunities is a crucial challenge in all our fields of activity – in research, in our practical cooperation with partners and in comparative learning and dissemination of successful models. Using a language which all partners can easily understand, no matter whether they are a party to a conflict, benign interveners, donors, partners, mediators, facilitators, educators or journalists, is a prerequisite for developing inclusive and reflective policies for conflict transformation. This is what also guides our glossary: to make a contribution to developing a sound platform for communication, strategy-building and policy implementation in our field. As with our Berghof Handbook for Conflict Transformation, the Berghof Glossary on Conflict Transformation offers the chance to begin an exchange between scholars and practitioners.