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1.1.   Background of the Study

Conflict is a situation where there is disagreement between parties. It connotes a stressful, unhappy, distressing, depressing, annoying and frustrating state of affairs. Conflict is a struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, values, or goals, (Weaver, 2003). Based on Mullins (2005) conflict is a behaviour intended to obstruct the achievement of some others person’s goal; (p. 904). Based on Mullins (2005) conflict has common elements with dispute and the two are sometimes used synonymously. This is so because the two terms, conflict and dispute, both involve depriving the other of something valuable.

 McNamara (2007) further explained that conflict occurs when two or more values, perspectives and opinions are contradictory in nature and have not been aligned or agreed about. Similarly, conflict can occur within the goals of an individual and between the goals pursued by an organisation and within a group of people. This includes conflict within oneself when one is not living according to one's values; when values and perspectives are threatened; or discomfort from fear of the unknown or from lack of fulfillment. Moreover, getting the most out of diversity which is the current thing means conflict occurs because individuals have different perceptions, beliefs and goals. Bateman and Zeithalml (1993) tendered that conflicts are inevitable when nations are making important decisions as they would face opposing pressures from different sources, whereby conflict might escalate and lead to non-productive results. The results of conflict are not predetermined. A conflict may grow from simple to complex, from non-violent to violent depending on the gravity.  However, beneficially resolved conflict can lead to quality final products. This might explain why Mayer (2001), asserted that learning to manage conflict is integral to a high-performance team.

Conflict resolution is the process of resolving a dispute/conflict. Strategies, according to Deutsch and Coleman (2000) are the method and processes involved in facilitating peaceful ending of conflicts. Often, committed group members attempt to resolve group conflicts by actively communicating information about their conflicting motives or ideologies to the rest of the group (e.g., intentions; reasons for holding certain beliefs), and by engaging in collective negotiation (McNamara, 2007). A wide range of methods and procedures for addressing conflict exist, including but not limited to, negotiation, mediation, diplomacy, and creative peace building. Often times, successful conflict resolution occurs by listening to and providing opportunities to meet the needs of all parties and to adequately address interests, so that, each party is satisfied with the outcome. Conflict practitioner’s talk about finding the win-win outcome for parties involved, as against win-lose dynamics found in most conflict situations. Attention is shifted away from conflict resolution which involves conflicts which had already started to conflict prevention which aims to end conflicts before they start or before they lead to verbal, physical, or legal fighting or violence (Weaver, 2003).

Nevertheless, utilizing appropriate conflict resolution strategies in the nation is becoming an increasingly important part of a development. Donna, (Director of the National Center for Conflict Resolution Education [NCCRE]) and Richard, (NCCRE’s Training Director), (2003) asserts that the largest number of conflicts that result in violence start as relatively minor incidences. Using another youth’s property without permission or unprovoked contact can cause a major conflict among students. Another interesting aspect of report by Donna and Richard (2003) is that most incidents occur at home or at school, and the majority occurs between individuals who know each other. Hence, Donna and Richard elaborate submitted that the common goal of violent acts involves retribution. Donna and Richard’s (2003) report further indicate that violent acts are not the result of absence of values, but are from a value system that accepts violence.

Based on such reports, there is need to conduct a study on the roles of united nations in conflicts resolution in Liberia. It is of common knowledge that unresolved conflicts reportedly lead to such arson, riots and violence which may result in injury and loss of life and properties.

1.2.   Statement of the Problem

The multiplication of conflicts in Africa and the inability of PKO to resolve these conflicts remains a great challenge to African governments and the UN.  Following the end of the Cold War, peacekeeping has become central to the international

community’s response to many complex violent conflicts including those in Africa.(3)   PKO has been used to intervene in Africa’s active war zones as in UNOMIL and UNMIL in Liberia, UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone, UNOSOM in Somalia, UNMIR in Rwanda, MUONC  in Congo  and post settlement peace building as was the case of ONUMOZ in Mozambique.    Consequently, it has become more common for Conflict Resolution theorist to refer to peacekeeping as an important instrument of positive Conflict transformation.  In the last decade, the Mano River Union (MRU) and Great Lakes Region have seen major conflicts, several millions of death and also PKO’s.

This dissertation therefore seeks to bring to the lime light and analyze two basic problems with respect to Peacekeeping and Conflict Resolution in Africa.   The first is the inability of PKO’s to adequately resolve Africa’s conflicts.   This has led to the reemergence of such conflicts.  Another problems is the failure of the international community to promptly fund PKO in African Continent.   This is alluded to by the slow response and serious delays in deploying UNAMIR under its expanded mandate of May 1994.   Finally, is the inability to tackle the root causes of African conflicts.

1.3.   Objectives of the Study     

The study was guided by the following objectives

1.   To examine the general causes of conflicts in Africa

2.   To examine the United Nation conflict resolution mechanisms and crisis management in Liberia

3.   To examine the United Nation Peace Support Operations on Conflict resolution in Liberia

1.4.   Research questions

1.   What is the general causes of conflicts in Liberia?

2.   What is the effect of United Nation conflict resolution mechanisms and crisis management in Liberia?

3.   What is the effect of United Nation Peace Support Operations on Conflict resolution in Liberia?

1.5.   Statement of the hypothesis

1.   There is no significant influence of general causes of conflicts in Liberia?

2.   There is no significant influence of United Nation conflict resolution mechanisms and crisis management in Liberia

3.   There is no significant influence of United Nation Peace Support Operations on Conflict resolution in Liberia.

1.6.   Significance of the study

The African continent has witnessed several PKO deployed in various conflict areas.   This has however failed to achieve the desired result, thus suggesting that peacekeepers need enhanced capabilities and that more conflict resolution tools is required. Lending credence to this, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan pointed to the need for peacekeeping forces to find new capabilities for what he refers to as “positive inducements” to gain support for peacekeeping mandates amongst populations in conflict areas.4   It is against this background that efforts are being made by the UN and regional bodies to make peacekeepers promote lasting and durable peace and sustainable  solution.

1.7.   Justification of study         

The study will therefore, examine the impact of peacekeeping operations on conflict resolution in Liberia with emphasis, provide an informed basis to improve conflict resolution in Liberia and also contribute to intellectual discourse on peacekeeping and conflict resolution in general.

1.8    Scope of the study -

The scope of the work covers united nations efforts in curbing the menace of Liberia conflicts

1.9    Definition of terms Study  

Armed Conflict.   This denotes conflicts whereby parties on both sides resort to the use of force

Contemporary Conflict.   This refers to the prevailing pattern of political and violent conflicts in the post cold-war world. 

Conflict Management.   It is used to refer to the limitation, mitigation and containment of conflict, rather than the durable elimination of the causes of conflict.

Conflict Settlement.  This suggests agreement over the conflict issues, which involves compromise or concession from both sides. Neither side may be able to achieve all of their goals, but the initial disappointment may be offset by the mutuality of the compromise.

Peace Building.  It is defined in An Agenda for Peace as “actions to identify and support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict”.

Peace Making.   It is a diplomatic action to bring hostile parties to negotiate a settlement of their dispute through such peaceful means as those foreseen under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter.

Peace Enforcement.   This include the use of armed force to maintain international peace and security in situations where the security council has determined the existence of a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.

Peace Support Operations.  It is the term frequently used for operations that are primarily military.  It refers to those activities requiring the functions related to potential use of force and thus includes preventive actions, peacekeeping, disarmament, sanctions and embargoes, and peace enforcement.