center for sustainable justice

Solving a Conflict is more than resolving a Dispute.Click here

Conflict resolution

Most conflicts or problems solve without major problems. Sometimes this is done with the help of others. If this all fails, you can go to court to solve the problem by legal means. Judges solve legal disputes. Often this does not solve the conflict or problem completely.


Conflicts and disputes

Conflicts and disputes are very different.

Conflicts and problems are dynamic, diffuse and intangible. They become a part of your life and you carry them with you until they are resolved. They are like a plot in the movie of your life. Their impact can change with anything that happens.

Disputes are about a legally significant fragment of the plot, the crime, breach of contract or tort. Unlike conflicts, disputes are static. They do not change and concern concrete matters, such as material interests, punishment or deprivation of liberty.

In court they are legally magnified and analyzed. If the court detects a legal error, it corrects it by, for example, awarding compensation or imposing a penalty. The decision resolves the legal dispute, but that does not automatically solve the conflict or problem.

We have visually illustrated these differences with our

- Conflict and Dispute chart


Sustainable conflict resolution

A sustainable final result includes both dispute resolution and conflict resolution. We find that the gap between dispute resolution and conflict resolution can only be bridged by first resolving the conflict or problem and then settling the dispute. How this happens in practice is shown in two examples:

- The Healthcare Institution’s case

- The Payroll Administrator’s case


The Lohman Cabbage Conflict Model

We perceive a strong relationship between the dynamics of conflicts and problems and those of buds of trees and plants in nature. In order to clearly illustrate this relationship, Alexander de Savornin Lohman chose a large ’bud’, the head of a red cabbage. Click on the link to see his model with an explanation.  

- The Lohman Cabbage Conflict Model