What is Conflict?

ITM has gone beyond viewing conflict simply as violence. In order to look at how conflict arises, what its impacts can be and what we can do, we need to be clear on what conflict is and the different levels of conflict:

  • Conflict is a breakdown in communication and relationships
  • It can be a heated encounter between opposite forces- it could be individual people, families or between communities (Travellers & settled people) or between the State and Travellers
  • It can be a destructive interaction between people
  • It can be an internal response to events possibly leading to a disagreement or dispute between people

While conflict can be negative with serious impacts, conflict can also be something that is positive in that it brings about change

  • Conflict can be an opportunity for growth & development
  • Conflict may be necessary to create change within a system that is not working (for example, challenging institutional racism)
  • Conflict can occur due to change as an organisation or community grows or develops

Once we begin to change how we view conflict from simply being about violence or feuding we can now being to look at the importance of developing strategies around conflict management which will lead to increased communication and building better relationships. If we change how we view conflict, it also increases the potential to intervene earlier and reduce levels of violence one we have developed our analysis of what conflict is, how it begins, what we can do and how it can escalate.

Goals and vision of conflict work

ITM members have identified conflict as a key strategic aim in our work. Central to working on conflict are a series of goals of what we want to achieve in working on this issue:

  • Creating safe non-violent spaces for families to live and bring up their children and improve quality of life.
  • Improving relationships by creating a climate of trust and dialogue around contentious issues between Traveller and Traveller and between Travellers and the settled community
  • Building a shared Traveller identity that all Travellers feel proud of and that is known and valued by the settled community.
  • Naming of abuse and alleviating suffering to protect the vulnerable and prevent or repair damage arising out of conflict.
  • Pursuing non-violent means of managing conflict to achieve desired goals and aspirations.
  • Promoting new and healthy ways of dealing with conflict to strengthen relationships between all parties both Traveller and settled.
  • Strengthening Traveller culture to enact shared identity and support collective responsibility for it while respecting individual and family diversity.
  • Addressing structural violence and internalised oppression – to heal/ repair the impact of collective extended and continuing marginalisation and disempowerment and abuse suffered as an ethnic minority
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