n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - The nature of intractable conflict : resolution in the twenty-first century, Christopher Mitchell (2014) : book review

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


The term 'intractable conflict' is widely perceived as an impossible dilemma : a situation with which there is no positive outcome, no solution. These are the conflicts alleged to stubbornly elude resolution despite the use of popular conflict management techniques available. Intractable conflict, a vast area of concern, has often been characterised by the prolonged violent actions of state actors or communities in response to harmful social or cultural hardships. Redress and/or revenge are motivating factors. These conflicts have survived because of deep-rooted and complex attitudes, behaviours and situations which seem to be impenetrable to methods of resolution. Or are they? Christopher Mitchell in his book , sets out to unpack the nature and behaviour of intractable conflicts of the twenty-first century. The book provides a detailed and intriguing overview of how certain conflicts became intractable, of the reasons for their prolonged survival and possible steps towards their termination. Over all, Mitchell attempts to provide a road map, not to lasting peace and security, but towards building a practical understanding of the theoretical issues and applicable techniques.

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