Conflict Sensitivity: Topic Guide

This guide highlights 3 approaches and tools: Do No Harm, Peace and Conflict Impact Assessment and Aid for Peace


This topic guide discusses the origin, evolution and applicability of conflict sensitivity. It highlights three key conflict sensitive approaches and tools: Do No Harm, Peace and Conflict Impact Assessment (PCIA) and Aid for Peace. All three approaches and tools examine how aid interventions can impact on the context. At the core of Do No Harm is analysis of dividing and connecting issues and actors. PCIA adds an additional layer of assessment – looking not only at how aid impacts on context but also at how the context can affect aid interventions. Aid for Peace differs from PCIA by focusing first on the peacebuilding needs in a specific context and tailoring interventions to meet those needs. The guide outlines briefly the methods, advantages and disadvantages of these approaches and tools. It also provides links to a range of additional NGO and donor conflict sensitivity approaches and toolkits.

The guide also discusses and points to literature on applying conflict sensitivity to particular sectors: humanitarian programming, stabilisation programming, security sector reform, services, infrastructure development, economic recovery, private sector, and natural resources, climate change and land governance. In addition to sector approaches and tools, there are now overarching policy frameworks, such as the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, which emphasise the importance of conflict sensitivity.

Challenges to achieving conflict sensitivity include: inconsistent application of conflict sensitivity at the inter-agency and policy levels, and throughout the project life cycle; analytical issues; insufficient attention to Southern perspectives; funding and timing constraints; lack of accountability for failure to incorporate conflict sensitivity; faulty assumptions that mandates to build peace automatically result in contributions to peace; capacity issues; and political pressures that can undermine conflict sensitivity processes. Where available, the guide outlines suggestions from the literature on how to address these challenges.


Haider, H. Conflict Sensitivity: Topic Guide. Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 41 pp.

Conflict Sensitivity: Topic Guide

Published 1 January 2014