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Summary of E-Conference Discussions

E-conference discussions spanned several issues and themes related to natural resource conflicts and conflict management within the context of community forestry. Discussion papers and opening statements prepared by conferees were vehicles to highlight the main issues on a topic and raise pertinent questions. This summary attempts to highlight the different perspectives on various issues. The section recapitulates the nine papers and related discussions. The materials are categorized by the sessions under which they fall, not the chronological order in which the contributions circulated.

Opening speech

Marilyn Hoskins (Senior Officer, CFU, FAO) and Michelle Gauthier (E-Conference Coordinator, CFU, FAO) opened the e-conference on 15 January 1996.10 They highlighted the importance of addressing natural resource conflicts for community forestry. Recognizing the amount of work done in the field of conflict management, they felt there was a need for more analysis of conflicts in the context of community forestry. They felt that there were limited guidelines on how to manage conflicts (when appropriate) for community forestry practitioners. The importance of identifying when it is more advisable to work on improving the context of conflict rather than addressing conflicts or disputes directly was also emphasized. Marilyn Hoskins and Michelle Gauthier explained how the topic of conflict management was developed under the FTPP, the main objectives of the econference and how the latter would help fill existing gaps of information regarding the use of conflict management in the context of community forestry. They hoped the e-conference would `facilitate access to available tools for addressing conflicts, but even more importantly help to understand the broad cultural context in which [the tools] should not be used; where they are apt to work and who has the role and responsibility to use them in a particular moment and context'. They stressed that `community forestry practitioners, who are [often] outsiders to a conflict, should be very careful about importing [foreign] tools and organizational mechanisms into communities which have their own effective approaches'. They also highlighted that power is unbalanced in several cases of conflict in community forestry and often it is important to build alliances to `help strengthen the hand of the weaker group'. Clear understanding of conflict between rural development agents and local people due to the perceptions one group has of the other was identified as imperative. `Although not a resource-based conflict, unless perceptions can be modified to a situation of trust and respect, the partnership which is essential to successful community forestry cannot be built'.

10. Refer to Annex B for the Opening Speech.

 

Session 1: 'Setting the Stage'

Preliminary information on conflict management, community forestry and natural resource conflicts was provided by an issues paper. The session objective was to understand the nature of ongoing conflicts and how they were being addressed, both from practical and theoretical perspectives. Also, this session raised some of the difficulties involved in addressing natural resource conflicts. The discussions evolved to address more analytical questions regarding how to collect and analyse data on natural resource conflicts. Since feasibility of conflict management is related to the cultural context and causes of conflict, this subject emerged throughout the e-conference.

From the onset, conferees suggested that conflicts were a natural occurrence given the heterogeneity of communities and the ongoing changes at local, national, regional and global levels. This raised questions regarding:

The discussions opened with considerations on how to analyse a conflict. One conferee proposed an approach which focused on the actors. Other discussions focused on three possible methods: the actor-oriented approach, the stake-oriented approach and the resource-oriented approach or a combination of the three.11 The appropriateness of each method in different situations was questioned. The general conclusion was that the approach used should be based on the objective of the analysis and characteristics of the conflict. The stake-and-resource approach was recommended for understanding the broader picture of the conflict and direct and indirect stakeholders, while the actor-oriented approach seemed more suitable for understanding the parties directly involved in the conflict: The different perspectives on the analytical methods stemmed from diverging views on the interconnection of elements related to the conflict and how to prioritize the three dimensions of conflict.12 In several cases, it was deemed worthwhile to consider a combination of the three approaches.

The interconnection between type of approach and type of conflict was clear in discussions regarding categorization of conflicts. Proposed categories were based on the geographical location within which conflicts occurred (e.g., conflict at the intra-community, local or national level), actors directly involved in the `conflict' (e.g., conflict between multilateral and community), or `stake' (e.g., conflict over access to resources). It was felt that the categorization of conflicts13 would allow for a better understanding of the conflict and selection of tools for managing them. This topic was developed further by E-Working Group 2 which focused on analytical tools and methods (discussed in more detail on page 19).

Concurrently, there were contributions questioning the appropriateness of analysing conflicts in order to manage them. Diverging views regarding how to, if at all, address conflicts extended to the normative aspects underlying conflict management. Presentation of various definitions and understandings of conflict resolution and conflict management14 raised questions regarding:

It was felt that complementing conflict management with the legislative system could result in overlooking cultural values and principles. Creating a system within which communities could develop their options might be more practical (Orellana, 25 January 1996; Sheehan, 29 January 1996). Other conferees felt that alternative ways of handling conflicts should be to develop additional options but not to replace litigation. The basis for this position was that the advantage of the court system is that it draws the attention of policy-makers and implementors (Odhiambo, 20 April 1996). Detailed discussion on this point ensued in Session 4: `Gender and Marginalised Issues, and Legal Issues'.

During the session on analysing conflicts, the objectives of conflict management were questioned. Extending the notion that conflict management spans a continuum between proactive and reactive approaches, each approach was addressed as a different, yet interconnected, way of understanding the process. It was felt that a proactive approach involved addressing causes of natural resource conflicts prior to their onset. This is similar to a preventive approach in that it stops a conflict from occurring. In addition, a proactive approach does not need to use indicators of potential conflict. The reactive approach applies when addressing an ongoing conflict. Principles underlying proactive and reactive conflict management are similar, but their applications vary. There is a continuum between proactive and reactive conflict management. However, the selection of the appropriate approach should be case specific. According to some conferees, this continuum indicates conflict management is an integral part of natural resource management.

Conflict can be seen as positive when viewed from the proactive-reactive continuum. A positive result occurs when the manifestation of conflict causes necessary policy, economic, social or management changes. The basis for this position was the notion that conflict can be seen as a social event through which: (i) discussions on issues, not addressed on a daily basis, take place (this is often very important, yet risky); (ii) an event which designates certain parties winners and others losers, resulting in changes in resource use, access and control; (iii) institutional change can be motivated (Mathieu, 18 March 1996). Agreeing conferees questioned how communities can be encouraged to express latent conflicts to allow changes without `expelling people from their own stakes and interests' (De Leener, 1 February 1996).

A conflict often has roots that can be traced back before its manifestation. Hence it is important to address the whole cycle of conflict: from the cause, the manifestation and settlement of the conflict to the implementation, follow-up and consolidation of solutions followed by preventive measures against further outbreaks of similar conflicts (West Africa Regional Working Group, 28 February 1996). Within the process of addressing the whole conflict cycle, approaches are used that are proactive and reactive. The cyclical nature of conflicts reinforces the linkage between conflict management and natural resource management.

The need to understand why we are addressing conflicts linked discussions regarding how to analyse conflicts, from an academic and research perspective, and whether it is appropriate to address them at all. Conflict should not be addressed to simply collect information because the process can result in the outburst of latent, but pernicious conflicts (Lo and Traore, 14 February 1996). Clearly defining the interest and objective of the outsider before embarking on the research was stressed.15

Parallel to discussions on analytical tools and methods, the conferees addressed the role of the `outsider' or third party. This issue raised broad questions: Who is the `outsider'? A person: (i) outside the community; (ii) not directly involved in the conflict, i.e., does not have a stake in the conflict; or (iii) facilitating/mediating a conflict in an impartial way, as suggested in the introductory issues paper? The regional perspectives on this question are presented in the respective sections.

These diverging opinions seem to stem from the conferees' opinions of outsiders and their institutional association. The outsider was commonly seen as an individual trained in mediation, facilitation and consensus building.

Independent of the different perspectives on the role of a third party in conflict management, there was continuous discussion regarding the characteristics and value of mediation and facilitation. It was felt that some of the main characteristics for effective conflict management included:

These characteristics reinforced the notion that a third party has to be acutely aware and well prepared to be involved in conflict management (Dubois, 16 February 1996).

Mediation and facilitation discussions also raised questions on:

Hypothetical cases of natural resource conflicts, for assessing how conferees would consider and address conflicts, reinforced some of the points raised in Session 1. The main points included:

Discussions regarding the hypothetical cases highlighted the possible use of a personality/interest chart (Stem, 21 March 1996). A personality/interest chart helps in understanding the interpersonal and interinstitutional dynamics and makes it possible to look at the existing and potential relationships between the parties. The chart also helps determine which parties have common interests and motivations, as well as the potential for coalitions. This in turn helps the overall implementation of a plan that satisfies different needs.

The E-Working Group 2 on analytical methods and tools took the discussions from this session further by tying together the analysis of conflicts, categorization of conflicts and tools for addressing conflicts. The moderator proposed examining:

The methodology proposed by the moderator was not agreed on by all conferees who were interested in determining what falls under the category of tools and whether it is possible to distinguish between the different actors' use of tools. Alternative proposals included: defining a methodology to identify the actors and their positions in conflict.

During the course of its discussions, the E-Working Group 2 reviewed in detail the use of two participatory tools. These included: PRA and video.16 The main points of discussion regarding the use of video was based on material from the conflict surrounding the Ngorongoro Crater Area (NCA), Tanzania. Video has often been used for communication and training in community forestry. In the Ngorongoro case, video was used to present the position of the Masai regarding a management plan they developed with the Ngoronogoro Conservation Area Authority (a local government institution) in the NCA. On the basis of information distributed through the e-conference, it was felt that video:

At the same time it was felt that video, used in a manner similar to that of the Ngorongoro case, can:

Information regarding the use of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) in conflict management came from the experience of various conferees. It was shown that the timing of the discussions regarding conflicts is critical (Freudenberger, 10 April 1996). It is important to build significant trust before addressing conflicts, to explain that conflicts are not anomalous occurrences, but a natural process and that the objectives of PRA activities should be clearly defined and reflect the time and financial resources available to carry out the appraisal.

One of the positive elements of this approach is that it can make government officials, researchers and development workers aware of the underlying, yet often unseen, dynamics of a society (Kizito, 6 April 1996). Two weaknesses associated with the approach include the fact that much time is required for an in-depth analysis.17 Also PRA can bring to the forefront previously hidden conflicts, thus aggravating the situation (Freudenberger, 10 April 1996).

The contributions to this session addressed the relevance of conflict management in community forestry, the impact of constraints and opportunities of an external facilitator and methods for analysis and managing conflicts. During this session the diverging perspectives included the research perspective, oriented towards tools for analysis, and the practical perspective, concerned more with the practical application of tools. Both these perspectives made more reference to constraints resulting from external intervention than opportunities.

Discussions on regional issues followed the first session of the e-conference. The second and third sessions are reported below and contain summaries of the different contributions regarding the regional discussion papers and other regionally-specific issues. During the course of these discussions there were limited contributions that challenged certain positions or statements made regarding political, economic or social aspects of a region. The discussions were primarily oriented towards the impact of policies and political changes on natural resource management.

11. Refer to Annex E for more information on these three analytical approaches.

12. For example, the actor-oriented approach examines a conflict according to the parties involved. This analytical approach also considers the stake and resource dimensions of the conflict. By contrast, the stake-oriented approach uses the stakes in a conflict to identify the parties involved both directly and indirectly and examine the respective demands on the resources.

13. Annex F presents the proposals for conflict categories.

14. Refer to Annex H for definitions.

15. Refer to Session 4: 'Gender and Marginalised Issues, and Legal Issues' for further discussions on this topic.

16. Refer to Annex G for a detailed discussion.

17. Refer to Session 4: 'Gender and Marginalised Issues, and Legal Issues' for a wider discussion.

Session 2: `East Africa and West Africa'

The East and West Africa papers presented regional overviews of natural resource conflicts. Both papers examined a historical perspective when considering ongoing conflicts in natural resource management, and closely examined the impact of decentralization and economic liberalization. `Addressing Natural Resource Conflicts through Community Forestry: The Case of Eastern-Africa' by Michael Ochieng Odhiambo, traced the history of natural resource conflicts and linked them to changes in the political situations of the respective countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Some major causes of natural resource conflicts in the region were explored, including political, legal, economic and socio-cultural factors. The paper suggested that the management of resource conflicts in the region primarily involved questions of governance and recognized the opportunities created by the ongoing democratization process. This paper provoked discussions regarding land conflicts, land tenure and the role of local institutions.

`Natural Resource Conflicts and Community Forestry: A West African Perspective' by Samba Traore and Henri Lo highlighted a number of ecological, social, demographic and economic stakes in the different eco-geographical zones of West Africa, ranging from Sahelian zones to the tropical humid areas. Several trends were examined: the movement from resource protection

to resource management; the impact of privatization/liberalization of economies on local control; the decline of top-down `technocratic approaches' leading to greater emphasis on local organizations; and the changing emphasis from reforestation to `community -based resource management' (gestion des terroirs). All these decentralizing trends have in turn led to increased or new conflicts. The paper described and analysed the principles underlying community forestry that are conducive to improved management of natural resource conflicts in the new and emerging political and administrative environment. Several of the issues associated with East Africa also applied to West Africa. Discussions in Session 2 highlighted:

Discussions regarding characteristics of the different regions showed that countries in East Africa:

In East Africa, the process of policy-making is functionally ambiguous (Walubengo, 14 March 1996). There is no clarity between the policy-making process and its link with applied research. Thus, there are few structured and systematic methodologies in place to allow for decentralization to take place in an orderly and equitable way.

West Africa is facing similar conditions. The region has distinct ecological conditions. In the Savannah, the ecozones referred to as forests are actually grazing grounds. These forests are agro-sylvo pastoral systems and have a multitude of different users (Hoffman, 15 February 1996). These characteristics show how the area is implicitly prone to conflicts.

In both regions most conflicts concern land. In East Africa, land is the ultimate prize. In areas where access to land is unrestricted, the more powerful parties claim the best for themselves and limit access to those less powerful. In these regions forest land is considered to be idle and, therefore, under threat of conversion (Walubengo, 9 February 1996). It is thought that conflicts that result from landlessness actually stem from the notion of land and property laws imposed during the colonial period. Previously, there was no land ownership. Instead, land was used on a need basis (Odhiambo, 9 February 1996). Since then, the existing ownership regime has failed to facilitate equitable resource distribution, creating conflicts as populations grow.

Both East and West Africa are in the process of increasing privatization and decentralization. They are currently addressing conflicts through both customary and administrative law. In both regions, there are several conflicts between herders/pastoralists and agriculturists.

In East Africa, exposed natural resource conflicts are first handled by governments, which enforce top-down solutions in an attempt to disperse the parties in conflict. If this solution is not effective, conflicts are taken to a court of law. If there is still no settled agreement, traditional mechanisms are used (Walubengo, 9 February 1996). Traditional mechanisms of conflict management prevalent in Islamic areas, involve religious leaders. Among farming communities, traditional chiefs, where they still exist, play a role in conflict management. In areas where traditional lifestyles no longer exist, `modem' methods, such as conducting PRAs, help in resolving some conflicts. In West Africa, local institutions play a significant role in conflict management since the central state structure is weak.

The other main exchanges in this session included Odhiambo's question (9 February 1996) on the feasibility of creating local regimes that recognize and give `access' rather than `ownership' as a definition of property relations. This proposed regime was met with caution and concern from other conferees.

Discussion on decentralization raised the question of `how do governments plan to be stewards of natural resources while they promote local decision-making?' (Sheehan, 6 February 1996). Conferees stressed caution regarding actions to strengthen traditional institutions. Many felt that any such action should be based on community demand and anticipate needs arising from population-based pressures on land (Shepard, 7 February 1996). This caution was based on the experience of tenure reform imposed during the colonial period when a `mismatch between the tenure systems put in place and the population densities of the time' weakened existing community institutions.18 Future efforts should understand the existing relationship between population and land tenure systems correctly before developing frameworks that are meant to diffuse conflict.

Linkage between population and land tenure is important in West Africa because of ethnic conflicts resulting from population and economic pressures. Economic recession and devaluation have affected the complementarity between cropping and herding. Currently, conflicts resulting from competition and struggle for control over limited resources, are being expressed as ethnic hatred between herders and farmers. The process of democratization and decentralization is of concern in this region where central government structures are financially and politically weak. There is a need to take cautionary measures in the process of democratization by including traditional leaders in the ruling party. This can sometimes result in `new feudalism'. An appropriate precautionary measure would be to consider the true representation of the tribal community (Dubois, 23 February 1996). The centralized government systems often weaken (or replace) traditional institutions with formal practices. It is concerning that customary systems are not always participatory, representative or equitable. Having weak formal and traditional systems raises questions on how to address situations of conflict.

To compensate for weak government systems it is necessary to strengthen community-based organizations. PRA and RRA were seen as approaches useful in strengthening such institutions. These appraisal techniques can help communities better understand their conflicts and manage them in a preventive manner. By training community members in participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation, communities can progressively take charge of designing their own natural resource management plans (Guye, 7 February 1996).,Case information from the regions provided ideas for effective decentralization and conflict management. These ideas include:

These same cases showed the importance of coordinating local institutions such as action councils, village development councils, problem-specific groups, and men's and women's groups and providing them with formal authorization for decision-making, adjudication and enforcement (Ford, 8 February 1996).

Greater legal recognition and empowerment were seen as fundamental for strong local institutions. This would also require greater divestment of state authority over resources to customary institutions and alternative democratic institutions. The regional discussions highlighted the need for political will, legal support and national respect for customary rights to improve recognition of such practices (Lane, 7 February 1996; Sheehan, 6 February 1996). The need for the development of a legal framework that would help resolve conflicts in a fair manner and provide communities with more negotiating power and information regarding their legal rights was also emphasized (Dubois, 23 February 1996).

Regionally specific discussions were continued in the respective E-Working Groups. E-Working Group 3, focusing on West Africa, addressed the context within which conflicts occur and gender issues.19 The e-working group stated that the context in which conflicts occur is similar across regions (Sow, 18 March 1996). In most cases the political class dominates the resource value when in actuality there are different values associated with resources (such as those of herders and women). Therefore conflicts often arise between different interest groups (Sow, 18 March 1996). Proposals for addressing/managing conflicts included:

Other interesting points raised by the E-Working Group 3 were:

E-Working Group 4 discussed the prevalent problems in East Africa with land tenure as a central theme. Discussions covered current land reforms in different parts of the region such as:

The role of local institutions in land reform and natural resource management emerged. Although there is more legal latitude in East Africa for local institutions, the state does not fully allow civil society to function freely. Although certain countries endorse a pluralistic state, there was no institutional reform to complement it. There are, however, several opportunities for local institutions in both the economic and political sphere. In the area of natural resource management, economic liberalization has forced the government out of many areas of activity. Members of E-Working Group 4 expressed concern as to the extent civil institutions are ready and capable of effectively taking over from the government given the pressures they have experienced in the past. The e-working group also expressed interest in compiling a detailed analysis of local institutions involved in issues of production, resource management and community development, since the role of the state is changing in the region.

18. There are three broad stages that guide direct land tenure systems: STAGE 1 when densities are low, some land will be permanently managed communally; some will be used privately, seasonally or for a period of years, but will revert to the common pool when it is no longer required; some will constitute a land-bank for future needs. STAGE 2 when densities rise and 'spare' land is used up, investment in land increases, farming methods intensify and tenure arrangements become more narrow, intense and durable. Eventually, in STAGE 3 the adjustments needed to make sure that all have land in each generation break down under pressure of numbers, and a landless class emerges whose members work as farm labourers for others, or head for non-agricultural employment. During the colonial period, policies and theories appropriate for Stages 2 and 3 were imposed on a region that was at Stage 1, thus undermining the strength of the communal management system (Shepard 7 February 1996).

19. Further discussion on these issues is found in the section 'Summary of E-Conference Disscussions'.

Session 3: `Latin America and Asia'

`Socio-Environmental and Community Forest Conflicts in Latin America' by Carlos Villarreal briefly notes a `genealogy' of causes of disputes rooted in the colonial past, but acknowledges that the social, economic and political changes of the last half-century are more significant to understanding present-day conflicts. These changes include the impact of export-driven economies, the dislocation and migration of peoples, greater impoverishment, debt and dependence. In the case studies examined, the conflicts that ensued grew out of a violation of native peoples' rights, the competition for access and rights to natural resources and the changing gender roles influenced by development projects following in the wake of environmental degradation. The case studies were from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras and Peru. The last section of the paper is devoted to lessons learned from these case studies, including a categorization scheme for conflicts.

`Addressing Natural-Resource Conflicts through Community Forestry: The Asian Perspective' by Diji Chandrasekharan, used material from the regional workshop on `Conflict Resolution in Forest Resource Management' held in October, 1995 in Kathmandu, Nepal, to provide a profile of conflict situations in the region. The paper presents cases from India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Thailand. The paper concludes by analysing conflicts at a variety of levels including those at the policy, institutional, resource and actor level. An analysis that relates power relationships to the nature of the resource is given, and different approaches and possibilities for conflict management are suggested. In its discussion of community forestry activities, whether in policy dialogues or training in conflict management, there is an emphasis on the potential for learning, self-help, empowerment and capacity building.

The two regional papers discuss similar social, political and economic forces and their connection with natural resource conflicts, although the two regions have distinct political conditions and cultural attitudes. The papers show the different approaches to natural resource management and conflict management. Latin America stresses the importance of understanding the causes of present day conflicts. Carlos Villarreal strongly anchors the paper in a political approach to resource management, export driven economy, dislocation and migration of people, greater impoverishment, debt and dependence of the countries in this region. By contrast, the Asia paper emphasizes the mechanisms used in Asia to give communities greater ownership of the process of natural resource management and conflict management.

The moderator encouraged the conferees to discuss how these two regions can learn from each others experience given their similarities. Two of the similarities between Latin America and Asia include:

Differences were seen through the contributions made that were specific to each region.

In the Latin American context, conflict management must take into consideration the asymmetries in social structures. Conflict management efforts in Latin America should:

Decision-makers in Latin America have the opportunity to generate the necessary change; however, they also have to gather information and involve themselves in the appropriate discussions. There is a need to facilitate discussion amongst stakeholders and create a sense of responsibility regarding the follow-up options.

Conflict management is a difficult process in emerging democracies, such as those in Latin America. Conflict management `as a tool' is further complicated in many Latin American countries where cultural change is rapid and consequently traditional decision-making processes have been lost (Russell, 7 March 1996). In Latin America, the western model can seem too linear because of the pronounced power differentials in certain places. However, certain features of the western model are applicable, such as the distinction between `interest' and `position'. There are also overlapping principles including facilitation and participatory decision-making. However, upon comparing the two, it is clear that in the traditional practices, the conflict management process is more interactive. Also, Latin American mediator/facilitators are by and large more effective because they innately understand the dynamics and history involved in the conflict and decision-making process (Russell, 7 March 1996).

Asia is characterized by changing natural resource management policies, a growing state bureaucracy, the powerful legacy of colonial systems, changing economic basis of the forestry sector (e.g., from extractive to plantation, conservation and tourism), dramatic demographic changes, migration, shifting power to multinationals, experiments in decentralization and the dominant military role (Fisher, 20 February 1996). Certain countries in Asia have policies that give greater recognition to a community's role in natural resource management. Amongst these are the Community Forestry Programme in Nepal and the Joint Forest Management (JFM) Programme in India. There are also efforts being made in the Philippines, while in Thailand and Indonesia 'extra-legal efforts' are being made (Fox, 10 March 1996).20 Nevertheless, natural resource conflicts are still prevalent. A possible explanation is the lack of transparency and clarity in government programmes, projects and policies that result in unequal access to resources. In these cases, disputes are complex and diverse and there is a need among disputants for accurate information on land use and livelihood strategies to begin consensus building exercises (Fisher, 20 February 1996). Equally important are realistic government goals (Armitage, 20 February 1996).

There was no consensus regarding whether the lack of transparency in policy and decision-making is a major cause of conflict. Certain conferees argued that an important cause of conflicts was the gap between the political level and the planners and managers. Following this argument, it was proposed that `to bridge this distinction it is necessary to encourage greater participation and dialogue between policy-makers and community members who benefit from the policies, rather than greater transparency' (Orellana, 7 March 1996). This position overlaps, to a certain degree, with the idea of giving communities more legal space and decision-making power.21 In Asia, efforts have been oriented towards developing formal policies and programmes that give greater recognition to community-based natural resource management. However, there were concerns regarding how much decision-making power communities gain from legal space created through JFM.

The regional working group from Asia echoed the ideas presented during the workshop and highlighted the situation with women and the marginalised (this is discussed in the following section). The e-working group on Asia was relatively quiet while E-Working Group 6 on Latin America actively reviewed some of the principal points discussed during the e-conference. It discussed the political process of creating laws, and the role of research, decision- and policy-making. The e-working group also addressed the diverging perceptions and values between the urban sectors of the economy and local populations, which reflected the political decisions. During the discussions regarding ways to.handle this problem, a conferee raised two interesting points:

A question raised during Latin American discussions and applicable to all regions was whether using local political leaders in conflict management would discredit results.

The discussions on Latin America and Asia questioned the role of training, and whether it can cater to regionally-specific needs; the forces behind globalization; and whether there are specific political and/or cultural constraints that might deter Latin American countries and other Asian countries from adopting practices like JFM.

Discussions on regional issues were focused, to a large extent, on the political, legal and economic contexts. There was also discussion on the competing demands and interest for the same resource base. The discussions showed that despite social norms and cultural specificities, the changing principal factors impact the resource base and community access to resources in similar ways. Also, regions showed similar recognition of the needs of communities and their use of forest resources, despite differences in species and products.

Thematic Discussions covered the topics of gender and marginalised issues, legal issues, power and equity and indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) respectively. Discussions during these sessions focused on specific aspects or cases presented in the papers and other additional examples that conferees shared with the plenary. Consideration for the interconnection between the four themes was seen in all the discussions. However, in the section on thematic discussions, categorization of the contributions made during Sessions 4 and 5 is by topic.

20. Further discussion on this topic is found in Session 4: `Gender and Marginalised Issues, and Legal Issues'.

21. Further discussion on this topic is found in the section covering legal issues, page 34.

Session 4: `Gender and Marginalised Issues, and Legal Issues'

The two thematic papers of this session covered key issues in the area of gender, and marginalised groups, and legal issues in the context of natural resource conflicts and their management. `Actions of the Voiceless: The Challenge of Addressing Subterranean Conflicts Related to Marginalised Groups and Women in Community Forestry' by Madhu Sarin, describes two case studies of community-based forest management initiatives in India. The paper illustrates how the nature of communities and relevant state institutional structures underlie conflicts related to community forestry. Communities are not homogenous. Caste, class, tribe, religion, ethnicity and gender, each group, can be differentiated by their specific pattern of interaction with the local resource endowment. A dynamic hierarchy of social and power relations structures each group. Well-meaning interventions aimed at transferring the management of forest resources to local communities may therefore result in the reproduction of existing power relations with the more powerful groups being better able to protect and promote their interests. Due to the relative voicelessness of the marginalised, patriarchal gender relations make women subordinate to men and resource conflicts caused by their reduced access to forest resources often remain latent or hidden.

`Conflict and Community Forestry: Legal Issues and Responses' by Bruce J. Cabarle and Owen J. Lynch begins with a brief overview of the nature and fundamental characteristics of community-based forest management systems. The paper also describes ongoing legal efforts, in the Philippines and Mexico, that attempt to bolster the bargaining power of forest-dependent communities so they can better address conflicts resulting from competing external interests. In both countries, intensive efforts are underway to promote more equitable conflict management arrangements, and to provide local communities with adequate incentives for sustainable management of forest resources. Special attention is given to these countries' advocacy strategies for enhancing community-bargaining and promoting more equitable benefit sharing arrangements among governments, private investors and forest-dependent communities.

In discussing gender issues, conferees stated the importance of understanding the role of women, since women are often the overlooked actors although they are the primary workforce and use most of the resources, such as land, mangroves and alluvial areas. The position of women is aggravated by social impediments and state obstacles and projects that do not consider women's participation enough to give women the necessary access to land (Ouali and Chantal, 20 March 1996). Gender-based, latent conflicts are universal because there are social impediments restricting women's involvement in the management of conflicts (Ouali and. Chantel, 20 March 1996). The interpretation of women is often interesting when considering gender-based conflict. In traditional African societies, women are thought of as strangers in their husbands' home and communities once they leave their families. Women are rarely given rights to natural resources or recognition for their role in resource management and often fall victim to conflicts and retaliations.

Using additional examples, field practitioners have shown that gender-based conflicts at the community level are not only the result of men marginalising women. Such situations also include conflicts between women and the most marginalised groups (Tumbahangphe, 28 March 1996). Understanding latent gender-based conflicts requires in-depth analysis of the community, norms, culture, different interests and interest groups and their power relationships. It is important to understand the violation of some norms/rules and the constraints different actors face. This information can help determine whether conflicts should be left in the hands of the community members and, if this is done, whether the more powerful members of the communities will override the less powerful. It is important to assess the underpinnings of community laws, and determine whether these constitute an institution oriented towards equity (Singh, 9 April 1996). In cases where there are inequitable laws and institutions, the active involvement of local people from each interest group in the area should be the basis for conflict management. Having multiple stakeholders helps develop the necessary options and prevents the monopolization of the problem by one institution, organization or perspective.

Other ideas regarding ways to address latent conflicts emphasized the need to integrate gender analysis in the initial stages of identifying stakeholders in a conflict. Otherwise groups that are voiceless will not be taken into consideration (Ecuador National Working Group, 22 March 1996). It was stated that gender analysis should be:

There is also the need to explore the `dynamic, hierarchical aspect of a community to avoid further marginalisation of certain groups plus effectively identify possible latent aspects of a conflict' (Poats, 11 March 1996).

Discussing tools for analysing gender-based conflicts raised questions regarding the effectiveness of PRA. Using case study materials and other information, PRA may not allow for an in-depth analysis of power dynamics (Skutsch, 18 March 1996). This is especially true when there are latent conflicts and when time is limited. Discussions of PRA from E-Working Group 2 (Analytical Tools and Methods) had the same tenor. `Given the difficulty in identifying latent conflicts, it was suggested that one should always assume and look for groups which are downtrodden and exploited/cheated by other groups' (Skutsch, 18 March 1996). A possible indicator for a latent, gender-based conflict is when women seem resigned to limited access and decision-making power.

During the course of the discussions of gender-based conflicts, the issue of the role of the outsider resurfaced. It was felt that the outsider could:

Contributions on the lack of formally recognized mechanisms for addressing gender-based conflicts entered the discussions regarding legal issues. In theory, the law is the institutional mechanism for resolving conflicts. But, in countries like Ecuador, often it is only those who know how to use the law that benefit from, have access to and sometimes literally control the legal framework. The state is meant to represent different interests, but does not have multiple mechanisms to meet the different needs of forest resources. Conflicts of interest result, leaving communities defenceless against larger enterprises and other powerful actors. There is, therefore, a need for more than a legal framework to achieve the goal of sustainable management (Ecuador National Working Group, 15 April 1996).

In West Africa the modern modes of conflict management, in particular the judicial ones, are ineffective for addressing natural resource conflicts (Lo and Traore, 14 February 1996). The problems include:

Judicial institutions are competent in criminal cases (indictable offences), but for natural resource conflicts, the system is weak because at the outbreak of the conflict the resource is not even taken into consideration.

In discussions about improving the legal support that communities receive, conferees raised different issues as to the most suitable legal framework and how it could be developed, including:

One way to enhance the leverage of communities to address imbalances is through changing the law (Cabarle and Lynch, January 1996). To do this, it is necessary to: work with the system, creatively examining and reinterpreting existing laws, as well as developing and lobbying (and network) for the enactment of new ones; and help local communities understand their options, rights and concomitant duties in relation to national laws and establish legal precedents for the creation of new (pilot) community-oriented policies and programmes. In addition, emphasis should be given to mechanisms used outside the legal framework where many efforts to address the situation of communities are made.

Examples from Thailand and Indonesia showed that although it is important to have a legal framework that supports local perspectives and needs, it is equally essential to recognize that many attempts to resolve conflicts occur outside the legal framework (Fox, 10 March 1996). Furthermore, when considering a new legal framework that empowers those who currently do not have legal power, it is critical to accept that `anytime you give poor, politically-powerless people rights that they have not previously had, you are ensuring conflict'. This is especially the case when the powerless, who are given rights, do not have the political resources to protect or benefit from their position. Currently, community-based management systems are equally dependent on acceptance and legitimization by society and the community. Therefore, community-based management systems must be integrated into the larger political and economic systems for them to survive (Fox, 10 March 1996). Doing so would recognize that relationships within communities and with the resource can change when communities are given rights to manage and benefit from the forest resources.

Other contributions suggested that since traditional systems have been weakened and are not equitable, there is a need to somehow integrate the positive aspects of the traditional and formal systems to allow communities to better represent themselves. This idea was echoed by conferees' experiences in incorporating traditional knowledge in resource management strategies, which are unsuccessful unless traditional practices can be translated into a feasible legal framework (Lane, 7 February 1996; Odhiambo, 9 February 1996).

Questions arose regarding what exactly was meant by `legal space' for communities and whether programmes like JFM really give communities the legal space to develop their own management scheme. Legally, a practice like JFM vests limited power in local communities. The forest officer still holds veto power and the power to terminate the agreement is guided by several criteria (Lindsay, 27 February 1996). Additional information on JFM reinforced these concerns. It was said that once JFM was institutionalized and more widely implemented, the true power sharing was limited. The state took up a role that involved more authority (Kothari, 3 April 1996). Hence, the type of legal framework used clearly determines the different opportunities available to communities. In addition to the legal framework, it is important to distinguish between legal recognition and grants (Lindsay, 14 March 1996). With recognition, ownership and decision-making powers would reside with the community. In such situations, the state limits its interventions to application of land use and environmental laws to help ensure sustainable use. In the case of a grant, the extent of community rights is dependent on the government and can be revoked.

Discussions on an ideal legal framework addressed whether withdrawing state laws from the community sphere would create legal space within which a community could apply its own rules. Some conferees commented that at the same time, state laws would protect communities against outside incursions. Basically, what was required were state laws that focused more on protecting rights and preventing outsiders from affecting the rights of communities (Lindsay, 14 March 1996). Others have raised similar issues (Bruce, 8 February 1996). Another concern regarding a legal framework that integrates traditional and formal practices is the loss of flexibility in traditional systems, making the dynamic social negotiation process inherent in more static, traditional laws. If this occurred, it could repeat mistakes made by colonialists (Brouwer, 18 March 1996). Also, since some communities are not interested in communal management, such a system could involve the more powerful of a community determining how the different interests for the same land in the community should be managed (Ecuador National Working Group, 15 April 1996).

22 Poats here questions whether there should be a separate set of tools or whether these tools should be integrated with gender analysis.

Session 5: 'Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Power and Equity'

`Indigenous Knowledge and Conflict Management: Exploring Local Perspectives and Mechanisms for Dealing with Community Forestry Disputes' by Alfonso Peter Castro and Kreg Ettenger analyses the interface between indigenous knowledge and conflict management and the relevance of local dispute resolution mechanisms in community forestry. The paper includes four case studies comparing top-down and bottom-up approaches in the incorporation of indigenous knowledge into dispute management. The case studies illustrate the dynamic nature of conflict, the often protracted dispute resolution process and the importance of power differentials in their resolution in Njukiini forest, Kenya; dispute resolution through the articulation of Cree indigenous resource management practices with government agencies in Quebec, Canada; environmental mediation in Indonesia, and; Joint Forest Management in India. The authors suggest that the field of conflict management can gain from studying local systems of conflict management and dispute resolution. However, they also note that this process is complex and requires a sophisticated analysis, including a thorough understanding of local historical, economic, social and political contexts.

`Levelling the Playing Field: Promoting Authentic and Equitable Dialogue under Inequitable Conditions' by Garry Thomas, Jon Anderson, Diji Chandrasekharan, Yolanda Kakabadse and Violet Matiru presents three case studies of conflicts in forestry. These case studies are set in Cameroon, Bolivia and Tanzania, and illustrate a continuum of situations, ranging from one that remains highly conflictual; to one where the process of dialogue between the various stakeholders was initiated; and one where management of a forestry conflict seems to have been successful with collaboration between the various stakeholders. Various themes are explored such as power differentials and the role they play in the nature of conflict and how it is managed, the roles of facilitators/mediators, bilateral and multilateral organizations, government institutions, the time element, information and the importance of local political organization and the formation of alliances and networking.

During the course of the e-conference, conferees contributed various examples of traditional practices. Three examples are from: The Gambia (Freudenberger, 10 April 1996), Eastern Senegal (Grigsby, 10 April 1996) and Asia (Poffenberger, 25 March 1996). In Gambia, respected elders from several ethnic groups meet weekly to resolve successfully the enormous number of conflicts that arise in a community. Issues involve transient traders and black-marketers from many different ethnic groups.

The Eastern Senegal example discussed a Bambara term, `musalaha', a term frequently used when the customary claimant does not wish to extend the use of his/her land and thereby wants to discourage the tenant. Traditionally, refusal of such requests is uncommon. Much emphasis is placed on using the resource for subsistence purposes. Villages operate on a subsistence ethic, and the accumulation of property is discouraged. Thus, a customary claimant can never refuse land to a prospective tenant unless the claimant himself/herself is using it. However, no distinction is made between commercial and subsistence use of the resource and, in fact, market improvements are leading to reduced fallow and will probably increase conflict levels. In such situations, these reciprocal relationships that transcend village boundaries might `make common property institutions unmanageable'. However, by introducing formal mechanisms for managing land use and tenure, there is the chance of disrupting the idea of village membership, creating a situation in which `the land wealthy [may] deny access to prospective tenants (because alternative modes of access exist)'.

In the Asian context of indigenous conflict resolution, controlling conflicts is a priority. In rural communities, indigenous systems are more widely used to manage conflicts than the formal legal systems. Many communities choose individuals, often community leaders, who possess the ideal skills for resolving conflicts. Although indigenous systems are most effective in homogenous communities, governments tend towards modern mechanisms.

These and other examples motivated calls to learn from local communities regarding how they manage their forest resources and conflicts without outside assistance. There was also mention of the fact that systems are eroding in the face of changes. In this context, it is important to consider how to merge traditional practices with modern mechanisms and strengthen both (Russell, 8 February 1996).

Despite the valuable contribution traditional practices can make, in West Africa traditional systems are changing because of external forces and evolution within communities. Community evolution includes the changing of reference points for traditional conflict management and adjustment mechanisms, and the disruption of the social order (West Africa Working Group, 28 February 1996). As mentioned above, some communities realize why local control may not be beneficial. These communities prefer not to give powerful people additional authority in the establishment of rules (Lindsay, 27 February 1996). There are also cases when indigenous conflict management systems may not be appropriate.23

Conferees recognized that indigenous knowledge works with the dynamism of the situation. However, a group of conferees felt that since traditional conflict management practices are weakening, alternative conflict resolution can contribute to the management of natural resource conflicts. Conferees pointed out that alternative conflict resolution:

These points led to a discussion regarding the importance of training people in mediation and facilitation. Certain conferees felt that people are not aware of the availability and capacity of alternative dispute resolution (Hodge, 17 April 1996). Those encouraging training stated that alternative dispute resolution:

Education is required for people to make an informed choice on how to deal with conflicts. Also, it was stated that training could help familiarize people with the field and its potential in an effort to offer more choices instead of overselling alternative conflict resolution. Training would also help prevent coercion, marginalisation or unjustly compromising the interests of a party.

In line with these discussions; it was stated that alternative conflict resolution is flexible and can cater to situation-specific needs (Wondolleck, 3 May 1996). The process by which alternative conflict resolution reduces or manages conflicts is distinct from indigenous practices and the court systems despite the similarity in the end product. Alternative conflict resolution provides an opportunity for the necessary networks and communication links to be established and in turn, promotes accurate understanding of a situation. It also generates credible knowledge, promotes productive problem-solving, and facilitates implementation and monitoring.

There were diverging opinions regarding the use and appropriateness of alternative conflict resolution. Concerns over the use of alternative conflict resolution include whether the practice:

Discussions on this issue were also fuelled by a summary of Laura Nadar's article (1994), which highlights her position against alternative conflict resolution. Laura Nader states that the ideology of harmony, promoting conciliation and compromise was a technique of pacification. In the United States, she notes mediation/ win-win/compromise/consensus/balance of interest - the language of alternative dispute resolution - as a move from confrontation/concern with justice to submission/valuing harmony. Among the dangers of such non-judicial means/informal justice system are: little regulation or accountability, no body of legal precedent, no equal protection before the law, and weaker parties feeling coerced into compromising their legitimate interests. In sum, she argues, that there are cases that should be adjudicated rather than negotiated, there are disputes that are zero-sum; bilateral negotiations can put the stronger party at a bargaining advantage using `constructive dialogue;' and that weak parties should look to the protection of the formal legal systems. This holds true in the international arena as well, she says, where the `harmony model' used to promote world order and stability, serves the ruling interests rather than justice and coopts the weak (Thomas, 15 April 1996).

Throughout discussions on indigenous knowledge systems there was reference to power and equity. Issues of power and equity were prominent in discussions about creating local institutions through which the weaker parties could approach their situation of conflict. It was felt that mediation does not always assist those who are weaker, even in cases where the court system is probably inappropriate. It was argued that there is the need to empower those who are often unrepresented, especially women, ethnic minorities, landless and the poor (Castro and Ettenger, 26 March 1996). During these discussions, it was pointed out that when state systems have financial constraints there is potential for corruption. In such situations, the civil society (represented through social organizations, associations, institutions and others not directly supervized or controlled by the state) plays a critical role. A cautionary note reminded conferees that this could weaken state institutions. The question that followed regarded the management of conflict between civil or local institutions and other commercial interests if state institutions were weaker.

The discussions showed that IKS is not static or normative, but rather a non-rigid system. Indigenous knowledge is a dynamic body of skills and information from which local people draw (Castro and Ettenger, 26 March 1996). This is why it is adaptable (Davenport, 25 March 1996). Nevertheless, discussions regarding the inequality of certain traditional practices highlighted the importance of considering the appropriateness of applying indigenous knowledge in the modern context. Indigenous knowledge systems have the flexibility of including the elements of a heterogeneous legal system. The culturally specific characteristics of indigenous knowledge systems shows the importance to outsiders of understanding and knowing about indigenous practices. The outsider should work towards providing communities with access to all the possible options for conflict management.

The thematic sessions, with the several descriptions of case specific situations, showed the interconnection between the four main themes: gender, legal, power and equity, and indigenous knowledge systems. Contributions made during the Sessions 4 and 5 bridged different themes on community forestry, natural resource conflicts and their management. During both sessions, the underlying concern was how to give communities greater recognition, through legal space, managing power disparities, training or other feasible mechanisms. This concern helped further define the nexus between community forestry and conflict management.

23. This is often the case when the conflict is between government agencies or between government and the local population (Odhiambo, 20 April 1996).

Closing remarks

The official closing of the e-conference was scheduled for Sunday 28 April 1996. Marilyn Hoskins (Senior Officer, CFU), Michelle Gauthier (EConference Coordinator, CFU), Garry Thomas and Violet Matiru (E-Conference Facilitator/Moderator and Assistant), Jon Anderson (author of the Virtual Cases, FAO) and SARD-Forum closed the conference with brief statements.24

Marilyn Hoskins discussed the broad range of questions raised during the e-conference. She mentioned that `we examined natural resource conflicts in different regions of the world and dealt with issues as varied as gender relations, power imbalances, the viability of traditional methods of managing resources and resolving disputes, and laws relating to tenure and community-based forest management'. She pointed out that in the discussions of such topics, sometimes more implicitly than explicitly, we examined how the field of conflict management can contribute to community forestry.

The conferees were reminded that community forestry is the people and social policy component of forestry, its goal being to promote improved livelihoods of communities through more effective management of tree and forest resources. Those involved in community forestry concern themselves with socio-cultural issues such as gender roles, the division of labour and the seasonality of work, with needs analyses and what they might reveal about species selection or the multiple purposes to which different trees are put, and with how a knowledge of areas such as these might lead to policy changes and better policy implementation. In the e-conference, a broad definition of conflict management was used, implying that activities can be either proactive or reactive, the former including strategies for fostering communication between diverse stakeholders (as in `policy dialogues', for example) and the latter including strategies and tools for managing actual conflicts (including mediation or negotiation).

It was also realized that conflict is not always negative. It can play a positive role in bringing about essential societal and institutional changes that may result in more equitable and sustainable use of resources. However, conflict management is not always positive. There are ways in which the formal legal system might protect the interests of weaker parties better than informal or extralegal systems.

Marilyn Hoskins reviewed some of the main issues/topics talked about and addressed the progress made in the development of tools for analysing and managing conflicts. She also highlighted the impact of the e-conference; how it helped to create a network of individuals and institutions interested in conflict management and generated ideas on the topics.

Michelle Gauthier reiterated the development of the topic of conflict management in the Forests, Trees and People Programme (FTPP). She also provided information regarding some of the activities in the field of conflict management undertaken with the support of the FTPP, prior to or concurrently with the e-conference. She presented information on the main objectives of the e-conference. Michelle Gauthier also informed the conferees of all additional information collected and generated during the e-conference that could not be distributed electronically. Michelle Gauthier ended her statement with information on follow-up activities to be undertaken during 1997 in collaboration with FTPP

Garry Thomas, Violet Matiru, Jon Anderson and SARD-Forum joined Marilyn Hoskins and Michelle Gauthier in thanking all the conferees for their enthusiasm, contributions and participation.

24. The closing statements are in Annex B.

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