Beyond Intractability
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Track II (Citizen) Diplomacy
Diana Chigas

August 2003
Who are Track Two Intermediaries and Diplomats?

The term "intermediary" refers to people who become involved "in the middle" of a conflict. They are not disputants, but rather people who try to work with the disputants to resolve the conflict or transform it to make it less destructive. Sometimes these intermediaries are official or "formal" intermediaries: professional mediators, arbitrators, judges, or other official actors. But often they are informal, or unofficial people who work outside official negotiation, mediation, or "Track I" processes. Unofficial third-party intervention means different things to different people. At the interpersonal level, it refers to any informal mediation process...a friend intervening between a fighting couple; a co-worker trying to help two employees solve a dispute. Anyone who tries to help disputants work out their differences, but does so as a friend or unofficial third party is an "informal intermediary."

At the inter-group or international level, the term encompasses a number of different terms: "track two diplomacy," citizen diplomacy, "multi-track diplomacy," supplemental diplomacy, pre-negotiation, consultation, interactive conflict resolution, back-channel diplomacy, facilitated joint brainstorming, coexistence work. While differing in emphasis, agenda, and theoretical approach, these initiatives share many common goals. They attempt to provide an environment that is low-key, non-judgmental, non-coercive, and safe, and to create a process in which participants feel free to share perceptions, fears and needs, and to explore ideas for resolution, free of the constraints of government positions. The process is designed to encourage the development of mutual understanding of differing perceptions and needs, the creation of new ideas, and strong problem-solving relationships.

Normally, informal intermediaries are non-governmental actors, such as religious institutions, academics, former government officials, non-governmental organizations, humanitarian organizations, and think tanks, among others. In some cases, however, governments or government officials can act as informal intermediaries when they facilitate discussions among non-officials -- private citizens or groups of individuals -- from conflicting parties.

Functions of Informal Intermediaries

In intractable conflicts, traditional instruments of negotiation, mediation and conflict management have proven to be ineffective.[1] In some cases, this is because the conflict itself is not "ripe" for resolution[2]; in other words, one or both parties may not have strong motives to de-escalate because they believe the costs of working to de-escalate or solve the conflict exceed the benefits.[3] Even when de-escalation would be beneficial, a society may be too divided to permit bold initiatives for de-escalation, or the conflict may be intertwined with other regional or global conflicts.[4]

Scholars and practitioners in the field of conflict resolution point to additional limitations of traditional diplomacy that informal intermediaries are particularly well suited to address. First, intractable conflicts tend to involve basic human needs and values that the parties experience as critical to their survival, and, as a consequence, as non-negotiable.[5] Traditional negotiation and mediation processes are well suited to resolving resource-based issues, such as poverty, control over land, power sharing, and distribution of economic opportunities. But issues of identity, survival, and fears of the other can only be addressed in a process that works directly to change the underlying human relationship, promoting mutual understanding and acknowledgement of people's concerns.[6]

Second, in intractable conflicts -- whether ethno-national, such as in the former Yugoslavia or Cyprus, or inter-state, as in Korea or Kashmir -- the experience of threat is so powerful that it pervades all aspects of a community's life.[7] These conflicts are inter-societal -- that is between whole societies or "bodies politic."[8] Traditional mediation and negotiation by themselves are not adequate to address this kind of conflict; again, a transformation in the conflictual relationship of the parties is required.[9]

Third, conflict is a dynamic process in which objective and subjective elements interact to create an escalatory, self-perpetuating dynamic.[10] Demonic images of the enemy and virtuous images of self develop on both sides, and reinforce stalemate by intensifying distrust, dehumanization, and de-individuation of the other party. This effect interferes with communication, reducing empathy and fostering win-lose thinking.[11] Traditional negotiation and mediation approaches are not adequate to address these subjective factors. The methods employed in official diplomatic tracks, such as confidence-building measures, are often undermined by the very dynamics they are trying to address. They must therefore be supplemented by other (unofficial) processes that address the dynamic of the relationship between the parties and deal with perceptions, distrust, and fears that fuel the escalatory dynamic.

Roles Played by Informal Intermediaries in Intractable Conflicts


Roles of unofficial third parties

Figure 1 offers a simple classification of the kinds of roles played by informal intermediaries based on the level at which the intervention occurs and the broad results of the intervention.

Interventions with Decision Makers -- "Track 1½" Diplomacy

"Track 1½" intermediation typically involves unofficial actors (former government officials, or religious or social organizations such as the Church or the Quakers) who intervene between official government representatives to promote a peaceful resolution of conflict. Three kinds have been common:

  • Direct mediation or conciliation by unofficial third parties

In this model, informal intermediaries act between conflicting parties either by hosting and facilitating talks or by providing unofficial shuttle diplomacy. The latter is exemplified by the role of Quaker peacemaker Adam Curle in the Nigerian conflict of 1967-1970. Curle shuttled between the Nigerian government and the Biafran rebel leaders with messages, engaging in bilateral discussions with each side to help them develop a clearer picture of the issues, as well as ideas for possible solutions. Former President Jimmy Carter and the Conflict Resolution Program at the Carter Center at Emory University are another example of mediation by non-governmental actors. Carter consults with governments, as well as relevant governmental and intergovernmental organizations, but acts in an unofficial capacity, albeit with official blessing. His status as a former president of the United States gives him legitimacy and entry at the highest levels. Yet acting as an unofficial mediator, he is free to initiate discussions, facilitate communication, and explore new ideas. In this role, Carter undertook a mission to North Korea in 1994 to defuse escalating tensions between that country and the United States.

  • "Consultation" and facilitation of interactive problem-solving by unofficial facilitators.

In this model, key individuals from the parties are brought together in their personal capacities, rather than as representatives of their side, for direct, private interaction. The meetings are low-key, closed to the public, and non-binding. Participants share their perceptions and concerns, focusing on the interests and basic needs underlying their positions, jointly analyze the underlying issues and their relationship, and jointly develop ideas for resolution. The workshops are designed to promote relationship and trust-building across conflict lines, develop lines of communication, and explore options that could meet both sides' interests and needs. The "Georgia-South Ossetia Dialogue Project," undertaken by the Conflict Management Group in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council, is an example. The project brought together members of the negotiating teams of both sides and other influential actors for a series of facilitated joint brainstorming meetings over five years. Participants were asked to talk about their own experiences, interests, needs, and fears and listen to and explore those of the other side. They brainstormed ideas related to the Georgian-South Ossetian negotiation process, particularly on issues they discovered to be of common concern, such as cultural and economic ties, refugees, and development. The improved relationships and understanding as well as the concrete ideas that were developed in these sessions significantly improved both the tone and content of the official negotiations.[12]

  • Facilitation of problem solving or confidence-building by official third-party actors among private citizens in influential sectors.

On some occasions, official third-party actors initiate or facilitate discussions among non-official representatives of the conflicting parties -- such as academics or businesspeople -- in order to stimulate progress in official negotiations. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry joined with the non-governmental research organization, the Norwegian Institute for Applied Social Science, to facilitate the "Oslo Channel." Initially, the Oslo Channel involved non-official, yet influential members of Israeli and Palestinian communities who came together in Norway for discussions. The success of this effort led to its evolution into a forum for secret negotiations of the Declaration of Principles in 1993, as representatives with official negotiating mandates joined the group. Richard Holbrooke, then acting as United States Special Coordinator for Cyprus, spearheaded a similar effort in Cyprus. Holbrooke worked with the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway to convene a group of businesspeople from Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey to develop concrete forms of cooperation. This process was designed to improve possibilities for negotiation by developing confidence and demonstrating potential concrete benefits of bi-communal cooperation.

Unofficial Interventions with Unofficial Actors -- "Track Two Diplomacy"

The "consultant's" role described above originated with the development of "Track Two" interventions. The term "track two" was coined by Joseph Montville, who distinguished traditional diplomatic activities (track one diplomacy) from "unofficial, informal interaction between members of adversarial groups or nations with the goals of developing strategies, influencing public opinions and organizing human and material resources in ways that might help resolve the conflict."[13]

The best known and most developed of the "Track Two" models is the interactive problem-solving workshop developed by Burton, Kelman, Fisher, and others.[14] Harold Saunders has developed a similar process to "engage representative citizens from the conflicting parties in designing steps to be taken in the political arena to change perceptions and stereotypes, to create a sense that peace might be possible, and to involve more and more of their compatriots." This "public peace process"[15] has been applied in the Inter-Tajik Dialogue, begun in 1993 under the auspices of the Dartmouth Conference Regional Task Force. Track Two interventions bring together non-official, but influential members of the parties for direct, private interaction with joint analysis of the conflict and joint problem-solving. The intermediaries are typically knowledgeable and skilled scholar/practitioners who are impartial and whose training and expertise enable them to facilitate productive dialogue and problem-solving between the parties.[16] The participants in these efforts, however, are not officials or members of negotiating teams, but rather "politically involved and often politically influential members" of conflicting societies.[17] They may be parliamentarians, leaders, and activists of political movements, journalists, members of think tanks, academics; people who are within the mainstream of their societies and close to the political center. Their unofficial position, along with the academic setting in which the meetings are conducted, permits them greater freedom to explore alternative perspectives and formulate new (joint) ideas.[18]

These workshops have been credited with contributing to the breakthrough achieved in the Oslo Accord of September 1993 by developing cadres prepared to negotiate productively, by providing substantive inputs (both in terms of ideas and awareness of sensitivities and perspectives of the other side), and by creating a better political atmosphere for negotiation.[19]

Unofficial Interventions at the Grass Roots -- "Track Three Diplomacy"

In "track three diplomacy," unofficial third parties work with people from all walks of life and sectors of their society to find ways to promote peace in settings of violent conflict. This work is aimed at building or rebuilding broken relationships across the lines of division among ordinary citizens in communities, in a range of sectors. The premise of Track Three Diplomacy is that peace can and must be built from the bottom up as well as from the top down. For any negotiation or settlement to be achieved, a "peace constituency" must exist. Likewise, for any settlement that is eventually reached, there must be support and capacity for its implementation.

Some interventions at this level have national scope and influence. Radio Ijambo, an independent radio station established in Burundi in 1995 by the U.S.-based NGO Search for Common Ground produces programs dedicated to peace and national reconciliation and dialogue among polarized groups. Seeds of Peace, another U.S.-based non-governmental organization, works with youth from the Middle East and other conflict areas to provide an environment and experience for the next generation of leaders in an International Camp for Conflict Resolution.

Most Track Three interventions are directed at rebuilding "social capital" in local communities that have been fractured by conflict. In many instances, the local level is a microcosm of the larger conflict. Lines of identity in the conflict are often drawn through local communities, dividing them into hostile groups. People at this level experience the day-to-day consequences of those divisions and of the decisions of the political elite. Interventions include psychosocial work to help communities deal with trauma that violent conflict has produced, to social and arts events that bring people together across conflict lines, joint business projects, inter-religious dialogue, and peace education, among others. Despite the wide range of activity, the overarching objectives of the interventions are similar. They offer an opportunity for people to work at the community or local level, away from the political negotiation, on issues of peace and conflict resolution.

Contributions of Unofficial Interventions

Assessing the impact of unofficial intermediation in intractable conflicts is difficult. These initiatives are generally not designed to achieve the goals of traditional diplomacy; they are not designed to produce agreements, nor to affect major shifts in policy in the short term. Rather, they seek to affect more intangible factors of intractability, such as attitudes and relationships that are more difficult to measure, and whose contribution to change in the broader conflict environment is difficult to assess. Even when the impact of the interventions on participants' attitudes and relationships can be measured, the significance of these "micro" level achievements for the larger conflict resolution process is often not clear. When there is movement -- as there was in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following Oslo, in South Africa, Northern Ireland, and seemingly in Cyprus -- the most direct and visible causal links relate to changes in "objective" or structural factors in the conflict -- changes in leadership, in the regional environment, or the domestic political environment, often achieved through application of the resources and leverage of traditional (state) third parties to change the cost-benefit calculus of key people in the conflict.

Nonetheless, some real contributions of unofficial third parties can be identified. While less direct and dramatic, they are an important part of the "ripening" and transformation of intractable conflicts. All forms of unofficial intermediation -- from Track 1 consultation to Track Three activities -- have shown demonstrable successes in changing attitudes and relationships among participants and in building their capacity to work together cooperatively to develop peaceful means for resolution.

Changed Attitudes about the "Other"

The most commonly observed change is the breaking down of negative stereotypes and generalizations of the other side. These enemy images serve both as tools for mobilizing public resources in support of policy, and as psychological constructs that enable leaders to justify violence and confrontation against another group. Participants develop a deep understanding of the other's intentions and rationale for policies and behavior, their political culture and decision-making context. In many cases, participants note that workshops clarify misinformation about the other side, and help them understand that the other community, like their own, has suffered in the conflict. The development of an empathetic understanding of the experiences, perspectives, and needs of the other side forms an initial basis for trust.

Opening Channels of Communication

Unofficial intermediaries have made a significant contribution in opening channels of communication between parties who otherwise would find it difficult to meet or acknowledge any contact, and in improving the quality of communication -- and consequently of understanding -- across conflict lines. At a time when there were no official contacts between the United States and the PLO, Dr. Landrum Bolling, former President of Earlham College and a Quaker peacemaker, served as an unofficial liaison between Yasir Arafat and former President Jimmy Carter. Track Two dialogues have constituted one of the few forums in which Israelis have been able to meet with Iranians or Syrians.

Improved Quality of Communication

The ground rules, structure, and venue for unofficial discussions also makes possible a kind of communication that is generally not feasible among parties in intractable conflicts. In unofficial intermediation, participants exchange personal stories about their experiences with the conflict. They begin to analyze the conflict in a structured way, delving beneath positions and arguments to understand interests, needs, fears, concerns, priorities, constraints, and values. Participants begin to be aware of the ways their language contributes to mutual mistrust because it is experienced as offensive, disrespectful, or threatening by the other side. They begin to develop a de-escalatory language that contributes to creating an environment in which they can communicate and solve problems more effectively. This is the basis for development of a working trust between the sides that permits joint analysis and joint problem solving to overcome barriers to settlement.

Relationship and Trust Building

The transformation of attitudes and communication is inextricably tied to the establishment of deep relationships of mutual trust among participants in unofficial processes. Being with the "enemy" at breakfast, in the meetings themselves, and at the bar at night, re-humanizes the conflict and helps participants recognize that they share many fears, needs, and concerns. While this new found trust, and in some cases friendship, does not always extend beyond the boundaries of the workshop to the "other side" as a whole,[20] these personal relationships are critical to developing a process for coming to the table and dealing with the hurdles in negotiation.

In this context, unofficial, citizen-based intermediation is also a forum for nurturing cadres able to negotiate effectively with the "other" and resolve intractable issues when the window of opportunity opens. In South Africa, key players in the negotiations between the ANC and the National Party were veterans of previous informal discussions, including the chief negotiators on both sides.[21] The Oslo process that led to the 1993 "Declaration of Principles" between Israelis and Palestinians similarly involved negotiators who had long experience with unofficial dialogue processes. In Ecuador and Peru, participants in a Conflict Management Group-Harvard led "facilitated joint brainstorming" process later became decision makers in the peace process and drew on their experience in these sessions in negotiating the agreements that ended more than 40 years of conflict over their border.[22] Armed with both strong working relationships with counterparts on the "other side" and a deep understanding of their perceptions, interests, and needs, as well as exploration of common interests and possible options, these people are able to work together to overcome obstacles to resolution at the table.

Changed Perceptions of the Conflict

Unofficial intermediation also helps participants transform their perceptions of the conflict in ways that open space for negotiation. It facilitates mutual understanding and acceptance of concerns about survival and identity and transforms people's win-lose outlook on the conflict.[23] Unofficial intermediation also addresses the psychological and social dimensions of the conflict. Participants identify underlying needs, values, and interests that are compatible and that can form the basis for a new definition of a common problem that the two sides share an interest in solving.[24] As a result of deeper understanding of the other side's needs, they also develop a greater openness to abandoning previous non-negotiable positions.[25] Participants report a greater hope and confidence that joint solutions can be found[26] and a greater willingness to engage with the other side. For example, participants in the Inter-Tajik Dialogue facilitated by Hal Saunders report that the dialogue helped them gain a new understanding of the sources of conflict in Tajikistan and helped them moderate their own positions.[27] Even where "non-negotiable" gaps persist, the empathy and mutual understanding that unofficial processes facilitate make it easier for the parties to work together to find compromises.[28]

New Options for Negotiation

Many unofficial initiatives have gone beyond understanding and dialogue to Harold Saunders' fifth stage of public dialogue: "acting together" to have a concrete impact on changing the relationship between the parties.[29] Unofficial processes can generate creative ideas for settlement that cannot be raised in official negotiations.

A number of track one and track two initiatives have developed new ideas for de-escalation and settlement. The Dartmouth Conference's Inter-Tajik Dialogue produced 18 joint memoranda with recommendations on organization of the negotiation process, and several participants in Kelman's problem-solving workshops have published joint papers discussing potential directions for resolution of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ideas developed in these initiatives have often informed official negotiations. The informal and unofficial nature of the meetings and the intermediary make it possible to present, explore, and discuss ideas openly, including ideas that may be too bold or too sensitive to bring up in official negotiations.

Changed Conflict Dynamic: Strengthening Voices of Moderation

Citizen-based track two and track three processes open space for voices of moderation that have been silenced or marginalized as a result of the polarization of the relationship between the parties. In intractable conflicts it is difficult for moderates on either side to have a voice in policy or public debate. They are often driven into exile, intimidated into silence by political oppression, or threatened by their authorities or extremist groups.

Unofficial intermediation facilitates the formation of "coalitions across conflict lines" that can help organize and strengthen the "negotiating middle" and give public voice to previously silenced perspectives for moderation. For example, a July 1997 workshop organized by American University among East Timorese who fell into the "negotiating middle" helped reinforce the position of political moderates and facilitated the formulation of joint negotiation options.[30] In South Africa, a 1987 conference brought together 61 predominantly Afrikaans-speaking intellectuals to the left of the governing National Party with 17 African National Congress representatives in Dakar, Senegal. The success of this conference reinforced the influence of "diplomats," such as Thabo Mbeki, within the ANC over those who supported insurrection and mass mobilization.[31]

In addition to bolstering the influence of pro-negotiation elements within each side, unofficial diplomacy also gives voice to silenced or marginalized moderate perspectives in the public discourse. The Dakar Conference described above contributed to changes in white public opinion and increased public discussion of possibilities of negotiation with the ANC as white participants engaged in public speaking, "debriefings, and house meetings," and even created an alternative Afrikaans newspaper. Lieberfeld[32] concludes that Dakar "desensitized" whites to talks with the ANC, as evidenced by the comparative lack of media controversy over a follow-up meeting the following year. Similarly, in Cyprus, powerful norms of group loyalty and cohesiveness previously made expression of views that the enemy may not be as bad, aggressive, or inflexible as assumed a taboo. More recently, bi-communal meetings have become uncontroversial, and "bi-communal rapprochement" (reconciliation) has now become part of the public vocabulary and public debate in the mainstream media and political circles.

Development of Social Networks: An Infrastructure for Peace

Development of an infrastructure for peace is as important to the pre-negotiation phase of transforming intractability as it is to the post-settlement phase of implementation of an agreement and building peace at a societal level. Because intractable conflicts involve people at all levels of a society, from the grassroots to the elite, it is important to build a political environment -- a peace constituency -- at all levels. Unless the middle and grassroots levels have the capacity and will to support and sustain peacemaking efforts undertaken at the top levels, repolarization of the conflict is likely when inevitable setbacks occur. These peace constituencies and social networks across conflict lines help to open space for negotiations and minimize the effects of spoilers in both camps.[33] ("Spoilers" are people who engage in violence to try to discredit or derail peace agreements.) As Louise Diamond, originator(along with John McDonald) of the concept of multi-track diplomacy, notes:

The forces of war have an existing infrastructure that enables them to mobilize and actualize their aims -- they have armies and arms suppliers; transportation, commerce and communication systems; banking, taxing and other funding methods; media, education and propaganda systems; and government ministries, clans, villages, political parties and other entities capable of taking action. The forces of peace have little of this [....]Much more needs to be done to create both a human and an institutional infrastructure for peacebuilding, in order to concretize these methods and approaches in social, political and economic systems that can both stand on their own and work together toward a shared goal.[34]

Most track two and track three processes result in concrete, constructive joint actions designed to influence the political environment in which negotiations might take place. In Cyprus, numerous joint projects -- from a bi-communal choir to an EU Study Group and a lawyers' group identifying areas of divergence between the two communities' legal developments since the division of the island -- have provided practical experience and a model of cross-conflict cooperation. In Tajikistan, dialogue participants have founded and become active in new civil society organizations that organize roundtable seminars on subjects important for peacebuilding, develop projects to foster economic development, and foster dialogue in public forums at the regional level. Mercy Corps' Eastern Kosovo Stabilization Program developed inter-ethnic agricultural market linkages that provided new business possibilities to both Serbs and Albanians when they worked together. In Georgia and South Ossetia, joint business ventures and other cross-conflict projects promote interdependence and the development of substantive interests for peace. Radio Macedonia (Search for Common Ground's project in Macedonia) runs programming depicting inter-ethnic cooperation and dialogue. Through public education, through opportunities for people at all levels of society to engage in dialogue, and through promotion of tangible benefits of cooperation across conflict lines, these projects contribute to the development of a peace constituency to support negotiation.

Unofficial processes create a model or a metaphor[35] for the possibility of a different relationship. They also establish links across fault lines that form the basis for a societal capacity to resist extremist images and rhetoric, as well as an infrastructure both for negotiating and implementing a settlement. Indeed, some analysts hypothesize that greater "significant social movement action"[36] and greater density of social links between Israeli Jews and Palestinians might have helped the Oslo process continue.[37]

Limitations of Unofficial Intermediation

In assessing the effectiveness of track two regional security dialogues in the Middle East, Dalia Kaye notes that "[i]t is an ironic aspect of track two that when such dialogue is most needed, it is often most difficult to bring about"[38] or to sustain. Unofficial processes cannot completely insulate themselves from the political environment in which they are taking place. Participants in these efforts are always responsive to the political developments in their own communities, and evaluate their joint work in the context of official activities, media coverage, and public opinion. In intractable conflicts, this context is invariably hostile. "Spoilers" actively try to undermine and marginalize efforts to build bridges across conflict lines. Participants are subject to direct harassment, intimidation, and sometimes violence from rejectionists, hardliners, and their own governments. Other, less overt, hostile bureaucratic actions by political authorities -- including failure to grant visas and permissions, and enforcement of laws forbidding contact -- make participation difficult.[39] And while unofficial intermediation processes are generally designed to be low key and private, they are not secret, and are vulnerable to negative media exposure caused by leaks or media commentary.[40] These constant and unrelenting attacks can have a harsh effect on morale and deter all but the most intrepid participants.

The hostile context also makes it hard to maintain attitude changes, owing to what is known as the "reentry problem."[41] Participants in unofficial intermediation efforts must preserve a delicate balance between forging coalitions across conflict lines and preserving their status, social networks, and effectiveness within their own side. A new and meaningful social identity, or definition of "us" and "them," may have been activated in unofficial processes, but many other social contexts reinforce participants' identity as a member of their group or side -- with all the attendant prejudices, stereotypes, and fears. Consequently, if not reinforced by ongoing and frequent dialogue and cooperation, attitude change can frequently dissipate.

A different, but equally significant, way in which politics can undermine unofficial intermediation is related to inequalities in the relationships between the parties. Differences in power or resources between the parties are often reflected in the views of the participants and their attitudes toward unofficial processes. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, Abu-Nimer notes that Palestinians often come to groups with the express purpose of fostering changes in Israeli political views, while Jewish participants tend to be more concerned with establishing lines of communication and building social connections.[42] While unofficial intermediaries try to redress this imbalance by equalizing numbers and balancing participants' contributions, they often do not have the resources to equalize the relationship.[43] As a consequence, weaker parties sometimes view these processes as ignoring the imbalances and not addressing the central problems in the conflict.

Finally, the success of unofficial intermediaries depends to a large extent on their ability to develop and maintain a wide network of contacts, generate respect and trust in the intermediary and the intermediation process, provide a neutral and safe setting, and to promote and facilitate ongoing interaction and joint activity. Additionally, adequate investment is often required in processes and structures that allow participants to maintain their coalition and to develop strategies and activities that have a meaningful impact in their societies. This commitment requires extensive resources over an extended period of time. For international, governmental, or private donors, however, funding cycles are frequently short, resources limited, and agendas often in conflict with the agendas of unofficial intermediaries or participants themselves.[44] In this context, it is difficult to have a significant impact on an intractable conflict.


Unofficial intermediaries' contributions to intractable conflicts are limited, and often indirect. Yet results should not be assessed solely by visible influences on track one negotiations. Unofficial intermediation can and does change the political cultures on both sides, making the parties more receptive to negotiation and building the capacity of the parties to negotiate and implement a resolution when a window of opportunity arises. It has helped foster a sense of possibility and hope that solutions satisfactory to all may indeed be available and attainable, and equipped parties with relationships, processes, and an environment that can help them negotiate those solutions effectively. No single intermediation process -- from big power mediation to "track three" civil society bridge building -- is adequate to deal with intractable conflicts. A variety of conflict mediation processes are needed to address the complex web of factors that perpetuate intractability.

[1] Fisher, R.J.(1989). Prenegotiation Problem-solving Discussions: Enhancing the Potential for Successful Negotiation. J.G. Stein (eds.). Getting to the Table. Baltimore, London: Johns Hopkins University Press. 206-238.; Saunders, Harold H., "Prenegotiation and Circum-negotiation: Arenas of the Peace Process," in Chester A. Crocker and Fen Osler Hampson with Pamela Aall, eds., Managing Gloabal Chaos: Sources of and Responses to International Conflict (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 1996), Chap. 28.  

[2] I. William Zartman, "Ripeness: The Hurting Stalemate and Beyond," in International Conflict Resolution after the Cold War eds., Paul Stern and Daniel Druckman. (Washington: National Academy Press, 2000).; Haass, Richard, Conflicts Unending: The United States and Regional Disputes (New Haven, Conn. Yale University Press,1990) 172 pp.

[3] Haass,1990.; Aall, Pamela R., Hampson, Fen Osler , Crocker, Chester A., Herding Cats: Multiparty Mediation in a Complex World (United States Institute of Peace Press, 1999) 735. ; Pruitt, D.G. & Olzack, P.V., Beyond Hope: Approaches to Resolving Seemingly Intractable Conflict. In B.B. Bunker & J.Z. Rubin (Eds.), Conflict, Cooperation, and Justice: Essays Inspired by the Work of Morton Deutsch. (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass,1995) pp. 59-92.

[4] Kriesberg, Louis, Timing the De-escalation of International Conflicts (Syracuse, NY Syracuse University Press, 1991) p. 13.

[5] Azar, Edward, The Management of Protracted Social Conflict: Theory and Cases (Brookfield, VT: Dartmouth University Press, 1990); Kelman, Herbert C., Social-Psychological Dimensions of International Conflict. In J. Lewis Rasmussen & William I. Zartman (Eds), Peacemaking in International Conflicts: Methods and Techniques. (Herndon, VA: USIP Press,1997) ; Rothman, Jay, Resolving Identity-Based Conflict in Nations, Organizations, and Communities (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass,1997) ; Coleman, Peter, Intractable Conflict. In Morton Deutsch & Peter T. Coleman(Eds), The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice. (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2000) pp.428-450.

[6] Saunders, 1993; Rothman, 1997; Kelman, 1997.

[7] Coleman, 2000.

[8] Saunders, Harold H., Prenegotiation and Circum-Negotiation: Arenas of the Multilevel Peace Process. In Pamela Aall, Chester Crocker & Fen Osler Hampson(Eds.), Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict (Washington, D.C.: USIP, 2001) pp. 483-496.

[9] Saunders, 2001; Kelman,

[10] Fisher, R.J. and Keashly,L., A Contingency Approach to Third Party Intervention. In R.J. Fisher(Ed), The Social Psychology of Intergroup and International Conflict Resolution (New York: Springer-Verlag,1991); Kelman

[11] Kim, Sung Hee, Pruitt, Dean G. & Rubin, Jeffery Z., Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalemate, and Settlement, 2nd Edition (New York: McGraw Hill College Division, 1994) pp. 84-87; Kelman, 1997.

[12] Allen Nan, Susan, "Partnering for Peace: Conflict Management Group and Norwegian Refugee Council Collaborating on the Georgian-South Ossetian Dialogue Project." Confidential Paper for the Reflecting on Peace Practices Project, 2000.

[13] Montville, 1991: 262.

[14] Kelman, 2000; Rouhana, N.N. & Kelman, H.C. "Promoting Joint Thinking in International Conflicts: An Israeli-Palestinian Continuing Workshop." Journal of Social Issues;50, (1994):157-178.; Mitchell,C.R. Peacemaking and the Consultant's Role (Westmead: Gower, 1981); Fisher, R.J. "Third party consultation: A method for the study and resolution of conflict." Journal of Conflict Resolution,16,(1972): 67-94.; Kelman, 1972; Burton, John W., Conflict and Communication: The Use of Controlled Communication in International Relations (London: Macmillan, 1969).

[15] Saunders, Harold H. & Slim, Rana H., The Inter-Tajik Dialogue: From Civil War Towards Civil Society (Conciliation Resources, 2001). Can be found at

[16] Fisher, R.J.& Keashly, Loraleigh. "The Potential Complementarity of Mediation and Consultation Within a Contingency Model of Third Party Consultation." The Journal of Peace Research,28,1,(1991): 29-42. ; Rouhana & Kelman, 1994.

[17] Kelman, 2000; Rouhana & Kelman, 1994.

[18] Kelman, 2000

[19] Kelman, 2000

[20] Angelica

[21] Lieberfeld, D. "Evaluating the Contributions of Track-Two Diplomacy to Conflict Termination in South Africa." Journal of Peace Research,39,3,(2002): 355-372.

[22] Reifenberg

[23] Rothman, Jay & Olson, Marie L. "From Interests to Identities: Towards a New Emphasis in Interactive Conflict Resolution." Journal of Peace Research,38,3,(2001): 289-306.; Pearson, Frederic S. "Dimensions of Conflict Resolution in Identity-based Disputes." Journal of Peace Research,38,3,(2001): 275-288.

[24] Saunders, 1985: 255

[25] Meyer, 2002; Kaye, Dalia Dassa "Track Two Diplomacy and Regional Security in the Middle East." International Negotiation: A Journal of Theory and Practice,6,1,(2001): 49-77.

[26] CMG 1994, 1996

[27] Saunders, Harold H. & Slim, Rana H., 1993

[28] Deutsch, Morton "Competition and Cooperation," in The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, eds. Coleman, Peter T. & Deutsch, Morton (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2000).

[29] Chufrin, G.I. & Saunders, H.H. "A Public Peace Process." Negotiation Journal,9,2, (1993):155-177.

[30] USIP

[31] Lieberfeld, 2002

[32] Lieberfeld, 2002

[33] Kriesberg, Louis " Mediation and the Transformation of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict." Journal of Peace Research,38,3, (2001): 373-392.

[34] Diamond, 1999

[35] Kelman, 2000

[36] Kriesberg, 2001: 388

[37] Kriesberg, 2001

[38] Kaye, 2001: 68

[39] In Cyprus, for example, the Greek Cypriot government refused to protect participants in bi-communal activities from physical harassment by demonstrating nationalists at the buffer zone, while after 1997 the Turkish Cypriot government prosecuted civil servants participating in bi-communal activities under a law forbidding such contact.

[40] E.g., regional dialogues in the Middle East

[41] Kelman

[42] Abu-Nimer, Mohammed, Dialogue, Conflict Resolution, and Change: Arab-Jewish Encounters in Israel. SUNY Press,1999.

[43] Kriesberg, 2001

[44] Chigas, Diana and Ganson, Brian "Grand Visions and Small Projects. Coexistence Efforts in Southeastern Europe," in Imagine Coexistence: Restoring Humanity After Violent Ethnic Conflict, eds. Antonia Chayes & Martha L. Minow (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003) ; Rothman, 1997: p. 299.

Use the following to cite this article:
Chigas, Diana . "Track II (Citizen) Diplomacy." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: August 2003 <>.

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