Insightful analysis is essential to any conflict management process, from prevention to mediation to reconciliation. This course will help you understand the potential trajectories of a conflict situation so you can develop effective peacebuilding strategies.

The commander of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia visits the site of a truck-bomb attack allegedly conducted by al-Shabab in Mogadishu on Oct. 15, 2017. Photo: Flickr/AMISOM/Tobin Jones
The commander of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia visits the site of a truck-bomb attack allegedly conducted by al-Shabab in Mogadishu on Oct. 15, 2017. Photo: Flickr/AMISOM/Tobin Jones

Course Overview

A nuanced understanding of the context and dynamics of a conflict can determine the effectiveness with which you intervene, help you untangle the often-unintended consequences of any actions or policies, prevent any harm from being done, and help determine future priorities for program development.

This course is a case-based introduction to the process of conflict analysis. Participants will be introduced to two analytical tools that will help them identify emerging threats of conflict and opportunities for managing or resolving a conflict, and they will be given the chance to apply these tools to historical cases and relevant problem-based scenarios and differentiate among the various stages of the Curve of Conflict and practice mapping the generation, escalation and resolution of intrastate and international conflict. Further topics in Week 3 include how and why peaceful conflicts escalate to violence and the necessary conditions for their de-escalation.

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Chapter 1

In this chapter we explore the importance of conflict analysis in today’s world and how the nature of conflict and trends in deadly violence have changed since World War II.

Chapter 2

In this chapter we delve into ideas such as the difference between a conflict assessment and conflict analysis, the importance of active listening, and the concept of "Do No Harm."

Chapter 3

This chapter examines two specific frameworks for conflict analysis: the "cycle of conflict" and the "curve on conflict." Various components of these analytical frameworks will then be discussed further, such as: the difference between conflict prevention, management and transformation, the root causes and structural causes of conflict, and trigger events.

Chapter 4

This chapter explores the various stages and components of the USIP Conflict Assessment Framework.

Chapter 5

This chapter investigates the importance of listening when conducting a conflict analysis.

Course Instructors

  • Jeffrey Helsing, (former) Associate Vice President, US Institute of Peace
  • Matthew Levinger, Director, National Security Studies Program; Program Director, Master of International Policy and Practice; George Washington University

Related Publications

Toward a Kashmir Endgame? How India and Pakistan Could Negotiate a Lasting Solution

Toward a Kashmir Endgame? How India and Pakistan Could Negotiate a Lasting Solution

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

By: Happymon Jacob

Kashmir has once again emerged as a major flashpoint between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals, India and Pakistan. The Indian government’s August 2019 withdrawal of statehood status for the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir region intensified disaffection among separatists and the Kashmiri public. This report explores the strategies India and Pakistan have adopted toward Kashmir in the year since August 2019, and examines a potential road map for resolving the Kashmir conflict.

Type: Special Report

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

India’s Kashmir Conundrum: Before and After the Abrogation of Article 370

India’s Kashmir Conundrum: Before and After the Abrogation of Article 370

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

By: Sameer P. Lalwani; Gillian Gayner

On August 5, 2019, the government of India revoked the constitutional autonomy of its Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir. This report—based on field interviews, new data collection, and extensive research— focuses on the revitalized insurgency and mass uprising between 2013 and 2019, explains how the Kashmir conflict evolved to a point that contributed to India’s extraordinary political gambit, and lays out both New Delhi’s strategy and the challenges the government faces going forward.

Type: Special Report

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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