Conflict resolution Summary

Conflict is a social phenomenon arising from personal as well as group relations and interactions. Depending on one’s perspective, it is both a deterrent and a facilitator of change and progress. In a civil society, reliance on a framework of order and governance has been instituted and enforced to limit the counterproductive effects that conflicts and disputes beget, if not its exacerbation, that can and may lead to the dissolution of relationships. Relationships between individuals are the glue that holds a society together.

(Rabie, 1994). In the case of Albo and Jeder, it is an early symptomatic illustration of a burgeoning dispute between individuals and which can go deeper as far as splitting the clan itself.

The very structure by which a civilised society restricts conflict or its effects thereof is founded on the concept of Justice. Arguably, if the conflicts that beset human history were absent, the need for the concept of justice may never have been as fully established or defined as it is today. Justice comes in many terms — fairness, moral rightness, etc. The legal definition of Justice is the “proper administration of laws.” or else “the constant and perpetual disposition of legal matters or disputes to render every man his due.” (Black, 1990, p. 864)

The role that justice plays in dealing with conflicts is that it “presupposes a world of scarce resources in which people are pressing conflicting claims for the protection of competing interests. One of the functions of a theory of justice is to offer normative criteria for arbitrating between such conflicting claims.”

(Mautner, 1991, p. 103) Further, it is “comprised of three major types: retributive justice, concerned with criteria for the punishment of wrongdoers; corrective justice, concerned with the protection of entitlements from injury or appropriation; and distributive justice, concerned with the distribution of scarce resources to competing claimants on the basis of criteria such as equality, desert, or need.”

(Mautner, 1991, p. 103) These types of justice are important in the resolution of conflict. The US laws are clear; no one or state should deprive a US citizen immunities, privileges, right to property, life among others without passing the due process of law. This means jurisdiction of law should be to enforce fairness in application of law and protection of the rights of a person as provided by law. In the case of Albo and Jeder, there was a shift in the status quo when Jeder offered less of what was expected. The exercise of “giving every man his due” was perturbed.

Conflict is “the opposition of response (behavioural) tendencies, which may be within an individual or in different individuals.” (Coombs & Avrunin, 1988, p. 1) Conflict, “is a product of differences and diversity in values, attitudes and competing socioeconomic and political interests among individuals, social classes, ethnic groups and states.” (Rabie, 1994, p. 3) It can thus be derived that the backbone of conflict is social interaction. There are several types of conflict. However, one that is relevant to the Albo and Jeder case is the “Type II” conflict. “In general, so long as the parties to a conflict want different things but seek a single option among the possibilities, one that is to hold for both of them, then the conflict is Type II.” (Coombs & Avrunin, 1988, p. 68)

A dissection of the Albo and Jeder case indicates clear imbalance that stemmed from Jeder giving Albo a portion of meat that is less than what Albo is giving to Jeder resulting in Albo offering less to the community and Jeder offering more. A rule of the clan of never rejecting any offering of food prevents Albo from repudiating Jeder’s insufficient contribution. The pertinent “law” of the clan, taken alone, can be perceived as tilted in Jeder’s favour and is somehow restricting the avenues of relief for Albo, that is, not accepting the inadequate portion.

What are the options then for Albo? One possible solution, as mentioned in the case, was for Albo to match Jeder’s offer everytime they hunt separately. This would restore justice, as this would give every man his due. However, this may prove detrimental to the dynamics of the clan. Taking the premise of matching of offers a step further, what will happen then when Jeder decides not to give Albo any portion of his kill? The solution put forth above will still hold but it will not be good for the propagation of social interaction among the members of the clan. Albo’s proposed solution may create a sort of divisiveness among the clan members – an Albo versus Jeder standoff.

When divisiveness creeps in, defection from the clan is not too far off. What alternative solutions are available to Albo then — one that can mitigate the foreseen drawback of the first solution? “Conflict resolution processes should emphasise reforming existing relationships through attitudinal, institutional, and structural changes as well as change in the laws that govern societal processes.” (Rabie, 1994, p. 22) A binding and lasting remedy should be sought. Conflict resolution must aim to expedite the long and often dangerous path from strife to peace and harmony.

The Israeli – Palestinian conflict has transcended time, religion, and international community intervention among others. The “proportion of meat” in question is land. Albo and Jeder are the Israelis and the Palestinians. One is not willing to give the other a certain portion of what the former may have and what the latter may not have. “Originating as potential conflicts, they go on to move through confrontation and contest into internecine violence involving army, paramilitary recruits and a civilian population voluntarily or compulsorily implicated.” (Whittaker, 1999, p. 10)

There are particularly three approaches to CC resolution. “They are negotiation, mediation by a third party and authorised intervention.” Negotiation is oftentimes conducted by the parties involved themselves. When negotiation fails, mediation by a third party usually follows. Mediation is adopted “when violence tends to spill over into neighbouring areas.” (Whittaker, 1999, p. 4)

Mediation is done usually by another state duly appointed or recommended by the two parties in conflict. The third option — authorised intervention — requires an enabling provision from a law giving the intervening body the power to resolve the issue, for example, the UN which intervenes in international conflicts such as those between and Palestine. Stop gap measures are being proposed, and will continue to be proposed to contain the violence — the primeval solution to conflicts — for the meantime as the resolution or so called  “peace process” goes on.

One of the resolutions put forth is the “shared homeland model.” (Rabie, 1994, p. 180) “The shared homeland would meet the need to address the legitimate rights of national minorities to freedom and self-determination, while posing no threat to neighbouring states or endangering the rights of other minorities to similar entitlements. In addition, it protects the rights and properties of individuals living outside their own ethnic homelands, while allowing them to peacefully and voluntarily relocate as they may wish. As such, it facilitates cultural homogenisation by choice, not `ethnic cleansing` by force.” (Rabie, 1994, p. 180)

Therefore, moving towards a more harmonious societal relation requires looking beyond merely seeking a resolution to a conflict. Reconciliation between the parties must be sought. Reconciliation, in this context, can be defined as “the process of promoting an integrated community consequent upon group and individual preparedness to make concessions for the sake of tolerance and civilised behaviour.” (Whittaker, 1999, p. 114) In achieving a societal nirvana, a series of push-and-pulls need to be undertaken. Oftentimes, the number of pulls outnumbers and outweighs the number of push.

In the Albo and Jeder case, the approaches to resolve conflict mentioned — negotiation, mediation by a third party, and authorised intervention — can be applied. Albo can negotiate with Jeder to share the portion of the kill equally. They can seek the advice of a leader from their clan to mediate if they fail to resolve the conflict amicably. Authorised intervention in this case would be the intervention exercised by an outside court, which should be within its jurisdiction to take on issues of this nature to a sovereign, independent body such as Albo’s and Jeder’s clan.

If the clan’s legal structure is found inadequate, Albo can bring his issue to the court that has jurisdiction over the matter. Conflicts essentially expose a nation’s legal vulnerabilities or inadequacies in addressing certain concerns. Therefore, conflicts indirectly assist in strengthening the legal framework of a country.

Reconciliation will come in when a court, which has proper jurisdiction over the matter has heard the issues, and comes down with a decision that is set in law. The case law, along with the ancillary laws that will be enacted pursuant to this matter, will then form part of the body of jurisprudence that hopefully, will prevent future conflicts of this nature and promulgate a kind of healthy exchange of goods and services where parties are satisfied and more importantly, where their rights are adequately protected.

References

Avruch,K. Black, P. & Scimecca, J.A. (1991). Conflict Resolution: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Wesport, CT.: Praeger.

Black, H. C. (1990). Black’s Law Dictionary 6th ed. St. Paul, MN.: West Publishing Co. Coombs, C. H. Avrunin, G.S. (1988). The Structure of Conflict. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kober, A. (2002). Coalition Defection: The Dissolution of Arab Anti-Israeli Coalitions in War and Peace. Wesport, CT.: Praeger.

Kollock, P. (1998). Social Dilemmas: The Anatomy of Cooperation. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 183.

Mautner, M. (1991). “The Eternal Triangles of the Law”: Toward a theory of priorities in conflicts involving remote parties. Michigan Law Review, 90, 95 – 156.

Rabie, M. (1994). Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity.Westport, CT.:Praeger. Whittaker, D.J. (1999). Conflict and Reconciliation in the Contemporary World. London: Routledge.

Zartman, I. W. (Ed.). (1997). Governance as Conflict Management: Politics and Violence in West Africa. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution.