Program Officer for Outreach and Communication at The Coexistence Initiative
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
A: I don't have an answer for that, but one of the interesting things about what you say is I think a traditional reaction to human rights work -- there's quite a bit of antagonism between human rights workers and I think conflict resolution workers, and I could be wrong, but that's my sense of the situation. On one hand you have conflict resolution practitioners, who I think develop a little bit of a flexible approach - far more flexible than human rights advocates do. And I'm not particularly sure I have an answer to that question. I think that advocacy is critical, regardless of what foundation you're standing on. If you're standing on the foundation of the Declaration of Human Rights, or if you're standing on the foundation of - you know - coexistence, you know, just as a basic concept, I think the idea of advocacy as a tool is critical, because you do need change at the policy level. What I sense in your question, the kind of concern about getting trapped in an unending confrontation, is a legitimate concern I believe, but I wonder -- and this is a question I'll throw out to you -- I wonder to what extent the conflict resolution field can learn from the human rights field, especially in terms of having - I think one of the things that gives the human rights field not just this determination but this confidence, is the fact that it does have an instrument, in fact a series of instruments, to which it can go for justification. And these are instruments that are recognized at a international level, and they're recognized at the regional level, and the national level. Conflict resolution is kind of vague and ambiguous in that way, so we don't really have any kind of statements that have been recognized, so we don't always have something to fall back on, and this gives us a wishy-washy-ness that I think human rights practitioners find difficult to understand. Just as we find a little bit difficult to understand their
Q: Occasional intransigence.
A: Exactly. Not that I'm for one or against the other, but I will let you know that this work that I've been doing has opened my eyes as a conflict resolution practitioner and I've begun to see the difference it makes to have internationally recognized guidelines.