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Current Illusions and Delusions about Conflict Management—In Africa and Elsewhere

  • Laura Nader and Elisabetta Grande


This paper provides a critical perspective on the use of U. S. alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approaches for managing conflict in African and other communities. It argues that imposition of American ADR as a condition for foreign aid or capital investment is deeply problematic, and urges a more sophisticated analysis of the power dimensions and ideological basis of ADR. When viewed as an ideologically laden paradigm for how conflict should be resolved (i. e., a conflict paradigm), ADR can be seen as carrying troubling baggage. For example, ADR approaches imported from the United States deal with dispute resolution simply in terms of mechanisms or techniques, ignoring substantive issues central to conflict management in African and other communities. The entire discourse surrounding ADR pays insuficient attention to problems with terms such as modern or traditional, and encourages an ingenuous denial of the effects of inequality in power and money on conflict resolution. This ideological baggage renders unreflective imposition of ADR incompatible with the best interests of African communities. The authors urge a more complete and objective analysis of the global ADR revolution—one that takes a broader perspective.



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