Conflict Diagnostic Handbook

Primary purpose

To facilitate the design of a Conflict Diagnostic Framework that enables planners to make strategic choices and define entry points for response by assessing conflict and peace factors and conducting a stakeholder analysis.

Intended users

Development practitioners seeking to mainstream peace and conflict analysis into their long-term development programmes.

Levels of application

Country and regional

Conceptual assumptions

The Conflict Diagnostic Framework is based on the assumption that the identification of key indicators / stakeholders, the definition of scenarios / objectives, and the unpacking of strategic issues, together set the stage for a comprehensive (and evidence-based) peacebuilding strategy.

The framework is not aimed at assessing the impact of a particular project on the peace and conflict dynamics in a society nor to fully cover programme implementation issues.

Main steps and suggested process

For each step there is a table that needs to be completed that reflects the components of the analysis in each step.

Step 1: Conflict Diagnostic Framework

Step 2: Conflict analysis

Step 3: Peace analysis

Step 4: Stakeholder analysis

Step 5: Scenarios and objectives

Step 6: Strategic issues and choices

Step 7: Peacebuilding recommendations

Guiding questions / indicators

Step 1: Conflict Diagnostic Framework

This has a series of assumptions as part of its rationale:

  • Conflict indicators, peace indicators and stakeholders need to be identified for conflict analysis
  • Trends in key conflict/peace indicators and stakeholders need to be analysed in order to be able to identify likely scenarios
  • Scenarios can be easily translated into objectives, thus rooting peacebuilding objectives in reality
  • In order to define responses to conflict, the following strategic issues need to be considered: the main conflict indicators and the synergies among them; any gaps in peacebuilding; and strategic choices to be made by responding institutions.

Step 2 & 3: Conflict analysis and peace analysis

The following guiding questions are used for these two steps:

  • Have you considered indicators at all levels (local, national, international)?
  • Have you considered indicators that relate to political, economic, social, and security issues?
  • Have you considered the relative importance of historic, present and future indicators?
  • Are your indicators reflective only of the current phase of the conflict (pre-conflict, actual conflict, post conflict)? If so, please consider whether other phases are relevant.
  • Are the indicators you selected important both in terms of facts and perceptions?
  • Do the indicators selected reflect the concerns of different sectors of the population (women, elderly, poor, children, rich, etc.)?

Step 4: Stakeholder analysis

The same guiding questions as above, plus the following:

  • Peace agendas: what visions of peace do the stakeholders have? What kind of peace do they want? What are the main elements of their peace agendas (land reform, national autonomy)?
  • Capacities: what capacities do the stakeholders have to support conflict prevention and peacebuilding or to otherwise affect it?
  • Implications for peacebuilding: strategic conclusions: what implications does this analysis have for pursuing structural stability and peacebuilding?

Step 5: Scenarios and objectives

The guiding questions are:

  • What are trends in key conflict indicators/synergies, peace indicators, and stakeholder dynamics?
  • What is your judgement about best/middle/worst-case scenarios when considering the overall (conflict, peace, stakeholder) picture?
  • What optimal and contingency objectives can you draw from the best and worst case (respectively) scenarios?

Step 6: Strategic issues and choices

The guiding questions are:

  • In view of the full analysis, review identified conflict synergies. Are they complete?
  • Assess the initiatives of other agencies and the capacity and comparative advantage of one’s own agency in the different fields (governance, economic, socio-cultural and security).
  • In view of the previous questions, are key peacebuilding gaps adequately defined?
  • Specifically look at your capacity in different fields (political, economic, social, security) at all levels (local, regional and international). What can be mobilised to impact on conflict synergies and peacebuilding gaps?

Step 7: Peacebuilding recommendations

Once the recommendations have been identified, they need to be looked at in terms of:

  • Overall peacebuilding objectives
  • Coherence of the strategy
  • Who should be involved

Required resources

The framework is designed to be most useful when used in a workshop setting, and so resources would be required to organise a workshop.

Lessons learnt

1. Although systematised thinking is required for good conflict analysis and strategy development, the constantly changing nature of conflict is not easily captured in tables and boxes. The use of supplementary devices to enhance understanding (e.g. conflict trees) is therefore essential.

2. The diagnostic tool is just that – it does not enable good analysis if its users lack a good understanding of the conflict under study, or analytical skills.

3. The tool needs to be adapted for use by different types of actors, e.g. international development agencies with programmed development interventions, or local NGOs engaging in various activities.

4. In order to ensure high quality analysis and a good strategy, the tool should be applied in a workshop process that brings together key (constructive) stakeholders.

Commentary on the tool


Available reports

The Compendium of Operational Tools can also be consulted at www.acdi-cida.gc/peace for operational tools, best practices and lessons learned.

Contact details

Chief, Peacebuilding Unit