Conflict Sensitivity

A conflict sensitive approach involves gaining a sound understanding of the two-way interaction between activities and context[1] and acting to minimise negative impacts and maximise positive impacts of interventions on conflict, within an organization’s given priorities/objectives (mandate).

There are three main components of conflict sensitivity:
1. Conflict analysis, to ensure a sound understanding of the conflict context;
2. Analysis of the potential interaction between programmes and conflict;
3. Action to maximise positive impacts and to minimise negative impacts on conflict.

There are many tools to help us analyse conflict, however conflict sensitivity is more than just the application of a ‘tool’ to specific programmes/projects. Enabling conflict sensitive practice involves capacity and skills of staff, institutional policies and commitment, and flexibility of donors and other stakeholders.

Why is this important to CARE?
As an organisation committed to improving the lives of the most vulnerable, a significant portion of CARE’s programming is undertaken in areas affected by conflict. Recognising that programmatic interventions are not neutral actors in such conflict affected areas, CARE considers it a moral imperative to ensure that interventions do not exacerbate violence. Conflict sensitivity is relevant in situations of both direct violence and indirect violence[2]. It should be used not only where violence is open and active, but also in situations of latent conflict (where the problems are bubbling below the surface) and in situations of emergent peace, since tensions can quickly re-emerge.

CARE is a member of the conflict sensitivity consortium. The consortium aims to understand what “conflict sensitivity” means in practice, in terms of organisational systems as well as during the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of specific interventions. The Consortium comprises a diverse range of agencies and aims to share its findings widely in the humanitarian, peacebuilding and development sectors to enhance the capacity to institutionalise and implement conflict sensitive approaches. For more information go to

Conflict Sensitivity in Emergency Response

CARE is one agency keenly involved in considering how to best integrate conflict sensitive approaches into humanitarian situations. For more on this, please follow this link.

Key Readings:

[1] through conflict analysis[2] Direct violence relates to an active use of force, while indirect violence includes violence that inhibits people reaching their full potential, such as discrimination.