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Interactive Conflict Resolution: Issues in Theory, Methodology, and Evaluation

Nadim N.Rouhana

Following Fisher (1997), I use the term interactive conflict resolution to denote1 “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” (p. 8). More broadly, interactive conflict resolution also refers to a field of study and practice that includes similar activities, the rationale for carrying them out, their short-term objectives, and their long-term impact on the dynamics of conflict.2 I use the term problem-solving workshop—the main intervention tool of interactive conflict resolution—to refer to the specific activities carried out by third parties in the small group meetings between participants from societies in conflict.

Interactive conflict resolution’s general goals are defined in terms of contribution—the nature and size of which are unclear—to the resolution of international conflict, particularly to ethnonational conflicts between identity groups. It is naive and misleading to consider interactive conflict resolution an alternative to the existing diplomatic and other means of conflict resolution. It is best conceived as a set of methods and activities that can be used by unofficial trained third parties in parallel to—not in lieu of—official efforts. As such, interactive conflict resolution faces a host of core theoretical and methodological questions. As an emerging field, in parallel to the expansion in practice and training, questions are raised about theories of conflict resolution that guide practice, methodologies used in research, and evaluation of interventions’ impact on the macro-dynamics of conflict.3 To increase confidence in this approach to practice, establish its relevance for policy makers, and enhance its legitimacy as an



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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War 8 Interactive Conflict Resolution: Issues in Theory, Methodology, and Evaluation Nadim N.Rouhana Following Fisher (1997), I use the term interactive conflict resolution to denote1 “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” (p. 8). More broadly, interactive conflict resolution also refers to a field of study and practice that includes similar activities, the rationale for carrying them out, their short-term objectives, and their long-term impact on the dynamics of conflict.2 I use the term problem-solving workshop—the main intervention tool of interactive conflict resolution—to refer to the specific activities carried out by third parties in the small group meetings between participants from societies in conflict. Interactive conflict resolution’s general goals are defined in terms of contribution—the nature and size of which are unclear—to the resolution of international conflict, particularly to ethnonational conflicts between identity groups. It is naive and misleading to consider interactive conflict resolution an alternative to the existing diplomatic and other means of conflict resolution. It is best conceived as a set of methods and activities that can be used by unofficial trained third parties in parallel to—not in lieu of—official efforts. As such, interactive conflict resolution faces a host of core theoretical and methodological questions. As an emerging field, in parallel to the expansion in practice and training, questions are raised about theories of conflict resolution that guide practice, methodologies used in research, and evaluation of interventions’ impact on the macro-dynamics of conflict.3 To increase confidence in this approach to practice, establish its relevance for policy makers, and enhance its legitimacy as an

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War academic field of study and research, interactive conflict resolution should be held to the same standards of scrutiny as other established fields. This scrutiny will be expressed in three areas. First, programmatic attention should be focused on theory building that could guide the practice of interactive conflict resolution activities in the field; these activities should be anchored in theories of conflict and conflict resolution that delineate theory-guided goals for unofficial intervention in ethnonational conflict and variables that influence the achievement of these goals. Second, research efforts are needed to examine theory-driven hypotheses or to help theory-building efforts. This will require the development of methodologies for empirical testing of theoretical connections, practice-related hypotheses, impact of the intervention on conflict dynamics, the usefulness of various intervention tools to practitioners, and the comparative effectiveness of various approaches. Based on the accumulation of theoretically guided empirical evidence, the field can establish taxonomies of practice—descriptions of what methods work, in what type of conflicts, at what stage of conflict, and under what conditions. Finally, programs need to be developed that provide training in intervention techniques that are explicitly based on theoretical foundations and guided by research findings. The dynamic relationship among all three elements should help in strengthening the academic foundations of interactive conflict resolution and guide the practice carried out by its practitioners. It should also help provide a coherent basis for developing guidelines or standards of professional accountability. Theory-building efforts and research activity can also be channels for mutual enrichment among scholars from international relations, political science, social psychology, sociology, and other disciplines. Increasing the relevance of practice based on this approach can open essentially needed channels of dialogue with policy makers and practitioners of other approaches. The inherent interdisciplinary nature of the field can provide scholars with a wealth of available theories and methodologies to draw on in the theory-building effort and in designing methodologies for empirical research. In this paper I focus on what needs to be done to increase confidence in the interventions that practitioners of interactive conflict resolution advance and to enhance the field’s relevance to policy makers and academic study with special emphasis on two issues. The first is the need to formulate, and to develop methodologies to examine, theoretical connections among current intervention techniques, microobjectives in the problem-solving workshop, and macrogoals of changing the dynamics of conflict. The second is to more explicitly conceptualize the long-term impact of interactive conflict resolution and possible ways for assessing specific effects, even though their direct measurement may be infeasible

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War and their impact may be slow acting. In this context I note the inherent cognitive and motivational factors that increase the likelihood of overestimating the impact of interactive conflict resolution as well as ways to guard against such inclination; I also propose ways to increase the real impact of unofficial intervention—that is, the impact on the dynamics of the conflict on the ground. METHODS AND OBJECTIVES IN INTERACTIVE CONFLICT RESOLUTION The discussion in this section focuses on the three components of interactive conflict resolution and the relationships among them. These components are (1) the methods and activities that compose the problem-solving workshop, (2) the microobjectives of the problem-solving workshop in the contained setting of small group discussions, and (3) the macrogoals of interactive problem solving in terms of its impact on the relationship between the societies in conflict. The two main theoretical paths between these components are (1) the links between the methods and the microobjectives and (2) the links between the microobjectives, if achieved, and the macrogoals. Perhaps the most important conceptual task for interactive conflict resolution is to delineate the theoretical relationships between the intervention method that a practitioner uses, the microobjectives of the intervention effort, and how these objectives could contribute to macrogoals of conflict resolution. In this section I describe the three components and the two theoretical paths that should connect them (see Figure 8.1). Deconstructing the Problem-Solving Workshop: Methods and Activities The package of activities that the problem-solving workshop is composed of should be described and deconstructed to its basic elements. This would include a description of the agenda the third party designs for the workshop, the content of the discussions that take place between participants, the level of interaction among participants promoted by the third party, and the type of intervention the third party employs. A full description of intervention methodology should also include the rationale for and process of participants’ selection and recruitment, the practical aspects of holding the problem-solving workshop, and assembling the third party. Selection of the participants and the third party and some practical issues related to preparation for and conducting of the problem-solving workshop have been described elsewhere by some scholar-practitioners (e.g., Burton, 1987; Kelman, 1992; Mitchell and Banks, 1996; Rouhana and

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War FIGURE 8.1 Three major components of interactive conflict resolution and the theoretical paths between them.

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War Kelman, 1994). But from the limited description given in the literature of the actual activities that take place in unofficial intervention efforts the problem-solving workshop became a kind of an umbrella rubric under which activities that differ in fundamental ways are included and levels of interactions among participants that are qualitatively different are promoted by various third parties. One way to understand the differences is to look at the levels of interaction in the problem-solving workshop that facilitators promote. Surveying the literature I found three broadly defined levels of interaction that I described elsewhere: intrapsychic, interpersonal, and intergroup (Rouhana, 1998). On the intrapsychic level the workshop participants deal with their feelings about the other side and with intrapsychic conflicts in the form of anxieties, ambivalence, and threats to one’s self-image. Issues such as healing of past psychological wounds and forgiveness of the other side as preconditions for reconciliation can take a central part in the discussion. Participants’ awareness of their own unconscious intrapsychic conflicts regarding these and other conflict-related issues and their dealing with intense feelings toward the other side are also central to the group discussion.4 On the interpersonal level, interactions between participants focus on the “here and now” in the context of generalizations, stereotypes about the other group and group members, possible misperceptions of the other side, and attributional errors about the other’s causes of behavior. Sensitivity training to avoid inadvertently hurting the other’s feelings and training in human communications skills across the conflict divide are central components of the group discussion.5 Although the group discussion of stereotypes and misperceptions has clear implications for intergroup relations, when the interpersonal level of analysis is applied, the interaction in the small group and its analysis are focused on the individuals themselves. On the intergroup level, participants examine the dynamics of the conflict between the two societies and the collective needs and concerns that have to be met for a satisfactory political solution to emerge. Reference to the here and now of intergroup dynamics is only relevant to the extent that it helps participants understand the dynamics between the two societies at large. Taking the political realities into account, the thrust of the discussion is joint thinking about how to resolve the conflict between the two societies, with the specifics determined by the stage of the conflict. Improved communications, increased sensitivity, and mutual trust are not ends in themselves but are means to achieving a political goal: productive interaction about the intersocietal conflict issues that the participants are examining.6 The three levels of analysis are conceptually distinct and could indeed be addressed independently. In practice, too, the three levels are

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War distinguishable, although it is quite possible, for example, that the interpersonal level might be intermingled with the intrapsychic level of interaction. Or in unofficial interventions that focus on the political inter group level, while some references to interpersonal interactions might occur, they would not be encouraged except insofar as their use enhanced discussion at the intergroup level. For example, while the classical problem-solving workshop is designed to engage participants at the intergroup level, issues of interpersonal communications (group stereotypes, attributions about the other side’s behavior, and sensitivity to language used by each side) often get interlaced in the discussion but only as they contribute to analysis of the conflict at the group level. Indeed, when participants expect the workshop to focus on political analysis of the conflict, they might find interventions that do not maintain the same level of analysis improper and may express their dislike for such interventions.7 In addition to the fact that problem-solving workshops can be designed to foster different levels of analysis, there is considerable variability in what practitioners actually do and to what extent what they do is similar. For example, it is not clear what tools are used, how active and directive the third party is, what the agenda is that the third party prepares, or even what participants are invited to do. Yet some general description of the role of the third party is provided by some scholar-practitioners.8 For example, third parties can prioritize different levels of analysis even in the same workshop design. While Rouhana and Kelman (1994) emphasize the intergroup level focusing on structural political issues, d’Estree and Babbit (1998), working in the same framework, emphasize the importance of personal experiences and self-disclosure, emotional expressions, and the ability to recognize relational issues in interpersonal interactions in the problem-solving workshop. It is also possible that some practitioners use more than one level of analysis in the same problem-solving workshop and a combination of various activities such as problem solving, negotiation simulation,9 and lecturing (Gutlove et al., 1992). Thus, one item on the conceptual and research agenda is to demystify the package called the problem-solving workshop by simply describing what it consists of in as much detail as possible. There should be enough elements described that other practitioners or scholars can recompose the problem-solving workshop for purposes of research, replication, or use. Whatever analogy is used to help describe the group dynamics in the problem-solving workshop—for example, mediation, negotiation, therapeutic process, or any small group dynamics—scholars and practitioners should be able to specify a more concrete set of activities that are transferable to other practitioners and replicable in other similar contexts by others.10 Practitioners should also be able to present some analysis of the dynamics that take place among the participants and the role of the third

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War party in directing these processes (e.g., Rothman, 1992; Rouhana, 1995b; Saunders and Slim, 1994). Defining the Microobjectives of the Problem-Solving Workshop The problem-solving workshop is the means of unofficial intervention that the third party uses with the implicit or explicit goal of introducing change in the dynamics of a conflict. The participants are the third party’s conduits to the desired change. So far, within the broad problem-solving workshop methodology, the target of change and the conduit of intervention in the conflict are assumed to be the participants’ views (not the third party’s) and some assumed activities that they can potentially undertake. Thus, on the microlevel the immediate objective of the intervention is some change in the way participants view the conflictual relationship and the future relationship with their adversary, and perhaps some activities the participants can undertake (by design or not by design), that can bring about some change on the macrolevel, that is, in the dynamics of the conflict on the ground. Therefore, practitioners should be able to define the intervention’s (micro-) objectives in terms of what changes they want the problem-solving workshop to bring about in the participants and what activities, if at all, they want the participants to undertake. In other words, if the problem-solving workshop is conceptualized (and defined as precisely as possible) as the independent variable (or more realistically a set of independent variables), practitioners should be able to define and describe their dependent variables and formulate a set of hypotheses about the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Practitioners should be able to explain what changes they expect in the participants and/or what outcomes they want the workshops to achieve. The dependent variables, or the objectives of many unofficial intervention activities, when extracted from published reports fall into four categories: psychological, such as forgiving the other and achieving psychological healing; interpersonal, such as reducing mutual stereotypes, attitudinal changes, improving interpersonal relationships, and establishing personal relationships across the divide of the conflict; political, such as changing participants’ views about the conflict through mutual learning about the other side’s political needs and political constraints and having participants create new ideas for solving particular problems between the two sides; and educational, such as training participants in conflict resolution logic and tools or integrative negotiation strategies. Not surprisingly, the first three sets of objectives are related to the three levels of interaction between participants that various problem-solving workshops promote, as described above.

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War Defining the Macrogoals of the Problem-Solving Workshop The third major component of interactive conflict resolution is the goal or set of macrogoals that the unofficial intervention activity is intended to achieve. Problem-solving workshops are designed to influence the dynamics of conflict, even if in minor ways. Putting aside, for the moment, the difficulties of validating such influence, interactive conflict resolution should at least be able to articulate the goals of unofficial activity in terms of the intended impact on conflict dynamics on the ground. Surprisingly, the goals of the problem-solving workshop are most often left undescribed. Except for the original work of Burton and his colleagues (Burton, 1986; Mitchell, 1981), in which the goals were defined as reaching a solution to the conflict and relaying it to decision makers (who, in that model, would have designated the workshop participants), most other approaches leave the goals undefined or most general. Thus, conflict resolution, or the more modest goal of contribution to the resolution of conflict and changing the dynamics of conflict on the ground, are frequently stated as the goal of unofficial activities. When it comes to the details of contribution, its nature, what exactly in the dynamics of the conflict on the ground is expected to change and through what mechanisms, or the estimated strength of such contribution, most unofficial interventions have little to say. Without clearly predesignated expected outcomes and reasonably established means (both theoretical and empirical) to explain how these outcomes could be achieved, unofficial intervention is doomed to the status of double marginality: it will neither be taken seriously by policy makers and practitioners of the official diplomatic track nor will it succeed to become established as an academic discipline. It is to the theoretical paths that unofficial interventions need to establish between intervention and outcomes that I turn next. Theoretical Path 1: How the Intervention Leads to the Stated (Micro-) Objectives Practitioners and scholars of various approaches need to formulate the linkages between the particular methods they use and the objectives they define for their unofficial intervention. How, for example, would the chosen levels of interaction among participants and the intervention and facilitation of the third party lead to a stated set of objectives? Or, if the objective is to sensitize people to negotiation strategies or to expose them to conflict resolution methodologies, how, at least theoretically, could these “dependent variables” be traced to the particular activities in the problem-solving workshop? Thus, for example, training participants in negotiation methods could be described as one class of independent vari-

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War ables in certain problem-solving workshops (see, e.g., Gutlove et al., 1992, and Diamond, Chapter 7, this volume). Similarly, if one of the objectives were to get participants to think jointly of new ways to resolve a particular conflict-related issue, it would be necessary to show which activities and methods in the problem-solving workshop lead to such an objective. If healing and forgiveness are the objectives, practitioners will need to specify the tools and methods they use in order to achieve those ends. An explicit theoretical connection of activities in the first component, the problem-solving workshop itself, to the set of dependent variables specified in the second component will help researchers in this field amass a set of testable hypotheses each of which can be examined by using the appropriate research design and methodology.11 Consistent with conventional scientific practice, the connection between the dependent and independent variables will have to be anchored in theoretical grounds, thus encouraging researchers to critically examine and/or develop appropriate theories for supporting these connections and to use theories and scientific findings from adjacent fields. This scientific effort will enrich the field both methodologically and theoretically. Relating the variables in the first and second components and explicitly stating theoretical hypotheses that connect the two present a major part of a research agenda that researchers and scholars in conflict resolution, from different disciplines, should pursue in order to begin establishing an empirically demonstrated set of theoretical and empirical connections between the methods they use and the objectives they seek. Establishing such connections would provide practitioners with tested tools for practice and training and would bolster confidence in interactive conflict resolution intervention, not as a handful of artful techniques or a magic set but as a set of methods that are theoretically founded and empirically validated. These connections lend themselves to a variety of research methods that are described below. Theoretical Path 2: How the Microobjectives Lead to Macrogoals of Influencing the Conflict Dynamics Perhaps the most difficult task that scholars and practitioners of interactive conflict resolution face is demonstrating how the objective they designate for their problem-solving workshop, if attained, can lead to the change in conflict dynamics they seek to achieve—in other words, how the variables in the second component of interactive conflict resolution are connected to variables in the third set. For intervention in history it is difficult to achieve a level of clarity in explaining social and political change as mandated by standard models of social science, especially because relationships of cause and effect are hard to demonstrate as

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War Saunders (Chapter 7) argues and for other reasons elaborated on by Stern and Druckman (Chapter 2). Yet this difficulty should not become an excuse for dismissing the question or the propriety of the social science framework within which the question is raised.12 At a minimum, scholars and practitioners have to explicate the theoretical or conceptual relationships between the two sets of variables and produce a set of hypotheses on how the objectives of their problem-solving workshop can affect the dynamics of conflict. While demonstrating such connections empirically is not always attainable, producing clear theoretical connections is a minimum requirement without which the whole field of interactive conflict resolution risks becoming an empty exercise with little theoretical foundation and scientific value. It is also important, when possible, to produce indicators that can be used by scholar-practitioners to help evaluate these connections, such as the extent to which a connection is anchored in a solid theoretical foundation, empirical finding, or even common sense. Even if the hypothetical connections are not demonstrable by standard empirical research, their theoretical value could be judged by other scholar-practitioners. Scholar-practitioners should be able to present their own theoretical connections depending on their disciplinary training, insights, or experience. When stated in the form of testable hypotheses, such hypotheses should, to the extent possible, be subjected to empirical tests. If that is not possible, other scholar-practitioners and policy makers will be in a position to evaluate these connections; offer their own analyses to support them, modify them, or challenge them; and decide for themselves whether interactive conflict resolution is a worthy effort. A number of examples can serve to explain this point. As mentioned above, some interventions include elements geared toward training participants in the methodology of negotiation, and other interventions seem to include elements of “training” in various methods of conflict resolution. Others focus on improved communication, promoting understanding, establishing and/or strengthening interpersonal relationships, and lowering tension, anger, fear, or misunderstanding by humanizing the “face of the enemy” and giving people direct personal experience with one another (see, e.g., Diamond and McDonald, 1991). Similarly, Montville (1986, 1990) calls for more emphasis on psychological analysis, such as the examination of victimhood, mourning, and forgiveness. It would be necessary for any theory of conflict resolution to delineate the connections between these objectives (if met) and the goal of contributing to conflict resolution between parties on the ground, articulated in most specific theoretical terms. It will be left to other scholar-practitioners to evaluate (empirically and/or theoretically) whether achieving the objectives contributes to conflict resolution in the delineated ways.

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War To explain this last point, consider, for example, the problem-solving workshop that has been conducted for many years by Kelman and his colleagues on a one-time basis (Kelman and Cohen, 1976; Kelman, 1992) and later by Kelman and Rouhana on a continuing basis (Rouhana and Kelman, 1994). The objectives of the one-time workshops were defined in terms of having the participants understand the political needs and constraints under which each party operates. A major objective of the continuing workshops was defined in terms of jointly creating new ideas based on the needs of both parties and to have these ideas disseminated by the participants to upper-echelon leaders and constituencies; the goals were defined in terms of interjecting new political insights, acceptable to the mainstreams of both societies, into the political discourse of both parties. However, the potential impact of such goals on the dynamics of conflict is left unevaluated. Whether some of the ideas are really disseminated remains to be shown and to what extent they leave a discernable impact on the dynamics of conflict, even if they are, must be further explained. Kelman (1995) argues that the problem-solving activities he carried out over the years have contributed to the Oslo accords, which some consider as a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations, through three mechanisms: “development of cadres prepared to carry out productive negotiation; the sharing of information and the formulation of new ideas that provided important substantive input into the negotiation; and the fostering of a political atmosphere that made the parties open to a new relationship” (p. 21, italics in source). Although there is no clear empirical evidence to support these claims, once the theoretical connection is hypothesized, it will be up to practitioners (as well as participants) to decide whether the objective designated by an approach is valuable and whether the theoretical connection with the political goal delineated by the scholar-practitioners is sufficiently valid to be worthy of their effort. Explaining why achieving the objectives of the problem-solving workshop is important depends, to a large extent, on one’s theory of conflict. Given the range of conflict theories developed in various disciplines and the varying levels of analysis used to explain the development and perpetuation of international and ethnonational conflicts (see, e.g., Levy, 1989; Singer, 1969), it is imperative not only to articulate the goals of a problem-solving workshop design but also to anchor the goals in these or other theories of conflict. This task is achieved by identifying the theory’s key causal variables and explaining how the workshop’s objectives affect these variables and, accordingly, the dynamics of the social or political conflict. Whatever the theory of conflict, the goals of intervention depend to a large extent on the stage of conflict and perhaps the type of conflict under

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War to be a matter of judgment (and sometimes faith) on the part of the scholar-practitioner to decide to invest in interactive conflict resolution. However, given the potential of the method, it would be a mistake to dismiss it before trying to provide the means for realizing its potential. Most importantly, we need to devise new means for increasing the impact of interventions, as well as a more careful delineation of variables that could be expected to influence the impact. For example, the third party is a key component in interactive conflict resolution, but surprisingly its role in increasing the impact of this effort has generally been neglected. According to most models the role of the third party is facilitative, both in the structural sense of providing participants the specially designed setting for their controlled interaction and process-wise in the sense of facilitating the discussion, according to a set of ground rules and mostly in nondirective ways. However, even in this facilitative role the third party provides a key function in the design of the problem-solving workshop project and its outcome. Third parties can take on a more active role in increasing the impact of the problem-solving workshop, provided that the role itself is carefully coordinated with participants and is part and parcel of the design of the workshop of which the participants are fully informed.25 The current design of the problem-solving workshop emphasizes the learning process of both parties in the workshop but neglects the learning that the third party undergoes (see Fisher, 1972, for an exception). Interactive problem solving is a powerful educational tool, particularly for third parties with some regional expertise and an interest in substance (in addition to the process). As interactive conflict resolution is currently conceptualized, there is no clear place for the transfer of insights from the problem-solving workshop in any systematic way to the policy-making level among the parties in conflict or other important players depending on the conflict.26 Insights from interactive conflict resolution can provide an original and valuable input to foreign policy. However, for such input of the problem-solving workshop to be possible the whole effort will have to be reconceptualized and the contract with participants revised. Future workshops will have broader societal impact if conceived of as a joint learning opportunity for both participants and third party, on whom equal responsibility rests for transfer of insights into the broader societal context. The value of the problem-solving workshop as a laboratory for conflict analysis is also overlooked.27 Indeed, the problem-solving workshop provides an ideal setting for a unique way to analyze a conflict with the participation of both sides in the analysis. The analysis itself could become a major contribution of the problem-solving workshop if it is articulated by the third party in full cooperation with the participants themselves. The deep understanding of the political needs of each party, their

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War internal dynamics, their limitations and constraints and the views of the other party of these constraints, and the dynamics of conflict as displayed in the problem-solving workshop setting are all important material to get out to experts, the public, and decision makers in an evenhanded and responsible manner. This kind of analysis, even if it does not include agreed upon ideas for resolving the conflict, provides unique input that the dynamics of conflict usually preclude. The introduction of such input to the political discourse can be another way to influence, perhaps in a minor way, the dynamics of a conflict. It is obvious that reconceptualizing interactive conflict resolution in this direction entails careful consideration of the inherent risks, difficulties, and costs of such changes. The design of the workshop, the ground rules, and the methods to be used will have to be reshaped according to newly defined goals. Nevertheless, such reconceptualization is crucial if the potential contribution of interactive conflict resolution is to be maximized. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION Examining major theoretical and methodological issues in interactive conflict resolution might, at face value, appear to be an academic exercise anchored in a social sciences framework and detached from the more lofty goals of intervening in conflict, changing history, and reaching policy makers and decision makers who have no interest in the tedious details of theory and research. However, I argue that the way to achieve these lofty goals is to systematically examine interactive conflict resolution’s practices, methodologies, rationale, and achievements and to develop theories of practice that guide interventions in history. Stern and Druckman’s (Chapter 2) conclusion about international conflict resolution is equally applicable to interactive conflict resolution: “[T]he practical concern with how best to develop generic knowledge about what works in international conflict resolution leads to a perhaps surprising conclusion: there is a critical need to develop theory.” Developing theory is even more important for interactive conflict resolution given its status of double marginality: both within the academic disciplines and with the diplomatic practitioners, policy makers, and decision makers. Assessments of the state of the field range from full satisfaction with “a significant track record” for a “systematic, well-thought-through approach” (Saunders, Chapter 7), to dubiousness over demonstrated impact or even the potential to achieve impact (e.g., Bercovitch, 1992). As Saunders mentions in his chapter, many see interactive conflict resolution as a naive approach practiced by do-gooders. Others are cynical about the value of problem-solving workshops and other meetings arranged by interactive conflict resolution practitioners.

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War In this chapter I posit that there is an urgent need to scientifically examine interactive conflict resolution and evaluate its achievements by addressing central theoretical and methodological issues. The main question I try to answer is what can be done—theoretically and methodologically—to increase confidence in using this approach. This chapter delineates the existing methods and objectives of interactive conflict resolution. It then encourages practitioners to deconstruct the problem-solving workshop to its components and to relate their various methodologies to the objectives they want to achieve within the contained context of the problem-solving workshop. Bringing adversaries together and conducting dialogue works neither by magic nor an act of faith. Practitioners should be able to present their methods, the objectives they aim to achieve, and how their methods achieve the objectives. Intervention in history should not be discharged from scientific accountability. To the contrary, given the importance of such interventions, all efforts should be made to demonstrate how the objectives of problem-solving workshops are achieved. Social science theories and research methodologies can be beneficially used to achieve this goal. Practitioners should also be able to define the macrogoals of their interventions and explain how their workshops were designed to accomplish or help achieve the macrogoals. In this regard, scholar-practitioners face the grievous problem that the effects of their intervention on the dynamics of the conflict are nonlinear and therefore do not lend themselves to standard social science methodology, are complex and perhaps unmeasurable, and are slow to become manifest (if at all). But these problems cannot absolve the scholar-practitioner from the responsibility to explain how he or she conceives the impact of the intervention to take place, even if such impact is slow and unmeasurable, and to delineate plausible ways in which intervention influences a conflict’s dynamics. Theory building requires advancing theory-anchored hypotheses about how the impact is supposed to occur and in what time frame as well as some indicators for assessing this impact. Even if the hypotheses cannot be empirically tested, they can be judged by scholars, practitioners, and policy makers on the merits of their theoretical plausibility or common sense. Furthermore, new innovative methodologies could be applied to examine some of these hypotheses. Theory building in this sense contributes not only to the academic disciplines or to persuading policy makers of the value of this work, it also contributes to interactive conflict resolution practitioners to becoming more persuaded (or perhaps less depending on the outcomes) of the value of this work and to students and a new generation of practitioners who want to critically examine the practice in this area. Perhaps most importantly, it helps parties in conflict—among many of whom one en-

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War counters skepticism and even cynicism—whether to invest their time and effort in these interventions. This chapter presents a conceptualization of the impact of interactive conflict resolution on the dynamics of conflict through a number of possible effects. I propose these effects here as a way of demonstrating what I mean by the need for defining goals and developing theoretical ways of achieving the desired impact. I also examine the methodological difficulties and suggest some ways to assess them. The theoretical suggestions, the conceptual model (as summarized in Figure 8.1), and the research questions (and some answers) presented here are all conceived of as steps that must be taken to increase confidence in interactive conflict resolution as a field of practice and scholarly research. This goal, which is related in part to the academic standing of the field, is inextricably related to increasing the effectiveness of interactive conflict resolution and establishing its relevance to policy makers and those interested in intervention in the dynamics of conflict. NOTES 1   In earlier papers I used the term unofficial intervention (to emphasize the distinction from official interventions in conflict), whose definition overlaps broadly with Fisher’s definition of interactive conflict resolution (Rouhana, 1995a, 1998). In this paper the two terms are used interchangeably. 2   For a description of the approach see Harold Saunders’s chapter in this volume. Saunders points out that the requirement of a third party of social scientist-practitioners is too limiting. The dialogue could be chaired by members from each group, and the role of third parties cannot be restricted to trained social scientists. 3   These questions earn additional importance as interactive conflict resolution seeks to become established as an academic field—as witnessed by the increasing number of scholars who study conflict analysis and resolution and the rising number of academic institutes and programs on conflict resolution. 4   This level of analysis is often used by scholar-practitioners to various degrees. It is emphasized in the works of Volkan (1990, 1991), Montville (1986, 1990), and (Moses, 1990). See an illustration of Volkan’s approach in Saunders’s chapter in this volume. 5   Scholar-practitioners give this level of analysis various degrees of emphasis. It occupies a central role in the works of Doob (1970), Doob and Foltz (1973), and Lakin (1972). Lakin applied his approach to meetings between Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel. Doob and his colleagues used a similar approach in unofficial intervention efforts in the dispute between Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, as well as the Northern Ireland conflict. 6   The political level of analysis is lumped with the intergroup level of analysis, although conceptually they can be differentiated (see Rouhana and Korper, 1999). Burton and his colleagues introduced this level of analysis to unofficial intervention, first as “controlled communication” and later as “problem-solving” (Burton, 1986, 1987). Based on Burton’s work, the problem-solving workshop was consequently developed, modified, and practiced by many others over the past three decades. Thus, Kelman and colleagues developed the “interactional problem-solving” approach (Kelman and Cohen, 1976; Kelman, 1979; Cohen et al., 1977). Azar, working closely with Burton, developed the “problem-solving

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War     forums” (Azar, 1990); Fisher introduced the third-party consultation model (1972, 1980, 1983); Saunders and later Saunders and Slim applied a similar, although independent, model based on Saunders’s unique and rich experience in both official and unofficial processes (Saunders, 1985; Chufrin and Saunders, 1993); Kelman and Rouhana developed the “continuing workshop” model (Rouhana and Kelman, 1994, Kelman, 1997; Rouhana, 1995b); and Rothman applied an intergroup level of analysis in his workshops (Rothman, 1997). For a comprehensive review of the various models and their applications, see Fisher (1997). 7   Participants might even express resentment to “psychological interventions” and consider them a breach of the ground rules on the part of the third party. Indeed, Rouhana and Korper call for the level of analysis to be part of the contract between the third party and the participants. Participants should be informed, among other things, of the level of analysis and type of discussion they should expect to carry out in the workshop. See Rouhana and Korper (1996). 8   For example, Rothman (1992, 1997) describes a method in which the third party actively leads the participants through preset stages: adversarial framing, reflexive reframing, inventing integrative solutions, and agenda setting. From excerpts of transcripts provided by Rothman (1992), it seems that the third party combines active facilitating and some simultaneous training. Saunders and Slim (1994) present five phases through which a sustained dialogue proceeds, implying that it captures a natural progress of such activities. Rouhana (1995b), presenting the third-party approach in the problem-solving workshop with Kelman, describes a model that takes into consideration both the inherent dynamics of a small group process and the agenda set by the third party. The third party steers the group through a set of phases by balancing the group’s dynamics and the agenda. 9   In a recent issue of International Negotiation edited by Ron Fisher (vol. 2, no. 3, 1997), the editor contends that training in negotiation and/or conflict resolution techniques can be considered an intervention only if it involves conflict analysis and dialogue and if it is jointly experienced by members of both parties. These conditions highlight the need that practitioners describe the activities they carry out in the problem-solving workshop. For an approach utilizing research findings in negotiation training programs, see Druckman and Robinson (1998). 10   The analogy to the format of reports on studies in the social-psychological tradition should be considered. This format includes sufficient details for replicating the study in a different laboratory, under other circumstances, and by adding new independent variables or manipulating existing ones differently. An important advantage of this tradition is the accumulation of empirical knowledge. 11   For example, Louise Diamond (in Saunders, Chapter 7) describes the connection between methods and outcomes in her intervention in Cyprus as follows: “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 shift, where participants, as they gain new information and new perspective about themselves, the “other,” and the overall situation in Cyprus, find themselves experiencing a change of heart and mind about the relationship” (emphasis added). Such a connection between intervention method and outcome in protracted social conflict cannot be taken at face value without further validation. It must, and can, be submitted to empirical testing. 12   Saunders (Chapter 7), for example, argues that “in reaching judgment about how [interactive conflict resolution] contributes to peace making and peace building, we must probably reach beyond the methods of present social science…. 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.” 13   Rouhana and Korper (1999), who devised such a taxonomy, argue that it can also

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War     help the scholar-practitioner deal with some of the major controversies in the field, such as: Should unofficial intervention encourage cooperation between adversaries in all stages of a conflict, or could such cooperation be used to legitimize power asymmetries? Should intervention be geared toward improving relationships at all stages of conflict? Can interventions harm relationships between protagonists? How important are interpersonal relationships in protracted ethnonational conflict? When is promoting reconciliation most useful? For example, whereas before negotiation and during open violence and mutual blame discussions of reconciliation could be futile and perhaps inappropriate, in a postsettlement stage there could be a major role for problem-solving workshops that focus on both interpersonal and intergroup reconciliation. 14   In preparation for the referendum on the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, both Unionist and Republican leaders who supported the agreement campaigned with their constituencies. A Unionist leader reported a few days before the referendum: “I use the euphemism ‘responsibility sharing’. It goes down a little better than ‘power sharing’.” See Maureen Dowd, “Center Holding,” The New York Times, May 20, 1998. 15   Bercovitch (1992), for example, articulated many of the criticisms and concluded that unofficial activities represent a model of mediation that is ineffective in dealing with ethnonational conflicts. 16   Kriesberg (1991, 1992) demonstrates how during its life course a conflict goes through various nonlinear stages such as escalation, crisis, stalemate, or self-generating deescalation and argues that intervention should be based on conflict analysis that can determine the current stage. Despite the nonlinear nature of its evolution, transitions between stages of conflict often take the form of turning points—often identifiable by major stepping stones such as agreements or crises that could be critical periods for the transformation of the conflict and therefore for defining the goals of intervention accordingly. 17   Perhaps, the sociological literature can guide conceptualizing the impact of interventions in the theoretical framework of social change. 18   To focus the discussion I limit the following section to problem-solving workshops that use the intergroup/political level of analysis and, in particular, those based on basic human needs theory. 19   For a social-psychological approach that draws a nexus between psychological processes and political processes in regional politics, see Druckman (1980). 20   Some of the effects described below are overlapping. The distinctions made here between similar effects are helpful for conceptualizing the impact, but there is no assumption that they take place in the same distinct manner in reality. 21   This function of the problem-solving workshop is not without risks and disadvantages. For one, the positive or negative reaction by the other side to a floated idea could be taken by a participant to mean that the official level on the other side is willing to accept or reject it as the case may be. Thus, despite the emphasis on the unofficial function of the meetings, it is not inconceivable that some participants generalize from the response they receive from nonofficials to the views of officials. Second, the function could be exploited by some participants for negotiation gains in the sense that they can learn what is the minimum their party should offer for the other side to accept. 22   If the type of contact is not tailored to the stage of conflict on the ground, this contribution of the problem-solving workshop can easily backfire, as discussed in Doob’s intervention in Northern Ireland (Doob and Foltz, 1973, 1974; Boehringer et al., 1974; Alvey et al., 1974). Furthermore, this effect, precisely because it legitimizes contact between adversaries, can become controversial if its exact objectives and goals are not explained. For example, professional and other contacts between Israelis and other Arabs are opposed by many intellectuals and professional associations in the Arab world (including Egypt and Jordan, which have formal peace agreements with Israel). The central argument against

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International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War     such contacts is that, in the absence of comprehensive peace they create a sense of normalcy in conditions that are not normal. The conditions that contribute to the lack of normalcy must be changed, not the impression. Therefore, these contacts are perceived as being part and parcel of an image management by Israel called “normalization” and the opposition movement is, accordingly, called “antinormalization.” 23   A striking example of the effect of familiarity is the difference between the political culture of the Labor and Likud governments in Israel in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Palestinian society. Before the peace process, some of the Labor negotiators had met Palestinians, including open supporters of the PLO, in academic and private settings. Likud members had consistently declined such opportunities. 24   So far very little research has been conducted to assess the effectiveness of the problem-solving workshop in achieving attitudinal change, and even when such research was conducted it was not always clear which activity in the workshop was designed to lead to what change in attitudes. For example, Gutlove et al. (1992) provide some raw data from workshops they held in Yugoslavia to demonstrate conflict resolution techniques. Post-workshop data provided by participants showed that the workshops had a “limited impact upon the way people feel about their own role in the conflict and the role of their adversary” (p. 12). In answering the question “Do you feel differently about any aspect of the conflict now?,” the average of each of three groups did not reach the midpoint of the scale from low (zero) to high (seven). 25   Consider the following components that the third party takes a leading role in implementing: selection of participants, setting the agenda, setting the ground rules, choosing the level of analysis, and the initial design of the end product, all of which are components that should be part of a clear contract between the third party and the participants (Rouhana and Korper, 1996). 26   In a recent problem-solving workshop in the series of workshops of the Joint Working Group in Israeli-Palestinian Relations, cochaired by Herbert Kelman and Nadim Rouhana, participants suggested that a document on general principles to guide the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians should be shared with American policy makers, in addition to Israeli and Palestinian policy makers. Many argued that sharing it with American policy makers is even more important than with parties themselves. 27   Refraining from using the problem-solving workshop as an analytical tool is probably rooted in the legitimate ethical concern about “using” participants for analytical or educational purposes. I make the suggestion to take advantage of the analytical value in a way that gives participants full charge of the use of the analytical material, rather than having them being used as subjects who can demonstrate to others the dynamics of conflict. REFERENCES Ajzen, I., and Fishbein, M. 1980 Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Alvey, D.I., Bunker, B., Doob, L.W., et al. 1974 Rationale, research, and role relations in the Stirling Workshop. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 18:276–284. Amir, Y. 1976 The role of intergroup contact in change of prejudice and ethnic relations. In P. Katz (Ed.), Toward the elimination of racism. New York: Pergamon. Arad, S., and Carnavale, P. 1994 Partisanship effects in judgments of fairness and trust in third parties in Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 38:423–451.

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