Juridische mechanismen van conflictbeheersing in België : het onderwijsprobleem

  • Filip Reyntjens orcid logo


Political and sociological research indicates that the use of consociational techniques has been a major means of ensuring peace and stability in a divided society like Belgium. This paper attempts to cast a first look at another component: what are the legal mechanisms of confiictmanagement in Belgium ? This question is studied on the basis of the case of the school-confiict, which is one aspect of the ideological dividing line ; this was indeed the first to be institutionalised in Belgium. The drafting of the 1831 Constitution was the first great exercise in consensus-seeking and the same approach prevailed over much of the 19th century. It was interrupted, however, during the first «School War» which was waged from 1879 to 1884. After the First World War a number of issues in the educational dispute were settled by way of package-deals, which were an attempt to replace zero-sum games by more-or-less choices. However a second School War erupted from 1950 to 1958. After the 1958 elections the balance of power was such that compromise showed necessary again : this situation led to the «School Pact» which tried to institutionalise consociational solution-seeking in this field. The Pact system was later applied in numerous other fields where mere majoritarian decision-making was discarded.
White in the School issue these solutions were not as yet legalised, in later agreements they were.
The paper argues that the main aim of these approaches is to avoid adjudication on these issues by third confiict-solvers, such as courts and tribunals. Instead allocation is arranged between the participants to the deal ; these partners are the political parties who claim to represent the whole range of public opinion. In this way «soft law» is created : this development represents a creeping undermining of the Rule of Law.

How to Cite:

Reyntjens, F., (1986) “Juridische mechanismen van conflictbeheersing in België : het onderwijsprobleem”, Res Publica 28(4), 591-614. doi:

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Published on
30 Dec 1986
Peer Reviewed