State the ultimate actor for peace: speakers | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 06, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:19 AM, December 06, 2019

Conflict Resolution in Rural Areas:

State the ultimate actor for peace: speakers

Involvement of local government resolves a significant amount of conflict through dialogue while the success rate of doing so by the police is low, says a study on dynamics of micro-conflicts and in rural areas of the country.

Analysing some 251 cases of conflicts in four southern districts -- Dinajpur, Rangpur, Thakuragon and Nilphamari, researchers said the inertia of state organisations [like police] is a reason why conflicts remains unresolved.

The study, which analysed four types of conflicts -- familial dispute, land dispute, sexual harassment and fraudulence, was disseminated at a seminar at Cirdap auditorium in Dhaka yesterday.

Researchers found that most victims are female while perpetrators are male. Police are the dominant public authorities for land disputes, while local government is for family disputes, they said.

The study shows that citizen-run village arbitration processes effectively use democratic dialogue as a means to settle interpersonal conflicts, where civil society organisations (CSO), local government and local elites also perform a significant role.

“Our study offers a novel way of mapping the process for interpersonal conflicts and the role of the different actors like civil society, local government and state,” said Dr Zahid ul Arefin Choudhury, associate professor of political science at Dhaka University.

Mentioning that strategic interplay of relationship between the state and civil society will determine how the society will transform, he suggested that the persistent resource mobilisation towards institutionalising democratic dialogue and institutions at the community level will transform the equilibrium towards a civil and political society.

“Here, the state is a capable and a proactive agent of conflict transformation,” he added.

Chaired by eminent rights activist Advocate Sultana Kamal, Prof Meghna Guhathakurta, executive director of Research Initiatives Bangladesh; women’s rights activist Rokeya Kabir; and Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum; joined the seminar as panel discussants.

“State is the ultimate actor for peace. If equity and equality are established, a peaceful society can be established,” said Advocate Sultana Kamal.

Prof Meghna Guhathakurta said, “Uncertainty is the root of conflict. For conflict transformation, psycho-social treatment for victims is essential and should be an integral part.”

Highlighting the role of the state actors, Rokeya Kabir said, “Indifferent attitude by the state actors sometimes help escalate conflict. [So] We have to deal with power structure for conflict transformation.”

“Position of the state does not only depend on the well-being of majority.  We could say the state is maintaining its standard when minorities can say they are leading a peaceful life,” said Sanjeeb Drong.

He urged everybody to safeguard others, irrespective of religion, sex, or languages.

Speaking as special guest, Israfil Alam, lawmaker for Naogaon-6 constituency said, “Conflict transformation within the society was an integral part of Bangladesh. The importance of court cannot be ignored, but we can reactivate the [traditional] practice [of dialogue] for a peaceful society.”

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