Do not approach this as paper as an attempt to think how your conflict zone can be turned into utopia overnight. Rather, think of the exercise as being to write a persuasive argument about how the conflict could be moved in a less destructive direction and/or how violence might be reduced in the long-term i.e. de-escalation in the conflict cycle terms. Overall, I am looking for your best argument (backed by persuasive evidence indicating why this is feasible) as to how to proceed. This might be done by adopting one of the following three approaches. Think which is most appropriate for your own conflict zone but feel free to experiment with other approaches.
- Advocate for a particular final outcome and set out and defend how we might get there. For example, you may argue that rebel group X deserves its own state and set out the arguments (and rebut the counter-arguments) as to how this could be done. Or that rebel group X needs to be defeated and here’s how to do it in a way that will produce sustainable peace.
- If your conflict has recently witnessed a peace agreement of some sort but the incompatibilities between the parties have not yet been fully resolved, assess the contents of the peace agreement, highlight its main strengths and weaknesses, ask why it failed to get fully implemented, and propose ways of overcoming those obstacles this time around.
- If your conflict is still a “hot war,” make the paper an argument about how to get the mediators in and produce a peace agreement. In this case, issues to consider will be: When would be a ripe moment for mediation/negotiation? Why would the parties benefit from negotiation at this point? Who would make the best mediators? And how might the process move forward in practical terms?
It is sometimes useful to think of proposals in terms of short-term (next six months), medium-term (2-5 years) and long-term (10 years) measures. The paper should be between fifteen (15) and twenty (20), double-spaced, 12-point typed, pages in length, excluding bibliography and maps.
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