Contemporary Conflict Resolution Approaches

Anthony M. Wanjohi>

This article expounds on the contemporary approaches used in solving conflicts. These include Administrative approach, Judicial approach, Extra legal approach, Peace Building and Negotiations, Mediation and Arbitration approaches.


Administrative approach – In this approach, a third party is involved in resolving the conflict. The third party is impartial and makes a decision in the dispute. This process can be held privately if the context within which the dispute occurred is private. It can also be public if the dispute is a public and is hence undertaken by a governmental agency, a mayor or a county commissioner. Its major aim is to balance the needs of the whole system and address the interest of the individuals or the groups concerned (Duffield, 2001).


Judicial approach – This approach involves an institution or socially recognized organization which has authority in the dispute. The resolution mechanism is ultimately shifted from the private domain to the public domain. This approach is characterized by the offenders hiring lawyers as their advocates. The case is then argued before an impartial neutral judge. The judge makes a decision basing on the case law, legal statue, and the societies values. The outcome of this is usually a win –lose. The third party is socially sanctioned to make a decision that is binding and enforceable (Dinnen, 2003).


Extra legal approach – This approach mostly uses stronger coercion tactics to force an opponent into compliance The tactics could either be violent or non-violent the violent approaches are used force an opponent to behave in desired way. This action does not involve physical coercion so as to lower the physiological harm. The non violent approach works in situations where the parties to a conflict have rely on each. The non violence acts include civil disobedience, a violation social norms in order to raise opponent’s consciousness on what is considered unfair (Boege, 2004).


Peace Building and Negotiations – Peace negotiations and mediations always go together because most negotiations are carried out through a mediator or facilitator. The mediator can be a respected wise individual or an institution. It has been noted that among the various conflict resolution mechanisms peace negotiations and mediation have been the most common and effective strategy in resolving disputes particularly in African countries (Dinnen, 2003). Peace building is a process of making sure that a country or society creates conditions for sustainable peace. Such conditions can be created when the country is already in the state of being peaceful (Burton, 1990). In such a situation the conditions are created in order to prevent conflicts from erupting and therefore, peace is sustained. Under such a situation the process of peace building begins with the transition period. The process of implementing various aspects of the peace agreement becomes the beginning of the process of peace building.


Mediation or FacilitationMediation is an extension or elaboration of the negotiation process that involves the intervention of an acceptable third party who has limited or no authoritative decision, making power (Dinnen, 2003). Mediation is an extension or elaboration of the negotiation process that involves the intervention of an acceptable third party who has limited or no authoritative decision making power.


Arbitration This is s a generic term for a voluntary process in which people in conflict request the assistance of an impartial and neutral third party to make a decision for them regarding contested issues. The outcome of the decision may be either advisory or binding. One person or a panel of third parties may conduct arbitration. The critical reason is that they are outside of the conflict relationship (Dinnen, 2003). 


The discussed conflict resolution approaches can be used in any civilized society. These approaches can be applied to address conflict between persons or community conflicts. Community justice system approach is also within the framework of these approaches. 



Boege, V. (2004). Muschelgeld und Blutdiamanten. Traditionale Konfliktbearbeitung in zeitgenoessischen Gewaltkonflikten. Schriften des Deutschen Uebersee-Instituts Hamburg Nr. 63, Germany.

Burton, J. (1990). Conflict: Resolution and Prevention,New York,St. Martin’s Press.

Duffield, M. (2001). Global Governance and the New Wars, The Merging of Development and Security, London/New York: Zed Books.

Dinnen, S. (2003). Restorative Justice in the Pacific Islands: An Introduction, in: Sinclair Dinnen (ed.): A Kind of Mending: Restorative Justice in the Pacific Islands. Canberra: Pandanus Books.