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Institutions

March 2002

A conceptual map of land conflict management: Organizing the parts of two puzzles

by Ricardo Ramírez, PhD
for the Land Tenure Service,
FAO Rural Development Division

Part 1 of 4

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES
READERSHIP GROUPS
STRUCTURE OF THE DOCUMENT

PART 1. THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM

CONCEPTUAL AND THEORETICAL APPROACHES
Systems thinking
Soft systems methodology
Concept maps
Scope and limitations

PART 2: EXPLORING THE SUBSTANCE OF CONFLICT

SOURCES OF GRIEVANCES
CONDITIONS THAT SHAPE THE EMERGENCE AND CHARACTER OF CONFLICT
LEVELS AND PHASES OF CONFLICTS
STAKEHOLDERS
LEGAL FRAMEWORKS
INSTITUTIONAL/ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORKS
LEGACY (HISTORY) AND LIVELIHOODS (LOCATION)

PART 3: EXPLORING THE PROCESS TO MANAGE A CONFLICT

MEDIATION FRAMEWORKS
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT: CHOICES OF APPROACHES
BATNA: A KEY CONCEPT
OUTCOMES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

PART 4: INTEGRATING SUBSTANCE AND PROCESS

ORGANIZING THE PARTS OF TWO PUZZLES: A START
LEARNING OUR WAY AHEAD

PART 5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

APPENDICES

REFERENCES

1 2 3 4

Acknowledgements

This paper has been enriched by contributions and constructive suggestions received from the participants to the Workshop on Land Conflict Resolution Analysis, held at FAO Headquarters from 9-10 October, 2001. A great deal of guidance and technical support was received from Adriana Herrera, Agrarian Analysis Officer, Land Tenure Service at FAO. Jonathan Lindsay from FAO's Legal Office (LEGN) is thanked for contributing significantly to the section on Legal Frameworks. Zoraida García from FAO's Women in Development Service (SDWW) provided inputs to enrich the analysis of power relationships. A review of an earlier draft of this paper by Dr. Spike Boydell, visiting expert to FAO, was useful in revising this final version.

Introduction

Purpose and objectives

The purpose of this paper is to better understand and manage land conflict situations. This paper provides an analysis of the characteristics and types of land conflicts in some countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the current approaches and techniques being used for land conflict resolution.1 The paper pursues three objectives (see Box 1). The first contributes conceptually and theoretically, the second supports empirical work, and the third seeks to generate an action plan for future action and research.

Readership groups

This paper is meant for three main readership groups: policy makers, scholars and practitioners.

Policy makers in national, bilateral and multilateral organizations will be interested in the conceptualization of the issues from a systems perspective, and on organization of global and regional experiences within a general framework of conflict typologies and conflict management and resolution approaches. For national-level policy makers, regional and country-specific examples will be of particular interest, especially in recognition of the historical, cultural and biophysical features that shape each land tenure context.

For scholars, the paper constitutes an attempt to jointly address arenas of theoretical endeavour and empirical experimentation that rarely intersect. First there is the attempt to build conceptual relationships between a range of land tenure conflicts on the one hand, and conflict management and resolution approaches on the other. A second intersect involves the context-specific institutional, organizational and historical variables in which these two dimensions interact. The two intersects constitute inter-disciplinary challenges: one that encompasses theoretical and methodological domains, and a second that deals with issues of scale and context specificity. The integration of literature from a number of complementary fields is always an exploratory endeavour; as such this conceptual map is a "state of the art in progress". Action research and case study materials will enrich our understanding and help fine-tune the conceptualization that underlies the analysis.

For the practitioner this paper should serve as a map wherein to "locate" experience. The practitioner may work with a land reform agency, a farmer federation, and non-governmental organization, or a community based organization. The practitioner may at times be party to a conflict, and at other times a mediator seeking to manage conflict. The conceptual map is based on systems thinking, which is an approach that acknowledges the fact that the issue at hand is complex, ever changing, and influenced by a number of factors that in turn can shift on a regular basis. In this context, the practitioner is the orchestrator, the 'juggler' who can keep track of the different factors, and adjust approaches to respond to a complex reality. The conceptual map is an attempt to organize those factors, not so much to have an inventory, but to acknowledge that they exist and that the way in which they interact is important.

The practitioner and the policy maker, in other words, are to some extent the system managers; they can participate in the shaping of policy and legal instruments, or in the implementation of efforts towards the management or resolution of conflicts. This conceptual map is meant to strengthen their decision-making by 'locating' the dimensions they deal with and the complex choices that lie before them.

Structure of the document

This paper is organized into four parts. Part 1: The Nature of the Problem; Part 2: Exploring the substance of conflict; Part 3: Exploring the process to manage conflict; Part 4: Integration of substance and process 5: Conclusions and Recommendations

In Part 1 the nature of the problem is described and some of the underlying challenges from a theoretical and practical point of view are explored. The approach used in this paper is described as one based on systems thinking, soft systems methodology and concept mapping.

Part 2 provides a summary of the substantive side of land conflicts within a systems perspective to acknowledge the fact that there is no single theory of land conflict. Rather, the challenge is to organize the major features of land conflicts, and to acknowledge the fact that the purpose of defining a typology will influence the actual types that a user finally generates. The conceptual map in Part 1 serves as a guide to locate the analysis on the basis of: the sources of grievances; the conditions that shape the emergence and the character of conflict; the levels of conflict; stakeholders involved, the legal and organizational framework, and the local and historical differences that intervene.

Part 3 provides a methodological review of process in the form of different approaches to manage conflict, including mediation and alternative conflict resolution. A number of practical guides and examples are provided. This Part includes attention to conflict outcomes and conflict management.

Part 4 describes the challenge of integrating the substantive and process dimensions. Emphasis is placed on the need to move ahead in an action-learning approach.

Part 5 allows us to reflect on the systemic dynamics across context, process and the organizations that are able to manage the intersect of the two. There are regional differences and historical dimensions that guide the methodological choices that an organization may be able to consider for a particular conflict, or stage of a conflict. There are implications in this Part as to how the conceptual map may contribute in case study development and analysis.

Throughout the text there are numbered text boxes where items of particular relevance are highlighted or guides for practice are included. In addition, a number of text boxes without numbers are provided with quotes from different sources that add flavour to the discussion or provide relevant examples.

Part 1. The Nature of the Problem

This paper addresses conflict management with emphasis on land disputes. This topic covers several subject matter areas that interact as a complex system with many components and variables across disciplines that are in constant interaction. The range of issues requires an inter-disciplinary research approach to guide the search for information, in this case entirely from secondary sources in the form of published books, case studies and articles both from streamline journals and from the gray literature. A systems approach is utilized to address the complex and dynamic nature of the relationships among the subject matter areas.

The subject matter is complex in that it involves different hierarchies, theoretical foundations or disciplines, and different ways of analyzing the variables. The hierarchies refer to the behaviours and dynamics among and within individuals, groups, communities, regions, nation states and among states. The different theoretical foundations include: individual and group psychology; social work and community development; rural and regional planning; land and tenure policy, public administration and politics; legal frameworks and market liberalization; cadastral and land registration systems; organizational management and institutional development; diplomacy, and international relations. The different ways of analyzing the variables include quantitative modeling, qualitative modeling, ethnographic and anthropological accounts, and historical and longitudinal comparisons. While this list is not comprehensive, it does underline the magnitude of the challenge.

There is a very large body of literature on land tenure, land regularization and land reform (and a very brief section below introduces the basic concepts). There is also a vast amount of published material in the area of conflict management and resolution. The challenge at hand is to bring these two together, and enrich the smaller body of literature that intersects these two fields. The case studies in the literature, and the theory in this field, suggest that for this intersection to yield value added, it must be rooted in specific contexts. There is a balance to be reached between issues that can be explained and analyzed at a general level and those that must be grounded in real-life circumstances. The dialectic is a central theme to this paper.

Land tenure systems, land reform, and tenure security2

The livelihoods of individuals, families and communities depend on increasing the entitlements to food and other goods and services (Strachan, 2001). Access to assets -both material and social- is central to this challenge. Peoples' rights to access land constitute basic building blocks for enhancing and sustaining their food security. Moreover, land-rights are an integral part of social capital, giving people the foundation on which to assert self-determination within their society, culture, agroecosystem and economic context.

Within this context of sustaining and enhancing livelihoods land tenure systems deserve particular attention. Land tenure systems integrate two basic elements: land tenure and land administration. Land tenure constitutes a set of rules defining rights of access. These rules constitute the social endorsement of relationships between people and particular natural resources. Second, land administration refers to the institutions that administer the rules and make them relevant and operational. The rules and the institutions that operationalize the rules are in constant interplay, as one influences the performance of the other in the context of many variables specific to each context, hence the reference to land tenure systems that regulate access to land. As will be discussed later, the notion of land tenure systems is also relevant when we analyze the different levels (local, regional, and national) where land conflicts evolve.

Access to land may be governed in different settings by customary rights, by rights enshrined in formal State laws, or by some combination of these. Land reform policies undertaken by governments may be directed at altering existing rules governing access to land, whether customary or formal. Land reform refers to direct intervention by governments to change agrarian structures with the aim of redistributing land -for equity and productivity purposes- and changing land tenure rules. A range of instruments have been used by governments to further land reforms, ranging from state-led interventions at one end of the spectrum, to market let reform at the other. Land reform brings about changes to societies' power balances, rules and norms, and institutions; as such it tends to provide solutions to some members of a society, while creating sources of conflict for others. With or without land reform, tensions and land conflict are part of every society. At the heart of these tensions are issues of land security. Land security is the result of customary, state, legal or other mechanisms that provide people with the recognition of a right to access land and the confidence that the right can be upheld. The erosion of land security is a common source of grievance that can contribute to land conflicts.

The next section of Part 1 provides the reader with a brief review of conceptual and theoretical issues that underlie this paper. For readers interested in the theoretical and methodological realm, this section explains the choices made by the author in order to locate the strengths of the approach, and acknowledge its possible weaknesses. The second section provides the conceptual map that serves as the structure for the overall paper.

Conceptual and theoretical approaches

To address complexity -dynamic interrelationships across hierarchies and stakeholders, and different disciplines- it is necessary to address conceptual and theoretical approaches that embrace those characteristics. This paper makes use of two general approaches to respond to this challenge: systems thinking and concept mapping.

Systems thinking

Systems approaches embrace complexity, multiple factors, interrelations, phases and levels, and provide a paradigm wherein to develop frameworks that 'locate' each case and also identify commonalities and acknowledge context-specific differences.

Systems thinking is holistic; it addresses overall patterns and relationships rather than reducing issues to smaller parts. Systems thinking guides the way we perceive a situation; it is part of the stock of ideas by means of which we interpret the world around us (Checkland and Scholes, 1990). Systems thinking is useful as a tool for learning about complex situations and for interdisciplinary research (Ackoff, 1969). Since the late 1950s and early 1960s, systems thinking has been applied to the analysis of organizations. This has resulted in analyses where social and technological issues are no longer addressed in parallel; rather they are analyzed jointly as a system and with the involvement of the actors (Emery, 1969; Emery and Trist, 1969; Churchman, 1971). The actors become stakeholders through a group definition of the boundaries of the issue, awareness about the rules of the game, and confirmation that they indeed 'own the problem' and stand to gain by negotiating ways of collectively moving ahead (Ramírez, 1999). Whether events lead to actors collaborating or in conflict is not a linear process, but rather it is understood as an emergent property that results from the interaction among actors and components of the system.

Soft systems methodology

'Soft systems methodology' (SSM) is a systems approach that emerged from the analysis of complex organizational problems (Checkland and Scholes, 1990). SSM uses diagrams or models as a means of talking about a reality, rather than models of reality (Bennetts et al., 2000: 192). In SSM, the models are visual illustrations of people, issues, relationships; they are referred to as 'rich pictures' in that they capture all the rich, multidimensional issues that are part of a system. Rich pictures depict institutions, actors, linkages, and issues that matter to stakeholders.

Figure 1: Rich picture prepared by stakeholders involved in sustainable use of ground water in Noord Brabant, the Netherlands (ICRA, 1999)

The visualization of complex issues with the active involvement of the stakeholders is the hallmark of emerging approaches for accommodating multiple interests (Ramírez, 2001; Lightfoot et al., 2001). Many of the tools used in these approaches are also utilized in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approaches.

Systems thinking embraces inter-disciplinary research in that it accommodates multiple dimensions, hierarchies, actors and perspectives. Each of these can be described through key concepts that in turn constitute the variables that interact in each particular situation. There is merit in organizing these concepts into logical groupings or maps.

Concept maps

A concept map is a type of rich picture. The notion of concept maps is often used in inter-disciplinary research to organize and display groups of concepts and their linkages (Rivas, 2000). It serves as a guide for literature searches by providing a set of keywords3. The 'map' locates the concepts along categories gleaned from models and conceptual frameworks in the literature.

The conceptual map serves readers by 'locating' the concepts and categories that have played a role in each particular circumstance; it helps to signal what concepts and categories are common, and which ones are context specific. The reader who uses a concept map is essentially led to analyze the subject matter from a systems thinking perspective. The map displays the concepts and categories while the user locates a specific case study in the map by making the linkages across the categories. The concept map is a systems thinking tool that encourages the user to appreciate the dynamics across two major categories of concepts: the substantive and procedural dimensions of the issue. The purpose of which is to better understand and manage a conflict situation, a purpose that is coherent with the three objectives of this paper stated earlier.

Scope and limitations

The difference between a conceptual map and a conceptual framework has a soft systems methodology explanation. A concept map helps the user 'locate' the themes and concepts that are relevant. The map is part of a 'methodology' in that it organizes the stock of ideas by means of which we interpret the world around us. The map serves as a foundation to organize the parts of a puzzle. It is meant to guide readers in the analysis of their own experience and help them recognize commonalities as well as context-specific differences. It serves to reflect on conceptual and empirical lessons and contribute towards an action and research agenda for the future. As a soft systems tool, a concept map is not a representation or model of reality.

Figure 2. Conceptual map.

The conceptual map in Figure 2 was assembled from a number of concepts and categories from existing models in the literature; it is a hybrid of several of them as no single diagram or map was found that specifically addresses the issue of land tenure and conflict management and resolution. This conceptual design is therefore incipient and subject to further adjustments; it constitutes one attempt that is based on a systems perspective4. The major categories reflect common categories across different sources of conflict literature (Bercovitch and Langley, 1993; Daniels and Walker, 1997; Barringer, 1972), though with some modifications. However, in this case PROCESS seeks to capture general categories that help describe the nature of conflict situations. On the other hand, SUBSTANCE describes a gradient of concepts that start with the more generic (top) and move onto the more situation-specific (middle to bottom). For example, it explicitly establishes the fact that stakeholders, laws and rules, institutional and organizational frameworks, and legacy and livelihoods are context-specific. Most important is the fact that each dimension influences the choices in and about the other and recognizes the interrelationships among the elements; hence the emphasis on systems thinking rather than suggesting a predictable or causal relationship.

It is obvious, then, that to seek an understanding of conflict calls for setting up a model, an abstracted and conceptual analogue that will both illuminate the development process through which conflict proceeds and serve as a basis for winnowing the relevant elements of its structure from the irrelevant or inconsequential…The model should be sufficiently structured to give meaningful direction and sensitivity to the investigation of conflict, yet sufficiently flexible to promote both the discovery of unexpected relations among the data of conflict and the refinement of its own structure. (Barringer, 1972: 15)

PART 2: Exploring the substance of conflict

The SUBSTANCE dimension includes several component elements. These components interact in a systemic and ongoing manner, thus for example the different phases of a conflict will involve different stakeholders that are affected or may influence the source of the conflict. There is a gradient starting with generic elements (the top three) moving towards increasingly conflict and context-specific elements (from stakeholders down).

It is obvious, then, that to seek an understanding of conflict calls for setting up a model, an abstracted and conceptual analogue that will both illuminate the development process through which conflict proceeds and serve as a basis for winnowing the relevant elements of its structure from the irrelevant or inconsequential…The model should be sufficiently structured to give meaningful direction and sensitivity to the investigation of conflict, yet sufficiently flexible to promote both the discovery of unexpected relations among the data of conflict and the refinement of its own structure. (Barringer, 1972: 15)

Some of the major concept groupings within this dimension are borrowed from a review of agrarian conflict in Latin America by Michael Foley. Foley recommends a differentiation between a) the source of grievances or motives for conflict; b) the conditions that shape the emergence and character of conflict; and c) the kinds of demands parties make (Foley, 1991:235).

The differentiation between the source of a grievance and the conditions that shift this situation towards conflict merits particular attention, as Foley is not alone in recommending this differentiation. Barringer (1972) provides an example of a conflict model of war with 300 variables on the "substantive" side that are analyzed mathematically, along with a "procedural" framework and a few definitions. The model is based on three definitions for dispute, conflict and hostilities (violence), which is a useful continuum for reference in this paper (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Three concepts (Barringer, 1972:17)

Although Barringer's model focuses on war, the analysis is relevant:

"…a dispute arises between parties capable of waging war when at least one party becomes aware of an incompatibility of perceived interests, objectives, or future positions. The essence of a dispute is a felt grievance by a party capable of waging war that, in its eyes, demands some more tolerable accommodation with another party capable of waging war than presently exists. If grievance is of such a magnitude as to warrant action by this party (and most, happily, are not), a multiplicity of political mechanisms and institutions exist for achieving accommodation. In some instances, however, one party will introduce a military option to the dispute. It will see the issue at hand as either so threatening or so central to its interests as to warrant introducing military considerations and activities into what had previously been a purely non-military issue. A dispute thus becomes a conflict. On the relatively rare occasions when organized, systematic, and continued violence is undertaken by any party to a dispute in pursuit of its objectives, the conflict evolves into hostilities." (Barringer, op.cit. 17-18).

The key concepts are:

While there is a continuum between dispute, conflict and hostilities, the process is predominantly cyclical. Figure 4 provides model of conflict that suggests a cyclical dimension, and once again it comes from Barringer's work in the subject of war.

Figure 4: The conflict model (Barringer, 1972:21)

Sources of grievances

In the context of land conflict, the sources of grievances among people and groups that underlie disputes tend to result from achieving or retaining control over a scarce resource. In this case the resource will be one or a combination of land, water, trade routes, renewable and non-renewable resources on/under the land, infrastructure). In turn, achieving or retaining control over land is influenced by changes in the perceived and actual security of tenure; the following are examples:

  1. Endogenous population increase leading to intensification in resource exploitation and degradation
  2. An increase in commercial agriculture and extensive land use over limited land resources
  3. Exogenous populations immigrating into lands and communities with established tenure regimes; the increase in population and the diverse cultural backgrounds can be a source of grievance, especially when the immigrants' access to land has no specific time limit, nor does it conform to customary rules; this is the case of displaced or resettled populations;
  4. Changes within the endogenous population arising from shifts in social consensus, be they caused by internal issues (increased pressure on resources from endogenous growth) or from external sources (new markets driving demand for resources previously untapped)
  5. Changes in land prices and productive potential (technology, infrastructure development, markets, subsidization, weather, speculation)
  6. Confusion among the three sources of rules: customary rules, official law and land markets; expressed in different interpretations (of legal designations, zoning, common property, private, open access, boundaries); and their administration (voice and representation, perception of fairness of procedure, transaction costs).
  7. Disagreement over arbitration procedures and the legitimacy of the mediating organizations.

Clearly, many of the sources of grievances described above are common to many societies and yet they do not necessarily shift into a conflictive situation or into hostilities. In fact, most land tenure systems tend to be resilient to change and can absorb turbulence, but only to a limited extent. Beyond certain thresholds, they can begin to break down. "Serious land conflicts tend to be generated by an accumulation of different sources of tension which result in the erosion or abandonment of previously accepted and socially recognized rules of access to and use of land and other natural resources." (FAO, 2001: 20). The accumulation of sources of tension is a key concept necessary to explain the shift from grievances to conflict.

The last three items listed above merit further elaboration, especially as they involve four categories interrelated land tenure and rights issues that can cause the accumulation of tension. Land tenure rules constitute a web of interests (Box 2) along with a number of different forms of holdings (Box 3). In fact, most forms of holdings may be found within a given society. Furthermore, individuals in that society will hold property rights to land, of which there is a wide range of rights often referred to as "a bundle of rights" (Box 4). These rights in turn can be formal, informal, illegal or extralegal (Box 5). The combination of the different interests, power relations, forms of holdings, types of rights, and grouping (bundling) of rights constitute a compounded set of sources of tension.

"A particularly complex situation arises when statutory ("legal") rights are granted in a way that does not take into account existing customary rights (e.g., for agricultural and grazing). This clash of de jure rights (existing because of the formal law) and de facto rights (existing in reality) often exists in already stressed marginal rainfed agriculture and pasture lands. " (FAO, 2001: 8)



Box 2: Intersecting INTERESTS

Overriding interests: when a nation or community has the powers to allocate or reallocate land, e.g., through expropriation, etc.

Overlapping interests: when several parties are allocated different (partial) rights to the same parcel of land (e.g., one party may have lease rights, another may have right of access, etc.)

Complementary interests: when different parties share the same interest in the same parcel of land (e.g., shared rights to grazing land)

Competing interests: when different parties contest the same interests in the same parcel.

(Adapted from FAO, 2001: 6)

Box 3: Forms of HOLDINGS (land tenure categories)

Open access: tenure where there is no control on access to resources: specific rights are not assigned to anyone and nobody can be excluded. This may include rangelands, forests, etc, where there may be free access to the resources for all.

Communal: a right of commons exists within a community where each member may have a right to use independently the holdings of the community. For example, members of a community may have the right to graze cattle on a common pasture. This differs from an open access system in that non-members of the community are excluded from using the common areas.

Private: the assignment of rights to a private party who may be one person or a group of people, or a corporate body such as a commercial entity or non-profit organization. For example, individual families may have exclusive rights to residential plots, agricultural plots and certain trees. Other members of the community can be excluded from using these resources without the consent of those who hold the rights.

State: property rights are assigned to some authority in the public sector. For example, in some countries, forest lands may fall under the mandate of the state, whether at a central or decentralised level of government.

(Adapted from FAO, 2001: 6)

Box 4: Examples of RIGHTS

A right to use the property, i.e., the claim that others should not interfere without permission.

A right to control how to use the property, i.e., the "control right". It includes the right to exclude access to unauthorized people.

A right to derive income from the property, i.e., the "cash-flow right".

A right from illegal expropriation of the property.

A right to transmit the rights to the property to one's successors, i.e., the right of inheritance.

A right to transfer the entire property or portion of it, or to partially transfer rights (e.g., through a lease).

A residuary right to the property, i.e., when partially alienated rights lapse (e.g., after a lease expires), those rights revert to the holder who alienated them.

A right to enjoy the rights to the property for an indeterminate length of time, i.e., rights do not terminate at a specific date but can last in perpetuity.

A duty not to use the property in a way that is harmful to other members of society, i.e., the right is held by those who do not hold the right to use the property.

A duty to surrender the rights to the property when the interests are taken away to satisfy a lawful action, e.g., in a case of insolvency where the right is held by the creditors.

(Adapted from FAO, 2001: 7)

Box 5: FORMALISATION of rights

Formal property rights may be regarded as those that are explicitly acknowledged by the state and which may be protected using legal means.

Informal property rights are those that lack official recognition and protection, but recognised by customary or local laws and/or authorities. In some cases, informal property rights are illegal, i.e., held in direct violation of the law. An extreme case is when squatters occupy a site in contravention of an eviction notice

Extra legal rights: informal property may be "extra-legal", i.e., not against the law, but not recognised by the law. In some countries, "customary" property held by rural indigenous communities falls into this category.

Illegal property holdings may arise because of inappropriate laws; e.g., the minimum size of a farm may be defined by law whereas in practice farms may be much smaller as a result of informal subdivisions among heirs. They may also be illegal because of their use, e.g., the illegal conversion of agricultural land for urban purposes.

(Adapted from FAO, 2001: 7)

Conditions that shape the emergence and character of conflict

"In the rural villages controversies include, among others, conflicts arising from subleasing arrangements, i.e. a farmer leasing land from another farmer…, land boundary disputes…, subdivision of land inheritance, illegal trespassing, and illegal squatting by landless people in large properties of landowners." (Olano, 2001)

The Philippines

Some researchers have tried to confirm that there is a direct relationship between land inequality and political conflict. They sought evidence that there indeed was what a "simple land inequality-political conflict nexus"; they concluded however, that the relationship is very context specific and pointed the challenge towards identifying the conditions that activate the relationship (Moore, et al., 1996). Therefore, in this paper it is suggested that there is another layer of conditioning factors that trigger the shift from a dispute or grievance onto a conflict.

When several sources of grievances are present at the same time, a situation may become compounded and 'flip' from a balanced dispute to a conflict and hostilities. This flip may be precipitated when one social group seeks to force its agenda on others for political purposes or exploitative aims. A dispute situation that may have been held in balance for years may be catalyzed into a conflict as a result of external interventions, changes in weather, challenges to leadership structures, weak administrative systems, or changes in rules and laws. On the other hand, by understanding the elements that catalyze the change in balance, opportunities may be identified to intervene and mediate a conflict.5

These factors, in combination with the source of grievances, will contribute to a shift from a dispute to a conflict. This shift is based on how individual and groups perceive the behaviour of other parties, in combination with the extent to which they feel they are adequately represented in a process that is fair, where they have a voice and where there is procedural justice (Pruitt and Carnevale, 1993). It comes down to how people perceive threat, danger, safety, and security. In the final analysis, it is individuals who make decisions, and threat has been shown to shift decision-making from a rational basis to an emotional or affective one (Gordon and Arian, 2001). It follows that conflicts that are basically land-based can escalate into major hostilities and be masked by political interests to appear as ethnic differences, as has been described in the case in Sudan (Suliman, 1999). Furthermore, when ethnic violence erupts, the nature of the conflict may become aggravated by ethnic divisions that are manipulated by the warring factions, as is the case of Bosnia:

…pre-war disputes about rural private land/property most commonly involved inheritance, boundary, or access, and unauthorized building permits…Post war disputes about rural private land/property again involve inheritance, boundary, and unauthorized building problems, although more than one interviewee commented that people are sufficiently preoccupied with return issues that these problems seem less significant than in the past. In general, land/property disputes can be attributed to post-war conditions of population displacement, legal insecurity (as concerns land/property ownership), economic hardships, infrastructure disruptions, and unemployment. (Rose, n.d.:2-3)

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