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Conflict Resolution as a Political System

Date

1988

Authors

Burton, John W

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Publisher

School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Abstract

“‘Conflict Resolution as a political System" was the first of the Institute's series of working Papers to be published, and when it came out in 1988 both the author and the then Director regarded the series as a vehicle for timely ‘think pieces’ or reports of research in progress at the Institute, then only a small Center. John Burton's original paper was introduced as extending the boundaries of conflict resolution and offering ‘. . .a view of what the field's fundamental philosophy should be...’ Over the last five years, however, it has become more and more evident that one of the fundamental problems facing the so called ‘Post Cold War World’ is the intellectual and practical construction of innovative forms of political systems, to replace the dominant model of the unitary, "‘national", territorial state which, in the real world, has increasingly been shown to be non-unitary, multi-national, and inconveniently unwilling to remain confined to assigned chunks of state territory. Without new thinking about possible and appropriate forms of political organization, that contain within themselves means of resolving inevitable conflicts, the ‘Post Cold War World’ seems likely to become the Small Shooting War World and to be filled with Bosnias, Somalias, Ngorno Karabakhs, or Afghanistans. Hence, the Institute's decision to republish John Burton's piece is both a timely response to the need to rethink the fundamentals of political organisation and a reminder of the liveliness of Burton's original work, which still has much to say about the world of the mid-1990s.”

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