Framework for analysis

Analytical tools are useful for organizing information and assist in explaining complex situations and relationships. The following are questions that should be asked and answered in order to better analyze a situation.

This framework is derived from Democracy and Deep-Rooted Conflict: Options for Negotiators [copyright © International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), 1998, http://www.idea.int/].

Actors

Who are the primary and secondary actors in the conflict, including spoilers, peacemakers and others?

What other outside groups have influence on the parties?

Root causes

What is driving or motivating the parties to the conflict?

What are their aspirations?

What are their underlying fears?

What are their interests ?

Issues, scope, and stage of the conflict

What phase is the conflict in right now?

  • rising tension
  • confrontation
  • violence
  • ceasefire
  • settlement
  • rapprochement
  • reconciliation

Who is suffering or most affected among the population?

What is at stake, politically, economically or militarily?

Power, resources, and relationships

What resources and capacity does each side possess?

What relationships exist among the leaders?

What communication channels exist?

History of the relationship and peacemaking efforts

Was there a time when the parties coexisted peacefully?

What changed?

What were previous attempts at settlement including those by non-state actors, and why did they fail? Was there a pattern to the failures?

Identify parties

Parties are the states, groups or individuals that are involved in or affected by a conflict. The following table describes the three types of parties.

Party Description
Primary Have a direct interest in the conflict and who are most dramatically affected by it
Secondary May have a stake in the conflict, but are not directly involved.
Third Can be outsiders with no stake in the outcome, or partisan but viewed as legitimate and essential by all involved

Identifying secondary parties can be crucial since they can play the following roles.

Party Description
Spoiler Seeks to fan a conflict and prevent a negotiating process from developing.
Enforcer Acts to make parties adhere to an agreement or agreed behavior.
Facilitator Takes limited to extensive actions to help two parties engage in a dialogue.