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Conflict sensitivity

How do you ensure that your project or operation does not contribute to harmful conflicts, but instead creates opportunities to resolve conflicts and build peace? That is what conflict sensitivity is about. Find out more below and have a look at the tools you can use to analyse your context from this perspective.

Why integrate a conflict sensitivity perspective?

Development and conflict are inseparable, but conflicts must be dealt with constructively and non-violently if they are to lead to progressive social change. A conflict that is not dealt with peacefully and constructively can snowball instead, and become destructive, hostile and/or harmful – even to people who are not directly involved in it.

The core activity of the Olof Palme International Center – i.e. to build alliances, to organise and to give people the tools they need for change – entails handling social conflicts non-violently.

It is important to consider that we are constantly placing ourselves in the path of conflicts, given that the objective of our development partnerships is to change structures, highlight injustice and oppression, and redistribute power and resources. When people organise and join forces to demand their rights, there are other parties who apply resistance to these changes.

A development initiative always affects the local context. The local context, in turn, affects the development initiative. It is therefore important that we always attempt to minimise negative effects of our change work to ensure that our input does not unintentionally cause damage, create or worsen violent conflicts, or increase the power of destructive players. For this reason, we need to compile knowledge about the local context, players, power and conflict dynamics, and risks.

Furthermore, the Palme Center’s development work is often carried out in conflict or post-conflict situations. In such cases, it is even more important that we attempt to exert a stabilising, peace-promoting and conflict-preventing influence. We do so, for example, by working actively with inclusion, openness and non-discrimination, and to promote peaceful co-existence.

It is likewise essential to act on the assumption that there may be ongoing or potential conflicts within the partner organisation or the target group.

In order to minimise the risk of negative effects from our change work, it is crucial to analyse the context from the perspective of conflict sensitivity, to follow up on development continuously, and to adopt relevant measures.

Method materials on conflict sensitivity

The Conflict Sensitivity Lens

Use the analysis questions in the Conflict Sensitivity Lens to get an idea of how your operations can affect, and be affected by, conflicts in the society in which you operate. (3 pages)

Support questions when planning your operations

Here you will find some discussion questions to ask yourselves when planning a collaboration, or following it up, on the topic of conflict sensitivity. (An excerpt from the Project Management Handbook.) (2 pages)

Method materials on conflict sensitivity

In our collection of method materials, you'll find some tools that you can use to guide your work on conflict sensitivity.

More integrated perspectives

Conflict sensitivity is one of our four integrated perspectives. In order for our operations to contribute to positive and progressive development, the following three perspectives must also be present in all projects:

Political Party Academy

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Civil Society Academy

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Trade Union Academy

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Member Organisations Academy

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