Capacity Building: a powerful tool to prevent and resolve conflicts

Written by – Dr. Juan Lattanzio

MediateGuru´s Representative Advisor: Argentina

(Lawyer, Master of Arts in International Studies and

Conflict resolution specialist:

Mediator, Ombuds, Coach)


Capacity building (or capacity development) is the process through which individuals, organizations and societies obtain, strengthen and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their own development objectives over time. It allows individuals and organizations to perform at a greater capacity. Capacity building refers not merely to the achievement of new skills, but also to the capability to use them.

Capacity Building and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs)

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, providing a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

The Goal 17 aims to revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. Its Target 17.9 points to encourage international cooperation to implement effective and targeted capacity building to implement all the SDGs.

The Goal 16 focus on the importance of promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies. Its Target 16.A mentions the key role that capacity building has at all levels to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

Capacity building: conflict resolution

There are different types of capacity building approaches. The capacity-building approach to solve conflicts is key to provide tools for the identification of conflict, the proper analysis of different options to address it, empower to effectively solve it and also prevent future ones.

As complex conflicts inevitably occur, insecurity is a constant, courts are overloaded and institutions do not fully respond to these major problems, it is important to construct capacity to manage disputes and solve conflicts. This requires that different actors learn dispute management skills, with an adapted training to their particular context in order for them to effectively apply them. There are different ways at different stages to develop conflict management capacity.

In the childhood stage, children are commonly taught how to speak but not how to listen. It would be important to teach them full communication tools at an early stage.

In adolescence, exaggerated and variable emotions as well as a certain inconsistency in their behavior are common. It would be very essential at this stage to teach them, in addition to giving importance to the intellect, about emotional intelligence, especially regarding compassion and empathy.

In the professional academic stage where graduates and postgraduates acquire a sum of key knowledge for the development of their profession, and since the conflict is transversal to any area, it would be crucial to provide them with some kind of dispute resolution skills in order to work in a more collaborative way and to be able to reach consensus on complex problems that may arise.

As mentioned, peace is elementary for development and it is key to achieve a harmonious coexistence. At any stage of life and for any profession, the active implementation of training programs that give to build capacity to transform the inevitable conflict into an opportunity for growth as a society and among states. This fundamental need identified that must be promptly addressed, is already observed by many international organizations which begun to incorporate training and build local capacity in conflict resolution into their technical assistance programs.


  • Mediation Beyond Borders International (MBBI)

Their work of capacity-building and advocacy Initiatives pursues to develop local skills to resolve and transform conflict. They design and implement multi-year programs that amplify local voices, transform conflict, and build skills for a peaceful society. These programs: Integrate local practices, Collaborative efforts and keep people at the center. Their goal is to strengthen civil society and governmental organizations through advocacy, training, facilitation, dialogue, mediation, and other peacebuilding processes. These efforts increase local abilities to heal from violence, reconcile communities, develop resilience against pressures to join armed conflicts, and manage conflict sustainably. Worth mentioning their important Climate Change Policy Project to Strengthening human capacity to build peace and constructively manage conflict at all levels, local to global, related to the climate crisis.

  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

The United Nations was always a pioneer in the field of technical cooperation, and capacity development is its central mandate. UNDP opportunely understood, that countries in persistently fragile contexts, particularly affected by conflict, presented deeply complex challenges with capacity development efforts. That´s why the shared a report on “Capacity Development in Conflict and Fragile Contexts” giving concrete recommendations for building sustainable capacity and meaningfully promote country-ownership of peacebuilding and state building efforts.

  • Organization of American States (OAS)

OAS established a special program for the promotion of Dialogue and Conflict Resolution that offers various tools, training methodologies and experts from the field of conflict resolution to the member states. The program's mission is to strengthen and consolidate democratic governance, expand participatory forms of decision-making and help institutionalize conflict resolution and prevention systems upon the request of the member states. The program builds skills in good governance and conflict transformation while promoting the necessary values, attitudes and practices that support them: inclusiveness, transparency, collaboration, respect for human rights and the rule of law.


Understanding the importance of capacity building service in general and in particular to resolve and prevent conflicts, it is necessary to emphasize that mediators and other peacemakers are the right people to provide it. Experts troubleshooters, with the emotional intelligence to identifying fact, emotions and need; and with the essential tools to help achieve sustainable agreements, are the ones that can effectively strengthen the conflict management capacity building service by providing advice, tailored virtual or face-to-face training on various conflict management themes and support for the analysis of issues, trends and patterns that may lead to conflict.


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