Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy
Topics: track I - track II cooperation, trust, peace processes
Interviewed by Julian Portilla — 2003
Listen to Full Interview
- Institute for Multi-Track
- Diplomatic Efforts in Cyprus
- Coordinating Track I and Track II Diplomacy
- Conceptual Framework
A: Why don't I start by telling you a bit about my own background, how I got into the field of conflict resolution.
Q: Yes, you could give me a brief overview of your work.
A: I started out as a lawyer and a young diplomat, working with the State Department. My first assignment was in Berlin, Germany in January 1947, so that goes back a very long way. I was eight years in Western Europe, in the post-World War II period. One of the defining moments for me was to be named District Attorney for the city of Frankfurt, Germany. I was there for three years. All under the occupation I was in the criminal court system everyday. As a lawyer of course, I learned, I win and you lose, and as a district attorney I had a 99% conviction rate, so I was really embedded in winning. That's an important thing to remember, because I was into win-lose. I went to Bonn, Frankfurt, and I was with the Allied Commission, and then I went to Paris and was working with the Marshall Plan.
Next I was back to Washington for four years, working with Secretary Dulles, the Secretary of State at that time. After that I went to the Middle East for eight years. I was in Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan for four years, then in Egypt for four years. I was in the Muslim world for eight years, which was also very useful. Then it was back to Washington where I was sent to school, the National War College, the senior training arm of the government. This would be the only place in one's career where military and civilian people get together. Basically, it's a stopping point along the way if you want to become a general or an ambassador. You have to go through that training.
Then I was assigned to the United Nations bureau at the State Department, and that's where I began to really recognize the shift in my thinking, from win-lose to win-win. In the United Nation's system, actually all multilateral organizations, they only move forward by consensus. Whenever you go to vote in the United Nations, you lose, because the dominant group is the developing group. They have the votes in terms of numbers, and if the Western world is against them, nothing gets done. You have to strive for consensus if you want to achieve anything, and I'm an achiever, so I strived for consensus on the global scale. Get the world to agree with your ideas, which is of course a challenge, but that's where I really got locked into win-win and consensus building. That's what that's all about. Then I became an international civil servant, and I became Deputy Director General of the International Labor Organization in Geneva for four years. Then back to Washington again, I was appointed sort of a roving ambassador to the United Nations, twice by Mr. Carter and twice by Mr. Reagan. I headed up the U.S. delegations to UN conferences, where I was continually building consensus to get things done on a positive basis. After six or seven years of that I helped to create the Center for the Study of Foreign Affairs at the State Department, sort of a think tank. This was 1983.
By this time, I was there for four years, and that's when I really became involved in the whole concept of citizen diplomacy or Track II diplomacy. I wrote the first book on Track II in 1985. It was ready for publication, when my boss Assistant Secretary of State decided it would probably be viewed as a threat to the turf of the State Department. He didn't like the idea of having a book out that said that there was another way to business diplomatically, not the government way. I tried for 18 months to get it published without any success. I finally got transferred in 18 months, and the day after I got transferred, I got the book published. So perseverance is another quality you learn in this business.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, the book when it came out in 1987 was a revolutionary document in the State Department and still is, I'm sorry to say. That system has not shifted over the years, individuals have, but institutional government has not really recognized Track II citizen diplomacy. I retired after forty years, became a professor at George Washington University law school, and then was invited to become the first president of the Iowa Peace Institute in Grinnell, Iowa. I went out there, it was the first statewide peace institute in the country, and began to practice what I was doing in Track II. Then I wrote up a chapter in a book for Louis Kriesberg, expanding to five tracks. Dr. Louis Diamond and I wrote a book together in 1991 called Multi-Track Diplomacy. It's now in its third edition. We call it a "systems approach" to peace. It brings together business communities, private individuals, education, training, peace activism, religion, and communications, all of these communities we believe have to be part of a system to make a peace agreement work. In other words, we believe, and I believe totally, that no one track, including Track I which is government, has ever solved a peace process by itself.
One of my best examples of that is Dennis Ross, who was Clinton's negotiator on Israel/Palestine for eight years. A few months after he retired, at a lecture where he gave a talk, he confessed publicly that his fundamental mistake in his eight years of interaction in Israel/Palestine was to only deal at the top and secretly and never tell anybody what they were dong, and never relating to the people in Israel, Palestine, or in the United States. I even thought about bringing in NGOs, because they've done great work on the ground in both countries
as we IMTD had done for years. He said I knew they were always broke, I thought about paying for them to do their work, but I never did it. I never even talked to them.
So it's merely confirmation about our basic principle that Track I cannot do it by itself. We both believe that the multi-track approach simultaneously in all these different interactions will build a peace process. We started our institute in 1992, after I came back from Iowa, so we're now just eleven years old. That gives you a basic rundown on my own background.
Q: Can you talk a little more specifically of IMTD?
Yes, with pleasure. I don't know how many hours you want me to talk.
Q: We'll see that as we go.
A: I can talk for a very long time about that. We started out in divided Cyprus. I'll come back to these, for now I just want to give you an overview. We worked there for some eight years. We worked in Israel/Palestine for years, and we started work in Bosnia in 1996, and we're still working there. We worked in seven or eight countries in Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leone, we worked in Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Congo, Rwanda, and now Uganda. We worked in India/Pakistan with a focus on Kashmir. We're still working there. I made three trips to Nepal in the last year and a half. We're working with the Dali Lama and the government of Tibet who has been in exile since 1990, helping them to develop a diplomatic corps to negotiate with the Chinese. We work in Sri Lanka and we're working in the Caucuses, in Georgia and Azerbaijan, and Turkey. That's sort of where we have been in our work. We have some basic principles that we follow that I think would be interesting to your audience.
First of all, we only go where we're invited by the people in the country, and that's a very important fundamental belief as far as I'm concerned. Also, we never cross the line between Track II, unofficial citizen diplomacy, and Track I. As some of my friends and colleagues have done that to regret, because they always get kicked out of the country when that happens. We're not there to negotiate a peace treaty. That's not our job.
What we try to do is to interact with civilian leaders across the spectrum, at all levels of society, provide them through training with conflict resolution skills, life and leadership skills, and then allow them to impact on their conflict and their policy makers in their own time frame and their own language and their own culture, and bring about change in that way. Now, this takes time. There are no quick fixes, and of course most governments don't have the patience to wait for that to happen. That's one of the problems you have in Track I diplomacy, you're always impatient. We insist upon building a trust relationship.
We believe that you cannot bring change, you cannot get someone to see differently about the enemy, until you develop a trust relationship with each side separately, first, and then together. And that also takes time. We never advertise what we do, or where we go, or what we're doing, and we only operate overseas outside the United States.
What happens is that we get invited in to do a lecture here or a talk there, or maybe a two-hour training. The word begins to get around. We first go in and listen, I should say that. We go and listen; governments don't listen, they don't know how to listen. We then ask for the needs of the people who invited us. Government won't ask you what your needs are, they'll tell you what your needs are, and they'll fix them for you. It's all related to people, but fundamentally based on people, their concerns, their fears, their aspirations, their needs. That's an important element we have to work with. We don't advertise because we're trying to build trust. When we start out, if we decide to take on a program, we also make a five-year commitment to build trust. No weekend, not parachuting in, we're there for five years or longer if they want us. That's another way that you'll actually build trust. So that's an important thing to consider.
When we start out, we make some connections, and we start training then we tell the people we're going to be back in ten days, or two weeks, and we want to meet here. Bring your friends, we say. Word of mouth is what we do. That takes longer, but by word of mouth, you build trust. The people who come to you are already committed to the idea that they really want to learn about how you build a peace process. Those are some basic issues that I feel strongly about.
Let me give you some examples of what we're doing.
Q: Yes. If you could, talk about one of those experiences that have particularly inspired you.
A: Well, let's start with Cyprus. It's a beautiful island in the eastern Mediterranean. It's history goes back about 6,000 years, and it was part of the British Empire when the empire was collapsing. In 1960 they were declared a free nation. They lived in peace for four years, together Muslim and Christian, all intermixed, in villages, and there were no problems. Then Greece got a little greedy, and tried to take over the island, they attempted a coup, The Security Council met and put in a peacekeeping force. All that happened in 1964, and it's still there. Track I has been frozen in time since 1964, til 2003. They drew a green line, and there was an uneasy peace for about ten years, when there was another attempted coup. This time Turkey sent in 35,000 troops. A lot of killing took place at that time. All the Muslims moved to the North, and all the Christians moved to the South. The green line was in violation, you couldn't go across it, you couldn't send a letter, you couldn't make a phone call. We were invited in 1991, 1992. The first thing we did was listen and ask for the needs of people. Then we started our training, and then I called on for Track I and peace.
We called on the Sedentash, who was the
president of the Turkish Muslim North, which is now a state recognized only by Turkey. We called on the predecessor, Mr. Kareves, the Prime Minister of the South, who's been there for many years. We then called on the United Nations, the headquarters in New York, and on the island, called on the State Department here, and the ambassador on the island. We said we're a small, not-for-profit NGO and we've been invited by the community of leaders that I've described in our multi-track system. They want us to help build a peace process. I told them when they were across the line between Track II and Track I relations. I said we've been invited here, and we're planning on doing training on conflict resolution skills, first separately and then bring people together, and we invite you to any of the trainings. We're totally transparent, we have no secrets. I didn't ask permission, I didn't ask for a letter, I just said this is what we're doing and you're welcome to attend. They still weren't quite sure why we were there. So I said, well - and this is important to the philosophy - I believe that every conflict can be resolved. I do not believe there is such a thing as an intractable conflict. It takes time, it takes patience, it takes energy, it takes money, but it can be done. This is the same thing that's going to happen in divided Cyprus. You sign the peace treaty and for three weeks you have beautiful peace, and then someone from the far left or far right throws a bottle and kills somebody, an act of violence by those who don't want the peace process.
By that time, we will have trained a critical mass, thousands of people, who will have connections in that village or in that community where that act of violence took place. They will be able to go in there because of their skills and their connections and contain the act of violence so that it doesn't spread across the country. Our goal is to break the cycle of violence. By containing that conflict with skilled people at the grassroots level, so that that cycle of violence is broken; that's our goal. Most conflicts around the world, that are all internal in the nation-state system, the cycle of violence is not ???, just look at Angola, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, etc etc.
If we can break the cycle then we made a major step forward in the peace process. Well, I'm sure they thought we were crazy. I'm sure they thought, you'll never get one Turk or one Greek to sit down and talk. It took time. We did our training with both sides, separately for fifteen months. I'll tell you one story about one of those that was quite touching.
We were in that fifteen-month period, we decided to do a training in the Turkish Muslim north. As the word spread informally, thirty-five people showed up. All the tracks were represented, even the money track, which is never there. We had community leaders, business leaders, education representatives, thirty five people. We always sit in a circle, and I always explain why we use the circle.
The first reason for the circle is that it's practical. Everyone can see everybody and hear everybody, there's no head of table, we're all equal, and that's important. Second reason is that it's a symbol of peacebuilding in every culture I've ever been in. I've been in 97 countries, so I have some basis for comparisons. You go back far enough in the history of that culture, and the elders are sitting in a circle. Sometimes there's a fire in the center of the circle, sometimes there's not. Sometimes there's a peace pipe. The circle is viewed as a sign of peace and peacebuilding across history. The third reason is that without tables and chairs to interfere, it allows the energy of people to flow across the circle and start building relationships. They may think, maybe I can trust that person that I've hated all these years. Energy is an important element. The fourth reason is that's the symbol of our institute: the circle. So that's why we use the circle.
Forty percent of those present were Muslim women. That's a pretty good percentage. I strongly believe that it's the women who are the peacebuilders. If it's the women who are the peacebuilders in every society we operate in, the men follow eventually, but they weren't there first. So I was delighted to see forty percent women in that circle. I went around the circle and asked them their name - their first name, I'm not trying to identify people. We don't tape anything, we don't record anything, we don't use any TV, we don't use any audio; this is all confidential. We have ground rules of course.
The confidentiality is that you can talk about the process but you never quote anybody by name. People are asked to just state their name and why you came in to this circle. You learn a lot about the group by just those two simple questions. Halfway across the circle a man said, "I'm a medical doctor. I've hated the Greek Cypriots all of my life, because they've killed both of my parents. I grew up, got an education, I'm now a medical doctor, I'm married, I have a five year old son. I came here because of something that happened three nights ago with my son. I went in to kiss him goodnight and I found lying in bed next to him a large, long toy wooden rifle. And I said, "Why do you have that rifle in bed with you? The boy said to kill the Greek Cypriots when they come after me." He said these things at the age of five.
The doctor said, "it was a powerful lesson for me, and I decided then that I would raise my child to have a different view of the world than I have had, and I am here to forgive the Greeks for killing my two parents." Wow. That's pretty powerful. He became one of the leaders in the group.
We finally, after fifteen months, got six from each side to sit down on the Green Line where the UN force is in the city, and we had a couple of rooms at a hotel there. They'd never met before, but they were political leaders, business leaders, University presidents, there were journalists, and there was a politest. These twelve people were all leaders in their respective communities. They had the skills, they had trust in us, and in an hour they bonded, and they had never met before. They became our steering committee. We finally got some money, and we had our first international training in Oxford, England. We had ten from each side, so twenty people. We were together for ten days in Oxford. It was very powerful because, again, they had not met. They had these deeply rooted convictions that the other side was the enemy. We had psychologists and others working on this, because we had this whole process to work through.
At the very end - this is a little story I want to mention - we had a dinner. We always break bread together to start, and we always break bread together at the end. We have a meal to start breaking down barriers because, again, sharing food together, breaking bread together has been a peacebuilding tradition for thousands of years, and we use that. We recognize the cultural past, and we try to build on that for the present. So at the end of this big dinner we said farewell, and so forth, we each got certificates and that sort of thing. Suddenly, out of nowhere, two guitars appear. Two of the Turkish Muslims started playing the guitars and singing in Turkish folk tunes that they had learned as a child. A few minutes later, the same tunes were being sung in Greek, because they'd all learned the same songs on that island that was together. They began singing them together. That went on for a half an hour. It was great. Then the guitars passed over to the Greek side. Before you knew it, they were singing and strumming Greek folk dances. Before I knew it the entire community got up, Turk and Greek, arm in arm, doing Greek folk dances around the dining room. That's pretty powerful.
As a matter of fact, it was a young college student whose mother was a part of the group, he just came for dinner, told me, "I can't believe my eyes." He said if I didn't see this, I would never believe it if someone told me it was happening. I could never imagine my mother dancing with those Greeks. It blew his mind. That's how powerful music and song and dance was an element of bringing peace, people together peacefully. We trained over 2,500 Cypriots. We have that critical mass. Some exciting things have happened quite recently that might be worth mentioning.
First of all, the EU is putting the pressure on Turkey, on Cyprus, and they've put the pressure of the Muslim North, because they want to bring Cyprus as one island together into the island. Kofi Annan, the Secretary of the United Nations, has been very active and he's put forward a grant proposal now that was considered for three or four months by both sides. Mr. Danktash was never able to come to closure. I was in Canada in January of this year, and a friend had just come from North Cyprus and he told me that he had seen something that he'd never seen before in his life. He saw 50,000 Muslim Cypriots demonstrating in the streets of North Cyprus against Danktash. Ten thousand of those 5,000 were students, and they were saying, "Danktash GO Danktash GO. We want to be a part of the West, we want to join the EU. We want to be an island coming together, as a single island. Join the EU. Our economy is a disaster. We want a job. We want to be a part of the real world. Danktash has to go before that can happen."
Well, he didn't listen. It didn't get violent, but he certainly heard a message. The window closed from the EU point of view when they announced that Cyprus would come in as a divided island. The north would not come in. On April 24th, just a few weeks ago, Danktash, for reasons unknown to me, suddenly opened the green line that divided the two parts. He said both sides can move back and forth for a day visit. They can't stay overnight. First twenty-four hours, 5,000 people cross that line. Three thousand from the Turkish North move south for the day, 2,000 Greeks move north. In the next ten days, and we're on May 16th, the next ten days, 160,000 people crossed the line. Mr. Danktash can never close that border again. If he does, they'll throw him in the ocean. It overwhelmed the north, because, everyone wanted to have a drink, a cup of coffee, and have some food at their restaurants. They wanted to look at the ocean and go to the beaches, because they have beautiful beaches. The restaurant owners said my business went up 3,000% over night. They even had to go out and hire the fisherman to be waiters because there was nobody left on the island who wasn't working. That can never be pushed back in the box.
I'm convinced that this is a major breakthrough. People are speaking. I'm a strong believer in people power; it's the sixth track. All you have to do is look at what's been going on the last few years. Whenever I talk to governments, I tell them people power is there, you have to recognize it, and you have to deal with it. In Jakarta in 1999, tens of thousands over threw a thirty year old dictatorship in a matter of weeks, and then of course in Belgrade after a flawed election, Milosevic was thrown out. More than a million people at a time demonstrated. I've talked to those people who were very proud of the fact that they were in the streets and got rid of him. Of course, now he's being charged with genocide in the Hague. The same thing's happened twice in the Philippines, and once in Nepal.
Look at the global outreach against the Iraq war, I mean never in history has this ever happened before. Millions of people demonstrated all over the world against the Iraq war. That's people power - you've got to listen to it. I'm convinced that the next active protest is going to be in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is starving his people in what was the bread-basket of Southern Africa. The only way you get food is belonging as a member of his party. It's not the way you do things, and my guess is that there will come a point in the next six months when the people who are starving to death, will say I don't want to starve to death, and I'd rather face the bullets of his goons and try to throw him out then long term starvation. My prediction is that in six months he'll be out, an example of people power. Another reason that I'm optimistic about Cyprus is that the people have spoken, and they walk the talk now.
Q: Now the changes that we're talking about in Cyprus have come twelve years after you first stepped out there in 1991. Is that the kind of time frame that we're looking at?
A: Absolutely. Absolutely. This government, or any government, wants it to happen on their watch, whatever it is that's favorable so they get credit for it. The politicians don't understand time. These conflicts, many of them have been raging for hundreds of years. Look at the Northern Ireland conflict, four hundred years. You're not going to repair that in a matter of a few days. It's ridiculous to even think about that. The problem is that no one gives us long-term funding, maybe funding for one project at a time, or one deal at a time. Governments think in terms of what I'm talking about.
Q: You mentioned that you had a critical mass in Cyprus, people who had been trained, especially that initial steering committee that took fifteen months to prepare. How do you deal with the scale of the problem, like that doctor you were talking about, people dancing in there, to larger societal transformations when people start to believe the things that people in those meetings start to believe?
Well, I guess it's a slow process. For example, in Cyprus, again, the US Ambassador was very high on what we were doing. In fact, for about five ambassadors we worked with were very high on this. I remember a few years ago, on the Fourth of July party, the Ambassador opened up, and people were allowed to cross over. He had 3,000 people at his Fourth of July party from both sides. That was critical, that was really supportive.
On the UN's birthday, on October 24th, 6,000 people gathered on the green line from both sides to interact with each other. There is a powerful urge for peace on that island, and that penetrates gradually over time to the decision makers, but they don't want to give up power. They think that whatever agreement is reached, they will become less powerful. A lot of this is aboutthe ego of the leadership. I contend that we have to put our ego behind us to do the work that we are doing. With Track I people their ego is way out front, the bigger they are, the bigger the ego. That's an issue as well.
Q: I wonder if you've been a Track I diplomat before, you are now serving the role of multiple tracks. I wanted to talk about the relationship between Track I and Track II - where that line is drawn. If say, Track I never crosses in to Track II then how can they support each other?
Well, I've tried for some time now to create an office in the State Department bureaucracy on Track II because I believe that until you create an institution of change, you're not going to be able to do the actual thing that you're talking about. We had a moment where I thought good things were going to happen, actually with an NGO initiative. Kevin Clemens, who was head of ICAR and does international work, shortly after he arrived there, he got together with our group and about forty NGOs around the world, and put together a little paper on Track II and what it could do to help support governments. They presented that to the Foreign Ministers Meeting of the G8 when they were meeting in Tokyo in 1998. That was accepted and it was passed onto the G8 meeting in Okinawa, and they actually came out in the communiquÃ?Â?Ã?Â?Ã?Â?Ã?Â© about two paragraphs: one on preventive diplomacy, which was first put forth in 1992 by the UN General for Peace which this college put together, and another paragraph on conflict resolution.
So I thought, man this a real break for the G8, such a powerful institution, and if we can get them to focus on this then that's wonderful. Well, nothing much happened.
???The next meeting the Bush administration??? came to their first meeting. I tried to meet with Secretary Powell to brief him on these ideas, but I didn't get through the barriers, the gate-keepers. Out of his meeting, they reiterated those two recommendations, and they added two more. They said, we ought to work with business in peacebuilding, which is Track III, and we ought to work with women in peace building; and that's a fantastic breakthrough. Then 9/11 came along, and the whole thing fell apart, and the US has done nothing at the State Department to carry through on this concept of creating an office with a budget, with staff, as part of a career path, to institutionalize this whole concept, and so that has not happened today at the State Department.
The other thing that excited me was in April of 2001, the new administrator of AID testified on the Hill before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to confirm. He said, "I want to create two pillars in AID, and the first is I want to go back to basics in agriculture, make that a strong element of AID, and the second is I want to build a pillar about conflict resolution." Well, I read that testimony and I was ecstatic. He then appointed a task force, and they hired a couple of contractors to do a major study, and one or two of them had worked in AID. I met for hours with those contractors, giving them my guidance and advice and ideas. They came out with a report last December, a year ago, which was fantastic. It was the best report that AID has ever produced, as far as I'm concerned.
It had all kinds of ideas, suggestions, and future steps for the administrative team.
My goal was then to set up an office in the administration, above all the other bureaucrats this is his pillar. This is what he wants, so lets go for it. Well, the task force finally had its first public meeting in January of last year, 2002. There were twenty people there from the hill, from around government, from AID, and two NGOS, with myself representing AID, and John Marks representing Search for Common Ground. We met for two days with this group and reviewed every paragraph of that report, and laid out ideas that we wanted to pursue over the next six months. We wanted a monthly meeting and we would really get involved and wanted to help to create this dream. The task force never met again. It was right there and they never met again. The administrator, I guess, had other priorities, and he was involved in Afghanistan of course, in great detail.
Maybe he viewed that these recommendations were too far reaching, maybe they were threatening to other agencies, I don't know but we never had a chance to talk about it with him. It was officially dissolved on June of last year. They have now renamed one Bureau, the office of Democracy Building Humanitarian Assistance and Conflict Prevention. They have buried in the bowels of AID a little three-person staff, without a leader, they haven't found the money to get a leader yet, and they've been looking for six months. Its just a totally different concept then we had in mind when we started out. That's where we are at the moment, not very optimistic.
Q: There's very little coordination between Track I and Track II at this point, and very little even understanding of Track II by the Track I?
A: That's exactly correct. Every individual ambassador that I've ever met that likes what were doing when we're in the field comes back here and they get absorbed in the system, they don't want to take the risk of trying to create something new and different. It's forgotten.
Q: That brings me to my next question, which is what are the most common obstacles to the success of your work?
A: Money is the first one, there's no question about that. It's a small not for profit and non-governmental organization, working only over seas. We don't have a base in this country except through our membership, which we have 1300 due paying members. We've gotten together over the last eleven years. We don't charge for our services overseas. We're working with people in conflict, so we have to raise the money someplace, and unfortunately after 9/11 it's particularly difficult.
Last year, 2002, in every foundation the drop was twenty-five percent, and there ???it in there income because the stock market problems. Several have dropped out totally of the field, like ???Foundation, and ???dropped out totally from international giving. Hewlett Foundation, which was our biggest funder, the only foundation in the country who gave money, non-project money, overhead cost and salaries and so forth. We wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for Hewlett's generosity. They have now decided, just some months ago, to stop funded anything international. ???is out of it, Mott,???for a little bit, Carnagie's totally out of it. McArthur and Ford were never in, so I mean the foundation world is very difficult now. Governments are very slow. We keep trying, but it's tough. We got funding for our work in Nepal from a German foundation, and we got some support earlier on for Cyprus from the Canadian AID organization, but I mean it's tough. That's the number one obstacle.
The number two obstacle we already talked about, and that is understanding on the part of Track I about what were trying to do. I believe there is a vacuum out there and we are designed as a world based on national sovereignty, and national sovereignty says that we can't go in as a nation state or as another nation state without their permission, otherwise it is an act of war. Now all the conflicts that we are talking about, and there are thirty-five in the world today, and more than a thousand people will be killed this year, are within national boundaries, there intra state, but were designed as a world to cope with inter state conflict, not designed to cope with intra state conflict because of national sovereignty. Basically we ignore most of the conflicts out there, we as a nation. We can only handle three at a time. Now were working intra Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Those other thirty-two conflicts we don't pay any attention to, they just go bubbling along at a low level, never on the radar screen. Well that is not my world.
You see, I don't want the world to continue in that way. I think we should strive for peace all over the world. All these little conflicts that are within national borders that were contained by those ten empires that ruled the world for the last hundred years, they kept the lid on conflict. Today nobody can do that because the nature of conflict has shifted, it is now internal, and national sovereignty guides all of it. I don't see governments recognizing this officially for another ten years or so because bureaucracies don't change. They avoid change wherever they can because it's a threat and they are afraid of change. That's across the world and the examples I've given you that are Track II ???that is a revolutionary document today is still true because that bureaucracy has not changed.
It's going to have to change because the world is changing and they have to catch up at some point. What happens is that these little NGOs like ourselves and like Search For Common Ground and others, we are trying to fill that vacuum in a small way. That's what we're all about, is trying to fill that vacuum and that's going to take a while to do. We're not going to be able to fill it, so governments at some point have to change their systems to recognize that they have to fill that vacuum, it's their responsibility for peace around the world.
Q: What are some of the major lessons that you've learned from this work over the years?
A: Patience is one of them. I lecture to diplomats at the Foreign Services Institute and I tell them, "We are the most arrogant nation in the world. We are the poorest listeners in the world and we are the most impatient people in the world." I said, "On an individual basis you think about this, but you can change all of those in your own self, you can become less arrogant as a person, you can learn listening skills, and you can learn how to be patient. Until those things happen we're going to have a difficult process," so that's what I urge people to think about as well.
Q: So the flip side of that I suppose is what advice would you give to people who are getting involved in this work?
A: Well, I have a little booklet, perhaps I should give you a copy of it. I did it some years back and its called "Guidelines to Newcomers of Track II". I'll give you that and you can look through that and feed some of that into the process. It's a bit of philosophy in one sense, first of all, these are the questions that I ask interns who want to intern with us. An internship with us is, first of all we only take students in the graduate schools majoring in conflict resolution or getting their masters in conflict resolution or related subjects. I already know that they have started down that path, so you have to make a personal commitment to the concept of peace building. I think that's a major step. You have to think through this whole process. This is not a job. This is a commitment. They are two different things.
First of all we don't pay interns, but even when we have staff the critical alimony is this is your path, we want your dedication to the concept because you never get rich in this business. You are surviving, that's all. It's not a job, it's a commitment. It's a professional commitment for peace for the present and for the future, so that's a very important element in our whole concept and I just wanted to share that with you.
Q: Other advice, other highlights?
A: So commitment, patience and dedication. I'll tell you a story about the World Bank that relates to my next comment on that. I've been working with the director for Bosnia, which is a big program, a 650 million dollar program in the World Bank. We were putting in for a small amount of money, and they finally upped it to 350,000 to do what we were doing. We had to jump through all kind of hurdles and so forth, it was very frustrating. Along the way I said that I wanted to find peace building for you and I said there is three levels as far as we're concerned. First there is political peace building, which I know about Bosnia, and I said that's what the Dayton Accords were all about it was a peace treaty with military support. They went in there, they kept the peace, they allowed a political processes to begin to take place, and governments began to understand that it takes them a while to get their act together but its possible.
The second level is economic peace building, that's what the bank and the fund and the UNDP and ??? donors where they go in and try to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure primarily. The third level is social peace building, governments don't understand what I am talking about when I talk about social peace building. We look at the root cause of the conflict, we work with the people, and we deal with their hate/ fear about each other. We work with the heart.
When I tell a government agency that we work with the heart they think I am squishy soft, which I am not, because you have to change the heart, the person that you want to change their mind and perception about the enemy, we call it transformative social change. You learn the skill of conflict resolution then you have to touch the heart, first your heart and then the heart of the enemy. Only at that point in time are they going to start beginning to trust each other, they are going to start conversing with one another and eventually they are going to live next door to each other as neighbors, and that's a long process. When I talk about the heart I am very serious about that, your heart has to be touched, yourself, and you have to be able to touch the heart of others. Governments don't like that, and that's to bad because I am dealing in the real world and they are not dealing in the real world.
Well, thank you so much for your time.
A: I have a lot more stories.
Q: If you want to tell them I am glad to hear them. I don't want to take up your time.
A: No, no this is a great opportunity. Let me talk about a couple of things real quickly, I want to talk about Nepal, and then briefly about Bosnia. Let me talk briefly about a wonderful project in Bosnia. We were invited into Bosnia, interestingly enough by the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, just two months after the Dayton Accords were signed. They contacted me in December 1995 and asked me to train some of their staff in conflict resolution skills. The way the OSCE is set up is they have 54 member states, but they are not an official international organization, they have no treaty, they have no central budget power, they have difficulty raising money, they detail or seckon staff for six months for foreign ministries that are member states. That is a rather ramshackle way to do business as far as I am concerned, but that is the way they are set up. They asked us for help, and so we put in a little project proposal for $25,000, and they couldn't raise that money after they had asked us to come in.
We delayed the thing to June 1996 and we were trying to figure out what was happening there, because that was a paltry sum of money. There was an ambassador on the committee in Vienna who controls how the OSCE operates, when they got this request in from Sarajevo to train their staff, they said these are all diplomats they don't need any training in conflict resolution and Track II diplomacy. We both know that is a lot of bologna. They didn't have a clue.
When we finally did start our training there, every time we went somewhere their staff all ways came and took the training, because the staff knew the didn't know what was going on. That in the early days is the only way you could do anything in Bosnia was through the OSCE, because they control all the transport, all the housing, and you could only convene people under their auspices; it was very tense at that particular time so they were essential for our process. I was very pleased to be invited. We worked a lot with helping develop local NGOs, and helping to train leaders in these skills that ran the country.
In 1999 we had a real break through, we met a rich American business man and took him to Bosnia, and got hooked on Bosnia and decided that he wanted to make a major contribution, and that he wanted to be personally involved in this process, which was fine with us. We jointly developed the best technical assistance economic development program that I have seen in my whole career, after decades in this field. He was originally from Minnesota and as a kid he used to go up to a canoe camp on the Minnesota-Canadian border in the lake and the woods area which is all islands, water, rocks and brush, total wilderness. He was there as a kid learning about canoeing and then also as a counselor. He said lets take 35 young Bosnians from all different ethnic groups and religions, from around the country to have this experience. We hired local staff that we had worked with before and they were young men and young women, they were between 19-25 years of age and from all different ethnic groups from around the country.
The first week we spent on conflict resolution skills and the second week they went out on a wilderness experience, carrying their canoes, their food, their bed rolls, their tents, everything. There were five separate groups ethnically mixed for five days, the most powerful experience that you could have happened. You learn if you wanted to survive you had to work together. It was very basic. It doesn't matter where you come from, what your religious beliefs are, what your ethnicity is; you work together. That was a fabulous experience and each one of those five separate groups they bonded for life, I guarantee that. That experience bound them together.
The second phase of the project was to go back to Bosnia, with help from three trainers that we had, to think up their own small-scale technical assistance project in their own village, hopefully multi-ethnically. They would have to design a project, write it up as a project proposal, put in a time line, then put in a budget, and then carry it out them selves, and we would pay for it. That was a remarkable series of learning experiences--how to handle money, how to organize your thoughts, how to get permission from the mayor, the city council, the community, to do what you wanted to do and then do it for the rest of the year. It was a year-long program and then we have a graduation ceremony at the end.
We are now at the fourth cycle of this program. It probably costs half a million dollars a year, this is big money. I have been involved in all four cycles. Two weeks ago I visited Bosnia, and visited 17 of the projects in this fourth cycle. I am going back next Friday to visit another 20 or so projects, and the graduation ceremony will be held in the international theater at the end of June. This is pretty exciting stuff. I have convinced a funder that we should write a book about this because it is such a remarkable project. At the end
of the fourth cycle we would have changed the life of 160 Bosnian young people and 65 towns and villages across the country. These are the future leaders of Bosnia, the skills that they have learned, and the dedication that they have for building peace. That's a remarkable thing to be able to say, and I said why don't we write a book about it.
On this last visit I interviewed 25 of the participants and I will do more in the next several visits, and eventually get them typed up and edited. It will be in two languages. I have a local counterpoint that was in the first cycle and has been in all four cycles, so he knows the ropes. We are going to put it together, talking about the impact on young people, and interviewing the trainers and the people at the camp and so forth, and then explain how the process worked. I am trying to do that as well. This is an unusual project. I have never seen anything like it, because no body puts up that kind of money. He is also now into education, starting last year he selected five people to go a University in the United States to go to the University that he graduated from in Minnesota and he is paying the bills for all four years. We have a local project for some people who would like to take a training in Bosnia, and the stipend is renewable each year, for them to finish up a local degree or whatever, it focuses on education.
We need more people like this guy.
A: I tell you, I would like to know a few more myself. I will talk about Nepal. Now this is a country with its history going back for 5,000 years, and it was an absolute monarchy for all of those thousands of years until 1990. In 1990 people power again, 10,000s of thousands of people demonstrated in front of the palace for 50 days, urging him to shift from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy based on the British model, and he did. They wrote a new constitution with freedom of press, freedom of religion, and all that good stuff. The problem was that the country was inexperienced and made promises to the people that they couldn't fulfill. A left wing group of the Communist party broke off just a handful of people, and called themselves Maoists. They went out into the villages and got support because they were doing some of the things that the government had promised to do but hadn't done.
But then for some reason, they started becoming violent. We were invited in 2 years ago by two local Nepalese NGOs in the human rights field to see if there was some way to impact on this Maoist problem. We got some funding from a German foundation and for ten days we listened. We visited 70 different people from all levels of society. They have a caste system in Nepal that is unconstitutional, and has been since 1964, and also under the new constitution. It was brought in by the Hindus 3,000 years ago and has been around ever since. Out of the 25 million people in Nepal, 5 million are untouchables. I finally learned that after my third visit, I finally got it together, because no body talks about this. The base reason for the conflict is that the Maoists went out in to the poor villages in the mountains where poor farmers are all untouchables and they treated them like normal human beings, 50% of their supporters are women who for the first time in their lives are treated like normal human beings. The root cause of the conflict in Nepal is the caste system
What a tremendous lesson to learn.
A: That's right, it is a powerful one. We met with the untouchables on the first occasion and we met with all levels of society, including two former prime ministers, women's groups, youth groups, lawyers, journalists, and representatives from all political parties. What they wanted was help in training in conflict resolution skills. We went back a month or two later and we trained 28 people for a week in a hotel about an hour outside of Katmandu so they couldn't go home at night. We had all groups represented, untouchables, women leaders, youth leaders, politicians, business leaders, and one lawyer who was connected with the Maoist community.
What we did, besides the many skills that we gave them, we made them recognize that they did not have to wait for the government to act. Now think about that. 5000 years of absolute monarchy, and only a decade of a constitutional monarchy, which hadn't really sunk in. They just waited, they didn't do anything, and we took the blinders off. We empowered them; they didn't have to wait for the government to act. This is a powerful lesson.
The next thing they did realizing that they could now do it, they created their own NGO in peace and conflict resolution, which they all joined. We have an institutional base now. On the third visit, last October, we went back with more money from the funders, and we trained a second group for two weeks, this time to be trainers. We trained trainers to go out into villages with these new skills and new ideas. The same thing happened with them; we took the blinders off. They were now empowered to do things that they never dreamed that they could do. The lesson there is a very important one for communities that have been degraded for all this time.
Each time I went back I had meetings with the untouchables, and on my last visit I met with a group of 25 of them. I learned that out of the five million people, 1,000 have broken through the barriers through the years to have an education. They have never held an elected office in any level of society, so I told them that they have to become visible, they have to form your own political party. You have 5 million potential members--you can become a major influence. You have to be on the radio, the TV, in newspapers; you have to have a presence. Publicize your concerns, it is unconstitutional when they put you down, you are free but you don't know it because you haven't ever tried it. I really stirred the pot on that one.
Now that sounds more like an advocacy role.
A: It absolutely was. I didn't do that in the training. I did that working with the group of untouchables. We don't train advocacy, that's not in our field, but in this instance I converted with that group only and tried to get them to recognize that they had the power to change, and they could begin to build and have a voice in their own country, which they hadn't ever dreamed that they could have before. So that's my story. We are going back next summer when we get more funding and we are going to focus on trauma and healing, especially women who were traumatized by the Maoist killings.
Q: Is your pitch from the IMTD as appealing as the Maoist pitch?
A: Time will tell. They are still having problems there, but they currently have a cease fire. We actually proposed a training program, which I couldn't get any funding for, to take two people from each of the three main political parties and Maoists to another country to have a dialogue of about what the conflict was really about, and that is when I was really going to push the whole concept of the untouchables and the whole caste system.
A little side story, one of the groups that invited us in the first place, really bright, PhD Nepalese, very proudly should me a report on what had happened with this violence. He actually had a list on one of the pages of the people that had been killed, Maoists and police, by caste. I was having lunch with him and said, "Did you know that this is unconstitutional?" He said, "What are you talking about?" I said, "that it is unconstitutional because the caste doesn't exist officially." He looked at that paper and said, "Oh my god, you are right." He was a Brahman and had never thought about it. It has been engrained and it will take a century for this to disappear. I am starting this process but it is going to take a long, long time but it has to happen. They contend that they are a democracy. They are on paper a democracy, but not in the minds and not in the hearts. That again is an example that you have to change the way that people think before you can get action.
My last story is about the caucuses, about Georgia. This is a different kind of a peace building process, but it relates. Things can grow out of this. I was invited to a place in Georgia a few years ago to make a speech at the first meeting of the Georgian American Business Association, so this is our Track III, business is getting interested in what we were doing.
The first day of the two day conference was opened by Mr. Shabeinatsi???, the president of Georgia, and the first day was taken up talking about the great pipe line project that had just been signed as a treaty, talking oil from the Caspian to Azerbaijan through Georgia, through Turkey, and exiting in the Eastern Mediterranean sea in Turkey, bypassing the Black Sea, bypassing the Darnels???, the ???, bypassing Russia. It had taken years to negotiate this treaty and it was finally agreed. There were 250 business people there and oil people and they were talking about investments. I was the first speaker the second day. I had never heard conflict mentioned the first day, and this pipe line is going through some pretty conflicted areas, ??? is nearby and ??? and ??? and the Kurdish situation, ect. No body talked about that, no body mentioned people either, so I thought these guys are sort of at a different level then these guys. I am in the real world, and I don't know where they are.
The thrust of my remarks were that you cannot today build a pipe line, this is a four billion dollar project, and guard it militarily and I said it is not possible to do that. All you have to do is look at Southern Nigeria, look at Columbia, look at Sudan they get blown up; you don't want that to happen. What you have to do is to bring the people along the path of the pipe line into the process. You have to help them with jobs, education, with a better standard of living and they will protect the pipe line for you for their own self interest, because they know that is the source of their better life. Did you know that was a revolutionary idea? They said it had not been thought about. They are high tech, and we are low tech, we are people tech.
Five months ago, just to give you an example of why I can contend that the oil industry doesn't get it. In Southern Nigeria, over night, without telling their husbands, or village elders, 2,000 women gathered together from dozens of areas from poor areas devastated by extraction of oil and gas, gathered around a pumping station and shut it down, and sat, just sat, non violently. A week went by, the military were not going to shoot 2,000 women, so there was no violence at all. During the second week, nothing happened. At the end of the third week, this American corporation had lost 450 million dollars from that closed pumping station. The president of the corporation flew out from the United States, sat down with the women and asked them what they wanted and gave them everything they wanted. They wanted clean water and they wanted clean air, schools, a road; they wanted basic human needs, which they had been denied for decades. That happened five months ago, my speech was two years ago.
I then met with various officials and after a year they got it, they even came up with an acronym, and the vice president said it was CBM, Community Based Maintenance. I said you got it. Bring the community in there and they will help protect you and maintain it. I gave other examples of what I had done in other parts of the world. They hired a team a year ago to go along the path of the pipeline to look at the social impact of their project. They didn't carry it far enough into conflict resolution, which I wanted them to do, that's essential; but they got the social impact part and now we are trying to raise money from the World Bank and the IFC who is putting 700 million dollars into that pipeline.
I have been there telling them that I want to protect their investment, because there is going to be conflict within in the villages, between villages, and certainly within the Kurdish area in Turkey. That is a different aspect of peace building, trying to prevent conflict by thinking of the role that the business can play constructively to prevent conflict like it happened in Southern Nigeria.
The newest idea I have for another project is water and peace. I believe that water and conflict are happening everyday now but it can become violent, and I want to build water and peace process together. In fact I am co-chairing a meeting at Columbia University in December called Water and Peace.
In my diplomatic career, among other things, I launched the first UN decade on drinking water and sanitation. I worked for a year and half on that idea and it was adopted by the General Assembly November 10, 1980. We had 80 ministers of development and a three day special session of the General Assembly gathered to speak about that issue ??? on the first of January 1981. By the end of the decade, 1.1 billion had gotten fresh water for the first time in their lives and 760 million people had sanitation for the first time in their lives. That is a pretty successful success rate, but then it dropped off because the decade ended and the government lost interest.
Then there was a conference in 2000 that set a goal for 2015 for reducing by half the people who didn't have safe water. In Johannesburg in September of last year this was picked up and added sanitation so the two goals of the first decade are now incorporated in two major world conferences in 2015. I am trying to now launch a second ??? water decade to achieve those goals. That is what George is working on and I am getting a lot of support for that across the world. I want the General Assembly to launch that new idea to meet the goats set in Johannesburg sometime this November. We'll see what happens.
That's a form of preventative diplomacy because water is likely to become very precious in the next few decades.
A: It already is. Look at the Jordan River and the impact on Israel and Palestine. There is a special working group working on just water alone as part of the Oslo process. We are trying to anticipate, as I constantly try to do, where conflict can break out and try to have an impact on it by getting people to think about it before it happens.
Q: I wanted to ask you about something you commented on in the beginning. You say you never advertise and you only go when you are invited?
Q: If you never advertise then how do you get invited?
A: I have a couple of principles. I make a hundred speeches a year and I have for the last decade around the world. Each audience has maybe a hundred people who want me to talk about peace and conflict resolution and maybe five of them will come up to me afterward, I never pass out brochures and documents, they are to expensive. The Decade Report cost $3. I can't give those to people who will just throw them away with out looking. I never use overheads this way people are going to pay attention to you. . These five people come up and say I like what you do, give me their card, and then I give them my card and then they go into our data base.
We have 6,400 names