The use and limitations of conflict analysis: the case of the UNDP in the occupied Palestinian territory

The past two decades have seen international agencies pay closer attention to the relationship between conflict and development. An example of this is the UNDP and its conflict-related development analysis (CDA), which aims to identify the causes of conflict and design measures that will enhance development while reducing conflict. Through the case study of the CDA’s application in the occupied Palestinian territory, the article reveals its main limitations including an emphasis on conflict management (as opposed to conflict reduction), the choice of (neo-liberal) development model, prioritisation of particular partners over others (i.e. ‘state’ over non-state) and an erroneous assumption of neutrality. These have become manifested into the UNDP’s current programme for action which undermines its own stated objectives, to work ‘on’ the causes of conflict rather than ‘in’ or ‘around’ conflict. The UNDP’s experience therefore has important lessons for the use of conflict analysis and policy design elsewhere.