Conflict exists in all societies. Conflict happens when two or more people or groups have, or think they have, incompatible goals. When dealt with effectively conflict can be a force for positive change and development in society. The relationship between poverty and conflict is complex. Poverty, inequality and unmet human rights often create the conditions to stimulate or escalate an existing conflict.

Groups in society may be more easily incited to use violence if they are marginalised and alienated. States where governance is weak often lack the mechanisms to resolve conflict without recourse to violence.

Risk of conflict becoming violent and protracted is therefore higher where there is unequal development, weak governance and poor access to rights. Violent conflict creates new pathways into poverty through increased human rights violations and the destruction of infrastructure and livelihoods. Mistrust grows between communities and the institutions that are supposed to support them.

Instead of working together to climb out of poverty, poor people become trapped in new dynamics of poverty and conflict. This in turn, can create the conditions for conflict to become further entrenched. Peacebuilding must therefore address development needs and seek to build trust between communities. Development initiatives need to be designed with careful consideration of the conflict context. For peacebuilding and development to be effective they must be driven by dynamic state and civil society institutions which are characterised by constructive relations with each other and the populations they serve.

Sustainable peace is built when people, communities and institutions work together to address the problems that cause and result from violent conflict and resolve conflict without recourse to violence.