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Modus Operandi

En librairie

Transformation de conflit, de Karine Gatelier, Claske Dijkema et Herrick Mouafo

Aux Éditions Charles Léopold Mayer (ECLM)


Brussels, novembre 2007

Motives and objectives of conflict intervention

Reasons why people choose to intervene in a conflict

There are at least 13 categories of objectives or motives for conflict intervention (1). Often more than one is at work in any given case at any given time. With a few exceptions, most objectives and motives can be found in both state and non-state situations. The examples of objectives and motives given here are arbitrarily chosen.

  • Change the attitude and/or the behaviour of one or all of the conflict parties (e.g. by conflict resolution workshops or by sanctions against a government);

  • Change the distribution of power within one conflict party (e.g. by sanctions meant to build up so much pressure against the government that it gets overthrown);

  • Support one conflict party with the goal to help it win the conflict (e.g. the Latin American solidarity movement);

  • Change the means by which the conflict is carried out (e.g. by giving training in nonviolent resistance techniques);

  • Protect human rights (e.g. by building international public pressure like Amnesty International does);

  • Help the victims of violence and war (shelter, medicine, clothing);

  • Guarantee agreements made (e.g. by sending peacekeeping troops);

  • Support civil society (many international NGOs concentrate on that field while it is a rather recent discovery with governments);

  • Influence powerful external parties so that they change their behaviour, and/or intervene in the conflict (social movements and NGOs);

  • Protect one’s own citizens (governments only, e.g. by evacuating their own citizens when a violent conflict flares up);

  • Defend own strategic or economic interests;

  • Find supporters/members for the own cause, promote own cause (e.g. missionaries);

  • Facilitate social or economic change (e.g. development aid).

These are only motives and objectives as they relate to the conflict for the interveners usually have many organisational motives of their own. For example, to satisfy lobbyists and voters who expect certain behaviour from a government, to win public credibility by sponsoring a popular project, and to get new funds from sponsors and so on.


  • (1) : see Schweitzer 1998 a.