Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Conflict Resolution and International Relations

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT International Relations

DESCRIPTION This study-unit explores peace and conflict theories in the context of international relations. Various methodological approaches to conflict transformation will be explored in particular dialogue, negotiation, arbitration and mediation as tools for conflict resolution and transformation. These positions are challenged against current problems fuelling conflicts such as cultural and national identity, abuse of power, terrorism, intolerance towards diversity, underdevelopment, military capabilities and social and racial injustice.

The unit will also attempt to critically answer the questions: What is our understanding of conflict resolution in relation to international relations? Will it help to accommodate differences to resolve conflicts? What is the role of international mediators in conflict resolution? Can mediators truly be neutral when they have their own cultural values and biases?

The lectures and seminars will examine how political and cultural contexts affect conflict resolution at the individual, group and organisational level. The emphasis will be on contexts such as class, religion, culture and race.

At the end of the study-unit the learner will be exposed to the following specialised knowledge:

Conflict as an applied concept;
Violence and its international manifestation in arms trade;
Conflict Formation; Intervention and Transformation;
Conflict life-cycle;
Non-violent conflict transformation;
Transcending conflict and conflict resolution in the State system;
The institutionalisation of peace – litigation, arbitration and mediation;
Mediation as an alternative dispute resolution technique;
The resolution of conflicts between States;
The International community and conflict resolution.

At the end of the study-unit the learner will have mastered the following skills:

An understanding of conflict as a means to resolve incompatibilities at individual, community, national and international levels;
An insight into violence seen from a direct, structural and cultural dimension;
An understanding of how conflict are formed and deformed through intervention and transformation processes;
An understanding of the conflict cycle and how it impacts on development;
An understanding of how communication, cooperation and confidence-building are at the basis of non-violent conflict transformation;
The predictive capacity to visualise the roots of conflict in IR and the benefits of the core values of democracy: security, freedom, well-being and identity;
An insight into how litigation, arbitration and mediation are institutions of negative and positive peace;
An understanding of the role mediators play in conflict resolution particularly in aspects of mediation related to international conflicts;
Building a case study in Inter-State conflict by analysing its roots, its manifestation and its economic, cultural, social and political impacts;
An understanding of the role of the United Nations in conflict resolution by drawing on the various peace missions across the world.

At the end of the study-unit the learner will have acquired the responsibility and autonomy to:

Discuss and critically review conflict theories in the context of individual, community, national and international levels;
Critically construct a conceptual framework for the study of violence in its various manifestations in society and within the international community particularly the issues of terrorism and civil unrest;
Communicate and alert effectively on the roots and symptoms of conflict formation and the techniques used to defuse conflict;
Discuss and critically review aspects of a conflict cycle within the framework of IR theories;
Discuss and critically review aspects of conflict resolution using information and communication technology, development and preventive diplomacy as tools for conflict resolution;
Critically deploy classical and contemporary theories of IR to illustrate how such core values of the State in contrast with aspects of aggression and violence as documented in history;
Discuss and critically review a number of case studies in which mediation plays a pivotal role in conflict transformation;
Provide insights to the role of mediators and the factors influencing their impact on the resolution of conflict through peace settlements or plans and their execution and monitoring;
Analyse the conflict complexes of actual or potential rivalry between actors involved and produce insights into the solution of such conflic;
Analyse the effective and ineffective impacts of the United Nations on war-torn countries.

Learning Outcomes:
At the end of the study-unit the learner will be able to:

Write and speak about contemporary conflict theories particularly those developed by Johan Galtung and Peter Wallenstein;
Demonstrate an own conceptual framework of the manifestations and the impact of violence on decision-making and on the quality of life of individuals in civil society;
Deploy a range of schools of thought on conflict formation, intervention and transformation particularly within the context of intercultural and international relations;
Develop a critical understanding of how conflicts develop, manifest, destroy and re-build relations;
Demonstrate an ability to produce policies based on effective inter-cultural communication, sector-based cooperation and confidence-building measures;
Demonstrate an ability to analyse aspects of aggression and security as determining the structure and function (internally and externally) of States;
Develop the capacity to consolidate, expand and integrate conflict resolution theories into training in mediation techniques;
Deploy, participate and take initiatives within civil society to highlight conflict issues in IR particularly those related to international terrorism, gender, the environment, self-determination, State recognition and arms trade;
Produce a mapping of conflict resolution from an economic, political, social and cultural perspective;
Take an active role in analysing conflict situations and in providing a creative approach to its resolution.

Reading List:

Peter Wallenstein (2007) Understanding Conflict Resolution 2nd ed., SAGE publications.

Norrie MacQueen (2006) Peace-keeping and the International System, Routledge.

Tore Bjorgo ed (2006) Root Causes of Terrorism, Routledge.

Johan Galtung, Carl G Jocobsen, Kai Frithjof Brand-Jocobsen (2002) Searching for Peace: The Road to TRANSCEND [Peace by Peaceful Means], Pluto Press.

Johan Galtung, (2004) Transcend and Transform – an introduction to conflict work Pluto Press.

Additional references

Sandra Cheldelin, Daniel Drunkman and Larissa Fast (2002) Human Conflict: From Analysis to Action, Continuum International Publishing Group, Academic and Professional.

Johan Galtung, (1996) Peace by Peaceful Means PRIO, Sage Publications.

Miall et al, (2000) Contemporary Conflict Resolution: The Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts, Polity Press.

European Centre for Conflict Prevention, (1999) People Building Peace, 35 Inspiring Stories from Around the World.

Irma Ghosen and Elie Samia (2001) Weaving the Fabric of Peace, Lebanese American University.

Howard P Kainz (1987) Philosophical Perspectives on Peace, Macmillan Press.

David W Augsburger (1992) Conflict, Mediation Across Cultures, Pathways and Patterns, Westminster/John Knox Press.

James Calleja and Angela Perucca (1999), Peace Education Contexts and Values, PENSA Multimedia, Lecce.

Edward De Bono (1985), Conflicts. A Better Way to Resolve Them, Penguin Books.(1994) The International Arms Trades Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Andreas Kotelis

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.