Capacity-Building in Conflict Management

Brief Description

The Conflict Management Capacity-Building project seeks to assist Governments and their civil society partners in sub-Saharan Africa to strengthen their governance capacities to anticipate and respond to conflict and crisis, to work effectively in conflictual environments and defuse them, and to enrich their development practice with conflict resolution tools, techniques and planning mechanisms. To do this, the project is collaborating with African conflict resolution practitioners to develop training material in four areas:

(1) conflict analysis and early response development;
(2) skills development for conflict transformation;
(3) conflict sensitive approaches to development; and
(4) national capacity-building in conflict management.

The training workshops will be delivered to African government officials and their civil society counterparts in partnership with training institutions on the continent, such as public administration and management institutes, universities, NGOs, civil service training institutes.

For additional information contact:
Gay Rosenblum-Kumar


Africa Region

Project Title: Capacity-building in Conflict Management



As the UN, UNDP and the international community grapple with the profound political and socio-economic transformations of the last decade, the development environment has become more complex and the relationship between the related policy areas interfacing with the development process, more interlinked. It has become apparent that there is an indisputable link between peace and development. Development without peace is not sustainable and peace without development is not durable. The linkage between the two needs to be understood, strengthened and operationalized so that policy and practice in these related areas can be mutually reinforcing. Moreover, actualizing the linkage between development and peace is directly related to building governance capacity. It requires developing institutional and human resources for managing diversity and disputes in stable environments, building capacity to mitigate disputes in emerging conflict situations, and developing governance mechanisms to support reconciliation, co-existence and conflict management efforts in post-conflict situations.

Such an integrated approach to capacity-building in conflict management will assist sub-Saharan African countries (as well as intergovernmental and bilateral aid agencies working with them) to strengthen their local capacities to regulate internal and inter-state disputes constructively and non-violently. It will redirect conflict management policy and practice toward upstream measures that decrease the likelihood of outbreak, recurrence or continuation of violent conflict and strengthen prospects for peaceful coexistence, human security and sustainable development. Over time, this can transform conflict-habituated systems locked in cycles of destruction and promote coexistence in ways that are sustainable and have beneficial impacts on overall development objectives.


While the international community has recognized the need for broader, systemic conflict prevention and management, the current orientation is often still limited to "early" warning, conventional diplomacy, emergency operations and peace-keeping, all of which are usually too late, piece-meal, and reactive, rather than proactive. A developmental concept of preventive action would formulate and implement proactive preventive strategies for communities at risk of violent conflict. The overall objective of this project is to develop diagnostic, analytical, planning and training instruments that will help African governments and their civil society partners to formulate proactive policies and strategies for managing disputes and diversity in their societies in preemptive, constructive, non-violent ways. These instruments will:

(1) support policy-making, institutions, and mechanisms to manage and regulate disputes before they escalate into violence; and,

(2) strengthen governmental and NGO capacities to further national development objectives by integrating conflict management concepts and practice into their policies and programmes.

These objectives will be accomplished through an integrated programme of research, policy consultations, resource development and information dissemination focused on four major themes: early warning analysis, national capacity-building in conflict management; dispute resolution skills development, and the integration of conflict management into development work. The resources gathered from thematic specialists will inform a series of policy consultations, round table discussions, brainstorming sessions and training modules which will be formulated for government and civil society decision-makers. Written manuals, which will include instruments for analysis and programme development in each of the core areas, will emerge as tangible products of these seminars.

The objective of the advisory services will be to conduct needs assessments and provide subject-specific expertise to help infuse conflict prevention and management principles into available aid instruments, policy frameworks, project formulation and implementation as well as the working practices of development ministries, aid agencies, NGOs, CBOs, etc. The aim of informational services will be to provide current and relevant information, materials, literature and bibliographic references to governments, civil society actors, UNDP, and other UN system and aid agencies.


Building capacity in conflict management can play a major role in preventing and ameliorating conflict by developing individual and institutional skills that can promote a culture of constructive problem solving, cooperative negotiation, dialogue and dispute resolution throughout society. This project aims to develop and test instruments that can be used to build national capacity for managing diversity and conflict by transferring analytical, policy-making and practical skills to government and civil-society decision-makers to:

    • analyse the structural and proximate causes of conflict
    • anticipate potential areas of dispute and develop appropriate responses for promoting peace as well as averting violence (preventive action and response development)
    • understand and employ dispute resolution principles and practices
    • strengthen institutional capacity for managing diversity and conflicting interests
    • use development tools in ways that mitigate the long-term structural, as well as proximate, causes of conflict.

In order to provide assistance to national entities on these broad range of issues within the conflict continuum, the project will address four core thematic areas:

(1) Developing capacity for conflict analysis and early response development

Consultations on conflict analysis and early response development will aim to develop an analytical framework to understand and anticipate potential sources of conflict in order to develop optimal mitigating responses. It will elicit indicators for the onset of violence, as well as opportunities for peace-building, by drawing on a range of different sources and actors, making use of local knowledge, expertise and interpretations, and formulating an understanding of the type of peace sought by the local community. It will provide an opportunity for discussion on a range of issues in early warning and conflict analysis, articulate a general framework for early warning analysis, and apply this framework to the development of conflict-mitigating responses. This is intended to enhance Governments’ capacity for the formulation of strategies and programmes for the early mitigation of conflicts.

The framework for conflict analysis and early response development will include a step-by-step process, first seeking to elicit the factors which underlie conflict and the kind of peace sought by the community. From this explicit understanding of conflict and peace dynamics, the next step identifies key conflict and peace indicators. Further steps involve deeper levels of analysis, such as categorizing the indicators according to their structural or dynamic nature, weighing their relative importance, and assessing the synergy among them. From this analysis, a framework for response is developed which would enumerate the range of available conflict prevention and management instruments, the actors in position to take action, the synergies that can be created among actors and instruments, and finally, the feasibility of responses in the specific conflict environment, looking at both short-term and long-term structural, governance and developmental linkages to conflict.

(2) National capacity-building in conflict management

Building national capacity to manage diversity and regulate conflict is an integral component of good governance and sustainable development and essential to promoting social cohesion and facilitating the work of government. It builds State and non-State dispute resolution capacity by developing and/or strengthening skills, mechanisms and institutions to promote mediation and alternative forms of peaceful dispute resolution and to reduce bias, marginalization and discrimination. Conflict management capacity-building needs to be infused into national development strategies in a pre-emptive manner in pre-conflict environments, as well as in post-conflict situations, in order to develop an enabling environment for non-violent resolution of disputes, collaborative problem-solving and tolerance-building and ending the spiral of conflict.

Consultations and advisory services in this area will develop diagnostic and prescriptive tools to assist government officials in formulating strategies and programmes that will strengthen their governance capacities for managing conflict. This diagnostic tool will provide guidance to:

    • assess existing institutional mechanisms for conflict prevention and management;
    • delineate situation-specific governance mechanisms which will promote effective conflict management and mitigation; and,
    • articulate an implementation plan for an integrated programme of activities aimed at managing country-specific conflictual issues (including, inter alia, judicial institutions, ombudsman offices, human rights offices, community mediation centres, court-affiliated mediation programmes, military/police training, labour mediation, parliamentary capacity-building, and other governance-related programmes.)

In sum, this will help government and civil society examine their conflict regulating mechanisms, assess their conflict management needs and articulate a strategy to build appropriate capacity.

(3) Dispute resolution skills development

Mainstreaming the concepts and practice of conflict management into governance practices and policy can enhance interactions within government, between government and civil society, and in bi-lateral and multi-lateral relations. Cooperative negotiation and problem-solving skills within government help improve decision-making and coordination among ministries, resolve policy issues between branches of government and smooth implementation problems between central, regional and local levels of government. They can also assist government officials to improve their negotiating capacity with civil society, organized labour, the public sector, and in commercial, economic and geo-political negotiations, as well as with bi-lateral donors and inter-governmental agencies.

This thematic consultation will provide a conceptual overview of the field and develop a menu of practical tools for dispute resolution, principled negotiation and mediation. The theoretical overview will be complemented by an analysis of recent practices on the continent that can be tested for relevance in specific country situations. These consultations will help government officials develop a repertoire of conflict analysis and dispute resolution skills applicable to a broad range of disputes.

(4) Integrating conflict management tools into development work

Infusing overall development practice with conflict analysis tools can amplify the conflict transforming role that development can play. For example, initiatives to build conflict management capacity can assist developing/transitional countries to manage the stresses of development, mitigate internal tensions and handle conflict in ways which avert violence and promote social cohesion. Similarly, incorporating a conflict resolution/prevention dimension into overall development assistance can make development a more proactive tool in preventing conflict. This thematic exploration will look at both the general policy implications and country-specific initiatives. Issues to be addressed include:

  • re-orienting development policy to include pre-conflict preventive and peace-building strategies;
  • operationalizing a conflict awareness dimension in development practice;
  • evaluating the impact of development assistance on the peace/conflict environment (conflict impact assessments on current and future projects);
  • encouraging cross-conflict participation in the development process, including participatory project formulation, local "peace promoters" training, tolerance-building, mediation and negotiation skills and other dispute resolution activities; and
  • integrating conflict management concerns into post-conflict rehabilitation and long-term development strategies.

In sum, the sessions will offer a matrix of tools which governments and civil society partners can use to design pre-emptive, conflict-mitigating development policies, programmes and activities. In addition, cross-cutting concerns regarding gender, power relationships and decision-making with regard to conflict; the inclusion of diversity; and, an acknowledgment of all vulnerable social groups will be integrated into the outputs of this project in terms of the content of the material to be developed, as well as in the process of selecting the composition of specialists and target groups.


The purpose of the project is two-fold: to strengthen the capacities of governments and their partners, in civil society and the international community, to further their objectives by integrating conflict management concepts and operational tools into their development programmes, and to strengthen national institutions, skills, and mechanisms so that disputes can be managed and regulated locally before they escalate into violence.

The net result of the project’s services will be that national decision-makers in both government and civil society, will have a repertoire of instruments to deal with pre-conflict, crisis, and post-conflict environments. It will increase the awareness and skills of officials to work within conflictual communities and to enhance the positive impact of development programmes on the peace/conflict environment.

A secondary result will be that such assistance, in the form of thematic studies, dialogues, information dissemination and networking, can be made available more broadly, to staff of national governments, UN staff, staff of regional organizations, and relevant international and local NGOs working in sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition, the project will link with and support several on-going initiatives within UNDP and the UN system as a whole. First, the project outcomes directly address needs expressed by and recommendations made at the AGF III on "Good Governance and Conflict Management for Durable Peace and Sustainable Development." Specifically, the project addresses two concrete recommendations to assist governments, civil society, regional and sub-regional organizations to develop their skills and to reinforce specific institutions with a conflict management mandate, as well as to help infuse a conflict prevention dimension into a broad range of governance institutions such as the judiciary, police, military and civil service. Secondarily, the project can help maintain awareness of and commitment within governments to implement the Forum’s follow-up objectives of enhancing national conflict management mechanisms and creating linkages across society and across borders to maximize conflict prevention and management efforts on the continent.

Similarly, this project will be part of a three-pronged approach to strengthen conflict-related competencies of UNDP field staff, the UN system as a whole, and country nationals. It will be linked to and work closely with the STAR programme’s learning package which is delivering training to UNDP field staff on working in conflictual situations. There are established working relations with the UN Staff College’s training programmes, both the early warning and preventive measures course and the TAPI initiative. The Staff College has expressed strong interest in contributing to the project and, conversely, agrees that the tools, models and training materials produced under this initiative will have great utility in that they will be transferable and replicable by TAPI for other audiences.

DPEPA/DESA plans to convene two meetings in 2000 at which the instruments developed in this project can be utilized and brought to a wider audience of decision-makers in Africa. DESA will convene, with CAFRAD (African Training and Research Centre in Administration for Development), a meeting of high-level officials from ministries of public service in Africa. Tentative themes are being explored, including one on the role of the public sector in conflict management. In this context, there will be an opportunity to showcase to these senior officials, the project’s instruments and trainings models in order to expand their awareness of the conflict management tools available to public administrators and to secure support from their ministries for further training.

Secondly, an DPEPA/DESA ad hoc expert meeting has been proposed on the subject of transforming and re-vamping institutes of public administration in Africa. This proposed meeting, in cooperation with the Uganda Institute of Management in Kampala, will introduce innovative methodologies and training programmes for the public service, civil society and the private sector. It can also be used to introduce the conflict management capacity building project’s products to public administrators, academicians, government and civil society leaders, with the intention of transferring and institutionalizing the thematic content into related training programmes at these national management institutions.

It is further expected that the project will benefit, during its implementation, from the results of related research and project activities, such as the Fractured Societies project of UNDP/Africa, the War-torn Societies Project of UNRISD and related peace-building and gender projects.


As outlined above, the project will provide a programme of seminars and policy consultations for decision-makers, government officials, development practitioners and civil society actors to strengthen their overall conflict management capacity. These programmes will utilize the diagnostic tools and analytical instruments compiled and developed by the specialists. Government/civil society participants in the programmes will further develop them in order to refine and adapt them based on their national needs, and apply them accordingly. Comprehensive 3-4 day programmes will be designed for each theme. Key concepts and information will be extracted to develop one-day condensed seminars for senior policy-makers.

Advisory services will be available to: (1) create awareness about the tools and skills available to increase capacities of Government officials and development practitioners in anticipating, responding to, and mitigating violent conflict; (2) strengthen local, national, and trans-national competencies in conflict management; and (3) assist in the formulation of governance modalities that build relevant capacities.

A resource collection and database will be developed, serving to disseminate information to government officials, civil society representatives, UNDP field offices and headquarters and UN system staff, in order to help support and shape government development policy formulation related to conflict mitigation and transformation. Information, materials, and literature will be made available electronically and in a literature collection for use by Member-States’ ministries, officials, NGOs, and civil society actors, as well as by UN and UNDP Headquarters and field staff. It will include the development of a database and hard-copy files of conflict resolution organizations and specialists, information on programmes, relevant literature, journal articles and bibliographic materials. This service will also include dissemination of information, through electronic means and hard copy distribution, including articles, noteworthy programmes, worthwhile events and new publications in the field.

DESA will work with several conflict resolution and development organizations with expertise in sub-Saharan Africa to develop the diagnostic tools and planning instruments. Outreach will also be made to relevant management development institutes and academic institutions to solicit their inputs in the development of the materials, as well as to involve them in the eventual use and institutionalization of the materials in various academic and training sites around the continent. The content, duration and processes of training, as well as the selection of trainers, target groups and venues will be carefully determined in order to ensure that the project will have maximum impact.

In order for UNDP field offices to fully support the project and infuse the concepts into their development assistance programmes, it will be advantageous for field staff to fully participate in these programmes together with government and civil society officials. The field testing of the tools/models will be aimed at, but not limited to, countries participating in the AGF process who will make a modest contribution for the convening of local workshops. Since funding under this SPPD is limited to the design and testing of the instruments, further national workshops from other sources of funding, will be suggested to participating countries as part of a follow-up process, that will hopefully expand into a comprehensive regime of training.


Step 1 - Recruit and supervise international experts and consultants and consultations with thematic specialists

Terms of reference for conflict resolution specialists and the sub-contracted organizations will be finalized including a typology of issues to be covered in each thematic area. Consultations will be held with conflict resolution specialists with specific geopolitical expertise and will inform the design process and produce preliminary understandings of the core issues to be covered in each of the four thematic areas. The group will include specialists from African NGOs, research and academic institutions, conflict resolution organizations, universities and management institutes with expertise in conflict dynamics and best practices in this geo-political region. It will also include representatives of regional and sub-regional organizations, including officials working with the OAU Conflict Mechanism.

--Finalize terms of reference Dec. 1999

--Survey and selection of experts in the field Dec. 1999

--Recruit all consultants Dec. 1999

--Commence consultations with conflict resolution specialists and Jan. 2000

academics in related fields

Step 2 - Coordinating/planning meetings with design team and consultations with thematic specialists

The thematic specialists will be brought together for a planning and coordination meeting to develop the guidelines and conceptual parameters of each seminar and develop the range of subjects within each theme. This will avoid duplication, ensure consistency of format in presentation and develop the necessary linkages between the thematic presentations. Consultative processes on each theme will then be held with relevant specialists to develop appropriate materials and documentation as a basis for the specific analytical tools and instruments related to each theme.

--Planning and coordination meetings with design team Jan./Feb. 2000

--Consultative processes with relevant specialists Jan./Feb. 2000

Step 3 - Conceptual development in each thematic area

The programmes for each thematic seminar will be developed by the consulting specialists for presentation in in-depth 3-4 day formats and tentatively in condensed one-day formats as determined in the consultation process.

--Programme development by design team Feb - April 2000

Step 4 - Development of programme evaluation instruments

Programme evaluation instruments for the condensed and comprehensive consultation programmes will be developed as tools for improving the instruments in each thematic module.

--Design of evaluation instruments April 2000

Step 5 -Preparation and delivery/testing of initial pilot programmes

Pilot programmes will be introduced in the field, in consultation with UNDP/RBA as to focus, timing, and venue. This will be followed by joint consultation and debriefing with the thematic specialists. Based upon the debriefing, participant feedback and analysis of the completed evaluation instruments, the programmes will be refined and inputs made to appropriately modify the pilot and fine-tune the condensed and comprehensive versions of each of the programmes.

--Programme preparation by design team May 2000

--Presentation of the pilots in each of the four thematic areas June - Sept. 2000

` --Debriefing, analysis and evaluation of each programme June - Sept. 2000

--Modification of programmes as indicated October 2000

Step 6 - Refinement and delivery of programmes

Further thematic seminars will be conducted in the field, in consultation with UNDP/RBA and interested country offices. The pilot seminars, both condensed and comprehensive, will introduce the concepts and help refine and expand the programme content according to needs expressed by the participants. Additional evaluation and debriefing sessions will be held to further refine the presentations, analytical tools and planning instruments.

--Presentation of revised thematic seminars Nov/Dec 2000

--Debriefing and final modification of programmes, as needed December 2000

Step 7 - Database and web-site development

Existing reference materials and Internet sites related to the four core areas will be surveyed. A comprehensive collection of material, both hard copy and virtual, will be collected. A resource collection and database will be developed that can serve as the basis for an informational website and for the periodic dissemination of information to relevant governmental and non-governmental actors and international agencies.

A web-site of conflict management-related material, resources, and hyperlinks to related sites will be available to assist with networking, institutional strengthening and dissemination of materials and information to the field.

--Development and maintenance of data base Jan - Dec 2000

--Website development June - Dec 2000

Step 8 - Final review and modifications

A final review of the project outputs will be undertaken, including final consultations with the design team, final changes and adaptations to the models and materials will be made. The thematic seminar designs, will be available, in condensed and comprehensive formats, for dissemination to governments and civil society. They will also be ready for replication in national settings, in regional or sub-regional meetings, and other venues. Requests for seminars and policy consultations on these subjects are expected to increase as a result of the follow-up to the AGF III on Conflict Management and Good Governance.

--Final review of outputs Jan 2001

--Final consultations with design team Feb/March 2001

--All programmes ready for replication May 2001