There is no single cause of conflict. Rather, conflict is context-specific, multi-causal and multi-dimensional and can result from a combination of the following factors:
- Political and institutional factors: weak state institutions, elite power struggles and political exclusion, breakdown in social contract and corruption, identity politics.
- Socioeconomic factors: inequality, exclusion and marginalisation, absence or weakening of social cohesion, poverty.
- Resource and environmental factors: greed, scarcity of national resources often due to population growth leading to environmental insecurity, unjust resource exploitation.
Each of these factors may constitute a cause, dynamic and/or impact of conflict. Identifying and understanding the interactions between various causes, dimensions and dynamics of conflict - and the particular contexts in which conflict arises, is essential in determining potential areas of intervention; and designing appropriate approaches and methods for conflict prevention, resolution and transformation.
The way in which a government or institution at an international or societal level addresses conflict between individuals, groups or nations can determine whether the parties to the conflict will resort to violence.