Peacebuilding How? Good Practices in Conflict Analysis
This document in the 'Peacebuilding How?' series discusses the purpose and intentions of conflict analysis. It also establishes guidelines for good practice in conflict analysis.
It helps to be clear about the purpose of doing a conflict analysis:
Understanding the ‘context’: Conflict analysis can be done simply to provide people with a better understanding of the context they are working in, also if they have no peacebuilding ambitions;
Basis for programming: The most commonly cited reason for doing conflict analysis is to identify programming needs and shape programming objectives. The goal of that programming may not be a peacebuilding one. Conflict analysis is often done by actors working IN conflict who do not seek to work ON conflict;
Part of programming: Conflict analysis can however also be done – actively involving a diversity of local actors- as an intrinsic part of the programming itself. Unlike the previous two purposes, it is not something that is done before your intervention starts. In this case it becomes a first step of reflection on the ‘problems’ by the local actors themselves. It is likely to stimulate initial reflections on causes and effects, but also to reveal that not all actors see ‘the problem’ or ‘the conflict’ in the same way. It will also have to be an iterative process, as your understanding of the various actors, their perspectives and what drives them will only be build up gradually.
The understanding of ‘conflict analysis’ of Fischer and others (see the above box) draws attention to the component that we can call ‘actor-mapping’ and ‘actor-analysis’, but also to the need to pay attention to what has been tried already and what worked, didn’t work and why. In other words, a conflict analysis should not limit itself to ‘the problem’ but also review the attempts at ‘solving’ it.