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Stages of conflict - part 2
Case study: Rwanda - part 2

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Stages of conflict - Part 2

Making peace that lasts (reconciliation) is not a common action. Most people would rather get their own way or win. In the same way that the build-up to conflict goes through phases, resolving conflict goes through different phases to move a conflict situation from high to low.


Phase 4 - Disengagement
Fighting must stop or no reconciliation can take place. It is a high risk to disengage. Trust levels are low and parties fear being tricked or losing advantage to the other side.

  • Truce or cease-fire
    A cease-fire says merely what people will not do. e.g. fire at the enemy. A truce moves a step back from the brink. Parties agree there can be no winners at the moment and they will not attack. This is an initial trust, as it gives both sides the chance to be flexible without losing face.
  • Withdrawal
    Withdrawing from confrontation is a major step towards lasting peace. People surrender entrenched positions voluntarily, recognising the cost of conflict is too high to go on paying. This is progress, but it is still a long way from reconciliation

Phase 5 - Convergence
In this stage a process of coming together and understanding one another occurs. Finding common ground and a vision for a common future develops as the two parties share facts, feelings and hope.

  • Facts
    With communication restored, the parties learn to listen to each other again. They talk openly about where they are now and why they acted in a certain way in the conflict, in a way that has a cleansing effect.
  • Feelings
    People now come together more than physically and socially. They become emotionally and spiritually vulnerable to each other. They must not deny there was hurt, nor quash the emotions pretending all is forgiven when it has not been discussed.
  • Sharing the vision
    The key issue now is 'can the parties get it together for the future?' This is complete when there is an agreed statement of intent.

Phase 6 - Integration
The joint goal is ongoing unity and harmony. This stage in the process owns and values the other's interests and well being, appreciates differences, and brings a changed relationship on both sides. Integration involves:

  • Confessing - owning up, admitting wrongs
    This recognises that both parties have wronged each other and both need to confess. One-sided confession will not do. To admit our part in causing conflict is not easy. We are vulnerable, but the main concern is to restore peace - not as surrender or submission, nor ignoring the wrongs done, but in the hope of a new future.
  • Repenting - expressing regret and sorrow, apologising
    This hurdle is a vital pe-requisite to reconciliation. We must acknowledge our failures and wrong or hurtful actions. We feel so bad about them that we turn from them and aim never to go back.
  • Forgiving - choosing to overlook past actions
    When our 'enemy' changes we have no option. We forgive and there is a cost. We lose our 'right' to punish, take advantage or declare victory.


     Rwanda case study
Rwanda is an example of a country that has recently moved through the different stages of conflict.

Use Rwanda Case Study – Part 1 and Rwanda Case Study – Part 2 plus your own research to complete a Conflict Curve for Rwanda showing each of the different stages.

The Conflict Curve template will get you started and help you with your planning. You should think of a way to present your Conflict Curve for Rwanda that is both interesting and informative. The file is in PDF format. Click here if you need to download a programme to read the file.