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Evaluation of Conflict Resolution Interventions, Part II: Emerging Practice and Theory

NCJ Number
Cheyanne Church; Julie Shouldice
Date Published
March 2003
32 pages
This document discusses the challenges of evaluating conflict resolution interventions.
Many evaluation approaches currently in use cannot be adapted for implementation in conflict resolution (CR) environments, where the context is constantly changing and the time frame for results can extend over years or generations. The fear exists that evaluation may expose the fact that conflict resolution might not achieve the results that have popularly been attributed to its work. Despite the challenges, valuable information can be gained through the evaluation process. A CR evaluator can take on different roles, such as operative or consultant, depending on the goal or purpose of the evaluation. There is a spectrum of engagement between the evaluator and the project. The evaluator can be external or internal in the project, or in the middle with a compromise between these extremes. Developing a code of conduct for CR evaluators is one way to address the challenge of doing no harm and examining whether the evaluation itself is ethically responsible. Political motivation can affect the credibility and value of the evaluation’s findings. The issue of who owns the evaluation and who determines its distribution can affect the information that is provided through the process. Two gaps emerge in the theoretical understanding of conflict resolution. The first is addressing if and how change is affected beyond the direct participants in a project. The second is evaluating the ideas that underpin actions. Theory-based evaluation, which explores how and why an initiative works, provides a possible starting point for future evaluations of working assumptions and theories of change. Enough experience has been acquired in conflict resolution to allow the field to become more critical of how interventions are conducted and more sophisticated in analyzing their effects. But the information gathered is often under-utilized and overly simplistic. It is hoped that, by considering more of the factors that influence the project and its evaluation, evaluations will contribute to an improvement in both practice and theory. 8 diagrams, 25 footnotes, 2 appendices, bibliography