Managing political transitions, avoiding conflict

In all regions of the world, conflicts of transition concerning political power have either been taking place or were taking place, from ancient times up until now. The following points can serve as an orientation for countries as to how to avoid such conflicts in the future:

  • Open dialogue should take place among actors of society, so to meet the preoccupations and actual needs of all social and economic groups.
  • Economic development should be fostered, and the population should benefit from development, especially when it comes to subsistence.
  • It is essential to build trust among the population by strengthening the rule of law.
  • Official positions in state institutions should be rendered more representative of the population in order to strengthen national unity.
  • Governments should work with traditional and new leaders considered, or known, to be both reliable and responsible.
  • Status- and merit-based promotions and appointments within state institutions should be conducted instead of arbitrary ones.
  • Excessive fluctuations of economic allocation of resources should be limited and well-managed when it comes to ethnic groups, territories, or otherwise, in order to avoid tensions or power struggles.
  • If a newly constituted establishment sides with thus far marginalized groups, this should take place in a balanced manner, so to avoid adverse reactions both by those privileged and those less privileged.
  • Conflicts of interest should be avoided, for instance ones which sometimes surface when local leaders are empowered in regions thus far sidelined, and to a degree where these leaders become rivals of central power.
  • Internally, transgressions by fringe groups and, sometimes, state officials should be met by appropriate sanctioning without, however, alienating people supporting such groups or persons.
  • Resources can be used more efficiently, however they are not endless; thus, it is important for groups and persons to self-limit their personal ambitions.
  • In case of incidents of open dispute or conflict, government should try to help those concerned to de-escalate, wherever possible.
  • After a transition, government should keep up links with traditional partners in neighboring countries and further abroad, maintaining partnerships.
  • Both government and civil-society organizations of developed countries should welcome and support the legitimately elected new leadership of any country vulnerable to tensions, and help such government, be it through counseling or material forms of aid, to adhere to the rules of law.
  • To ensure a positive impact, transparency in political communication should be guaranteed.

Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
10 April 2021

Author: author

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