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Resolving intractable conflicts

ABSTRACT: This volume looks at hard cases of conflict, where the displacement of populations, radical power imbalances and state and regional instabilities predispose to violence and impede conflict resolution. This introductory article focuses on the particular difficulties that make some conflicts continue over long periods with intermittent periods of intense violence. It explores the conditions under which such conflicts come to be resolved, and asks why this often appears to happen suddenly. After an overview of the theoretical literature it argues for a historical-structural approach that looks at the changing structural conditions of conflict and the different ways that seemingly insoluble conflicts can be reconfigured at other levels (international, regional, state).

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