Indigenous Approaches to Conflict Resolution

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third Assembly
Indigenous Approaches to Conflict Resolution

Foundation for Citizenship and Governance Training – South Africa
Center for the Research of Societal Problems – Turkey

Craig Arendse – South Africa

Brian Redelinghuys – South Africa

Craig Arendse – South Africa
Dogu Ergil – Turkey

The opening presentations emphasized the importance of retaining communalism and holism of the community in conflict resolution efforts. The communities themselves are the insiders and thus should be intimately involved in the resolution of conflict, unlike Western approaches that depend on outsiders.


Elements of indigenous approaches to conflict resolution

  • Engagement in dialogue
  • Replicating dialogue
  • Transforming relationships
  • Consulting communities
  • Respect for the other individual as the basis

Benefits of indigenous approaches for strengthening democracy

  • The indigenous approach is more enduring.
  • It develops ownership of the process within the communities involved and assists in the self-recovery of the disputants.
  • It is sustainable in terms of peace building and keeping.
  • Acknowledges the feelings of the actors and thus creates opportunities to get to the root cause of the issues.
  • Allows mediators to learn about the conflict directly from the indigenous actors.
  • Brings internal experiences to the resolution of the issues.


  • How to develop a gender-balanced approach?
  • How to integrate indigenous approaches with Western approaches so as not to create a dichotomy?
  • How to define what is indigenous in a cosmopolitan context?

Best Practices:

  • The role of women in conflict resolution mechanisms is minimal and should thus be encouraged and expanded.
  • The outsider should provide space to employ methodologies that are central to indigenous processes.
  • Name the process in such a way as to be acceptable to the parties and actors.
  • Build on what is already there with respect to resolution of the conflict.
  • Instill ownership of the process within the communities.
  • Sustain the process.
  • Prevent conflict through attention to cultural sensitivity, knowledge, and acceptance of local history.
  • Clarify the roles of interveners and equalize the playing field.