Conference: Institutions for Conflict Resolution

On 28 and 29 September 2023, Empirical Research into Institutions for conflict resolution (ERI) organises the conference: Institutions for Conflict Resolution (COI) – Towards just institutional approaches to conflict prevention and resolution.

The 2023 COI-conference aims to identify just institutional approaches that seek (real) conflict prevention and conflict resolution in the legal context. We depart from the notion that institutional approaches to conflict prevention and resolution should be ‘just’ from a legal-doctrinal, legal-empirical, and/or legal-normative or -theoretical perspective. Specifically, we want to address three issues: individuals’ perspectives; the dynamic between non-public actors and public actors (also in the context of rule of law values); and/or the exceptional or modern challenges facing today’s society.

To offer some structure, we strive to analyse ‘just’ institutional approaches to conflict prevention and resolution in the context of three core formal mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflicts.

The role of public actors and non-public actors in the field of conflict prevention and resolution

The functioning of public actors involves the public and semi-public organisations that influence individual’s lives on behalf of the government. Key organisations in conflict prevention and resolution include the legislator, government policymakers, administrative bodies, the judiciary, the Public Prosecutor's Office, and supervisory authorities. This theme also involves new, sometimes non-public (private) actors - namely actors that are not institutionally embedded within the state. These include platforms, public-private partnerships, alternative conflict resolution institutions (mediators or arbiters) or agencies. Relevant questions related to this theme include: what are ‘institutions preventing and resolving conflicts’, how do they operate and develop (also from an individual’s perspective), and what is the relationship between them and the classic rule of law pillars or core values such as transparency, accountability, and participation?

The role of law enforcement

This theme relates to the supervision, investigation, enforcement, and sanctioning of violations of the law. Key institutions here include the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the judiciary, and supervisory authorities, which all play important roles in both conflict prevention and resolution. However, new collaborations on a European and global level have evolved, as well as the introduction of new actors, both public and private, in the field of law enforcement. Furthermore, the role and functions of institutions might change due to societal developments, including digitalisation and inter/trans-national crime. Relevant questions related to this theme include: what entails effective enforcement and how do public institutional actors in this field contribute to ‘just’ conflict prevention or resolution? How do (or should) they function in new collaborations, e.g. in cross-border enforcement? And how do public-institutional actors interact or cooperate with non-public, private actors in law enforcement? Are these new collaborations effective and just?

The role of compensation and other systems for restoration

Compensatory systems, or other systems or tools that aim at restoration, may be used to resolve and/or to redress conflicts. These include e.g. liability law, compensation funds, insurance systems, legal injunctions, and declaratory judgements. These systems may be part of civil, administrative, criminal, international, and human rights law. Their application, however, may unintentionally result in the escalation of a conflict, as demonstrated by the gas extraction file of the province of Groningen and the Dutch social benefit scandal (toeslagenaffaire). Relevant questions related to this theme include: whether and how current compensation systems (or restoration in the broad sense) may be adjusted or replaced based upon new insights regarding victims' needs or justice experiences; whether and how compensation systems should be reconsidered based upon societal challenges or changes? For instance, how should compensation address mass harm, harm connected to digitalisation, the climate crisis, or historical injustice like colonisalism? And how can any changes be justified from a legal-theoretical perspective?


This conference is an initiative of the law faculties of the Universities in UtrechtLeiden and Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Together we study how to improve conflict resolution via formal legal formal institutions. We aim to offer an academic learning platform for all researchers interested in institutions for conflict resolution and to create opportunities to connect, learn, and advance in the field of conflict resolution. We encourage early career academics to join this network.

Call for abstracts