Related Resources from USIP


Preventing Violent Conflicts: A Strategy for Preventive Diplomacy Michael S. Lund
In this insightful analysis, Michael Lund introduces the curve of conflict, a conceptual tool for understanding the nature of conflict.
Lund further defines early warning and preventive diplomacy; assesses who does it, what methods work, and why; and suggests how multilateral and national entities (especially the U.S. government) can overcome operational challenges to effective preventive action.
The Curve of Conflict In his book, Lund explains how the curve is derived: “The course of disputes that become violent conflicts is traced in relation to two dimensions: the intensity of conflict (the thn r-sf lthr. ”
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PEACE PARING CRISIS Ulert11l4ACY PIIEVENTiVr btritGA4ACY PEACETIME CAPLOMACV till P411 It IC%
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Lund continues, The line that forms an arc from left to right across the diagram portrays the course of a conflict as it rises and falls in intensity over time. Its smoothly curving bell shape is oversimplified to characterize an ‘ideal type’ life history. As suggested by the arrows that deviate from the line, the
8
The Curve of Conflict The curve of conflict is a visual tool that helps illustrate how conflicts tend to evolve over time. The curve helps in conceptualizing how different phases of conflict relate to one another, as well as to associated kinds of third-party intervention. Practitioners use this knowledge in the determination of effective strategies for intervention, along with the timing of those strategies.
1 Durable Peace —Lund explains, Durable (or Warm) Peace involves a high level of reciprocity and cooperation, and the virtual absence of self-defense measures among parties, although it may include their military alliance against a common threat. A ‘positive peace’ prevails based on shared values, goals, and institutions (e.g. democratic political systems and rule of law), economic interdependence, and a sense of international community.

  1. Stable Peace Stable (or Cold) Peace is a relationship of wary communication and limited cooperation (e.g. trade) within an overall context of basic order or national stability. Value or goal differences exist and no military cooperation is established, but disputes are generally worked out in nonviolent, more or less predictable ways. The prospect for war is low.
  2. Unstable Peace Unstable Peace is a situation in which tension and suspicion among parties run high, but violence is either absent or only sporadic. A ‘negative peace’ prevails because although armed force is not deployed [or employed], the parties perceive one another as enemies and maintain deterrent military car11111■11■1■1■11■D aggression, but crisis and war are still possible.

Lund continues, The line that forms an arc from left to right across the diagram portrays the course of a conflict as it rises and falls in intensity over time. Its smoothly curving bell shape is oversimplified to characterize an ‘ideal type’ life history. As suggested by the arrows that deviate from the line, the
8
The Curve of Conflict The curve of conflict is a visual tool that helps illustrate how conflicts tend to evolve over time. The curve helps in conceptualizing how different phases of conflict relate to one another, as well as to associated kinds of third-party intervention. Practitioners use this knowledge in the determination of effective strategies for intervention, along with the timing of those strategies.

  1. Durable Peace —Lund explains, Durable (or Warm) Peace involves a high level of reciprocity and cooperation, and the virtual absence of self-defense measures among parties, although it may include their military alliance against a common threat. A ‘positive peace’ prevails based on shared values, goals, and institutions (e.g. democratic political systems and rule of law), economic interdependence, and a sense of international community.
  2. Stable Peace Stable (or Cold) Peace is a relationship of wary communication and limited cooperation (e.g. trade) within an overall context of basic order or national stability. Value or goal differences exist and no military cooperation is established, but disputes are generally worked out in nonviolent, more or less predictable ways. The prospect for war is low.
  3. Unstable Peace Unstable Peace is a situation in which tension and suspicion among parties run high, but violence is either absent or only sporadic. A ‘negative peace’ prevails because although armed force is not deployed [or employed], the parties perceive one another as enemies and maintain deterrent military capabilities… A balance of power may discourage aggression, but crisis and war are still possible.
  4. Crisis Crisis is tense confrontation between armed forces that are mobilized and ready to fight and may be engaged in threats and occasional low-level skirmishes but have not exerted any significant amount of force. The probability of the outbreak of war is high.
  5. War War is sustained fighting between organized armed forces. It may vary from low-intensity but continuing conflict or civil anarchy . to all-out ‘hot’ war. Once significant use of violence or armed force occurs, conflicts are very susceptible to entering a spiral of escalating violence. Each side feels increasingly justified to use violence because the other side is. So the threshold to armed conflict or war is especially important.
  6. Postwar -If efforts at peacemaking and peace enforcement are successful, fighting will subside. There may be a cease-fire, which may help reduce tensions and move the relationship from a state of war back simply to a state of crisis. At this point, efforts to keep the conflict from re-escalating are typically called Peacekeeping and Conflict Termination.

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