THE 5 PERCENT PROBLEM
SCHOLARS WHO STUDY DIFFICULT CONFLICTS
around the world tell us that truly “intractable” conflicts, highly destructive ones that despite people’s best efforts will not go away, are relatively rare but extremely powerful. It is estimated that only about 5 percent of international conflicts since 1816 were considered intractable: they lasted more than twenty years despite multiple good-faith attempts to resolve them.1
The same is basically true in the international arena today. That means, for those of you counting, that 95 percent of conflicts are considered resolvable through such traditional means as military victory, diplomacy, mediation, negotiation, peacekeeping, use of sanctions, the courts, and so forth. ...