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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War 7 Interactive Conflict Resolution: A View for Policy Makers on Making and Building Peace Harold H.Saunders, with contributions by Louise Diamond, Herbert C.Kelman, John Marks, Joseph V.Montville, and Vamik Volkan Editors’ Note: Chapters 7 and 8 address a particular approach to conflict resolution, most often called interactive conflict resolution, from the distinct viewpoints of a practitioner (Chapter 7) and a scholar (Chapter 8). In Chapter 7, Harold Saunders and his collaborators provide an informative introduction that will be valuable to those unfamiliar with the approach and a set of conclusions based on his many years of experience with international conflict resolution. In Chapter 8, Nadim Rouhana examines international conflict resolution from an analytical standpoint, discussing what would be necessary for a systematic and scientific evaluation of its effectiveness. There is a difference in the perspectives of the two chapters: practitioners want handy judgments about the probable usefulness of international conflict resolution, while scholars are more patient about waiting for the evidence. From the perspective of this volume, case material and practitioners’ judgments, such as are presented in Chapter 7, are important inputs to the kind of social scientific analysis described in Chapter 8. Social scientific methods can be used profitably to evaluate the effects of interventions and to better inform practitioners about the conditions favorable for their success. Policy making today must start from the recognition that relation ships between countries and groups are a political process of con tinuous interaction between whole bodies politic—not just what governments and leaders do to each other. Many of the deep-rooted human conflicts that seize our attention today demonstrate that signifii-
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War cant dimensions of these conflicts are beyond the reach of governments. The list of examples is long, well known, and compelling. Many deep-rooted human conflicts are partly beyond the reach of governments because they are not ready for diplomacy, formal mediation, or negotiation. People do not negotiate about their identities, historic grievances, dignity, hopes, or fears. We will not have an adequate conceptual framework for making or evaluating policy or operations either by government or by citizens outside government until we recognize that peace is not made by governments alone. Important as government is, ultimately peaceful relationships are built by people. There will continue to be some things that only officials can do—such as negotiate, ratify, fund, and enforce binding agreements—but there are some things that only citizens can do—such as change human relationships and reconnect the severed sinews necessary to bridge divides in a functional society. We all know that peace accords—milestones that they are—do not by themselves make peace; only whole human beings in whole bodies politic can build peaceful relationships. Consider what happens in a community, country, or region torn by conflict. A functioning society includes a range of interactions that span the natural differences that characterize any developed society. When conflict breaks out, people break those ties as they retreat within the safety of their combatant group. A mediator comes and helps reach an agreement to end violence. Then, too often, the mediator leaves, giving little attention that the agreement may not be sustainable until the severed sinews of a healthy society are restored. Or if a government does recognize the need to help with “reconstruction,” that task is too often left for aid offices; those at the top of government who gave high-level political support for the mediator go on to other things, leaving those who are rebuilding torn societies to the mercies of those who initiated the conflict in the first place.1 It is time to recognize at the highest levels that citizens outside government now have a well-developed systematic approach to peace making—their counterpart to the mediation, negotiation, and diplomacy of governments. Policy for ending deep-rooted human conflict will not be realistic unless policy makers think in terms of a multilevel peace process that embraces both official and public peace-making efforts. A comprehensive peace process will work in the civil societies where citizens form the associations they need to build the practices and institutions of peace as well as in official negotiating rooms. It is time for citizens inside and outside government to work together to bring to peace making all that each has to offer. Policy at the highest levels must embrace all levels in the multilevel peace process—not just focus on
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War negotiation and leave reconnecting the torn ligaments of society to functional agencies. For three decades now a modest but increasing number of citizens outside government have been developing processes of nonofficial dialogue, analysis, and more recently common citizen action that enable citizens to act systematically to change conflictual relationships. In this paper that process is called “interactive conflict resolution.” In the context of a comprehensive multilevel peace process, defining and naming this process give it at last a dignity, seriousness, and systematic character as the citizens’ peace process. It deserves attention comparable to the study and recognition given over more than three centuries to the traditional instruments of statecraft. This methodology provides citizens with the capacity to conduct the public as contrasted to the official tracks of the peace process. Although the impact of these unofficial efforts is sometimes difficult to assess precisely, policy makers ignore the potential of this complementary resource at the risk of failing to engage with a significant force for peaceful change. If governments and citizens could learn to work in complementary ways, the resources available for building peaceful societies would be infinitely increased. The purpose of this paper is to give policy makers a first-hand look at how interactive conflict resolution works. THE MULTILEVEL PEACE PROCESS As we flew on Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s shuttle aircraft around the Arab-Israeli arena after the October 1973 war, we began calling what we were doing the “negotiating process.” It seemed a good name for what we were doing at the beginning. Kissinger openly stated that the strategy was to mediate one partial agreement after another with the expectation that a series of interim disengagement agreements could establish momentum and credibility. As people saw agreements carefully negotiated and implemented, they might support their governments in going further. That cumulative experience could gradually change the patterns of interaction, the perceptions, and the limits in relationships between Israel and its neighbors and eventually the relationships themselves. After the first disengagement agreement between Egypt and Israel in January 1974, the prospect of a follow-on effort to achieve a comparable agreement between Israel and Syria created a political environment in which Saudi Arabia felt able to lift the oil embargo that had been imposed during the war. President Richard Nixon’s visit to the Middle East after the Israel-Syria disengagement agreement in May generated a further sense of the possibility of movement toward peace. In recognition of the
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War interaction between our mediation and the larger political environment, we began using the phrase “the peace process.” That process continued through a second Egyptian-Israeli interim agreement in 1975, the Camp David accords in 1978, the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in 1979, and the beginning of negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. A high point in that process was Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat’s visit to Israel in November 1977. His purpose was not to advance the negotiations as such, but recognizing the deep distrust of the Israeli people for their Arab neighbors, he went to Israel to demonstrate that peace with a major Arab country was possible. His act changed the perceptions of the Israeli people and created a political environment in which they gave their government permission to try peace. After I left government in 1981, I described that official peace process as “a series of mediated and negotiated agreements embedded in a larger political process.” It was in that larger process that relationships changed— albeit glacially. I also remember thinking and later writing that, “until political leaders acted to change the political environment, the mediators and negotiators did not have a chance.” As I have since learned, that political environment is populated by citizens who alone have the capacity to change human relationships. During the 1970s we in the government paid only minimal attention to a slowly burgeoning series of workshops between Arabs and Israelis outside government—and between American and Soviet citizens on the subject of the Soviet-U.S. relationship as it affected and was influenced by the Arab-Israeli peace process. We focused on the official peace process. But as the official process led the way, this unofficial process—which I now call the “public peace process”—was building its foundations, methods, and experience. Launched by a small number of scholar-practitioners, those meetings were never ends in themselves. They always served as laboratories for refining a methodology for probing systematically and learning how to change those conflictual relationships. Alongside this growing number of systematic dialogues, countless interactions took place among Israelis and Palestinians in many walks of life. In the 1980s the seminars, workshops, symposia, and dialogues proliferated. Although I have no proof, I would hypothesize that these countless interactions over two decades deserved a significant share of the credit when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn in 1993. I would further observe in another arena that many of the speeches and articles that cumulatively came to be called the “new political thinking” in Moscow during the Gorbachev period were produced by participants in the Dartmouth Conference—the longest con-
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War tinuous bilateral dialogue between American and Soviet citizens—and a handful of other such dialogues.2 In the Israeli-Palestinian context some would point to the credit earned by the nonofficial group that met in Oslo with Norwegian moderators and eventually negotiated an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on principles that were adopted by Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Nothing should be said to take any credit away from that small group or their Norwegian sponsors and mediators. But in a sense they were unique—a quasi-official process in which political authorities, in the end, endorsed and adopted their work. One could point to a variety of roles played by citizens outside government in other peace processes—Franco-German rapprochement after World War II, Soviet-U.S., Sino-U.S., Guatemalan, Salvadoran, intra-Estonian, Armenian-Azerbaijani, Tajikistani, Indian-Pakistani-Kashmiri, Northern Irish, South African. My purpose here is not to detail these other examples. My purpose is to state forcefully that the concept of the peace process will not be complete until the potential contribution of citizens outside government is recognized and included. It will not be brought into play with full power unless it is seen at the highest levels as operating at both the official and the unofficial or public levels. Having stated my thesis, I move now to describe how the unofficial or public peace process works. If official policy makers are to take into account the capacities of the public peace process to complement what governments do, officials need to understand that process in practical terms—what it is and is not, how it works, what it can and cannot do, and how in a complementary relationship with government it can contribute to progress in ways that governments often cannot. INTERACTIVE CONFLICT RESOLUTION: WHAT IS IT? Interactive conflict resolution is a well-defined and systematic approach used in small unofficial meetings of persons in tension or violent conflict to stimulate their talk together about the problems that divide the groups they identify with and the relationships that underlie those problems. Increasingly, practitioners see this approach at its best when it is a continuing process sustained over time, although one-time meetings can be fruitful in appropriate circumstances. The approach is distinguished most clearly by its differences from formal mediation and negotiation. The talk is different. It is wider ranging. Participants speak only for themselves—not under instruction from government or other political authority. They are free to explore a broad range of ideas that they come to believe—as a result of listening to each
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War other—are important. Often these are ideas that underlie or reach beyond present relationships. As participants exchange ideas, the talk is increasingly characterized by its interactive quality—that is, they gradually learn to talk, think, and work together on problems and relationships of importance to all in the group rather than only exchanging formal positions on agreed agenda items. This is not to say that negotiators never engage in such talk. One of the major advantages of the setting at Camp David was the opportunity for walks and talks on the trails as well as informal exchanges over meals. But while good negotiation is often characterized by its thoughtful problem-solving approach, at the end of the day representatives must be just that—delegates whose talk is limited by the positions and agendas of the authority that sent them to the table. They must go back to the task of writing an agreement that can stand up under the legal and political tests of ratification in their bodies politic. Officials have the authority and duty to negotiate binding agreements; citizens outside government have the opportunity and responsibility to change perspectives and conflictual relationships. The approach is different. Rather than focusing primarily on agenda issues and the need to write an agreement, participants explore their overall relationship. They examine their own human needs in relation to the needs of the other group. While participants in unofficial dialogue reflect the experience, feelings, and views of their own communities, their purpose in dialogue is to absorb the other party’s perspective—not to force their own. Participants put themselves, to the extent possible, in the minds of the adversary to understand what he or she needs in order to change the relationship. Rather than defending their own interests alone, they may gain respect for the others’ experience, feelings, and needs. They may experience change in themselves that can seem to bring them closer to the adversary. In a negotiation each side must claim to have defended its group’s interests even where compromise has been necessary. The product is different. Rather than aiming to produce a written agreement, the purpose is to generate insight, refocus perspective, redefine problems. Rather than seeking solutions, the hope is to shape new frameworks within which to tackle problems, change attitudes, alter relationships. When government policies hit a deadend, officials reach out for “ideas in the air” put there by groups with the freedom to think together outside established bounds. Confusion about interactive conflict resolution arises because of the different functions it serves in different circumstances or because of the different styles of moderators. Different activities are placed under this umbrella—some properly and some perhaps not. Which deserve to be
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War called “interactive conflict resolution”? For instance, participants are sometimes close to government and address an agenda close to the governmental agenda. They often talk like the governmental experts they are close to or were before retirement, and they think of their goal mainly as influencing government. Sometimes such groups are referred to as working on “track two”3 alongside a first governmental track. At the other end of the spectrum are groups that explicitly focus on changing the underlying dynamics of the relationships that cause conflict or on creating new networks of relationships. They give much more weight to understanding the psychology of the interaction than to finding technical solutions to technically defined problems. They seek changes in attitudes and relationships rather than policies. Some observers would reserve the term “interactive conflict resolution” for these latter groups. My own inclination is not to be too precious in drawing lines. The main line is between official and unofficial. When we are dealing with whole human beings from whole bodies politic in conflict, there will normally be two items on the agenda simultaneously in unofficial dialogue. Of course, participants will talk about the concrete issues and actions that, at least on the surface, put them and their authorities at odds with each other. But their talk will quickly reveal the deep-rooted human causes of the conflict—blame for hurt, grievance over injustice, anger from humiliation. My feeling is that the practice of interactive conflict resolution must reflect the approach defined in detail below. It is a well-defined systematic approach. But its practice is an art, not a science. The art—and like creative politics or diplomacy, it is an art—is revealed in the capacity to draw out human ability to talk about what is on their minds in a way that induces mutual comprehension and opens the door to talking, thinking, and working together differently to solve problems out of mutual need and interest. If a group can move that far, participants will learn within themselves what is involved in changing conflictual relationships. The guiding principles laid out below represent the parameters and the inspiration for this work. One point of similarity between formal mediation and negotiation and interactive conflict resolution leads to understanding the value of their differences. Both work in a larger political context—often in the same political context. Both will reflect and be affected by developments in that larger context. But that larger context will also determine what instrument is most appropriate at a particular moment in a particular situation. For instance, experience in the Israeli-Palestinian context and in the early civil war period in Tajikistan demonstrates that interactive conflict resolution was the only instrument that those involved found they could use to pave the way for formal negotiation. At a certain point, negotiation was essential. During negotiation those practicing interactive
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War conflict resolution were often able to introduce perspectives to break impasses, and they alone had the energy to look beyond the negotiation to the changes in relationships that are critical in turning a peace agreement into genuine peace. On a spectrum from official negotiation through the various forms that interactive conflict resolution takes, it may be accurate to say that the latter becomes increasingly useful when the subject is taboo on official agendas, when the real subject is the relationship or when formal contacts are politically impossible. It seems to happen that, as official capacity diminishes, interactive conflict resolution becomes more effective. One other definitional issue needs to be dealt with—the role of a third party in the process. One of the leading academic definitions of interactive conflict resolution reads “small group, problem-solving discussions between unofficial representatives of identity groups or states engaged in destructive conflict that are facilitated by an impartial third party of social scientist-practitioners [emphasis added].”4 As often happens, the definition depends partly on the experience and needs of the definer. That is understandable. A scholar striving out of conviction to build legitimacy in an academic setting for study and practice of interactive conflict resolution has to define in rigorous social science terms both the field and the questions for research. He or she will also need to evaluate by social science standards the effectiveness and ethical behavior where the lives and resources of others are at stake. In this case one can understand the felt need to define the work in terms of expert third-party control. For two reasons I find pinning the definition of this work partially on a third-party role too limiting. First, three leading examples have never depended on a third party. The Dartmouth Conference—the longest continuous bilateral dialogue between American and Soviet/Russian citizens, which began in 1960—and the Sino-U.S. dialogue begun in 1986 by the American Studies Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Kettering Foundation as well as a dialogue begun by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations have always been cochaired by senior participants from each group. Second, in my view the future of this work as a broadly used instrument in a changing bodies politic lies in the proliferation of such groups, whether between groups in Bosnia or in black-white or interethnic dialogue in American cities. That proliferation cannot be limited by a requirement that trained social scientists conduct the sessions. This paper urges policy makers to join forces on appropriate occasions with those engaged in interactive conflict resolution. That encouragement is based on my conviction that this work can be placed in the hands of responsible and wise citizens, properly prepared. When citizens start talk-
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War ing, communities must have the flexibility to organize as their needs require while still taking advantage of the insights that have emerged from ongoing work by scholar-practitioners in interactive conflict resolution. Governments—not just academic departments—can judge their work on its merits within an overall peace process. This would inevitably sacrifice some professional expertise, but my experience suggests that such compromise is necessary and acceptable if interactive conflict resolution is to move beyond a small group of scholar-practitioners into wider public usage. Perhaps another colleague has offered a useful way of thinking about this definitional point when he suggested, in writing about mediation, that we think of mediation as a process of many functions rather than in terms of a person.5 When asked who performed the third-party role at the Dartmouth Conference, I responded that institutions on both sides were the conveners, sometimes other institutions were additional funders, and the comoderators of each group (highly educated and experienced but neither acting as a social scientist) were the stewards of the process in collaboration with participants—setting the agenda, enforcing ground rules, crystallizing insights from dialogue, reporting to governments as appropriate. I repeat, however, that interactive conflict resolution is a well-defined systematic approach. Those who deserve to be called practitioners of this art must take seriously the body of literature and the experience that define this approach. To lay that out is the purpose of the next section. INTERACTIVE CONFLICT RESOLUTION: PRINCIPLES AND PROCESS No two unofficial processes are exactly alike. They differ in emphasis, approach, and specific goals. They use approaches ranging from academic seminar-style talk on over to a psychoanalytically driven process. But most of them have a number of important characteristics in common. First, all start with ground rules describing a mode of talk— genuine dialogue and analysis—that differs from the usual confrontational debates and arguments of the political arena or the adversarial proceedings of the courts, as well as from many of the exchanges around the negotiating table: Participants will interact civilly, listen actively to each other with attention and respect, not interrupt, and allow each to present her/his views fully. Speakers will observe time limits to allow genuine and balanced dialogue.
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War Participants will speak from their hearts as well as their minds. Because they need to speak about the feelings and relationships behind specific problems, feelings will be expressed and heard with mutual respect. Participants will respond as directly and as fully as possible to points made and questions asked. Each will make a real effort to put her/ himself in others’ shoes and learn to speak with sensitivity for their views and feelings. Participants will try to learn from these expressions of others’ views and feelings to increase the complexity of their thinking about the other side and the relationship. Second, as suggested above, the focus and purpose are quite different from those in formal negotiation where adversaries work from precisely defined interests and positions toward a written agreement on specified material problems. A purpose in interactive conflict resolution is to probe the relationships that underlie a conflict and work on changing them. As noted above, there will always be two items in the agenda—not just the concrete problems that negotiators deal with but also the underlying feelings and interactions that cause those problems and must be changed if they are to be resolved. Unlike credentialed negotiators, dialogue participants do not formally represent organizations or groups. No one has the authority to negotiate. When such groups relate to negotiations, they often focus on obstacles that underlie negotiations, or they think beyond negotiations to political processes that will be necessary to implement and sustain the decisions that emerge from agreements. Unofficial dialogues can pave the way for negotiations, address the problems that block progress, and work in the larger society where peace will actually be made. Sometimes they make a direct contribution. The group itself becomes a microcosm of the conflict. Participants confront issues, experience change in their own relationships, and begin to understand how such change could be projected into the larger body politic. Because relationships change slowly, it is best if participants and conveners can commit themselves to meet regularly over a period of months. Most workshops involving international groups last three to five days at intervals of several months. Communities in the United States are beginning to experiment with monthly meetings of at least four to five hours in each meeting. The duration of the series should be open ended.
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War Third, dialogue groups normally preserve the confidentiality of their exchanges until they reach a point where they are ready to take their ideas into the public arena. They usually agree that nobody in the dialogue will be quoted outside the meeting room and that no one will speak publicly about the substantive discussion in the dialogue unless all agree. While the meetings are not secret, the approach is a quiet one. Fourth, each group is chaired by a moderator, comoderators, or a panel of moderators—often by third-party moderators but sometimes by individuals from each side who accept responsibility to work together to protect the character of the dialogue and to advance the agenda and the relationship. The unique character of each group will suggest particular qualities in the moderator(s), but the qualities that seem essential underscore the focus of the process on the human dimension of the conflict: sensitivity to the human dimension of problems—what participants as human beings really need, why people hurt and feel victimized, why people may be understandably angry and intransigent—and the ability to relate to participants on that level rather than treating them as trainees to be instructed; commitment to the overall purpose of reconciliation between groups that have real grievances against each other; sensitivity to the cultural uniqueness of the groups involved; the ability to convey genuine caring and commitment at a person-to-person level and ability to gain respect from participants as a caring person and as a professional; realistic expectations for the pace at which people can change; some depth of experience with related problems and the ability to conceptualize that experience so as to draw on it in a particular group; the ability to help people see common elements in their experiences and views; a sense of political process—the ability to see the whole picture, keep a destination in sight, and not take sides; and the ability to help participants organize their thoughts. A word of perspective on this process. The person(s) chosen as moderator(s) may have played roles in other settings, but the following must be noted: This is not like moderating a community policy discussion. This process is sustained over a longer period of time. Participants focus not just on problems but—even more importantly—also on the relationship issues that cause them. In focusing on changing relationships, the mod-
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War tension was high between the two groups and Russia was threatening the use of its troops, which had not fully withdrawn, to protect Russians in Estonia. The center’s strategy was to use the dialogues to bring together prominent individuals from the two communities as well as from Russia into a space where they could begin to know each other and where the American team could help them examine the dynamics of their relationships. The objective was to gradually reduce the poisonous emotions between the groups and to spread new insights from the dialogue into the body politic. Through several of its participants, the dialogue was in close communication with the Estonian President’s Round Table on Ethnic Minorities. Through the efforts of other participants who were community leaders and members of parliament, other international groups and countless Estonians, tensions were gradually diminished. In each of the dialogues the participants were encouraged to share experiences that revealed their feelings about each other. Although subjects of discussion ranged from political to human, the most insightful moments came when exchanges enabled participants to bring to the surface their deepest emotions and mental constructs of their own identities as well as those of the other side. These discussions were supplemented by visits together to various “hot spots”—places such as cemeteries and former Soviet bases that evoked high emotion. One Estonian told the following story: Let me tell you what is “integration” [the integration of Estonians and Russian speakers in Estonia]. When I was four years old, my family and some Soviet officers were “integrated.” In our apartment we were forced to live in one room so that the Soviet officers could live in all of the other rooms. Furthermore, the new inhabitants of our home did not even bother to learn Estonian to communicate with us but wanted us to learn Russian and adopt the Russian culture. They brought their wives and children also, but they would not learn Estonian either. Against that background, the dialogue work groups discussed the possible integration or assimilation of Russians in Estonia. Assimilation would mean an influx of more “enemy blood” that could weaken Estonian identity. “If more Russian blood mixes with our own, we would not stay as Estonian as we are now. We will be contaminated.” Integration could also corrupt Estonian identity because Estonians perceived Russians as more “aggressive”—they would alter the Estonian way of life and make it more Russian. In a discussion of integrating Russian and Estonian children in kindergarten, Estonians recounted that they had heard of situations in which the “aggressiveness” of even a few Russian children in an Estonian class would result in all the children behaving in
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War a “Russian” way and in Estonian children learning Russian on the playground instead of Russian children learning Estonian. During a tour of Paldiski, a former Soviet naval base now mostly shut down with only a few Soviet soldiers guarding a nuclear reactor, we took aboard our bus an Estonian history teacher as a “guide.” The once proud base looked like a huge garbage dump. When two Russian military officers in civilian clothes offered to come on the bus to give a briefing on the base, the Estonians said they were not welcome, since Estonia was independent and the base was now Estonian. As we toured the base the Estonian historian listed one after another the historical grievances of Estonia, while the Russian dialogue participants on the bus listed “facts” supporting their “superiority” and previous “protection” of the “ungrateful” Estonians. I could sense an underlying feeling of humiliation and rage among the Russians, and I increasingly perceived the messy physical condition of Paldiski as a concrete symbol of relations between the antagonists. While on the surface the issue of Paldiski centered around who should be responsible for cleaning up the base, I saw a “hidden transcript” among the Russians present that I could translate as: “Since we Russians, the sons and daughters of a large and powerful country, are forced to dismantle our military might and retreat from Paldiski, we will leave behind our waste and hope that you ungrateful Estonians drown in it. At least we will force you to clean up our mess.” Meanwhile, I also heard in the Estonians’ remarks a subtext beneath their position of being in no hurry to clean up the mess themselves, though they similarly claimed that they presently lacked the funds to do so. Comments from the Estonians reflected both their wish to elicit sympathy from the American group for their victimization under Soviet rule and their unconscious resistance to change their identity as victims. As long as Paldiski remained a dump, the Estonians had a concrete symbol of the suffering and injustice they felt they were subjected to by the USSR. In 1996 the dialogues spun off three projects in communities where both groups lived in about equal numbers. These projects were designed to help citizens form their own joint nongovernmental organizations to improve relationships. One was built around a group of elementary school teachers who were organizing classes in Estonian for Russian children. Another was formed in a vandalized former Soviet army base where the remaining residents were almost without hope. They have organized community work projects, built a community center, and staged festivities aimed at improving self-esteem. The third focused on a fishing and agricultural community around the country’s largest lake that had lost its Russian market. They began with small projects with the
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War objective of gradually developing the recreational and touristic potential of the region. Comment More than any of the other examples, this one embodies the combined insights of psychoanalysts, historians, diplomats, and others practiced in work with citizens. With insights piled one on another and discussed among the Estonians and Russians, some of the tensions became more manageable. It is not that officials made policy to deal with these perceptions and misperceptions or the dynamics of relationships. The hope is that encouraging the creation of public spaces where systematic interaction brings them to the surface can provide opportunities for citizens to change relationships. These are opportunities that citizens outside government are much more likely to develop and work with than are citizens in government. Beyond this broader objective the three concrete projects are already being studied by other communities for replication. Cyprus Our work in Cyprus since 1991, writes Louise Diamond, president of the Institute of Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) in Washington, D.C., has been a training-based systems approach to interactive conflict resolution. As such it has attempted to strengthen local capacity among Greek and Turkish Cypriots for facilitating their own intergroup dialogue, rapprochement, and cooperative action. It has also sought to enhance the culture and quality of discourse on the island as its inhabitants seek peaceful ways to manage their relationships, locally and regionally. Although by 1991 there were several problem-solving workshops and other efforts at bicommunal dialogue,9 contact in Cyprus between Turkish and Greek Cypriots was sporadic and uncommon, involving a small number of individuals and entailing significant personal and political risk. Our work was designed to grow organically, with separate meetings on each side of the UN buffer zone for nearly two years, in order to build trust with us as a third party and with the concepts and skills of the conflict resolution approach. These meetings began as “getting to know each other” discussions with interested individuals and moved gradually to public presentations and then to short conflict resolution workshops as local partners expressed interest in learning more. The training was offered in response to a direct request to “put the tools of conflict resolution in our hands, so we can solve our own problems within and between the two communities.”10
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War By 1993 the two sides expressed a strong interest in moving to bicommunal training activity, and the first major program of that nature was held in Oxford, England, in August, sponsored by the IMTD and the National Training Laboratory’s Institute for Applied Behavioral Science. By 1994 the Fulbright Commission on Cyprus with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development had adopted conflict resolution programs as a major initiative, and IMTD joined with the Conflict Management Group to form the Cyprus Consortium, which has since run nearly two dozen such workshops and related programs under Fulbright and other auspices. Several points are worth noting. First, the initiative has achieved as much as it has partly because of an unusual degree of synergy among various players. The Fulbright Commission, backed consistently by the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus, brought in a series of full-time residential Fulbright scholars, who have provided the day-to-day, on-the-ground support and expansion of the program over the years. Other international players have been able to build on the increasing acceptability of such bicommunal programs to sponsor their own workshops in conflict resolution and other topics. The result of these overlapping initiatives has been a strong multifaceted bicommunal movement strongly supported by the international community with a committed core group and ever-growing numbers of local participants. A second critical factor relates to the multitrack nature of the consortium’s program and of the larger movement. The training events have been both generally and specifically targeted. People from many professions and walks of life have been included, and specific programs were offered to public policy leaders from political parties, the news media, and business; educators; journalists; students; and grass-roots groups. Thus, the skills, concepts, and new ideas coming out of these programs have been made available to a broad cross-section of the fabric of society on both sides in Cyprus. The third significant element of the consortium’s program has been the development of a strong and sustainable internal capacity for furthering the work. Three programs for training trainers have provided advanced training, mentoring, and supervised professional development to over 50 local trainers. These people are creating and managing their own bicommunal groups and projects, which now number close to 30, involving over 2,000 individuals on something of a regular basis. The training workshops themselves, although each unique in form and content, combine skill-building and dialogue processes. In many cases these programs are the first time ever (or in decades) that the participants have had the opportunity to meet someone from the other community. Our basic format for the programs follows a five-stage conceptual framework that is generally consistent with the process that Saunders describes as his five stages of a public peace process.
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War We begin with source, exploring motivation and purpose for participating. This is the testing or trust-building phase. We move to quest, where we explore individual and collective hopes and vision. What Saunders refers to as “mapping the relationship” we address in a section about the test. Here the participants probe deeply into the interests, experiences, needs, and issues behind their positions, speaking freely about their concerns and feelings and hearing the same from the other side. This almost inevitably leads to what we call the shift, where participants, as they gain new information and new perspectives about themselves, the “other,” and the overall situation in Cyprus, find themselves experiencing a change of heart and mind about the relationship. Finally, we address the renewal stage in which there is some examination of the opportunities and obstacles to moving forward and consideration of possible action, individually and collectively. We have found that progressing through these general stages structures the program so as to allow for safe and progressive exploration of the authenticity of the experience of all parties and of the nature of the relationship among and between them. Since these explorations are coupled with skill building, the means for advancing the inquiry both inside and beyond the training room become conscious and available to all. The training workshops also include most of the elements associated by Saunders with an interactive conflict resolution process. They operate on a basis of collectively generated ground rules much like those described earlier in this paper. Since it is difficult to determine the effect of any one of these workshops on the official policy-making process, we can report on the overall impact, as we can best understand it. There is both a cumulative and an expansive aspect to this—cumulative in that many participants move through several programs, advancing their skills and commitment, and expansive in that participants return home and share what they have learned with family, friends, organizations, and the public (through television, radio, seminars, workshops, lectures). Some specific outcomes that we can notice are as follows: Concepts and ideas from the training programs, including previously unmentionable or “taboo” topics, now appear in daily public discourse and even political campaigns. Bicommunal interaction has become normative, now involving thousands of people. Significant numbers of people in official and influential positions
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War in both communities have participated in this training, thus spreading its effects into the top leadership strata and also providing a base of contact and trust between counterparts from each side. Many of the methodologies introduced in the workshops are being used in each community in various political and institutional settings. Communication between the different factions in each community has improved as new friendships and trust relationships have evolved across party lines. Bicommunal activities have mushroomed in quantity and scope. The people involved in these activities refer to themselves as a social movement. This movement is generating opposition, which suggests that those elements attached to the status quo or to a rigid view that allows for little exploration of creative ideas are feeling a significant threat to their entrenched positions. Specialized groups are exploring current and “day after” cooperative activities (e.g., lawyers, women, university students, psychologists, academics, private citizens, educators, business leaders). There has been significant development of conflict resolution as a human resource at home and abroad, with a number of participants going on to M.A. and Ph.D. programs in the field and with many participants being invited to share their expertise at international conferences and events involving other deeply rooted conflicts. If one example could be used to demonstrate the effect of this work, it would be the events of August-October 1996. In August demonstrations by Greek Cypriot motorcyclists and responses by the Turkish side led to the well-publicized killing of two Greek Cypriot citizens in clashes in the UN buffer zone. In the aftermath of these events the political tension in Cyprus heightened dramatically. Talk of war was heard on the streets. All bicommunal contact was stopped. In that climate the key actors in the peace-building movement were emotionally devastated and deeply discouraged. They were concerned that everything they had worked for was going down the drain and wondered how they should respond. They had been planning a special bicommunal fair for late September but assumed they would have to cancel it. However, the bicommunal Trainers’ Group, with the assistance of then Fulbright scholar Benjamin Broome, undertook to turn things around. With patient person-to-person contact and invitations issued by the international community and diplomatic missions, the group managed to convene 300 people for a bicommunal reception in late September. Coming less that two months after such a highly emotional and tragic
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War reminder of the ongoing hostilities and potential for violence, this event proved a major rallying point for the forces of rapprochement, especially in the international community. The UN had decided to cancel its annual celebration day in October but was spurred to proceed by the success of the September meeting. In a new level of partnership and cooperation the Trainers’ Group agreed to work with the UN to find the people for that event. Using its own citizens’ network and building on the pool of trust, goodwill, and credibility generated by its work over the years, the group managed to convene 2,500 people—the largest such bicommunal event ever despite the August events. Following its achievement, other countries besides the United States and the European Union (EU) recognized the importance of such a movement, and the number of programs and sponsors swelled. From that time until December 1997 the bicommunal movement entered a new phase. Cross visits became common, with people returning to visit their previous homes on the other side of the so-called Green Line that divides the Greek and Turkish areas, thus advancing the process of mourning and healing beyond the hardened formal political positions on both sides. Bicommunal groups continued to multiply in number and sectoral diversity. A new Fulbright Commission building was erected in the UN buffer zone to handle the increased demand for space for meetings. More specialized Fulbright scholars were hired. A new group of trainers was developed to manage the growing requests for groups. Contacts between Greek and Turkish Cypriot peace builders and their counterparts in other conflict situations (e.g., Northern Ireland, Israel-Palestine, South Africa) increased dramatically. Then in December 1997 bicommunal activity was cut off following the Luxembourg decision by the EU regarding the accession of Cyprus to the EU and the relegation of Turkey to the third-tier “waiting room” for EU membership. Although subject to the changing political winds in Cyprus and the region, the momentum and presence of this movement are now, the consortium believes, so integrated into the Cyprus landscape after more than seven years as to be irreversible. The very existence of bicommunal programs and contact has itself become one of the political issues in each community and between the two sides and the various international and third-party actors who support this work as a matter of policy. A growing human infrastructure exists, providing momentum for peace building from the bottom up and offering an informal individual, group, and institutional capacity for sustaining a viable peace process should there be a nonviolent political settlement. In short, the training-based interactive conflict resolution program has grown into a significant social and political factor whose ultimate role in the peace process of Cyprus is still unfolding.
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War Comment By the strict definition cited earlier, this training-based program might well not technically qualify as interactive conflict resolution. (That would probably also be true of some of the joint activities generated by Search for Common Ground’s Middle East Initiative.) On the other hand, a number of organizations in the international community on Cyprus have recognized its achievement. And it does teach, if not formally conduct, a systematic process of bringing people together in dialogue. I have included this experience here to suggest the need for flexibility in policy making and in academic recognition that this kind of work may be defined more by the nature and quality of interaction than by the format of the meetings. WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED? THE CHALLENGES OF CUMULATIVE EXPERIENCE First, the experience of 30 years has produced a significant track record for interactive conflict resolution. A growing body of literature on theory, practice, and case studies11 justifies saying that interactive conflict resolution is a systematic, well-thought-through approach. The experiences described above and others like them demonstrate that it is widely tested and available for use in a variety of conflict situations. Such experiences cannot be dismissed out of hand. Second, interactive conflict resolution is by definition directed at the work citizens outside government can do within the multilevel peace process. While I would not exclude its usefulness in any arena, it is increasingly fruitful as one moves across the political spectrum from those quasi-official situations—those in which the primary task is to develop analysis of conflict not available to government, provide a channel of communication where none exists, or find a particular solution to a problem in negotiation—on over toward those situations where the main task is to analyze the dynamics of relationships and design ways to work in the body politic to change them. Third, the contribution of interactive conflict resolution increases as the capacities of government diminish. In other words, interactive conflict resolution can help fill a serious gap in the multilevel peace process— the gap left by state-centered thinking about peace processes. This gap, which is only beginning to be recognized, is the space where citizens outside government can work to change the relationships that must be changed if peace is to be sustained. Government desperately needs this addition to peace making and peace building. Fourth, the experiences described above demonstrate that projects
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War that “work” create a well-designed opportunity for individuals within conflict to develop the capacity to take responsibility for setting their own courses and for applying what they learn in their own ways. As their capacities increase, their incentive increases, because their sense of possibility increases. These are not just nice social gatherings or educational experiences—useful as they might be. Participants can define tasks and know when they have accomplished those tasks. Fifth, the people whose lives are at stake will be the most authentic judges of the value of the approach to them. They will demonstrate that value by investing themselves in it, using it, and developing it. That must be regarded as significant evidence of its usefulness. Policy makers will judge what they do for its contribution to the multilevel peace process. In the larger political context the question for research is how what they do contributes to the unfolding of peace—to how societies change. Sixth, policy makers are likely to have a more precise sense of specific objectives within the multilevel peace process than practitioners of interactive conflict resolution. If they have designed specific courses of action for a multilevel peace process, they will have concrete views about what needs to be done. They can see whether what needs to be done is being done. Practitioners of interactive conflict resolution can only know that secondhand unless they develop their own designs for the multilevel peace process. Seventh, one of the reasons both officials and practitioners outside government have been imprecise about the specific relationship between actions and their contribution to peace is that both have worked in too narrow a framework. As I said earlier, most thinking about conflict resolution inside government and outside has focused on the official peace process; most conflict resolution theory has not focused on what needs to happen in civil society to make, build, and sustain peace. There will not be an adequate theory of conflict prevention, management, and resolution until it includes ways in which citizens change conflictual relationships and build the practices and institutions of living together peacefully. When the framework is larger, as in the framework of the multilevel peace process, evaluation will be less frustrating. Eighth, in reaching judgments about how such work contributes to peace making and peace building, we must probably reach beyond the methods of present social science. We must accept the fact that in complex political situations exact cause and effect or the precise contribution of ideas may be unknowable in any measurable terms. How ideas emerge from the shadows to center stage and the role they play in changing the course of events may belong more to the history of ideas than to social science research methods. How citizens become engaged may be better understood by citizen activists.
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War Ninth, policy makers could extend the reach of peace making and peace building by consciously seeking complementary ways of bringing both governmental and unofficial work under the same conceptual umbrella at the highest levels. They would accept a framework such as the multilevel peace process as theirs. One vehicle for doing this was tried in the Tajikistani context. The Kettering Foundation brought together in Washington on three occasions representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working in Tajikistan to develop a rolling draft of an experimental paper titled “Framework for an NGO Strategy for Tajikistan.” The proposition was that, if each organization added capacity to make its project partly a vehicle for helping local people expand their confidence and capacity to manage their own organizations, the NGOs could—in addition to their primary humanitarian work—contribute to building the postconflict structures of peace on a local level. The results of the effort were passed on to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tajikistan, which coordinated NGO activities, but UNHCR’s mission ended shortly thereafter. But there are numerous ways that citizens inside and outside government could coordinate their approaches. My point is that this work needs to be included in the policy framework at the highest levels—not be consigned to the bureaucratic level in functional agencies, though that is where it must eventually be managed. High-level policy makers must demonstrate that this work is important to them. Tenth, one of the greatest challenges today is no longer how to conduct productive dialogues—an obvious challenge in the first years of the work—but how to move ideas from the dialogue room into practice over a wider field. This challenge will not be fully met only by closer collaboration between those who conduct the official and public peace processes; an even greater challenge is building an active citizenry and engaging it. The particular question is how to spread the experience of interactive conflict resolution that teaches people a different way of thinking, talking, and working together. One approach is to try to proliferate dialogue groups in conflicted bodies politic, much as happened over 20 years in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. An even more ambitious approach is to make this mode of interaction a regular part of the educational experience in school and college. Underlying each of these challenges is the task of learning how to take fullest advantage of both the official and the public peace processes and the opportunities in their working together. It is to generate groups in conflicted communities that can become “minds at work” in the middle of communities making and building peace. Such groups can play leading roles in changing communities, able to absorb problems and events
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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War and respond to them on a continuing basis. Such is the task of making and building peace. NOTES 1 This perspective is more fully developed by Harold H.Saunders in A Public Peace Process: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racial and Ethnic Conflicts (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999). 2 In addition to the Dartmouth Conference, which began in 1960, the United Nations associations of the United States and the USSR held a continuing series of meetings as did elements of the John F.Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 3 The term “track two” was coined in an article by William D.Davidson and Joseph V. Montville, “Foreign Policy According to Freud,” Foreign Policy, no. 45 (Winter 1981–1982), pp. 145–157. With track one as governmental policy, “track-two diplomacy is unofficial, nonstructured interaction.” 4 Ronald J.Fisher, Interactive Conflict Resolution (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1997), p. 8. 5 Christopher Mitchell, “The Progress and Stages of Mediation: Two Sudanese Cases,” in David Smock, ed., Making War and Waging Peace: Foreign Intervention in Africa (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 1993), especially pp. 139–160. 6 Initial funding was provided by the W.Alton Jones Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T.MacArthur Foundation. 7 The five-stage process was first described in a publication by Gennady I.Chufrin and Harold H.Saunders, “A Public Peace Process,” Negotiation Journal, vol. 9, no. 2 (April 1993), pp. 155–178. It is more fully described by Saunders in A Public Peace Process, op. cit. 8 Gennady Chufrin, Ashurboi Imomov, and Harold H.Saunders, eds., Memoranda and Appeals of the Inter-Tajik Dialogue Within the Framework of the Dartmouth Conference (1993– 1997) (Moscow: Russian Center for Strategic Research and International Studies, 1997). 9 Such events were offered by Leonard Doob, John Burton, Herbert Kelman, Christopher Mitchell, and Ronald Fisher, among others. 10 This request was made first by a Greek Cypriot man who had been involved in several previous bicommunal efforts. Throughout the early period of this work (1991– 1993), this request was repeated by a growing core group of individuals who became the first Bi-communal Steering Committee. The request gradually became articulated as a desire to become “catalysts for change in Cyprus.” 11 Fisher, Interactive Conflict Resolution, op. cit., provides an excellent overview of these three decades of experience. Janice Gross Stein and Alan Alexandroff in “The Future of Canada Is Our Business: Citizen Engagement in Conflict Resolution,” an unpublished paper written in 1996 for the C.D.Howe Institute, describe the field in relation to problems surrounding the threat of Canada’s fragmentation.
Representative terms from entire chapter: