Moving Beyond Solving Conflict: Creative Non-solutions

  • Jan PospisilEmail author
Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)


Solving conflicts is one of the core aims of traditional approaches in peacebuilding. Usually, this is attempted by identifying root causes and addressing them by particularly designed measures. In a context of complexity and nonlinearity, such an approach does not work, however: when there are no cause–effect relationships at play, root causes neither can be identified nor solved. As a consequence, pragmatic practices of non-solutions have become a standard feature in peace processes. Four types of such practices are discussed in this chapter: institutionalised contestation, infinite postponements and open-ended processes, flexible border arrangements and pragmatic approaches to sovereignty and citizenship. Despite their often questionable reputation, non-solutions may turn into a cornerstone of pragmatic post-war transitions.


Conflict resolution Non-solutions Institutionalised contestation Infinite postponements Borders Abyei South Sudan Transnistria Bosnia and Herzegovina 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ASPR—Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict ResolutionViennaAustria

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