Case study reports online for “Peaceful Co-existence” Project


Two case study research reports are now online, written in the framework of the project “Peaceful Coexistence? ‘Traditional’ and ‘Non-traditional’ Conflict Resolution Mechanisms”, funded by the German Foundation for Peace Research.

The project analyses in detail the forms and patterns of coexistence between traditional (indigenous, local, community-based, etc.) approaches to conflict resolution and non-traditional (imported, liberal, state-based, Western, etc.) approaches to conflict resolution. It looks specifically at how these traditional forms exist and interact with the various non-traditional, or state-based forms that are present in the community or region and analyses the impact that forms of coexistence have on communities and their conflict resolution processes. The three case study countries for the project are Colombia, Liberia, and Northeast India.

Katrin Planta’s report, entitled “Interdependency and Interference: The Wayuu’s Normative System and State-based Conflict Resolution in Colombia”, explores the coexistence between the indigenous system of conflict resolution of Colombia’s most populous indigenous community, the Wayuu, and state-based intervention to solve conflicts over land within La Guajira department. The Spanish translation of the report is also available here.

Janel B. Galvanek’s report, “Pragmatism and Mistrust: The Interaction of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Liberia”, investigates the coexistence between the various conflict resolution systems present in Liberia, which include the traditional system of chiefs and elders, state-based mechanisms such as the formal justice system and the Peacebuilding Office, and various third-party initiatives, including the work of many different NGOs.

In both cases, a significant amount of (often uneasy) coexistence existed between mechanisms. The findings showed that such coexistence can indeed trigger tension and competition if responsibilities are unclear or actors struggle over power.  However, the coexistence can also have positive effects such as improving access to justice, offering more options for resolving conflict, and holding the mechanisms more accountable if the co-existence is understood and well managed by the entities involved.  Both reports give recommendations for achieving positive coexistence.   

A further case study report on the state of Meghalaya is expected in the coming weeks, as well as a final comparative report which will contain policy recommendations for both national governments of (post)-conflict countries with large traditional populations, as well as for peace practitioners working in the field.