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Understanding Conflict Resolution

Understanding Conflict Resolution
War, Peace and the Global System

Third Edition
  • Peter Wallensteen - Senior Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden, Uppsala University, University of Notre Dame, US

360 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Understanding Conflict Resolution draws on recent and classic research from around the world, linking the theory of conflict resolution to in-depth case studies throughout, and posing key questions regarding the future of conflict resolution.

The first part reviews the development of conflict resolution since the Cold War and demonstrates the various approaches to conflict analysis. The core of the book explores the settlement of three major types of international conflict: inter-state, internal and those arising from state formation. In the final part, regional and international approaches are examined, including developments in UN reform and the increasing importance of civil society organizations. New to this edition is the extensive consideration of peace-building, the relationship between peace and justice, disarmament, and gender-peace connections.

The Third Edition has been brought fully updated with coverage of the Obama administration, as well as events in Afghanistan following the 2009 presidential elections, and the ongoing situations in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, and Pakistan. Attention is given to the comparison of negotiated and victory outcomes with particular reference to Sri Lanka, Gaza, and Liberia.

Understanding Conflict Resolution remains an essential text for all students, lecturers and researchers of peace and conflict resolution in international relations, global politics and political science.

Understanding Conflict Resolution
Peacemaking as a New Experience

Peace Research and Conflict Resolution

Defining Conflict Resolution

Limits of Conflict Resolution

Outlining This Book

Armed Conflicts and Peace Agreements
The Concept of Conflict

Identifying Armed Conflict

Trends in Armed Conflicts

Outcomes of Armed Conflict

Approaching Conflict Resolution
The Evolution of Conflict Analysis

Focusing on Conflict Dynamics

Focusing on Basic Needs

Focusing on Rational Calculations

Synthesizing Conflict Resolution

Identifying Key Elements in Conflict Analysis

Analysing Conflict Resolution
Basic and Complex Levels of Analysis

The Role of the State

Introducing the Trichotomy of Conflict

Applying the Trichotomy of Conflict and Peace

The Resolution of Conflicts between States
Armed Conflicts and Peace Accords between States

Conflict Resolution: Geopolitik and Realpolitik


Conflict Resolution: Idealpolitik and Kapitalpolitik


Conclusions for Interstate Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution in Civil Wars
Armed Conflicts and Peace Accords within States

Dealing with Incompatibilities over State Power

Democracy and the Settlement of Civil Wars

Dealing with the Internal Security Dilemma

State Failure, State Reconstruction and Non-state Terrorism

Civil Society in Internal Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution in State Formation Conflicts
State Formation Conflicts

Identity Discrimination and Conflict Resolution

Autonomy and Federalism: Territorial Solutions within a State

Independence with or without Integration

State Formation Conflicts and Democracy

Conflict Complexes and Conflict Resolution
Identifying Regional Conflict Complexes

Regional Conflict and the Organizing of Regions

Major Powers and Conflict Complexes

Global Dimensions of Conflict Resolution

The United Nations in Conflict Resolution
The UN in Peace Agreements

Collective Security

The Security Council in Conflict Resolution

UN Action and Peace Agreements

International Communities in Conflict Resolution
The New Communities

Early Action and Conflict Prevention

Third Parties and Mediation

Structural Changes and Peaceful Conflict

Between the International Community and Pax Americana


Those of us guiding students through this field owe Peter Wallensteen great thanks for a masterful and erudite guide to modern-day political violence and conflict resolution. This is one of the best single-authored books on the subject, and one that can be employed as the main text on modules and degree courses, but which is much more than a mere textbook. It draws on the extensive dataset amassed by researchers at Uppsala University to reach some important and robust conclusions about the evolving nature of armed conflict and peace processes...It is a thoroughly recommended purchase for peace and conflict studies students
Times Higher Education

There are three major problems confronting the world at the present time: climate change, inequality and organised violence. Wallensteen's path breaking Understanding Conflict Resolution is absolutely essential reading for anyone seeking insight into the origins, management and transformation of the latter. He surveys the major theoretical perspectives on conflict and violence and provides excellent examples of ways in which violence is being handled at intra-state , inter state and regional levels. He raises important and challenging questions about the role of the United Nations and the United States in the building of a more stable and peaceful world order. This book is essential reading for scholars, practitioners and anyone interested in creative, progressive solutions to 21st century problems
Professor Kevin P. Clements
Foundation Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the New Zealand National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand

Peter Wallensteen's recent addition to the study of managing conflict, Understanding Conflict Resolution (3rd Edition), will provide the most analytically complete and conceptually useful text out there. I have taught a seminar in conflict management for eight years in a row using eight different textbooks, none of them sufficiently analytically developed to provide students with a coherent way to think about managing global conflict. When I discovered Peter's second edition my search for a useable textbook ended. The second edition was great to use in a classroom because the analytical lens and conceptual clarity with which that book was organized resonated with the students. All the other ideas that needed to be presented would be evaluated in light of the core ideas set up by Wallensteen. The newest edition builds on this already successful model by expanding coverage to conflicts that are most salient to today's students and by building on new scholarship about the role of peace agreements in securing long term peace. By framing the methods for managing today's seemingly intractable conflicts in terms of the knowledge built on a generation of scholarship, Wallensteen makes teaching these core ideas rather easy

Patrick M. Regan
Professor of Political Science at the University of Binghamton

I shall also include this book as a supplemental reading recommendation for students as it has some very useful chapters relating to the course material, but unfortunately is not quite dealing with the same issues as the course as a whole

Dr Taryn Shepperd
School of International Relations, St Andrews University
September 6, 2012

Detail, succinct and timely text on contemporary international conflict studies

Professor Bamidele Ojo
Sch Of History Polit Intn Stds, Fairleigh Dickinson University
May 9, 2012

An excellent book, which we will highly recommend on our new second-year module Peace and Conflict in Theory and Practice.

Mr Steven Curtis
Law, Governance and International Relations, London Metropolitan Uni (City Campus)
March 6, 2012

This is an excellent update on the subject; well strucutred and clearly expressed.

Professor Emil Kirchner
Please select your department, Please select your institution
January 26, 2012

New to the third edition:

  • Updated content to reflect international events since 2005. This includes coverage of the Obama administration; the changing conflict in Afganistan, and trouble spots in Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq and Iran; and negotiated settlement vs victory in relation to events in Sri Lanka, Gaza etc.
  • New content on peacebuilding, which includes gendered issues.


Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Online Readings

Peter Wallensteen

Peter Wallensteen is Senior Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, since 2012. He held the Dag Hammarskjöld Chair of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University (1985–2012). He is also the Richard G. Starmann, Senior Research Professor of Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA (since 2006). He directs the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) and the Special Program on International Targeted Sanctions (SPITS). His Understanding Conflict Resolution: War, Peace and the Global System (Sage, earlier edition, available also in an... More About Author