2.2.2 Suggested questions for a detailed conflict analysis:


  • What is the history of the conflict?
  • What is the wider political, economic, social and cultural context?
  • What are the key conflict issues?
  • Where are the conflict-affected/prone areas geographically located?


  • What are the root and proximate causes of conflict? Root causes are the real issues at the centre of the conflict (whether violent or latent) that need to be resolved. Proximate causes are factors that increase the possibility of conflict becoming violent or further escalating, such as the availability of small arms or financial resources to buy them, or the support of scattered groups and external supporters.
  • What are the structural causes of conflict? Structural causes are built into the policies, structures and fabric of society, and may help create the preconditions for violence. For example, discriminatory policy, inequitable resource allocation, and lack of opportunity for political participation and representation in government.
  • What are the triggers of conflict? Triggers are specific acts or events (or anticipation of them) that raise tension and set off or escalate violence. For example, assassination or imprisonment of a key figure, sudden key commodity price increases, electoral periods and culturally significant dates.
  • What emerging trends are contributing to conflict? For example, radicalisation of conflict parties, development of a war economy, discovery of new natural resources or mass migration.
  • What factors currently contribute to peace? For example, communication channels between conflict parties, shared cultural events/practices or local peace initiatives.


  • Who are the main actors in the conflict? How are they interlinked? Which are opposed and which are allied or have common cause?
  • What are their main interests, goals, positions, capacities and relationships? Interests refers to their underlying motivations; goals refers to the strategies they use to achieve those interest; positions refers to the solutions the actors present on key issues; capacities refers to the actors’ potential to affect the conflict positively or negatively and could include a power analysis; and relationships refers to the interactions between different actors and their perceptions of those interactions.
  • What actors support capacities for peace? (these could be institutions, groups or individuals)
  • What actors are or might become spoilers who could undermine a peace process?


  • What stage is the conflict at? What are the past and current conflict trends? How has violence changed over time? At what times does it escalate/de-escalate and why?
  • What are the windows of opportunity? Are these being utilised?

What are the best, worst and most likely scenarios for the future of the conflict based on the above information? What does each scenario depend on? This is essential to plan alternative responses.