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January As conflict escalatesadversaries begin to make greater threats and impose harsher negative sanctions.
There is often a greater degree of direct violence and both sides suffer heavy losses. In some cases, these conflicts spiral completely out of control. Given the highly destructive role that escalation plays, it is important to develop strategies to limit and reverse this process.
De-escalation involves changes within each of the adversaries as well as new forms of interaction between them. In most cases, de-escalation does not occur until the parties have reached a prolonged stalemate in which both sides are being harmed by continuing the confrontation.
Once the parties realize this, they are more likely to be willing to negotiate. Once initiated, de-escalation tends to proceed slowly and requires much effort. Many small steps must be taken before more significant de-escalation strategies can be initiated. Indeed, full de-escalation from war to cooperation involves a series of successive redefinitions of the parties' relationship.
These include gradual reduction in tension GRITde-escalation negotiations, media managementand various efforts to strengthen relationships between adversaries. One way to avoid the dangers associated with escalation is to limit the extent to which a conflict becomes more intense and severe.
Relationships that do not escalate easily are said to be high in stability. Various factors contribute to stability and make Positive impact on the community essay conflicts resistant to escalation.
First, conflict-limiting norms and institutions can limit the severity of conflict. Such expectations act as "ceilings on normal behavior as rules of any competition.
Outside actors can also aid in preventive diplomacyusing diplomatic efforts to de-escalate conflicts BEFORE they become violent. Preventive diplomacy measures that aim to prevent conflicts from becoming overly severe include early warning responses and violence prevention options. Democratization can help parties to develop nonviolent and just mechanisms for resolving any disputes that arise.
In addition, the fear of escalation can be important in limiting the extent to which conflict escalates out of control. Indeed, conflict is less likely to spiral when people are aware of the potential for such spirals and concerned about the consequences of escalation.
They can agree to "cut losses" if the struggle escalates too far, or avoid entering struggles in which entrapment seems likely. For example, they may establish rumor control teams or other rapid facts-verification processes to prevent rumors from developing and quickly spreading.
They may also utilize escalation-limiting language to ensure that any statements made about their grievances are not unnecessarily provocative.
The establishment of social bonds tends to discourage the use of harsh tactics and reduce the likelihood of escalation. Such bonds include positive attitudes, respect, friendship, kinships, perceived similarity and common group membership.
The recognition that one's opponent is a member of a group to which one also belongs produces positive sentiments. And many note that an effective way to combat polarization is to forge sentimental bonds between two groups by making them feel they are a part of the same larger group.
Common membership in crosscutting groups produces "bonds of perceived similarity and common group identity between these individuals.
This process of humanization makes it much more difficult to justify the use of heavy violence or aggression, and is therefore a powerful tool in limiting escalation. De-escalation But what can be done when conflict has already reached a significantly high level of intensity?
In these cases, parties must turn to de-escalation strategies to counteract the escalation process and move toward a reconciliation. Conflict de-escalation refers to a decrease in the severity of the coercive means used and in the number of parties engaged in the struggle.
De-escalation can be directed away from intense animosity or toward increased cooperation. Fortunately, people in an escalated conflict can only do so much damage to each other, and for only so long. At this point, neither party can escalate the conflict further.
The point of maximum conflict intensity and destructiveness has been reached, and neither side anticipates that the balance of forces will change so that it may triumph. If they refuse to end the stalemate by yielding or withdrawing, they must work together to find a mutually acceptable way out.
Hostility decreases, the tendency to retaliate lessens, and the level of coerciveness declines.
Conditions that Encourage De-escalation "Dramatic events, including sharp, sudden increases in tensions and unilateral bids for peace, often motivate the turning point of mutual de-escalation.
Events like the Cuban Missile Crisis and Sadat's visit to Jerusalem make it difficult for decision makers on both sides to maintain their established assumptions about the relationship and may force them to recognize the extent of their interdependence.
The processes of de-escalation occur within each adversary, in the relations between adversaries, and among parties in the social environment. These changed conditions produce a new context in which de-escalation policies are more likely to succeed.
Social-psychological and Organizational Changes The process of de-escalation that takes place within each adversary includes various social-psychological changes and organizational developments.Each choice we make can forever affect our future, our impact on society, and the way others perceive us.
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