Willingness to Engage in Conflict Management


Sanda Kaufman

Professor of Planning and Public Administration at the Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University

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: One big obstacle is peoples' parties' willingness to engage in the processes that we think are so conducive to good solutions. They sometimes feel fine and we feel a lot less comfortable with conflict sometimes than the parties themselves.

Q: So you think the parties are more willing to engage in the processes than we think they are?

A: Not in conflict management. I think that we have an incredible impatience; by "we" I mean Western societies. We have an incredible impatience with processes and we want to come and fix and leave, and, on the other hand, conflicts that have developed over 20, 30, 50 years cannot be expected to be solved in one round of negotiations, and that's what we expect. We expect, so Camp David didn't work, so let's do the Road Map and if Road Map doesn't work, let's try this other thing, and we keep having a sense of failure that comes not from the fact that these processes failed, but from the expectation that they would be the quick fix that they could never be. So, it may be that all these processes that are applied around the world to a variety of conflict actually do their thing, but the outcome may materialize further down the line than we expect, and so we experience this as failure.