Ripeness Theory Essay

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UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE QUESTION : Drawing examples from Africa, evaluate the applicability of Zartman’s ripeness theory. The ripeness theory is a concept which asserts that parties resolve their conflicts only when they are ready to do so. It is based mainly on two theories, that is the mutual hurting stalemate as well as, blockage of unilateral solutions. Zartman asserts that conflict has two patterns of escalation, namely; the plateau and the precipice. This essay will focus on conflicts in several conflicts in Africa and then evaluate whether or not the ripeness theory is applicable to those conflicts. These countries include Zimbabwe, South Africa, Egypt, Sudan and Eritria and Ethiopia. However, it would be an overstatement to conclude that most conflicts were resolved because both parties were ready for resolution as some states may have pretended to surrender in order to benefit something and miscalculations as to the level of ripeness of the conflict may be made and not all ripeness leads to negotiation as it is sometimes very difficult to establish and seize ripe moments.. The ripeness theory was propounded by William I Zartman in 1989.Zartman posits that when the means of achieving a satisfactory result are blocked and the parties feel that they are in an uncomfortable and costly predicament. Thus they seek proposals that offer a way out. These may include mediation and negotiation leading to peace agreements and even transitional governments. Ripeness can also be better understood based on the metaphor that; just as apples need to be ripe in order to be good for consumption, ripeness theory specifies that only a ripe conflict is conducive for negotiated settlement. There are several pre-conditions and situations which determine whether a conflict is ripe or not. The concept centres on the parties’ perception of a mutually hurting

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