Second Order Cindynics1 rely on a strict modeling that sometimes seems difficult to grasp. In summary, considering subjectivities leads to situation descriptions which depend on observers, and enables to rigorously highlight differences or disparities between perceptions of reality, and divergences between estimations of what should be or should have been an ideal situation. Reducing disparities, then divergences: this is the basic process of deconflictualisation.

In fact, this approach to deconflictualisation is very simple: last May, I read an article that Yousef Munayyer published on Foreign Policy, which was devoted to Israeli-Palestinian relations. The author had very simply summarised the deconflictualisation process in two sentences: "Any useful discussion that helps move the situation forward should not start by building consensus around a vision for the future, as important as that will be, but by first having a clear perception of the problem. After all, it is a lot harder for people to collectively apply a solution to a problem they do not see the same way

Having a clear and common perception at first is precisely the goal of disparity reduction. And once disparities have been reduced, it is then possible to start working on reducing prospective divergences. These notions are quite simple, and it then remains to become familiar with the descriptions of disparities and divergences, rigorously constructed using the Method of Relativised Conceptualisation (MRC) developed by Mioara Mugur-Schächter2 .

Regarding the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the publication of the Muse and Duclert reports enabled to illustrate the notion of cindynical space, the importance of data and knowledge in decision-making and behaviour, as well as the importance of rules and ethics. However, the Rwandan question is notably conflictual, even today, and the cindynical analysis requires a second-order approach.

It is important to understand that the extension of cindynical models to second order was historically necessited by the application of Cindynics to the field of informational risk. As a result, Second Order Cindynics are particularly suited to the analysis of situations where different actors propagate discordant information flows or descriptions. This is indeed the case for many actors who speak out on the issue of the 1994 genocide.

The publication of the Duclert report thus offers the opportunity to first of all analyse the disparities between the point of view of the Duclert commission, and those of the French parliamentary mission of 1998 or other actors, in particular Rwandan or US actors: deconflictualisation is not based on an admitted static truth, it is a continuous process which enables to approach the reality of facts by gradually reducing disparities.

This process has two components: the reduction of systemic disparities, and the reduction of topological disparities. Systemic disparities are the differences between the perceptions of an actor of a situation by different observers: these differences concern the five dimensions of the cindynic space. For example, the same actor may be seen as having legitimate political objectives by an observer, or as having military objectives incompatible with the principles of democracy by another observer.


Topological disparities appear obviously since the differences in perception of an actor by two observers only exist if these two observers study this actor, which is not always the case: different observers will study different sets of actors in a situation, much like two photographers will choose to include different sets of people in a group photo. Selecting actors is a crucial step in analysis: different selections lead to different stories.


It can also happen that these topological disparities are due to the fact that two observers do not use the same scale of observation, the same granularity of analysis of collective actors: some may consider countries, which may be an excessive simplification, while others will differentiate collective entities: government, presidency, army, militias, etc. And some may make observations at the individual level, and will consider a president, some specific ministers or ambassadors... In practice, this last scale cannot be used systematically.

In addition, it is interesting to consider the phenomena of risk transduction, and to broaden the horizon of the study in order to assess the related risks fostered by the latest positions taken by some actors, such as possible sub-regional destabilisation operations, or the issue of legitimising armed groups.

2 MUGUR-SCHÄCHTER, Mioara. Objectivity and Descriptional Relativities Foundations of Science. Juin 2002, Vol. 7, nᵒ 1, p. 73‑180. DOI 10.1023/A:1016095424229