Abstract for:Transforming the Conflict Trap: From Theory to Practice

Academics, practitioners and policy makers increasingly recognize that lifting social and political systems out of conflict traps requires a systems approach. Such an approach must consider not only the nature and context of the conflict, but also the scope, timing, and dynamic interactions among different modes and types of interventions. Combining econometric analysis of twenty-five years of system behavior in 36 persistent conflicts in Africa, and process tracing system behavior in a case study of Somalia, this research paper (1) examines the relationship between conflict persistence and factors associated with conflict contexts, peacekeeping and aid interventions, and (2) identifies the underlying  theory, principles and practices for those conflict interventions most likely to result in conflict transformation that increases human security, and those most likely to sustain conflict.  This research finds that the dynamic system structures associated with observed conflict patterns contain tipping points between balancing mechanisms at the interface of micro-macro level interactions that are determined as much by factors related to how intervention policies are designed and implemented, as to what they are. The model contributes to the research body by explaining discrepancies in conflict theory.